17 August 2018, Writing - part x588, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, More Logic Issues
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 at www.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 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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
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.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
5. 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:
1. Design the initial scene
2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
a. Research as required
b. Develop the initial setting
c. Develop the characters
d. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
5. Write the climax scene
6. Write the falling action scene(s)
7. Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue 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 30th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective. 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:
1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
5. Write the release
6. 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.
1. Reasonably written in standard English
2. No glaring logical fallacies
3. Reasoned worldview
4. Creative and interesting topic
5. A Plot
We know that subtle logical issues will not knock the reader out of a strong suspension of disbelief. Then what should we be looking for in our writing?
Logical issues come in three varieties: worldview, time, and place.
We looked at worldview to a degree. Let’s delve into time and place today.
Time issues can and usually are subtle. However, there are ways to help prevent them. In my novel, not yet published and was on contract until my publisher bit the dust, Sister of Darkness, there was a missing year that I didn’t discover, my prepub readers didn’t notice, my editor didn’t discover, but another publishing company editor accidentally found. I corrected the problem with a paragraph to make the time pass, but it was an inadvertent and subtle timing issue.
The reason it was a problem is that the novel is set in the real world during WWII and all the time, place, and incidents needed to line up. I think the novel could have been published with few the wiser, but since an editor caught it, it needed to be fixed. What was funny is my prepub readers swore it wasn’t there. It was a real subtle time issue.
Subtle time and place issues aren’t the kind of issues we are talking about. I’ll outline another subtle time issue. I’ve used this example before. In Dragonsong, the song Menoly wrote could not have been found by the new harper in her seahold—not based on the timing and incidents outlined in the text. This song becomes a plot point (creative element) in the next novel Dragondinger and is the implied plot point (creative element) in the first novel on which the climax hinges. The time issue is subtle enough that you won’t catch it until your second or third reading of the novels. That’s my point entirely, subtle worldview, time, and place issues will usually not knock the reader out of a suspension of disbelief. Editors might not catch them either.
However, not so subtle time, worldview, and place issues will definitely knock the reader out of the suspension of disbelief. These issues will usually get caught by an editor and a publisher and will usually result in the rejection of your manuscript. How do you prevent them.
Time issues are prevented through the use of a time outline. I am in the habit of writing the date, place, and day at the top of every chapter. My publisher suggested this for my Ancient Light novels and it kind of stuck for my other novels. I think it is a great technique and style for historically based authors like me. I recommend for very tightly wound novels, identify each day, week, month, and year in the text and then remove them in the final editing—if you wish. I find that readers like this kind of time identification.
I have been personally kicked out of the suspension of disbelief by novels where the time and place are left ambiguous. I want to know exactly when it is. Now, some novels intentionally use time ambiguity—this is alright if played correctly. You must realize if you use this technique, you might irritate your readers.
Time ambiguity is great, but you should somehow identify the correct passing of time from some set beginning. As an author, you must do this to prevent timing issues. You should do this to appease your readers. Once set, you don’t need to give the readers a time clock—I like to, but you don’t have to. As long as the timing is correct and you set the time in the scene.
You must set time in every scene. I like to set time additionally at the beginning of each chapter, but that’s my style. You must set the time at the beginning of every scene. Do this and you and your readers will never be disappointed. You must set time at the beginning of every scene. See the scene development outline above.
You must also set the place.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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