How Not to Start a Novel:

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longknife
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How Not to Start a Novel:

Post by longknife » July 21st, 2014, 3:44 pm

Four Things to Avoid on Page One

I really had to stop and read this. After all, have I made a similar good in the start of my latest novel? The very first recommendation caused me to go back and check mine out. Here it is:
They had ridden for half a turn of an hour glass in silence. Fernando silently rehearsed what he had to say, uncertain of her response. His necessity to tell her came, not from feelings of his heart, but the obligation incurred by his father many years before. At last, as they turned on the path toward her hacienda, he gathered himself.

“Teresa. I am going to enlist in the cavalry.”
Well? Did I get it or not? Remember, this takes place in 1742, if that helps.

Anyhow, read more of this very good piece @ http://www.thepassivevoice.com/07/2014/ ... -page-one/
Drop by Father Serra's Legacy http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com. Comments always eagerly awaited - but only if you find the item interesting enough to respond to.

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polymath
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Re: How Not to Start a Novel:

Post by polymath » July 21st, 2014, 7:48 pm

Each of the "Four Things to Avoid on Page One" boil down to a writing first principle espoused millenia ago in The Poetics of Aristotle: Dramatic Complication, which, though not defined in the text, is antagonizing wants and problems wanting satisfaction, problems themselves wants and, vice versa, wants are problems. Antagonism requires events foremost, all the while settings in which the antagonizing events arise and characters to which they arise, specifically one veiwpoint character agonist. Agonist: an agony contestant, "one that is engaged in a struggle" (Websters 11th).

The antagonizing events influence transformative change from the very first word of a narrative's title until the bitter, final, unequivocal, irrevocable end. The first change begun on the first page must be an upset of emotional equilbrium for the focal agonist and through that agonist's upset emotional equilbrium readers' emotional equilbrium is upset, changed, transformed unequivocallly by antagonizing events.

However, before events begin to go awry, a routine must be established such that the first change event interrupts that routine, all the while foreshadowing the interruption to come in its natural sequence. Plot, according to E.M. Forster in Aspects of the Novel is causal events in their natural sequence. The events must be antagonizingly causal; that is, cause causes effect, and effect causes further effect, accumulating cause and effect along the way, and so on, until the final effect that is the final outcome restores emotional equilbrium to a new normal routine.

Further, tension demands emotional reactions to causal stimuli, attitude toward the stimuli at least, fear and pity being the two most emotionally stimulating emotions of a cluster, though any other emotional cluster may relate and in addition to fear and pity. Also, the arousal of empathy or sympathy must as well arouse curiosity for the agonist for suspense's sake such that readers accompany an agonist's emotional journey.

Thus ACT:
Antagonism: transformative want and problem wanting satisfaction
Causation: transformative cause and effect, action and reaction, stimuli and response
Tension: transformative empathy or sympathy and curiosity arousal

A chemistry process illustrates: a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and muriatic acid results in a vigorous reaction. The two compunds mixed create heat, carbon dioxide gas, and transform into table salt and water, unequivocal and irrevocable change. This is alchemy of old, magic happening in a crucible of transformative influences, the very magic of well-crafted prose for dynamic narrative.

A start of a narrative first establishes a routine. This is how to start a novel. The routine itself implies on its own that an interruption is pendent in the wings, Stasis is an unnatural state wanting variety: change.

This Father Serra novel scene begins with development of the interruption before a routine has been established. The function of a routine is to emotionally contrast it with an interruption. The buildup of a routine leads naturally to an antagonizing interruption that causes an agonist to emotionally struggle with a want and problem wanting satisfaction. These are drama, ACT, in their natural sequence, plot.
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Littlecupofjess
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Re: How Not to Start a Novel:

Post by Littlecupofjess » August 21st, 2015, 1:07 pm

Something that stuck out was the way she described how to fix a one-dimensional scene in your opening. She said: "Don’t make readers feel unwelcome. Be a good host and ease your reader into the party. Introduce them to someone interesting who will be only too happy to show them around the house, share interesting facts, gossip a little and point out the people they’d might like to talk to—or avoid—during the night."
For some reason this speaks volumes to me. I think it's a great way to look at the opening scene because sometimes I find myself throwing too much information at the reader at once. Thank you for reblogging this article!

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