13 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 862, Example Misunderstandings, Developing Conversation on the Stage of the Novel
Announcement: Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy. You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com. Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si. Essie is my 26th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
- Scene input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I’ll use my newest novel as an example. It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above. Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play. A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point.
In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
All conversations follow a similar development and cycle of events. If an author is sensitive to this development and cycle, he can write more natural sounding (read realistic) conversation. The cycle of conversation moves like this: greetings, introductions, casual words, deeper words, ending. Let’s look at deeper words and misunderstanding.
Here is an example from my as yet, uncontracted novel, Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This is a novel filled with intentional obscuration and misunderstanding. From a writing standpoint, I don’t see much difference between the two. Because of the complexity of both misunderstandings and intentional obscuration (lying), it is difficult to give a simple example. The following shows both misunderstanding and lying on many different levels.
The moment Aksinya stepped into the street that served both Sacré Coeur and her house, the fog seemed to rise. She didn’t need to see, she had the stone wall to guide her. Her fingertips were frozen and she couldn’t feel the wall anymore, but she still knew it was there. She continued along it toward her house. As she moved closer, she noticed for the first time a large dray outside it. Some furniture sat at the back of the moving carriage. A few pieces were stacked inside it. Most of it was out in the street. Two men exited her house. They carried one of her chairs. Aksinya recognized it immediately. It was the floral one her father had liked so much. It was very well made and the fabric was Damascus silk. Aksinya removed her hand from the guiding wall and hurried her steps.
Her attention was centered on the men at her house, so she didn’t notice the dark figure who moved from the entrance of Sacré Coeur when she passed and headed back the direction she had come. A whiff of sulfur halted her for a moment then she continued.
Aksinya stopped breathless before the two men. They paused and put down the chair. One was tall and heavy with large features and a swollen nose as though he had been struck there many times. The other was a thin younger man with straggleing greasy hair and protruding teeth. They didn’t smile, but they did wait for a moment to allow Aksinya to catch her breath.
Finally, she forced out, “What are you doing in my house?”
“Your house?” the larger man spoke. His lips rose over his teeth, but he didn’t smile, “We’re removing the goods.”
“The bills haven’t been paid.”
“Not paid? But they were…They were all paid.”
The younger man leaned on the back of the chair. The large man stuck his dirty hand into his coat and brought out an official looking paper. He didn’t give it to Aksinya, but held it up at arms length so she could see it.
The younger man’s voice was slightly high pitched, “Helmut, why are you taking the time to show that to her? We have work to do. She’s just a putzfrau, a cleaning woman.”
“Halt Mal, Willi. Don’t you remember our instructions?” He made a gesture behind his back.
The younger man scratched his head, “You don’t mean.” He glanced meaningfully at Aksinya.
“I’ll let her read the ruling. You check the horses,” he turned around and winked.
“Oh,” Willi nodded, “I’ll check on the horses.”
Helmut’s lips rose over his teeth again. It wasn’t a smile.
Aksinya reached for the paper.
Helmut pulled it back. His frown deepened, “Please don’t touch it. It is an official document.”
Aksinya moved a little closer to the paper. Under her breath, she read the document, “There is a list of litigants and claimants.” Her voice filled with dismay, “The list is very long. It says, that because the alleged Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna is in arrears for…,” she gasped.
“Is there something wrong?”
“The amount is so large.”
The man made a loud huff under his breath, “That is why the directive tells us to take everything from the house. It still won’t be enough to pay for it all.”
Aksinya wailed, “You will take everything I own, and it still won’t be enough.”
Helmut’s nose twitched, “It won’t be enough at all.”
“What about my jewelry?”
“We haven’t seen any jewelry. Perhaps the previous repossessors removed it.”
Aksinya’s eyes widened, “But my father’s money.”
The man’s face twitched again, “I heard it was all Russian. It isn’t worth the paper it is printed on any more.”
“But I have nothing else.”
“I understand there were loans too. They must all be paid.”
“What will I do?”
The man did smile at that, “You? Who are you?”
Aksinya lowered her head. Her voice was very low, “I am the Countess Golitsyna.”
The man’s laughter filled the street, “I find that hard to believe, but we were told to watch for a young woman who came to the house and claimed to be a countess.”
The two repossessors don’t tell the full extent of what is going on (they might not know), they lie to Aksinya, and they are intentionally keeping information from her. Additionally, there is much more about this scene that isn’t made clear until closer to the end of the novel. I’ll point out a few to you. The first is that the demon, Asmodeus, set up the entire situation. He contracted Aksinya but didn’t pay the bills. This is a great misunderstanding and a great lie that becomes a turning point in the novel. The turning point is here—just a few paragraphs later, Aksinya is arrested by an ecclesiastical court and threatened with civil arrest.
The second lie and misunderstanding is that the repossessors are secretly calling the authorities to come get Aksinya. The third great lie is that Aksinya is being defrauded on more than one level. The demon has lied to everyone. Aksinya’s wealth is much greater than the debt, but somehow her wealth is gone.
You might label these lies and misunderstandings as secrets. That is usually the word I use when describing this kind of writing and behavior. The point is that everyone is keeping secrets. These secrets are revealed through different events and conversations in the novel. In my opinion, secrets are what make a novel. Their revelation is the power of all writing.
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