5 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 884, Novel Development, Storylines
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.
Storylines are not character arcs. To be most specific, a character arc is a plot or a story line about a character. In most cases, in most novels, we are writing about the protagonist and the plot of the novel. On the other hand, novels like Ray Bradbury’s, Martian Chronicles are short story based and have more than one character arc, more than one plot, and more than one climax. Game of Thrones is similar. On the other hand, Tuf Voyaging, an excellent novel by George R. R. Martin, has a single protagonist, but multiple plots, climaxes, but a singular primary character arc. Tuf Voyaging is a collection of short stories bundled together in a novel. As I wrote, a character arc is a plot or a storyline about a single character. A novel can have multiple character arcs, but really shouldn’t. The protagonist’s character arc, the protagonist’s helper’s character arc, and the antagonist’s character arc are all that is necessary. And the protagonist’s character arc is really the only important character arc. Everything else can stay off stage—the revelation of the other characters is unnecessary and should not be included.
Let’s compare this to a storyline. A storyline is the character arc of any character as in intersects the plot of the novel. It is a segment of the character arc. This is what many refer to as a character arc, but it is only a part of the entire character arc. By this definition, even the major three characters (protagonist, protagonist’s helper, and antagonist) might not have complete character arcs. That’s is entirely the point. Their actions are the parts of the storylines that appear on the stage of the novel.
Every character has a storyline (a segment of their character arc) that shows up on the stage of the novel. These storylines in most cases intersect with the protagonist’s storyline—if they don’t intersect they are usually the parts that shouldn’t be included. In almost every case, the storylines of every character in the novel, should intersect directly or indirectly with the protagonist. This is a critical test of what should be included in the novel.
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