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Showing posts from October 18, 2020

WTF? Don't Outline Your Novel?

Consider, do screenplay writers or playwrights just begin writing without planning? Of course not. So why should the novel be different? And we're not talking about Beckett or Joycean flights of fancy, we're talking about the vast bulk of commercial novels, whether they be upmarket or genre.     Ever heard this?  Don't plan or outline your novel, let the character write the novel, or even more simply,  "Just start writing." How many times have I heard that? And guess where? At a writer conference, of course. A certain type of author is asked whether or not they plot or outline ahead of time. They smile and say something like, "I've been asked this question before, and I have to say no, I don't outline. It just all comes to me, the character inhabits me..." or some such drivel. But let's be logical.  If you understand the primary foundations for writing a novel you know your plot line must develop certain points as it moves forw

Dark Classics and Theme Layers

Cuckoos, Rhinoceri, and Miss L  I admit a weakness for those darker novels of my youth, ones I pull from the shelf every ten years or so and reread, only to be fascinated and profoundly affected all over again. Three of favorites below, and each is a very good example of the intentional and methodical application of theme in the novel.   "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" Author Ken Kesey's primary theme may be expressed by the following statement: All human beings possesses a right to freedom and dignity, but they must struggle for this right in a society which relentlessly seeks conformity. Theme is represented in more than one way and can be found in nearly all novel elements. The characters are constructed to symbolize the extremes of freedom and conformity, especially the protagonist, McMurphy, and the antagonist, The Big Nurse. Each have minions or followers as well. The nurse commands her orderlies and McMurphy influences the patients. The majo