25 June 2020, Writing - part xx266 Writing a Novel, Creativity and Senses
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.
Creativity and senses. We detect and understand the world wholly through our senses except when we are reading. When you are reading, you are indeed perceiving letters, formed into words, then sentences, paragraphs, and scenes, but you are processing only symbols in your mind. Your mind is turning the symbols into thoughts and exciting perceptions and things that exist only in symbols on paper. What’s the point?
The author is developing a framework using symbols that must build enough of that framework to excite the imagination of the reader to sense the world of the novel. Effectively, the author is taking his or her perception of the world and turning that perception into symbols the reader can turn back into perceptions. All this is happening through imagination in the brain. The reality is that although using your senses in perception are using different receptors and transmitters, once it gets into the imagination, Katy bar the door.
Think of it this way. The author takes in perceptions or imagines perceptions of the world. I like to work from perceptions and then give life to them in my imagination. If you haven’t noticed, sometimes just a smell, a taste, a sensation of touch, a sight, a sound are enough to make someone cry, feel nostalgic, feel sad, remember pain, feel hungry, and so on. A single impression can make a person have a physical reaction. The job of the author is to distill the impressions of the senses into symbols, into words, sentences, paragraphs, and scenes. The author is always using symbols that is writing. The point is that the author must express through these symbols what the reader will perceive in their imagination. The imagination is a wild and powerful place. An author can make all kinds of fantastical things appear, but only if he or she can make the reader also perceive something similar. The means to this is through the senses. Most specifically, a sensory framework that builds to something similar in the mind of the reader. The only way to achieve this is through the expression of symbols that turn into the correct framework in the mind of the reader.
The author uses descriptions of the senses to build this framework. In addition, the framework of the writing (symbols) is much more complex that simple description. For example, if I were to write: the sky candle rose ponderously above the horizon, and cast light in the deepest shadows. This expresses the sunrise using figures of speech. What about this: the rising sun leapt up out of the mountain shadows causing the sage and thistle to burst with scent. The feel and the picture of these two descriptions are significantly different in feel. Their framework is different. Even the projection of the senses is slightly different. How about this: with the sun, the air suddenly chilled, and dew dropped onto everything. The air filled with the scent of water touched by a hint of roses and lilies. Adding more senses and more framework. At the same time, the description isn’t the same at all. How about: as the great ball of the sun rose over the still warm sands, the sounds of waking insects and birds filled the air. The air already felt warm. Warm and dry without a touch of fragrance except dust. I am adding more and more to this framework and I’m intentionally varying the framework to give an entirely different feel to the description. I’m using the symbols of writing to build this framework. The framework is in my mind, but I’m building that framework in writing for your mind. The entire point is to show the readers through this framework. Here is an example from my novel, Children of Light and Darkness:
Kathrin McClellan tugged at her soggy blouse. She already felt soaked, and the sun had barely crested the hills or the jungle treetops. The rainforest spread out heavy and green, bursting with vitality. Insects, birds, and larger animals already lifted up their repetitious calls with the rising sun. The aroma of the jungle rose with them pervasive, and to Kathrin’s nose everything seemed thick and cloying. It was only made worse by the constant heat. Kathrin was not immune to the smells yet either—the fragrance and the heat. The air flooded so full of moisture each breath seemed like it tried to strangle her. It reminded her of the steam baths in Finland, but here there was no opportunity to run out into the cold and dive into a freezing pool of water. There wasn’t any air conditioning here to escape for a little while from the oppressive grip of the heat, and the nighttime didn’t offer any relief either. At night, the place turned dark and hot. Ugh, she hated it. It was so different from her native Scotland, and from her adopted land of England.
This is the first paragraph of the novel. If you notice, I involve every sense. I use figures of speech and comparisons. The point of view is Kathrin, it is her impression and not just mine—although I am the author and I wrote it. This framework is the framework from Kathrin’s mind and written by me. This is also a sunrise description. It’s much different than any of the others.
So, here we go. This is the use of senses to show and to develop creativity. The creativity is the in the use of language (writing and symbols) to turn perceptions into imagination first by the author and then by the reader. The use of the senses and the expression of the senses in description are about the greatest tools the author has to build this in the imagination of the reader. It all starts with the senses.
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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