24 June 2020, Writing - part xx265 Writing a Novel, Eating is Living and Dialog.
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 we have filled our mind with all kinds of information and ideas, we are ready to become creative. Creativity means the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. Literally, we are seeing the world in a new way, or actually, we are seeing some part of the world in a new way.
I’ve worked through creativity and the protagonist. The ultimate point is that if you properly develop your protagonist, you have created your novel. I should move back to the initial scene, but I’ve been writing about showing and not telling in my short form blog, and I want to expand that out a bit in this blog. Let’s move on to perhaps the most important feature of the novel: showing and not telling.
Novelists are not storytellers. Novelists are story-showers. I hope you have heard the fiction writer’s adage: show and don’t tell. This is the most important aspect of the internal construction of the novel.
I will reveal that in reviewing a recent self-published author’s book, I was compelled by the wholesale telling in the book, I can’t call it a novel, that I had to address each area where the author failed to show. That’s where I came up with the following list:
Show and don’t tell.
Omniscient voice is poop.
Only write what the characters saw, tasted, felt, smelled, heard, said, or any action.
Identity is a problem.
It’s all about dialog.
Perfect tense can be a problem.
It’s all about the senses.
Don’t be boring.
Eating is living and dialog.
Creativity and senses.
Start with scene setting.
Make it sense setting.
So just what does it mean to show and not tell? This seems to be a very difficult question for new writers as well as a source of contention for experienced writers. It seems that many writers can’t agree or even concede on what showing vs. telling really means. Not to worry—I have the answer.
Eating is living and dialog. For some reason many inexperienced authors have a difficult time moving their characters into dialog. I know this was an early problem for me too, but I quickly grew out of it through the realization of how we communicate. If you remember my outline for all human conversation and dialog:
3. Small talk
4. Big talk
This will get you through every necessary and unnecessary dialog you need. From the beginning to the end. Now, let’s fit it into eating is living and dialog.
Think about the first thing you do in the morning:
Jake rolled out of bed, “Morning.”
Jane was already in the bathroom, “Morning.”
Jake stumbled to the door, “I need coffee.”
Every morning. Every day. If your characters are single, then the greetings begin when they leave their house or apartment. They might go out for breakfast. Human interaction happens when humans get together. One of the main places humans get together is to eat. Here is a simple list of about every character’s daily actions:
1. Wake up
2. Dress and bathe
4. Travel to work or school
5. Work or classes
7. Work or classes
8. Leave for home or recreation
11. Prepare for bed
Every day. This is what your normal timeline should look like for about every character. I’ve written about this before. Where is everyone doing the same thing at the same time, but potentially together? That’s obvious when they are either eating, working, or in recreation. In class you are supposed to be listening. In any case, eating, working, or recreation are perfect places for dialog—especially important dialog. This is why I write eating is living and dialog.
Whenever I want to get my characters together for an important conversation, I get them together for dinner. For characters who live together, breakfast, lunch, or dinner will work, but dinner especially at a restaurant is the perfect location for conversation. Of course, all those other opportunities in the day will work as well, but as many new writers find, a happenstance meeting just feels too much like deus ex machina, and it is.
You will also discover that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also opportunities for other types of meetings, contacts, and action, other than dialog. People naturally congregate at those times. I guess I’ll pass a scene set at dinner:
Klava turned, and Leila and Scáth followed her. The organization’s driver drove them first to Leila, Scáth and Heidi’s hotel. By the time they arrived, the evening fell full dark. They made Klava wait in the automobile while Leila and Scáth freshened up and retrieved Heidi. When they exited the Hilton, Leila and Scáth still wore the same dresses and hats they sported on the first day of the Grand National. Heidi wore a pink and lace dress with a matching pink hat. She looked like a young girl ready to attend her first formal party.
Klava’s brow rose. She exited the automobile and greeted them, “So, this is Heidi?”
Leila grasped Heidi’s hand and presented it to her mother, “Yes, mother, this is Heidi Mardling. She is my handmaiden and friend.”
Klava touched Heidi’s hand, “Yes, I see. I am very glad to make your acquaintance, Ms. Heidi Mardling.”
Heidi curtsied, “And I yours Mrs. O’Dwyer.”
Klava glanced at them all, “Shall we go?”
The driver opened the rear doors for them. The automobile was an old Bentley with club seating. Leila and Scáth sat facing the rear with Klava and Heidi across from them. Klava sat directly across from Leila. After they arranged their seating, the driver started the vehicle and turned into traffic.
Leila asked, “Where are we going?”
“Sixty Hope Street.”
Leila mumbled, “Well, she can’t have much of a row there—it’s not very private.”
Klava asked, “You said, dear?”
Their driver took them to the Liverpool city center. He stopped in front of a three story red brick Georgian town house between two other similar buildings. The entrance formed a white arched doorway. At either side lay a large lead paned window white washed at the top and the bottom. Three windows marched across the second and third stories, and a second set of windows lay in the open lower floor below the street level. A black iron fence ringed either side of the entranceway to guard the drop from the street to the open areas at either side of front. On the left, two tables each with four chairs sat alone. At the left stood a stylized lamb sculpture painted with the British ensign. Toward the very front, four evenly placed large planters separated the restaurant from the street.
When they arrived, the driver let them out, and Klava led them through the door to the Maitre d’s station. Sixty Hope Street appeared very modern and clean—refreshing. Klava addressed the Maitre de, “I’m Mrs. O’Dwyer. I have a reservation.”
The maitre de took a glance at her, “Yes, ma’am, the private room is ready for you…”
“Room?” Leila exclaimed. She was about to bolt.
Scáth and Heidi grabbed Leila’s hands and would not let her go.
Leila muttered under her breath all the way to the private room. It appeared to be a fine bright room with alternating dark green and white walls and a table set for four. The room seemed rather large for the four of them, but the table sat in a cozy corner, near the window and a fireplace.
Heidi sat Leila across from her mother and Scáth and Heidi sat facing one another.
After they seated themselves, the waiter brought a bottle of sweet German wine and a large pint of Guinness. He served the wine to Leila and Heidi and placed the Guinness before Klava.
Leila pointed to Scáth’s glass and the waiter filled it for her. He left menus for each of them.
Klava dug into her purse, “Do you mind if I smoke?”
Leila pursed her lips together, “Go ahead. You won’t be able to hold a decent conversation otherwise.”
Klava smiled, “Thank you, dear.”
Klava placed a box of John Player Specials beside her plate and adroitly lit one between her lips. The lighter appeared old and silver with a dark patina. She took a deep drag on the cigarette and a long pull on the Guinness.
Heidi touched the box, “May I?”
Klava laughed, “Be my guest.” She lit the cigarette for Heidi. Klava lifted the box toward Leila, “Would you like one, dear?”
Leila shook her head.
Klava laughed again. The white cigarette smoke leaked between her lips, “I am so happy right now, Leila, I can barely contain myself.”
“Happy?” Leila tightened her jaw, “What is there to be happy about?”
Klava shook her head, “I understand how it is for you at the moment. I know how terrible it is to be separated from your warrior, but do you have any idea how proud you have made me?”
“Proud? I thought you asked me here to lecture me.”
Klava grinned, “Lecture you? I want to celebrate with you.”
“Did Mrs. Calloway put you up to this?”
Klava’s features turned serious, “Kathrin allowed me to take you out.”
“Mother, you haven’t taken me out to anything before. You kept me in a virtual box at home…”
“Yes, and you ran away every time.” Klava lit another cigarette, “We are sitting together now on the eve after you took your place. You have a warrior. You took my servant and made her your handmaiden… Scáth sits at table with us. You served her a drink. I never served Scáth before. She is your servant.”
“She is my friend.”
Scáth gave Klava a half-grin, “And her nursemaid.”
Klava smiled, “And her nursemaid. You also have another friend. This Heidi is so much of a creature like us, I can barely restrain myself from wanting to hold her…and to hold you.”
Leila gave a half-hearted smile, “What changed?”
Klava took another pull on her pint, “Well it wasn’t me.”
“Did I change so much that I now have your approval?”
Klava looked unhappily into her almost empty pint, “You have.”
Leila stared at her almost empty glass, “What changed then?”
“You became more like me than I ever imagined you could be. I’ll not say everything will be calm between us, but I like what you have become and what you are becoming.”
“Just because I ran away and started to live my life like I always wanted to…?”
“Yes…I did the same, and so did your grandmother.”
“What does grandmother have to do with anything? I’m sure she would like to entertain me with a lecture—she certainly wasn’t about to hold back at Hasting’s.”
“You grandmother wasn’t happy with me either. She became especially unhappy with me about your father…”
“Yes, well. That wasn’t entirely your fault.”
“Dearest, we don’t choose our parents…it is what we do with what we have. When I sent you down to town with Scáth at Christmas, I sent a girl away entirely unsure about herself and her place. What I see before me now is a woman who has made her place.”
Leila blushed and put up her menu, “I want another glass of this very good wine.”
The waiter entered and brought another pint and another bottle. He refilled Heidi and Liela’s glasses. They ordered from the club menu.
Klava lit another cigarette for herself and Heidi, “Did I tell you, dear, I like your friends. I would very much like to meet Mr. Mardling.”
Leila raised her hand in front of her eyes, “I’m so afraid…”
“Yes, we all are. You see, this is an event that brought us all together for you.”
Leila didn’t lower her hand, “I see.”
“Let’s talk of things a bit more pleasant, shall we?”
“Yes,” Leila sipped from her glass.
“Heidi, has the acceptance of Kathrin and the others.”
“They really don’t know who she is.”
Klava smiled, “I really don’t think that would make any difference now.”
“I shouldn’t have mentioned anything.”
Klava asked, “Have you made any plans for the future?”
“I told Aunt Sveta I would continue to work as long as I may take care of my business…”
“Your arms business?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
Klava pressed her lips together, “Will you live in Belfast?”
“I want to…”
“Where were you living before now?”
Scáth interjected, “She lived in the Italian Tower of Antrim Castle.”
“Oh my. Where did you eat? Scáth wasn’t with you, and you can’t...”
Leila snarled, “I know I can’t cook.”
Scáth interrupted again, “The Princess was mostly drinking the proceeds.”
Klava’s brow rose.
“I missed my warrior…”
Klava reached across the table and took Leila’s hands, “I understand.”
Leila started to pull away, but then let her mother hold her hands.
Klava grinned at her, “I am willing to give you the house in Belfast if you would like it. I’ve already spoken to Brigitta about it.”
“Really?” Leila glanced up.
“Really. It should be convenient to your work.”
“What will you and father do when you come down to Belfast?”
“We will stay with you. I have a feeling your father and your warrior will get along famously together.”
“Perhaps…I really shouldn’t be making any commitments without George.”
“Yes, but that should be cleared up soon—Kathrin has promised it…”
At that moment, the waiter served their dinner. They spoke of family and generalities for the rest of the evening. Heidi and Klava finished a box of John Player Specials together. Leila and Heidi drank too much. After Klava let them off before the Hilton, Scáth and Heidi helped Leila to their hotel room. They could sleep in and make the second day of the Nationals easily before noon.
Perhaps not earthshattering, but this is a resolution prior to the climax of the novel. This little conversation and dinner clears up many problems for my protagonist. The end of the novel is near. This is the way to use eating for living and dialog.
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:
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