16 April 2012, Development - more Terrible Teasers and Worse
Introduction: I realized that I need to introduce this blog a little. I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. The working title was Daemon, and this was my 21st novel. Over the last year, 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.
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 steps in making and using a character in a novel are as follows:
1. Development of the character (history, description, personality, etc.)
2. Revelation of the character (within the novel, show don't tell)
a. Description of the character - introduction
b. Voice of the character
c. Continuing revelation by showing
In a classical plot (and in most of my novels) you have a protagonist, an antagonist, and a protagonist's helper. If you develop these three characters for a novel, the plot will naturally fall out of the development of the characters.
I read a great teaser and checked out the book on Amazon. The problem was that the teaser was great, but the book was all telling and no showing. A teaser is a different animal from a novel. In a teaser, you must tell. You really can't show. In a novel, you must show and not tell. This is a very important point to keep in mind.
I mentioned before, that I like to check out the "Look Inside" feature to read the first chapter or so of a novel. I always start with the teaser (or a recommendation). If the teaser interests me, I check the first part of the novel. If that is well written and interesting, I'll buy and read the novel.
This latest novel that I checked out sounded really great in the teaser. It had a fun premise, and what sounded like interesting characters. The first four chapters were all showing. No real description. No real scene setting. No conversation. No character interaction. It wasn't a prologue or an introduction--it was just crappy telling.
Listen, don't write novels that tell. You will know if your novel is telling if you don't have any action, interaction, conversation, etc. How can I say this stronger? Don't tell. I would like to repeat some of the writing on this blog, but that would just be cruel. The reason this novel will never be picked up by any publisher is that it is all telling (or at least the first four chapters). Remember the following and you won't fail as a writer:
1. Set the scene.
2. Set the characters.
3. Let the characters go.
4. Conversation and description.
There is more to this and you can still screw it up if you tell, but I'm not sure how you can tell if you write like this.
I've been seeing some horrible teasers and blurbs in the indie scene. I'll discuss that tomorrow and get back to introducing the theme in the first scene later.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.