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:
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?
First in any modern novel, do not use any type of obvious narrator. Historically, novels in English started in the first person, present tense (Daniel Defoe) implying the past (diary style). Novels have moved over time to be third person, past tense, implying the future (full action style). Many juvenile novels have used first person, past tense, implying the future. In my opinion, the use of the first person is a bad technique, unless, the character is critical to the place and time in their own right (the most important person in a world, universe, place, existence) and the knowledge of that person's thoughts is critical to the theme.
I did this myself with my novel, The End of Honor. I started the novel with the first person of the protagonist's helper, Lyral Neuterra. In the universe of The End of Honor, this woman, Lyral Neuterra was the reason why the Human Galactic Empire went to war. She was the reason for the entire novel. She, herself, was the purpose and beginning of everything that occurred in the novel. In this case, the use of the first person was justified. Further, her thoughts placed in context everything that happened in the novel and the universe. The novel was otherwise written in past tense and not implying the future, but in the actual future (science fiction). The later half of the novel was written in third person, past tense, and in the future.
If your theme and a major character does not meet the above criteria--do not use the first person. I've written extensively about this. With the first person, the author is too tempted to tell us and not show. It is too easy to tell us the thoughts of the character. In my opinion, this breaks one of my rules of writing: don't show (or tell) everything. It is just too easy for an author to tell us the mind of a character using the first person.
Go with the classical transition of writing and aim to write third person, past tense, and if it is a modern novel implying the future. If it is a historical novel, then you have no choice--it is in the past. A science fiction novel is in the future.
If you do choose (I wouldn't recommend it (unless the character meets the criteria)) to use the first person, you must ensure you don't tell too much (you will) or give away too much (you will).
POV in very limited and specific circumstances to make a point, but realize your editor will likely make you take it out. Here is an example from my contracted novel, Sister of Darkness. It is yet to be seen if my publisher will let me keep it. This is the use of the third person omniscient:
The children attended school with all the other Catholic children in Hyères. Except for their mathematics skills, they were many, many levels ahead of their classmates, a situation, the children, Paul and Leora, and their teachers attempted to hide from everyone else. They were of course completely unsuccessful at keeping it secret. Children, especially, discern these things. Once you catch your best friend conversing in perfect classical Greek with his younger sister, a language you have with limited success attempted to understand for at least a couple of years, you realize your friend is unusually gifted. Paul and Leora’s children were so artful and well liked that no one paid attention to their inexplicable skills and instead capitalized on them. For another student and even for a priest and school teacher, there is a distinct benefit to having a natural linguist for a student. Good examples are always hard to find, as are teachers who make a language seem effortless. The Bolang children achieved this purpose for their small school and their friends.
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/.