5 November 2018, Writing – part x583, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Terms
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I’ll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. More information can be found atwww.ancientlight.com. Check out my novels–I think you’ll really enjoy them.
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 withhttp://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:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
- Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of 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
I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential titleBlue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
Here is the cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30thnovel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working titleDetective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
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 30: 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 31: TBD
Here is the scene development outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Today: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
- Reasonably written in standard English
- No glaring logical fallacies
- Reasoned worldview
- Creative and interesting topic
- A Plot
Here is a list of these basic language factors (standard English) that might prevent suspension of disbelief:
- Idioms and dialects
- Sounds like
Generally, we write about problems with your writing that might prevent suspension of disbelief. The assumption is that you can write well enough to produce a work where suspension of disbelief is possible, and the problem is to keep the reader in that suspension of disbelief.
If the reader has to stop and think, they will be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief. Thinking is for technical works—entertainment is for fiction. The point of fiction is to grab hold of the reader’s mind and build a world in the imagination of the reader. You can imagine what hitting an unknown acronym might do. How about a non-universal term. What about people who read your novel ten, twenty, fifty, or a hundred years in the future?
I have read great novels that can be considered peculiar today because of the terms used in them. The Little Witch is one of the best examples. This is a fun kids novel from the 1950s and boy does it read like a kids novel from the 1950s. Instead of standard English, the author used the slang terms from her era for the dialog in the novel. Not only does it sound oddly, or I should say, read oddly, the dialog sometimes grates on the mind of the reader. When you hit one of these, so called, hip terms from the 1950s, the meaning is somewhat obscure and the reader either has to look it up or try to figure out what it means by context—either of these throws the reader out of the suspension of disbelief. If you are reading the novel to others, especially kids, you will have to stop and explain. As a kid, I hated it when the reader did that. A listener would almost rather skip over the strange term than stop for it. This is what we as writers hope happens when a reader hits a term they don’t understand.
Authors need to be completely sensitive to this. Terms that are outside of the nominal experience of the reader can be colored in with definitions and contextual definitions. This goes back to vocabulary as well as the other examples I gave.
In a perfectly expressed piece of writing, the proper average reader will not be overly surprised by unusual terms, constructions, or vocabulary because the writer will preemptively realize what could be misunderstood, not understood, or be non-standard English. Writing from the standpoint of the common culture is likely not a good idea—that was the mistake of the author of The Little Witch. Common culture will lead you to odd idioms, slang, odd terms, non-standard English, as well as other bad writing habits.
Perhaps the best way to prevent these are to read and read a lot. A crisp understanding of standard English and the expectation of good literature means less chance of writing that is misunderstood, not understood, or non-standard English. In any case, always be sensitive to terms that are not normal. Give the reader a definition. Explanation, especially in dialog, is always a winning strategy for good fiction.
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