Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Write a Novel #1, Plus Canada Pictures

Dear Readers,

Now that I'm back at my regular work desk, my top priority is to immerse myself in my fictive world. I'm thinking about my novel-in-progress (click here for a chapter that's already published - The Old Mansion in the Plaza). I believe that most fiction writers inhabit the world of their characters. This leaves us fictions writers in a dreamy state as far as the "real" world is concerned, and we may be perceived as "out of it," or "not paying attention."  Indeed our attention is divided.  Even as I walk around in Southern California, my mind is (or should be) anchored with my fictional characters and their world.

When I was in France last May, since one of my women characters (Melisande) is French, I was able to imagine Paris, Beaun, and Lyon, as her world. In my imagination, I had to think of France as it may have been in the late 1800s, but there were/are enough architectural and geographic clues to make that task easy.

I am constantly trying to "see" better in my imagination what my characters look like, do, say, and where. As my teacher, Leonardo Vercovicci used to say: "Crawl into your characters' minds."

I must inhabit their minds so I can see, smell, feel, think, imagine, as they do. In a magical sort of way, I become them, that is, there is a part of me that is "them," so I am (at the same time) the French dressmaker, the widow, the murderer, the victim, the gay Juan dela Cruz -- all the characters that inhabit my novel.

Here's the difficult part: I must understand them deeply so as to make them complex characters.  I am not happy with flat characters that have just one or two facets to their personalities, for eg. I am a bad murderer; I am a flirtatious French dressmaker; I am a flamboyant gay artist. No. I must explore them (poke into the recesses of their soul) to discover their hidden selves. I must know what makes them "tick." Juan dela Cruz in my published chapter is flamboyant and gay, but there is more to his story than his traipsing around as such. This is the fun but difficult part.  But when I succeed, the work becomes interesting and lively and surprising to my readers.

Writing fiction is one of those obsessive preoccupations that has chosen me, rather than me choosing it. I usually do not discuss my works-in-progress.  There is a saying among writers:  If you can discuss your work, why write it?  In other words, the creative energy could dissipate by your talking or writing about it.

However, now, I feel comfortable writing about this, since I'm talking about the craft.  I'm hoping that this short discussion will nudge me back to my fictive world.

 I'm also sharing pictures I took at the Montreal Botanical Gardens, which we visited on our last day there.  There were huge topiaries that reminded me of the floats at the Pasadena Rose Parade. The big difference is these topiaries are alive.  Each "buffalo" or "frog" is made of living plants inserted into a frame that contains soil.

Thanks for your time, dear Readers, and have a great Thursday!


Be sure to read How to Write a Novel # 2 - Focus on Character

Click here to read The Old Mansion in the Plaza: published chapter from my novel-in-progress - scroll down

tags: Creative Writing, Novel writing, Fiction, Cecilia Brainard, How to write a novel

No comments: