23 January 2020, Writing - part xx112 Writing a Novel, more Action Tags
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 websites 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: Deirdre and Sorcha are redirected to French finishing school where they discover difficult mysteries, people, and events.
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: Why don’t we go back to the basics and just writing a novel? I can tell you what I do, and show you how I go about putting a novel together. We can start with developing an idea then move into the details of the writing.
To start a novel, I picture an initial scene. I may start from a protagonist or just launch into mental development of an initial scene. I get the idea for an initial scene from all kinds of sources. To help get the creative juices flowing, let’s look at the initial scene.
1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
2. Action point in the plot
3. Buildup to an exciting scene
4. Indirect introduction of the protagonist
Ideas. We need ideas. Ideas allow us to figure out the protagonist and the telic flaw. Ideas don’t come fully armed from the mind of Zeus. We need to cultivate ideas.
1. Read novels.
2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
6. Make the catharsis.
The development of ideas is based on study and research, but it is also based on creativity. Creativity is the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect). Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.
If creativity, especially in writing, is caused by writing—then we better get writing. Write-on. Yes, so what does this writing for creativity look like?
Developing creativity is all about writing. Well, there are the other six actions you should accomplish. Then write. Many ask, what should I write about? I understand this. If you don’t know what to write about, then what do you write about? Random stuff? Nah.
Let’s write about stuff that will help us both write better and that will build up our writing portfolio.
We started with descriptive paragraphs and then turned them into action scenes. The next step is to take two of the characters you described and bring them together for a conversation. This is called dialog.
Writing dialog seems to be a problem for many beginning authors. Let me give you an easy way to start and finish. The rest is kind of up to you, but I’ll help you with that too.
3. Social lubrication
4. Topics of no depth (small talk)
5. Topics of depth
There are other rules concerning writing good conversation: no address, contractions, tags, and etc.
Okay, there are no rules—if there were rules, writing dialog would be easy. It’s not easy for many, and most beginning writers.
We set up the training scene or the exercise by taking our setting (descriptive) paragraphs and then using action based paragraphs to bring our characters together for a dialog (conversation). As I noted, in all dialogs, the author should take the list above of the dialog outline and determine which parts are necessary. I think in almost every dialog, every step is necessary, but I know there are occasional conversations that don’t always follow this outline—almost all of them do, but a few rare conversations do not. Just keep this in mind as you develop the conversation.
Once you get into writing the dialog, there are some very important concepts to follow and observe. These are details in the dialog itself. Most important are these:
Do you remember, I wrote that fifty to seventy-five percent of all conversation is body language—non aural. The rest is supposed to be aural language, but a huge portion of that is exclamations and inarticulate sounds. I hope you see where this is going. If you don’t, I’ll spell it out for you.
Writing has three not so distinct parts in scenes: setting, narrative (action), and dialog (action). I write not so distinct because, as we noted yesterday, action tags drive narrative (action) into the dialog (action). We usually don’t think of dialog or narrative as action, but there it is and it is. Narrative is where your characters’ actions and movement take place. Dialog is where your characters’ conversations take place. The point is that although you might have narrative where no dialog takes place, you can’t have dialog where no action takes place. Actionless dialog is dead dialog. That’s the point of action tags. Notice also, everything is paragraphs.
The reason I started you on paragraphs in the exercise is that paragraphs prepare you for writing scenes and scenes are the beginning and end of all fiction. We broadly has setting paragraphs, narrative paragraphs, and dialog paragraphs. Let’s say a little about narrative paragraphs.
Narrative paragraphs are not narration. Beat this through your mind. Do not write narration in your paragraphs. Narration and narrative are not the same thing. Do not use the omniscient and do not tell. In addition, narrative action and dialog many times are not separable—well they can be separated, but it’s a bad idea—separated narrative and dialog is telling. I’ll try to give you some examples.
Here is narrative action: Jack ran across the street and yanked open the door. He looked inside the pub and didn’t see her. The pub wasn’t filled with patrons—a couple of older gentlemen sat at the low tables and a couple of young ones at the low table. The smell of rancid cooking and stale beer wafted with the warm air from the place. He closed the door, and stood thinking for a moment.
Here is narration in the narrative action (this is an example of how not to write): Filled with foreboding, Jack ran across the street and yanked open the door. His thoughts were filled with her sweet face. In his mind, he couldn’t imagine where she could be. He looked inside the pub and didn’t see her. The pub wasn’t filled with patrons—a couple of older gentlemen sat at the low tables and a couple of young ones at the low table. They saw Jack at the door and couldn’t imagine what he was doing with the door open on such a cold night. The smell of rancid cooking and stale beer wafted with the warm air from the place. Jack wondered how anyone could stand to drink or stay there. Anyone would have wondered why the patrons might stay in such a place. He closed the door, and stood thinking for a moment. In his thoughts he imagined where she could have gone next.
Number two is number two. Look at all the telling. Look at all the narration. The first paragraph shows us what the character, Jack, can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste (there really isn’t any tasting) on the stage of the paragraph. Number two tells us what he is thinking, and further moves to a different point of view (the patrons) and an omniscient point of view (anyone). You might have read these kinds of paragraphs in some popular writing (likely not). You most likely have seen these types of paragraphs in in Victorian and early Romantic writing. You might have encountered them in modern young adult writing. You hopefully shouldn’t see this in modern published writing. This is BAD writing. The second paragraph breaks every tenant of good writing practice: narration, telling, telling stuff no one could know (except God), omniscient point of view, changing point of view in a paragraph, telling stuff that isn’t obvious on the stage of the novel. Don’t do this. The first paragraph is all you need.
You can embellish the first paragraph with more showing and with dialog, but don’t tell. Here is some embellishment and dialog.
Jack ran across the street and yanked open the door. He stared around the inside of the pub and didn’t see her at first glance. The pub wasn’t filled with patrons—a couple of older gentlemen sat at the low tables and a couple of young ones at the low table. The older gentlemen nursed their drinks like they could be there last. The younger sat with their hands in their pockets as though the air inside wasn’t that much warmer than the cold night outside. The smell of rancid cooking and stale beer wafted with the warm air from the place. In spite of the smell, Jack’s stomach rumbled audibly.
The barkeep called from across the pub, “Hey bub, either come in or go out. It’s cold enough in here without you bringing the temperature down a whole couple of degrees.”
Jack stumbled over his words, “Sorry about that. I’m looking for someone, a woman.”
The barkeep laughed, “Who isn’t mate.”
The rest of the patrons took up a light chuckle.
Jack didn’t smile, “She’s a tall woman with black hair. As black as coal. She was wearing a red dress, and hasn’t any money.”
The barkeep turned his attention back to the pub, “We ain’t seen any bird like that. You might as well look in the alleys and trash bins. Unless she’s selling, there ain’t nothing for her here—no money and all.”
Jack didn’t delay any longer, he closed the door, and stood thinking for a moment.
The dialog shows us the mind of Jack as well as snippets of the minds of the barkeep and the patrons. If you notice, the dialog shows us much about the mind of the barkeep. We also learn much more about the woman Jack is hunting. In an extended dialog, we could show all.
My point is this—don’t tell. Don’t tell us about the woman or Jack’s frame of mind or what the patrons think, or any of that. Show us. Show us what the characters can see on the stage of the setting. Show us the mind of the characters through dialog. Don’t use narration. Don’t use omniscience. Don’t change point of view in the middle of a paragraph. In fact, don’t change point of view in a scene.
Writing is all about showing. The next step to help you in writing dialog and in the exercises I’ve suggested in what I call visualizing your scenes.
By the way, continue with the exercises I recommended. We are looking at the details of dialog, but you can continue to write paragraphs about settings and characters and turn them into scenes. If you haven’t moved into dialog yet, set up your characters to converse. This is good practice. In addition, if you haven’t already, get your writing into electronic files. We should also write about formatting too. In any case, tomorrow, I’ll give you more ideas about what to put in your portfolio.
The most important step in creativity may be to just write. This begins another chapter in this discussion of creativity—notes, records, and documenting.
I need to get to the point of extrapolating creativity, and also finish the thought about event horizon and worldview.
The beginning of creativity is study and effort. We can use this to extrapolate to creativity. In addition, we need to look at recording ideas and working with ideas.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic