6 October 2012, Development - Ideas
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.
I think people sweat about ideas too much. Just look at some of the great prolific writers--such as ERB (Edgar Rice Burroughs). He tended to reuse and overuse themes, but hey, he wrote a whole lot of great stuff. Tarzan is so great that it hasn't been made into a correct (in any sense) movie ever. John Carter is so great, it took Disney over 70 years to really screw it up.
Look at the basic themes in Tarzan and John Carter. The theme of Tarzan is that a man of nobility is a man of nobility no matter where he is born or to whom. This theme plays out in various ways in the many other Tarzan novels. It is a classical Romantic theme and Tarzan is a classic romantic character.
The theme of John Carter is similar. It is that a man of nobility is a man of nobility no matter the circumstances or the civilization. Many of ERB's lesser known novels use a similar or a varied theme. For example, The Mucker is a novel whose theme is about a man whose nobility is brought out by the civilizing power of a woman. Just look at how simple, but powerful these themes are.
ERB did no preaching in his novels--he intended them to be fun to read and just entertaining novels. They are still entertaining to adults and teens today because their themes are inherently true. Not necessarily provably true, but inherently true. You might ask--what do you mean by that statement? ERB's themes are timeless because they are what humans hope to be true about human beings and the world. Everyone wants to believe there are ethical and noble people out there--Romantic themes or ideas capture this desire and these characters. It is likely that few people or no people are really like this, but that doesn't mean they are not a human ideal and writing about imagined human ideals is always popular.
My point is this--don't over-think your ideas. Grab one and go for it. You might imagine the theme you create is silly or not worthy--try it out for a while and see. I'll point back to the current novel I am writing: boy rescues a feral girl (who happens to be a demigod) after an accident, the girl falls in love, the girl wins the boy. The setting is Boston. This is a very unique theme, especially the demigod aspect. This is a characteristic of my writing. I've studied Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and Egyptian myths, and I've used these elements in my novels as themes. Pick an idea, build a theme, then write about it.
Once you have a theme, you need to begin to visualize your plot, stabilize your theme, and focus your characters. More tomorrow.
I'll move on to basic writing exercises and creativity in the near future.
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.
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, http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.