heart of a rose

The Shadow, Edward Blair Leighton

Whenever a new fiction idea occurs to me and I can see the possibility of a novel–one particular question always accompanies it: what are the scenes; how do I determine them? This may be a no-brainer, but for me it ‘s one of the mysteries of creative writing. In the writing of fiction, the idea is transformed; it morphs into drama (or comedy) illustrated by scenes carried on a current of narrative. I’ve read somewhere, probably many times, that the premise determines the scenes needed to enliven the fictive dream. Oh yes. And how is that done again?

Usually I get the first scene right away, which may or may not remain as the opening scene, and there might be a second scene that follows, but then I start to get into marshy territory. Lots of ideas for scenes may occur to me–but which do I choose, which do I follow? And why? Why is prospective scene A better than prospective scene B? Why does it matter? Much thinking goes on, and finally the right scene bloops out of the marsh. But just the one.

In genre fiction, certain scenes are a given–but then there’s the risk of predictability, the danger of a formulaic plot ringing the death knell of originality, of bright ideas, of creativity. I find literary fiction to be more of an exploration of character and theme and no scenes are a given, but beware of navel gazing. I write both literary and genre because I have ideas for both, and I love reading literary novels as well as genre novels, but I’ve a different approach and a different attitude toward writing each one. I’m digressing, so…

Ever looked into the heart of a rose? The petals whorl out from the center, overlap and proliferate in  transcendent, breath-taking beauty–novel scenes are like petals rising from the heart of the rose, they whorl out of the heart of the idea. This is not to say that all novels are structured like a rose; of course not.

Write in the moment. I’ve read that somewhere too. I like that idea. It’s what I tend to do, but it often leads me into the marsh ’cause I got to decide what’s next and why. Loose Daddy has all of its scenes; I think, and yet, I’m still considering more. Re-writing is re-visioning.

Today, unexpectedly, while crawling through this morning’s traffic, I got the plot for the November novel, which I’m calling Untitled Novel #5 because I don’t have a title for it yet. It’s not the same story I was thinking of a while back–the one where I thought there’d be a murder; I like this one better. It offers magic, romance, evil, sacrifice–all the good stuff I like to read in a fantasy novel and watch in fantasy films. I’m signed up for NANO and looking forward to November 1st.


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