30 June 2020, Writing - part xx271 Writing a Novel, Make it Sense Setting, Visualizing
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.
Visualizing. Visualizing is the means to write properly with showing. If you learn to visualize, you will be able to write well. You don’t hear much about visualizing, but this is the means most great writers use to write especially their first cuts. What does it mean to visualize?
Visualization means seeing the story in your head, developing it in your head, then writing it down in a coherent manner. This is exactly what I do. I visualize what my characters are going to do over and over in my mind. I review the plots and storylines in my mind. I run them like film clips and I make notes to remind myself of what my characters are supposed to do. I place these notes directly in my manuscript where I can review them and modify them as the novel develops. I only delete them after I’ve written the scene or had my character complete their actions. That’s how it works in a nutshell, but I suspect you want more details.
First, I visualize the actions of my characters. This means I have to visualize the setting details including the characters. This starts with the initial scene. The initial scene is the most critical scene in the novel. If you get a great initial scene idea, you should write it down immediately. In any case, I usually review an initial scene and the initial setting over and over in my mind before I begin to write. Usually, I begin to make my novel notes. I start with the settings: time, place, and characters. I usually develop all these things at once. That’s because the protagonist, plot, theme, and telic flaw are all one. The protagonist comes with the telic flaw and the plot and theme come out of that telic flaw. I’ll repeat for those who don’t remember, the telic flaw isn’t necessarily a flaw in the protagonist, it is the flaw in the world of the novel, the protagonist must resolve.
Second, once I visualize the settings, place, time, characters, and the initial scene, I begin to write the initial scene. As I mentioned, I have notes, I’ve already visualized the scene more than once, and the writing of it is more of a catharsis than an entirely new thing to me. If you remember back to when I was writing about creativity and the catharsis. I wrote that you should fill your mind with all kinds of good stuff and then let it all out in a creative outburst. This is what Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle called the catharsis. To me, writing is a catharsis. I fill my mind with the details of my story, and then I let them all out at once. I visualize them in scenes, and I write them down in scenes. The scene is the simplest major construction of the novel.
Yes we write starting with letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, then scenes, but scenes are the simplest construction in a novel. A novel is a collection of scenes, hopefully sequential that leads to the telic flaw resolution. Here’s the outline of the novel to remind you.
1. The initial scene
2. The rising action scenes
3. The climax scene
4. The falling action scene(s)
5. The dénouement scene(s)
Chapters are merely a collection of scenes or a single scene. Focus on a single scene at a time. Write your novel scene by scene. I don’t outline the scenes, but if it helps you, outline by scene.
Third, focus only on the scene at hand. Write the current scene. I try to complete a scene in a single sitting. If you get ideas for another scene, put it in your notes. I keep two sets of notes. I always have a note file for every novel. When I’m writing the novel, this file is open and I refer to it over and over during the writing. My note file includes mostly characters names, short notes on them, place names with necessary notes, and cumulative notes for the novel. I usually don’t include plot or telic flaw notes, but I do usually include the theme statement.
The way I progress the scenes of the novel is through my notes at the end of each chapter or scene. I’ve written before, the way I pace, measure, and develop my writing is by chapters. This is a very artificial method, but it works great for me.
I plan to write a 100,000 word novel. A 100,000 word novel breaks very nicely into 20, 5,000 word chapters. A chapter might contain one to three scenes. When I sit down to write, I plan to end a chapter at about 5,000 words, with pica 12 double spaced, and regular margins, that gives about 20 pages of text. When I sit down to write, I plan to write about 20 pages or 5,000 words and break to a new chapter. Part of the reason I write this way is because when I started writing novels on computers, the word processor programs couldn’t handle novel length works. They could easily handle chapter length writing. Plus, in the early computers, there was always the problem of file errors and problems. Thus, if you broke your novel into 20 chapters, there was less chance of losing large amounts of material or your entire novel if you had a file problem. I continue to use this method even though computers and software has gotten much more reliable. I use it now, more as a method of pacing and development than for file safety, but you can still see the chance of my losing an entire novel is much less than trying to write the novel into an entire file. I’ve written extensively about my methods for files and filing, so I won’t continue at this point.
As I noted, I write by chapter. At the end of each chapter, I include notes about where I think the novel and specifically the next scene should go. These are notes from my scene development and from visualizing the characters next moves. Perhaps I should expand on this, and I haven’t finished with visualizing.
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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