8 April 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x7, Showing Tools in the Rising Action
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
I finished writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.
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 also working on my 29th novel, working title School.
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: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
- 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.
For novel 28: 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.
For novel 29: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre 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
Novels are all about showing the description, action, and conversation. However, the novelist also has some tools that the playwright doesn’t but the storyteller does. Some of these special tools involve a little telling. I’m not into telling, but I’ll give you the tools—use them wisely.
The first tool is the mind of the characters. I’d rather show you what the characters are thinking by their doing. I’d rather let the character tell you what they are thinking through conversation, but the author of a novel can tell the reader what the characters are thinking. This is absolutely pernicious in most writing. Usually, the author doesn’t tell us directly, but indirectly. For example, an author usually doesn’t write:
Jane thought, “His words made me really sad.”
Some authors do this. The rare instance is okay, but unless people are communicating mentally, I don’t advise it. A good author might write:
Jane looked sad. She groused, “That really made me feel terrible.”
There is a little split. The tag gives you the mind of the character. The words confirm it. Here’s another one:
Jane smiled, “You’re a jerk. I’d punch you if I were a man.”
Here is perfect showing with a great clue to the mind of the character. Jane is mad. She hides this with a smile. Her words say otherwise. How about this one:
Jane gave a large frown, “I guess that’s okay. I’ll do it.”
Jane isn’t happy. The author showed us that she wasn’t happy. Her words say something else. She isn’t happy, but she’s going along with the plan…or whatever.
I’m into showing. In showing, the author can tell you all kinds of information. I’ll not say the author has to dump all the special tools the novelist has—I just say, use them sparingly. If you have one in a chapter, that’s okay. If you are telling us over and over what the characters are thinking, there is something seriously wrong with your writing. Show and don’t tell. Well a little telling can be okay as long as it is necessary and just a little. I might have an example for you.
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