9 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 887, Novel Development, Information not Relevant
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.
Directly related to side stories is information not relevant to the climax, setting, or plot. Where a side story is not relevant to the climax or the plot, it might be to the setting and certainly to the characters. I’m advocating you carefully examine your writing to delete or rewrite anything in the novel that is not relevant to the climax, setting, or plot. Specifically, this is information that is unnecessary for the novel.
Let’s look at each area. In setting, if you are writing a science fiction novel, the setting description of how something works in your universe—for example, how faster than light travel works is definitely an important point in the setting of the novel. If can also be important in the climax and the plot if either is related to how faster than light travel works. In a science fiction novel, almost any description of science or technology is a reasonable setting concept and should be included in the writing. If it also supports the plot and climax, all the better.
In a non science fiction novel, the description of unusual science or technology might also be a point of the setting. In general, most description of setting is reasonable to a degree. Here’s where it isn’t. Let’s say you describe in detail a restaurant that your characters have dinner in—that is completely reasonable. A detailed description of the area around the restaurant is also reasonable—as long as the restaurant itself gets most of the description. On the other hand, if you gave a detailed commentary of the area where the characters or the novel don’t go or interact, that is not relevant to the setting at all. If the information is relevant to the climax of the plot, it should be included, but if it is just description of a setting where the characters, most specifically, the protagonist doesn’t go—you have written a travel dialog that should be removed from your novel.
Not all description is equal, and although I don’t like to dissuade any author from writing setting and description, you can go overboard. I have read novels that did read like travel guides. Leave the travel guides to those kinds of writers. If you follow Arlo Guthrie’s advice of 500 words for major settings and characters, 300 words for secondary settings and characters, and 100 words for all others, you will not go wrong. Keep out the extra stuff that has nothing to do with your novel.
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