8 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 886.5, Novel Development, more Side Stories
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.
Look for side stories and dump them. Generally, a side story will show as a character arc or storyline that is not directly connected to the climax. I think side stories are easy to spot, but for some that might not be the case. Usually, you will find a side story tied to a protagonist’s helper or an antagonist. For example, a story about the protagonist’s helper’s love affair or the antagonist’s life are usually side stories. In almost every case, the protagonist’s helper’s love story or the antagonist’s life story are not related to the protagonist’s telic flaw or the climax. In some cases, they might be. In most cases, they are not.
The protagonist’s life story is important and their love affairs are important if tied to the protagonist’s helper or the antagonist, but everything must tie to the climax. Side stories notably are not about the protagonist. In the rare case they are, they do not refer to the telic flaw of the protagonist. This is the way to pick out a side story. Look for a storyline that is not about the protagonist. Also, look for a storyline about the protagonist that doesn’t include the telic flaw.
In our overused detective story example, a storyline about the detective prior to the murder/arson/larceny might be a side story if it doesn’t relate directly to the telic flaw and the climax. A story about her love interest in high school most likely is a side story. If the detective is chasing a person who killed a high school student or who is a high school student, the storyline might be pertinent to the novel.
The point is this, not everything about the protagonist needs to be revealed in the novel. Somethings just don’t apply within the context of the plot. Side stories don’t support the plot and should be removed.
Now about side stories.
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