4 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 883, Novel Development, more Character Arcs
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.
These are the steps I use to write a novel:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
Here is my list of ways an author might add extraneous writing to a novel. Let’s look at the second.
- Material not relevant to the climax or plot.
- Characters or character arcs not relevant to the climax or plot.
- Side stories.
- Information not relevant to the climax, setting, or plot.
- Excessive storylines.
- Lack of a sufficient telic flaw.
- Incorrect protagonist.
What about novels with more than one intentional storyline and character arc—Game of Thrones, for example. My simple advice is—don’t write this way. If you are a best-selling author, and you can sell your novels to a movie producer, then go ahead. However, novels like Game of Thrones are not classical novels. They do not follow the five discrete parts of a novel I listed above. Game of Thrones is a special type of novel that is a collection of short stories or actually short novels interwoven into one large novel. This is not a good way to write a novel unless your novels are already found in Walmart or Sams.
I can assure you, you will not get this kind of novel published. You can always self-publish, but unless you are the greatest writer to put pen to paper, you will likely sell few copies. The reason is simple—very few people are willing to invest enormous amounts of time into unknown literature. A person might read a work that is in the 75,000 to 100,000 word range based on a review or a recommendation, but to ask a reader to invest in double, triple, or quadruple that is unreasonable. Once your writing is established, it isn’t unusual for a writer to put together a whole series of novels based on a set of characters, a theme, or a family. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Foundation, The Natty Bumpo Novels, The Lord of the Rings, The Ancient Light and all. It is highly unlikely, unless you are an established author to get a novel or set of novels of any great length published.
Back to the main point. Game of Thrones is a novel with multiple character arcs. Character arcs are also called storylines. Generally all storylines in a classical novel drive to the same climax. When a story or character arc doesn’t, you are either writing a multi-arc novel, or you have an extraneous character. See above. Don’t even contemplate writing a multi-arc novel. You will not be able to sell it. A better and cleaner approach is to write multiple novels. You can include multiple integrated storylines in each novel that supports a single climax in each novel. My main point is this—get rid of any orphan character arc. I’ll define this better and look at the storyline concept in a novel.
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