14 November 2012, Answers to Some Questions, Number 1
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.
A scene outline is a means of writing a novel where each scene follows the other with a scene input from the previous scene and a scene output that leads to the next scene. The scenes don't necessarily have to follow directly in time and place, however they generally follow the storyline of the protagonist.
A storyline outline is a means of writing a novel where the author develops a scene outline for more than one character and bases the plot on one or more of these storyline scenes. This allows the scenes to focus on more than the protagonist. This is a very difficult means of writing. There is a strong chance of confusing your readers.
Whether you write with a scene outline or a storyline outline, you must properly develop your scenes. All novels are developed from scenes and each scene has a design similar to a novel. Every successful novel has the following basic parts:
1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
Every scene has these parts:
1. The setting (where, what, who, when, how)
2. The connection (input)
3. The tension development
4. The release
5. The output
There are lots of approaches to scene setting. That means there are about a million plus ways you can set a scene. The main point is you have to clearly get across the where, when, who, what, and how.
Place is the obvious next place we go in scene setting. I'll take some time to answer the following questions from one of my readers. Questions in blue, answers in black:
I was trying to systematically review your writing installments, and organize them w/in the context of 'Elements of Literature'..ie, (Plot, Setting, Theme, Characterization, Point of View, etc.) and I had couple of questions:
1. W/in Plot: What's the best way to intro the conflict, and do outstanding plots nearly always get abstracted down to the big themes, such as Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Society, Man vs Self, Man vs God, Man vs Satan?
The theme should begin first. Some of the writing I'm doing about creativity and how to turn that into theme and plot hasn't published yet. It will soon. In looking at creativity, you begin with a creative idea and turn it into a theme. From the theme comes the protagonist, antagonist, and protagonist's helper. So, looking at one of your theme examples: Man vs. Man. In this large theme is already two characters, a protagonist and an antagonist. The theme itself is too broad and needs to be refined--that's the point if creativity. If I had a creative idea related to this theme, it might be something like this: Man vs. Man--a man has given everything he has to charity and is about to be kicked out of his rental house, the landlord wants to kick him out but agrees to allow him to stay as long as he pays the mortgage. Okay, that's maybe a lame theme, but you can still build a plot out of it.
You have your major characters: protagonist and antagonist. You develop them, the setting, etc. Now, with this information, we can find a point to intro the conflict. In a novel like this, the first point of conflict would be the meeting of the protagonist and the antagonist. To really get this right, we need the developed characters in front of us. Let's make up some development. The man who gave everything to charity has never met the owner of the house--all the business was done through a rental agency. The antagonist heard from the rental agency about this destitute person who gave everything to charity, and the antagonist is intrigued and wants to meet the protagonist.
There...we have set up the first scene of the novel, and it seems this will be a rousing scene. The input of the scene will be the protagonist has just run out of money and can't pay the rent. The antagonist is coming over to call. This could be a very energetic and exciting scene--it all depends on the author.
So, the operation is theme, theme refinement, character development, novel setting, and first scene. Of course, the first scene must lay out the entire theme and conflict.
2. W/in Setting: How important vs detrimental, is it for the action to changes form one place/time, to another, during the early,middle & ending of a novel. Is there a rule of thumb, or is that subject, depending on story, plot, style, scene & theme?
4. Characterization: (Agent, Who): We know characterization is generally made up of three elements, appearance, personality & behavior. Can one rank their relative importance, and do you have a rule of thumb of how you go about developing it. Also, do you make use of stock characterization, or common types or not? I know you get very sophisticated in presenting character detail in many forms (physical feature, clothing, possession, communication, etc.) ; do you every consider that your audience doesn't have the literary knowledge, memory or intellect to grasp your character detail...ie, gets lost in the detail. How do you guard against it; your novel, for example was very complex.
5. Point of view: Which point of view do you prefer to employ in telling different types of stories, and why? How careful are you at tracking what he/she is aware of, at various stages of the story? Any rules, tricks, techniques or warnings for 1st Person narrator, 3rd Person Limited narrator or 3rd Person Omniscient Narrator?
Just a few questions. Thanks in advance. And, may I briefly add, I have certainly enjoyed reading your postings on the art of writing, and apologize if I'm asked Q's that you've already covered in the past. If so, I must have missed those particular installments, or more likely, was looking for a bit more elaboration, should you care to provide it. :)
I'll answer more, tomorrow.
My Notes: once you have a theme, you need to begin to visualize your plot, focus your theme, and define 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.centurionnovelthesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor, http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.