1. Azurisy
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    Azurisy Member

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    Style A Whole New Approach to Writing Novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Azurisy, Dec 23, 2013.

    Hi people, who are dedicated and likeminded to write innovative novels,

    I would like to propose an interesting question - the style of writing novels according to its plot, characters and themes. Specifically, I want to think of a whole new approach that may redefine and revolutionise it. Let's consider a specific element of writing novels where I want to reconsider the stylistic devices and conventions commonly used to deliver great stories.

    When writing plots, it has appeared, almost ubiquitously speaking, that novelists tend to write as their thoughts occur. It is far from highly structured approach, and similar to stream of consciousness. Ideally, I would take a highly structured approach where I think of time, flow and sequence of events as a conceptual matter/idea in themselves. This would give rise to the more wholesome beauty and meaning, that is, the richness, intricacy and beauty of time, plots and sequences as temporal metaphors and symbolisms. Obviously, this is as quite powerful as writing poetry, but at far greater length and in excess of 100 000 words. A following example will give you an idea of alternative methods of writing and organising plots, which are commonly narrated by its protagonist characters.

    Example: The Knight's Adventures in a Chaotic World, where he deals with opportunities, problems and issues within - his adventures that unfold on each page turn can take forms of a lotus, whose each petal represents one of five parallel/temporal pathways to resolution. That is, each petal can represent, respectively, the righteous pathway through fairness and equity, the neutral pathway through haphazard actions, the malicious pathway through aggravation on existing problems, betrayal, misuse of powers, and so on. This way, the storyline as a lotus is alternatively a metaphor of the spiritual reality, which is often esoterically stated to include non-linear pathways, human choices and unfolding consciousness over time.

    I would like to leave this interesting question for others to participate, and I look forward to receiving interesting ideas, viewpoints and suggestions.
     
  2. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure I understood your point correctly, but this bit caught my eye. What statistics are basis of this claim? Because my observations (looking at lots of folks on this forum, for instance) are in the contrary; a lot of people take a highly structural approach to writing novels and don't do stream of consciousness much if at all. I've also read many interviews of published authors who've explained just how they plan and plot their novels and (this is just a guess) it looks like not many take the stream of consciousness -route.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is nothing new about structured composition and pre-planning. See the thread "What's Your Writing Process?" in this forum.

    You'll see, as you peruse that thread, that seat of the pants writing is far from universally employed, so your initial assumption that writers universally write as their thoughts condense is not correct.

    You will also see reasons why some writers avoid an overly structured approach.
     
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  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    imo, any creative writing formula would be oxymoronic...
     
  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    They don't. Every professional writer I've talked with said that they almost always plot first. But what you're saying, if I understand what you're getting at, is that the writer, before they begin, should be aware of the structural issues of creating scenes and stories that will hold a reader's interest. I think you'll find, if you dig into the craft of the fiction writer, that while the model you suggest isn't the one you proposed, there is a great deal of information on how to create and manage scenes to best effect.

    But here's the thing. Maybe you're absolutely right in your approach. The only way to tell is to see if a publisher says yes. They don't care what techniques you used in the writing, they only look at the results and its capability to induce a reader to say yes at the cash register.
    So, write something using that technique and post the first thousand words here. That's about as much as the average reader samples before making a buy or reject decision. If most people say they would have bought it based on that sample you have a winner, and it makes sense to query a publisher. If not...
     
  6. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Azurisy ...so, could you elaborate some more on the five paths? There are various alternatives to western mainstream literary unit and story structure - let's hear about the one you like?
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am very confident that given the 300 odd years novels have been written, by masters on down, most structural methods have been tried, to one degree of success or another.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is very true. In fact, some people claim that the novel as a form reached its peak back in the early 20th century. Everything that can be done with a novel has already been done.
     
  9. lex
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    lex Contributing Member

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    I wonder, though, whether there's ever been a time during the last 200 years that some people haven't been saying this? :)
     
  10. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Think how long people have been cooking food, and people keep coming up with new dishes all the time. Take the cronut for example.
     
  11. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't see food getting any better than that.:D That's got to be like reading a Harlequin Romance every day.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm sure people have been saying this for decades now. I'm inclined to believe it's true, however. The novel has changed very little in the past 60+ years. Some of the experimental stuff being tried today comes off as gimmicky and hasn't really caught on.
     
  13. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @thirdwind by "experimental stuff" you mean everything modernist and post-modernist? That's hardly contemporary: 20th century is long gone and ancient history ;)
     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    No, I'm talking about stuff like Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes.
     
  15. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @thirdwind naah, compared to Zazie dans le metro that's just blaah :D

    I think you could easily say that Tristram Shandy was both the peek of novel-writing and the first deconstruction of the key elements of novel as a genre before the genre was even formed. Looking further into western canon, each oeuvre that left a mark on the development of the novel could be marked as "experimental" in some way: setting new standards, going where no man has gone before, that sort of thing.
     
  16. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I understand what you're saying, but at a certain point the work in question becomes so experimental that it's no longer a novel by definition (although I guess there's no real consensus as to what this definition is). I suppose we could look at whether or not Joyce's Finnegan's Wake fits the definition of a novel. It's highly experimental and disregards the typical elements found in a traditional novel. But the problem is that no one has written a book like that since, which is saying a lot. So either people are unwilling to accept new experimental works or they've realized that the novel has a finite number of ways in which it can be written. I'm leaning towards the latter.
     
  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, we never called Finnegan a novel on the faculty: the cyclical nature of the writing pretty much negates any true "plot" one might perceive, to say the least... Frankly, that particular book lays on my desk waiting for my English to catch up (a translation was attempted a few years ago by a professor I know, but he remains silent on the matter ever since) :)

    ...If a "novel" was some sort of platonic Idea, a perfect form of which we have seen only shadows, reflections if you like (all novelists are trying to write a single NOVEL), then I guess there could be a very finite number of ways to approach it and produce it. Something like the Babylon library, where there is every conceivable combination of letters giving an unlimited but finite number of books. But I think Borges was making a joke there.

    If, on the other hand, you look at "novel" as a literary genre, a specific type of literary discourse, then you have to approach it diachronically, as a dynamic form which evolves constantly. And as such, there is no indication of this change ever stopping. There is no goal to reach - no one perfect structure to form.

    If an art form ever reaches such point of complete fulfillment - I see no reason for it's further existence. In a way, like anywhere else, without space to evolve, the only solution is death. But I think novelistic form proved to be quite a survivor - tough, flexible, versatile.
     
  18. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I would still consider Finnegan's Wake a novel because it contains traditional elements such as characters, etc. I would also consider Beckett's The Unnamable a novel, though this choice is perhaps harder to justify since there is no plot or setting. It simply consists of a character thinking and reflecting on past events. However, contrast this with book describing a rural landscape for 300 pages, and you'll see that there are some things that make a novel a novel and not something else (having at least one character being one of those things). So I would argue that the novel can't go on evolving forever because there are certain inherent properties the novel as a form is defined by. I suppose you could think of a novel as being bounded by the other forms of writing; that is, if you take the novel far enough, it will turn into an essay, a poem, etc. and won't be a novel anymore.

    I know there have been attempts to merge the novel with other forms of writing, most notably the essay. Quite a few writers from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 20th century experimented with this (Broch and Mann are the two examples that come to mind). For one reason or another, this never caught on. In fact, the few attempts I know of to move away from the novel as it existed in the late 19th/early 20th centuries weren't successful and died out fairly quickly.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I feel you should take risks if you want, follow your heart into new concepts of structure if you want, write any way you want, whatever you want. Be as creative as you want. Discover a new path if you want. Stand on your head and whistle Dixie between each sentence if you want. Break every rule in the 'book' if you want.

    However, if your experimentations become so esoteric and personal that nobody else can relate to, or even follow, what you are doing—then you need to be ready to take the consequences of that.

    If you're clever enough to shape your experimentation so other people (admittedly with a bit of work) CAN appreciate what you're doing, you might end up writing a classic like James Joyce did.

    If you're not skilled enough to do this, you'll end up having a great time expressing yourself, but nobody else will be interested. It's up to you how 'readable' you want to be, but you need to be ready to remain obscure (and/or unpublished) if you're not.

    Have fun...!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  20. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Hi Azuisy,

    It sounds like you are excited about your proposed approach to writing. I think you should harness that excitement and get started. Develop your structure as you see it then discipline yourself to following it a little bit each day. Best of luck!
     
  21. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The only reason to choose any structure, new or used, revolutionary or tried-and-true, is that you believe it to be the best way to engage the reader in your story. Any other consideration is irrelevant.
     
  22. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    The approach is the least of my concerns. Entertaining is my priority. I suppose if you think innovation will be entertaining then go for it. However, I tend to think that type of thing comes naturally. That's like genius level.
     
  23. criticalsexualmass
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    criticalsexualmass Active Member

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    People always think that things peaked in the past, and that they are now old and irrelevant. I don't buy into it. Things stagnate for a while, then Dick Fosbery comes along and blows everyone's ideas out of the water. Things change, and sometimes the established ideas change with them, sometimes they don't.

    I think experimenting is great! Sometimes the next advance can be forced, like the Manhattan project, but sometimes the greatest accomplishments come from a moldy orange in a lab. We don't know until we screw around with it, even if somebody else has already screwed around with it before. Don't let anybody tell you not to do something, but by the same token, recognize when it's not working and move on.
     
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  24. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    May I please order 10,000 units of this for shipment by Friday? Is Paypal ok? :)
     
  25. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    The OP's example seems to break down to writing 5 possible story lines for this knight at the same time. Hasn't that been done a lot? You could argue that any possible story line symbolizes something and becomes more wholesome and beautiful if that's what you're looking for. Or it could just be life.

    If I'm wrong, I would love a clear explanation of how they would write "temporal metaphors and symbolisms" into a novel.

    I agree with the others who are saying this:

    is wrong.
     

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