Writers are considered ‘intellectuals’ when, in reality, and they are ‘emotionalists.’ Intellectualism is provocative, but emotions are dramatic. Thought is a result of feeling. If someone flings the torch into your filled gasoline can, you do not first think about the inevitable chemical reaction. You get away, fast, and with feeling.
Writers use their thinking abilities to administrate what their feelings create. They feel the story, then think about. They respond to the emotional theatrics of the seeing, then think about how to arrange it into a readable drama. All writing is both feeling and thinking.
Which came first–the major creator (you) or the plot (some events in your life)? They both came first. They happen simultaneously, and they influence each other. Without a character, an event is merely an historical statistic. Without an event, a character is an inert personality.
Return to the model story-structure of a Red Riding Hood. The moment she goes on her errand, she is a character involved in an event. To bring out the depths in her character, you must put her under pressure. Without the pressure of circumstance, (a threat, a cause for fear,) she cannot reveal what she is feeling and thinking. Let her lose her way in the forest.
Every situation in which you place your character, (yourself,) you first explore the obvious reactions. Then, reveal the more intimate reactions. The obvious allows the reader to identify with the conditions. When the intimate reactions are described, the reader can then relate to the person. This helps the reader to participate and care about what is happening.
If Red Riding Hood gets lost in the forest, her obvious reaction will be panic. The reader can relate to that. If she decides to calm herself by eating one of her grandmother’s pastrami sandwiches, she is responding individually to her panic. While she is eating, you switch to the hungry wolf. He loves pastrami sandwiches. The aroma leads him to the girl. You have begun to set up another situation of danger for Red Riding Hood.
Major characters carry the novel. They should be complex. The plot-line is the sequence of events. They should be complicated. Complexity belongs to character because the longer you stay with her, the deeper she gets. Complication applies to events. One event leads to another and around and around it goes. Events fix characters into situations that cause them conflict. The conflict is any circumstance or person that thwarts the character from achieving success.
There are three types of conflicts:
- The individual against society (an economic depression, an earthquake, social aggression against personal principles)
- The individual against the individual (an enemy or enemies)
- The individual against him or herself (a destructive trend in character that threatens the individuals goals and objectives)
As in the Red Riding Hood plot line, place your characters into situation after situation. The betrayal by a friend, the rejection by a female, a drunken driving accident, finding a lot of money, developing a physical deformity that estranges them from people. Each situation they overcome deepens them, but also provokes other, more complicated situations. Use your own experiences as the start. Then allow them to lead you and others.
The novel is simply the story of what happens to people and how it happens to them. In the process of unfolding the situations you devise, you cause clashes, conflicts, and changes in character. No one ends the same way they began. This ” Youth\Odyssey” novel is the most credible and readable novel anyone can write. It not only gives your past reality it never had before, but it enriches and offers perception into your present. You also give the readers depths and insights into the variousness of life, through your personal experience. But there is one more requirement.
You will never be a true writer unless you drive yourself lunatic by wondering if you have talent. Many splendid novels are never written because people do not believe they have the talent for writing. Yet consider this: if talent was essential for the writing of novels, then three quarters of what is written today would not be published. Talent is important, but passion and work is more important. You are self-employed, and the boss. You will never know if you have the talent for writing a novel if you peck and poke at writing, now and then. Talent appears over a substantial length of time. You are not talented today and untalented tomorrow. You are either always talented or not ever talented. But you will never know which you are, until you are bold enough to try.
©Leonard Bishop, 2013
(first published November 24, 1985 the Manhattan Mercury)