30 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Experimental 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.
If you have been following along, you can see how the use of storylines can powerfully invigorate your writing and how you can use them to shape the plot. What I mean by shaping the plot is to build tension and release into it. Tension and release means suspense, excitement, and entertainment. After all the point of writing is to entertain--that should be your primary focus.
Now, let's look at an example that is more extreme. My science fiction Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox novels are more experimental than my historical fiction novels. The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox series includes three independent but connected novels. The last novel is somewhat conventional in style, but the first two are definitely not written using completely conventional plotting.
The first novel, The End of Honor, begins in the first person with the protagonist's helper. She dies in the first scene so the rest of the first half of the novel is a first person retrospective of the events that led up to her death. This is definitely not conventional, but it isn't unique either. Other novelists have used this type of retrospective--usually from the protagonist's viewpoint. The protagonist of the novel appears in the second scene and the retrospective continues relatively normally until the death of the protagonist's helper, Lyral. Although most of the retrospective is written using the scene outline technique, there is a section where I use letters during the travel scene. Letters are a great way to write so you can uncover revelation and ideas in the minds of your characters without telling. Letters can still be connected in the plot using a scene outline--the scene outline just connects in the letters.
I'll write about the other experimental forms in these novels 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/.