27 June 2020, Writing - part xx268 Writing a Novel, Make it Sense Setting
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.
Make it sense setting. Let’s move on to exercises. We might as well look at how to actually write with showing. Imagine a place and at time. Let’s take a building and outside the building to begin with. Pick something worth describing. Usually I use a mansion or a castle, but we can choose an older home. You can use any place, but the more picturesque the better.
How about we use a house out of a book or magazine. Find one with reasonable views. Or pick a place out of your memory. I’d advise a book or magazine because you can constantly refer to it. Now, start with the senses. The easiest is sight. We want to set the setting on the stage of the novel, so let’s place the building or house in its setting. Let’s start with the sky.
The sun was high and hot with wisps of clouds making fleecy puffs from one side of the sky to the other. The clouds played hide and seek with the great burning globe alternately giving relief and respite from the midsummer heat.
The time is near midday. The season is midsummer. It is hot with clouds in the sky. The time is set. I haven’t moved from sight much yet, but there is physical feeling in the mention of heat and the respite from heat. Time for the setting of the building in place on the stage.
The house sat nestled between slight hills with a long shaded path that ran from the main road nearly a mile to the front of the building. To the left was a thicket wood and to the right plowed fields. They were empty now because of the time of day and the heat. The crops were rustling in the light wind and the heady scent of growing rose up powerfully from them and filled the air. From the thicket woods, the smell of cedar and damp vied with the fresh greenness of the fields. The spring scent of buds was long gone, but the trees along the path were pecans loaded with bending branches and nearly ready to harvest. The remains of past crops lined the path and crunched under foot. Birds chirped happily hidden among the leaves as if anticipating the rich bounty of fresh pecans.
That set the house in a place. It’s likely the south and probably Texas or Louisiana. I didn’t tell you anything, but we might get there. It would not be improper to actually place the house. The description has added sounds and smells. Notice all this is showing. Then we move to the house itself.
The house was fronted with a dusty red soil rutted drive that made a circle right before the large doorway. Above the door was a large Texas Star and a horse shoe with the open end up to catch the luck. It was two storied with a cupola and gables and stout with a dusty look over its original white wash paint. The dust was just newer than the pain, but still gave the house a patina of age. The first floor held four long windows on each side and the second floor was almost a mimic to the first. The front door was sheltered by its own small gable.
And so on. The point here is the description. This is the type of description I would make for any scene that introduced such a place. With the description, you can tell this is an important setting for the story or novel. There is no telling at all in this description. The point of view is not given. I would rather set the point of view as the protagonist. You would then start the entire description from the point of view of the protagonist or any other character. For example, we might start the scene setting with:
Bill stopped and wiped his brow. He looked along the road toward his destination. It was just visible down the long straight path ahead of him.
Then we move into the description. The point is to make the description from the point of view of a character on the stage of the novel. In any case, this is an example of using the senses and showing to describe a place. It isn’t a real place—I pulled it from my imagination. I did use my familiarity with East Texas in the description. I used almost all the senses in the description. I didn’t tell you anything, but there is a lot of information conveyed in the description itself. If I were to set the characters and then let the action begin, you could imagine this place and everyone around it. Perhaps that’s where we should move next—the characters.
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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