29 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, yet even more on Scene Outlines
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.
Here are my rules of writing:
1. Entertain your readers.
2. Don't confuse your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
All language is symbols. Therefore it shouldn't surprise you that your writing should include higher level symbols. What are higher level symbols? I mentioned before the cross as a symbol. The cross is a higher level symbol--a symbol that doesn't depend on language. Symbols can be ready made or author made symbols. Some symbols are a mix.
Here is the list for the use of storylines. In other words, whose storyline should you chose to follow in the plot:
1. Protagonist - presumed
4. Antagonist or protagonist's helper
The presumption is that you will write your scenes with the protagonist's storyline as the primary intersection with the plot. At some points you might want to write a scene that does not include the protagonist's storyline. The question is then, when should you consider these different storylines.
I use a scene outline for about ninety percent of my writing. The novel, Centurion, is entirely developed and written using a scene outline. Each scene has an input from every other scene and an output to the next scene. Each scene is set, the characters are set, then they are set loose to develop a tension and a release that then leads to the next scene. This means that every scene includes and is about the protagonist. This also means the scenes follow each other in time and logical sequence.
I like the use of a scene outline because it can be taught, it is easy to explain, and it works wondrously well. The only trick becomes when you absolutely need to introduce a scene that 1) does not include the protagonist, 2) is not sequential in time, 3) is not sequential in the narrative, or 4) has another reason for not being directly connected within the plot.
This doesn't mean the scene is not connected to the plot--it is not directly connected to the protagonist's storyline. If you have been paying attention, you know exactly what I am talking about. The storylines are the existences of the characters. Every character has a storyline. Even when a character is not in a scene, their storyline continues "behind the scenes" until their storyline reconnects within the plot.
The point of a scene that is not directly connected to the previous scene, is that scene must be connected to the plot through another character's storyline. In the case of the example I was using before from Dana-ana, a secondary character, Mahon provides the connection through his storyline. And here is the big point, Mahon was fully developed and introduced earlier in the plot. His storyline already was introduced with him. When the plot suddenly switches to Mahon and his storyline, the reader has already learned something about him and they should not be surprised by his character. This is very basic foreshadowing. A character that is introduced earlier in the plot then returns to the plot. If you want to be more specific about the use of foreshadowing, it is the expectation of the action of the reintroduced character which has been foreshadowed. For example, in Dana-ana, you know Mahon is not a nice person. You also know he is trying to get revenge on Dana-ana. That is the foreshadowing for the scene where we see Mahon declaring how he will revenge himself on Dana-ana. That's entirely the point of the revelation and for breaking out of the scene outline. More, tomorrow.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow. The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel creation....ie, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques. To what extent do you outline the historic context, culture, mannerism, speech, dress and thought process of the main characters, in a historic novel...in order to maintain integrity, and gradually (help) reveal attributes of a character in the story, or otherwise clarify the plot, scene, transition, tension or resolution?
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.thefoxshonorhttp://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.