12 January 2019, Writing – part x651, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, more on Writing
: 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
Everything is about entertainment. The purpose for all published novels is entertainment. Other than this is the only point of fiction literature, one of the main reasons is that entertainment can fill a lot of holes as well as result in the suspension of disbelief.
The factors that do lend themselves to entertaining are these:
- Use of figures of speech (vocabulary and language).
Characters are the focus of entertainment and the plot, but other parts of a novel can help drive entertainment. As we are discussing, the suspension of disbelief is about entertaining. If you can hold your readers in a state of entertainment, you can usually hold them in a suspension of disbelief. The point is to hold your readers in a suspension of disbelief.
Why not always write in a very high end style of writing, and why not allow the writing alone carry the suspension of disbelief? I would be happy if every writer’s skill was like Shakespeare, Valente, or Bradley. Unfortunately, it can’t and will never be, and these authors know it too. Their writing is like the inspirational writing we see sometimes in ecclesiastical settings. Only, the inspirational doesn’t last as long as we would like and then it falls back into the mundane. This is the problem with a high level of writing.
I’m not against it, but you can’t continue it forever, it sometimes gets in the way of the plot, and it sometimes distracts the readers. I’ve been there with Bradley. I recommend his works, but they begin to wax slightly tedious. His skill starts to show at the seams, and he isn’t that good with plots, telic flaws, and the climax. When the writing slips, so does the rest.
Great writing can get in the way of the plot? Yeah, look at Shakespeare. His style does get in the way of the plot. Without the acting, most modern people wouldn’t understand most of his works. The high end writing style that does help hold readers in the suspension of disbelief can also detract from the writing.
You should also note that great writers, that is writers with unfathomable writing skill may not be able to conceive of the best characters or plots. Once they have one, they can enhance the characters, descriptions, action, and plots, but of note, many have observed the lack of creativity in some of Shakespeare’s plots. I’ll not argue this point too much further, I think Shakespeare is iconic and a nearly perfect author, but in general, there are those who are graced with the ability to create plots and characters that make very entertaining novels. Then there are those whose writing skills are unmatched, those who can do both are very rare.
Most writers are somewhere in between. What you really want are those like Vance, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Herbert, Heinlein, and all whose writing skills are good but who are known more for their plots and characters than for their engaging writing. In all of this, the writer’s skills are best at a balance: and engaging plot, standout characters, and writing that can adequately convey both. So, although the skill at writing can sustain disbelief alone, we’d rather have a balance of all these characteristics in the writing. Such writing creates multipliers that sustain disbelief much better than singular excellent components.
What I mean is this, if your characters, your plot, and your writing skills entertain, each provides an additive effect to hold the reader in the writing. On the other hand, if you are missing one or more of these basics, anything might kick your readers out, and then where are you?
Strive for balance. Strive for entertaining characters, plot, and writing. You can add topic to that too. In any case, if you find your writing entertaining, many of your readers will too. If you can objectively view your own writing and find it is not entertaining, you need to do something about it. We’ll look at figures of speech as a continued focus on writing skills.
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