21 February 2018, Writing - part x411, Developing Skills, Reading
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but the publisher has delayed all their fiction output due to the economy. I'll keep you informed. 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 website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to 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 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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 29: 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 30: 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 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: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
The first skill you must have is reading. When I write “reading,” I don’t mean that you just can read—I mean that you read. Every good to great writer I know is a reading machine. I literally have three or more books going at once. I read every opportunity I get. If you aren’t this type of reader, you will not have much chance as a writer.
Reading is necessary to give you examples of good writing and to provide ideas for plots. You aren’t going to get many ideas from technical writing. I’ll give you that if you write science fiction that scientific writing and papers might give you ideas. However, the main way you will learn to be a better writer is by reading fiction and you should be reading great fiction.
Great fiction I will define as fiction that is a classic and entertaining. Classic is that it is more than fifty years old, and entertaining is that you enjoy reading it. Let me put in a caveat—if you don’t enjoy, for example, Dickins or Austin, the problem isn’t Dickins or Austin, the problem is you. You must have the reading skills and vocabulary to understand and enjoy a certain level of literature. Unless you are at that level, don’t even contemplate expanding into writing.
I’ll also mention a “fake” classic. James Joyce is not an entertaining or even cogent writer. His works are not classics. If you enjoy reading Joyce, you are a liar or a fool. Joyce is like the Emperor without any clothes. If you remember that the purpose of fiction is to entertain, you will immediately see why Joyce is not good fiction. It is just jumbled incoherent and boring writing. A monkey could do better.
Back to great literature. Sir Walter Scott and especially Ivanhoe is a great classic. As we move into the Twentieth Century, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Herbert, Vance, Faulkner, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and all should be on your reading lists. This isn’t exclusive, but remember, we are looking for classics and entertaining. Tolkien isn’t that great of a writer. He is entertaining, but his works have way too much telling.
You are reading for ideas and for examples—those are negative examples as well as positive ones. I have rarely if ever read a perfect novel. I have read some really great examples of finely crafted novels. Let me recommend Dragonsong and Dragonsinger as great examples of very entertaining and well-crafted novels. The final novel in the group, Dragondrums is an example of a not very well put together novel. Compare and contrast the three and see the power of great fiction and not so great fiction.
The point, you must be a strong reader and an avid reader if you want to be a strong writer. Start reading. Get your reading experience and skill down, and you can move to the next step—writing.
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