12 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 890, Novel Development, Excessive 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.
I’m not necessarily trying to be repetitious or extraneous, but everything in a novel fits together, or it should. Notice, we are back to the badboy of the modern novel, Game of Thrones. I think young authors will either get it right away or we’ll have a generation toiling over unpublishable novels. I can guarantee you, if your novel looks like Thrones no one will publish it—not if you are the greatest writer in the English (or any other language). The same as Ulysses by James Joyce, although I’m not putting Ulysses and Thrones in the same bucket. The problem with Ulysses is that it is a stream of consciousness cubistic approach to writing a novel. It is about as entertaining as a Broch or late Picasso is sexy. Thrones on the other hand is about ten novels woven into one. It is definitely an example of too many extraneous storylines. Or, as a better example, Thrones is a multinovel. It is more than one novel scrunched into a single book and woven into a single world and place. If you haven’t read Thornes, I’m not really advocating it as a novel, I could only stand the first book, and I wasn’t pleased enough with that one to continue. You should know that I think very highly of Martin’s earlier works. The Dying of the Light and Tuf Voyaging are fantastic science fiction novels.
The problem is that Martin is really a short story style author. In Thrones he just has short stories that grew out of control and subsumed the length of novels. However, unlike novels, Thrones doesn’t have a strong climax in any single storyline (plot). It doesn’t have a singular protagonist, which means no single telic flaw, and no single plot or, again, climax. This isn’t a new type of novel or literature. It is a likely singular set of novels that will be a future example of how not to write a novel. It will have notoriety and be easier, more entertaining, and more enjoyable than reading Ulysses, but no one will get past the first book, if they read the entirety of even that.
Too many storylines is not a good way to write a novel. If you have more than one, cut them out and write another novel.
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