12 October 2018, Writing - part x644, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, About Plot Types
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I'll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. More information can be found at www.ancientlight.com. Check out my novels--I think you'll really enjoy them.
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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of a novel:
1. Design the initial scene
2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
a. Research as required
b. Develop the initial setting
c. Develop the characters
d. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
5. Write the climax scene
6. Write the falling action scene(s)
7. Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
Here is the cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
For novel 30: Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
For novel 31: TBD
Here is the scene development outline:
1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
5. Write the release
6. Write the kicker
Today: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
1. Reasonably written in standard English
2. No glaring logical fallacies
3. Reasoned worldview
4. Creative and interesting topic
5. A Plot
Everything is about entertainment. The purpose for all published novels is entertainment. Other than this is the only point of fiction literature, one of the main reasons is that entertainment can fill a lot of holes as well as result in the suspension of disbelief.
The factors that do lend themselves to entertaining are these:
6. Use of figures of speech (vocabulary and language).
I’ve written about this before. The most effective and perhaps only plot type is zero to hero. You can have others, but most of the “others” are just not that entertaining. Zero to hero is a comedy plot type. You can also have hero to zero. Hero to zero is a tragedy plot type.
Almost every comedy plot you can imagine is zero to hero. I wrote about the importance of the zero point for the protagonist. We need to look at the hero state.
What is the hero state? I would say Star Bores proceeds directly into bathos when the heroes suddenly are promoted to generals with everyone clapping for them. First of all, heroes no matter how great are ever automatically promoted to a general. Perhaps up one rank from first lieutenant to second lieutenant or from ensign to lieutenant. Never up seven levels of command. A hero is a hero, a general officer is much more than that. Unfortunately, you see this kind of silliness in Star Drek as well. A hero does not a great leader make. Further, a general officer is usually in charge of leading and managing a thousand or more people. Our Star Bores and Star Drek heroes can barely lead themselves much less be responsible for the lives of a thousand souls.
Second, every hero is a hero only because of the people behind the lines or on the lines making their heroship possible. A real hero acknowledges the builders, mechanics, leaders, logistics, armorers, fuelers, intelligence, protection, and so on. It would be inconceivable for a military organization to recognize the tip of the spear without recognizing the shaft and hand on the spear. Any military person knows this. This is why Star Bores is so unbelievably poor in the dénouement. Let’s look at the actual hero state before this.
The climax of the original Star Bores movie is the destruction of the death star. If we disregard the nutty clapping scene, the zero development moves Luke from a middle class farm boy yearning for the academy to a familyless, penniless, homeless, and reluctant jedi in training who is being chased by Imperial spies, troops, and agents. This is a pretty good zero development that isn’t taken much advantage of in the overemphasis on adventure, but it still is a great zero development.
The hero development, such as it is, is a mystical phenomena. Luke goes from familyless (and kind of friendless) to having a family of sorts in the jedi training and the rebel army. We assume he goes from workless and penniless to employed, but money doesn’t seem to be of much use or need in the universe of Star Bores except when people suddenly need it. Luke is still a reluctant jedi in training. He has almost zero experience, training, or teachings and suddenly he is in charge of a multi-million credit space fighter. Who in their right mind would allow a barely educated farmer’s kid with no military or training experience into a space fighter, I have no idea. This is called an explicit deus ex machina. The hero state at the climax is actually not too bad. Luke has used the force, he defeated the deathstar, and the rebels can fight another day.
Let me point out something very important from a hero development standpoint. Star Bores can’t accommodate a leisurely hero development, but this drives the bathos and the ultimate problem with the plot—this is why I used this example. In Starship Troopers, the hero development takes years and years of training, experience, and hard work. In Star Bores, the protagonist barely works to become the hero of the entire universe. In Starship Troopers, the hero is a hero first for his squad, then his platoon, then his company, and so on. He is promoted in kind. He goes to more training. Let’s be very clear about this—the protagonist in Starship Troopers works extremely hard at becoming a hero. The protagonist of Star Bores basically has heroship handed to him. Which is more reasonable and more entertaining?
Let’s be frank, the plot in both Star Bores and Starship Troopers is entertaining to an extent. The characters in Starship Troopers are excellent. The characters in Star Bores are poor and deficient. The plots in both are entertaining. There is the point I wanted to make. A plot can be entertaining, but the reason is usually the zero to hero pitch of the plot. In the case of Star Bores, the plot itself drives the zero to hero in almost every way. The characters are almost unneeded—I write this tongue in cheek. Only Luke could have become a hero, and he would become the hero no matter what. He was fated to become the hero. On the other hand, in Starship Troopers, the protagonist was one of many. The novel happens to follow his unique path, but the plot is the work of becoming a hero, while in Star Bores, the plot just drives to the climax and Luke happens to be the guy who can use the force. One is pathos and the other is bathos. Both are entertaining, but boy oh boy how much more entertaining is Starship Troopers than Star Bores.
We’ll see how we can conclude this about plot and suspension of belief.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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