Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing a Complex or Hard Novel.

When I first began writing The Cursing, my  dark fantasy-horror novel, I has one main fear.

Would reader find this interesting enough?

It wasn't the plot that bugged me. It was how I was telling the story. Not pov but the way I was telling it.

You see, Tatiana, my protagonist, spends about half the novel locked up in one place with only usually three people to talk to. Sometimes another character appears or more than one. I was terrified that there wouldn't be enough things interesting to pull the novel along, that Tatiana would end up with too many scenes where it was just her thinking. That there wouldn't be enough action or dialogue.

But now, having written almost half the novel and getting to the part where Tatiana will finally be allowed to talk to more people besides her best friend, her aunt, and her aunt's Representative, I'm finally seeing that there is (hopefully) enough action and dialouge.

I'm going to state the obvoius here. In most books, the MC usually goes to more than one place (school, home, friend's houses, the castle, the etc) and usually talks to more than three people thoughout the book. There's probably been at least...six characters other than her aunt, her aunt's Representative, and her best friend that she's been able to talk to. That's not a lot.

And so today, I'm going to hopefully give some good advice about writing difficult books.

What is a "difficult" novel?
To me, personally, a novel that's difficult to write is,

  1. Any novel that requires large amounts of research, interviews, etc to write. 
  2. A novel that doesn't give you large enough room to properly develop characters, plot, setting, etc without some major hard work. 
  3. A novel that's personally stressful to you to write. 
  4. A novel that is very complex with many characters, subplots, etc. 
Of course, you could argue that any novel is difficult to write, but you could also argue that there is some novels that are harder than most. 

Writing a difficult novel with large amounts of research.
One of these days I'll give a more indepth look on researching, but for tonight, we'll take the condensed version. 

Researching for your novel can be hard and we must remember to not just research and not write anything because we may fear that there's always more research todo. For people who research too much, I advise this: remember that eventually you won't be able to find what you're looking for be research, you'll have to create it yourself. 

Anyways, if you're doing lots of research, narrow down what exactly you're looking for. Start with something board, like the 1400s in China or whatever and narrow it down from there. Remember that you don't have to use everything you find and sometimes its nice to take these facts and add our own twists to them. If you're writing fiction that is.

Try looking in libraries, different sites on the internet, videos, and interview people about things if you are looking for things. And remember to look for more than one source. 

A novel that doesn't give you much room.
Like in my novel and other stories, writing a novel that has a limited amount of setting and characters can be hard to write a full-length novel from. In The Cursing, I had to make sure that Tatiana was usually talking to someone. Either her aunt, her best friend, or someone else. But not too many people could just appear. And I couldn't have her just talking to one person. 

To add some action, I couldn't write what her normal life would be like and go from there, I had to start with a life-changing event and make sure that from this stemmed enough events that she would eventually do other things. I'm not sure how to explain that part, but hopefully you understand. I had to make sure there was enough things going on that was different than what she was going prior when the novel started. 

Another hard novel I'm writing involves short-term memory loss. The protag, Anastasia has her memory easered basically every night and when she wakes, she can't remember who she is or who other people are. She can remember concepts and ideas, but not events. I've only seen a book, Forgotten by Cat Pactrick, and the movie Fifty-first dates cover short-term memory loss. Bascially my worry here, will I repeat things too many times? In this kind of novel, the difficult part is figuring out how much you can repeat things and what to change. 

In this point, I think the main key is tackling the hardest point(s) by using your critical thinking skills. Basically, determine the key elements that won't have the most room and focus on those. 

A personally stressful novel.
I've never actually written something that was very stressful to me. So I guess I can't give much advice on this only other than that I'm reading a book where the main character does this. Anyways, work on it if you want to and if you need, take breaks from the novel. Don't over-stress yourself. 

Complex novels.
Personally, I think one of the biggest problems in a really complex novels would be keep track of who is who and making sure your readers will know this too. I read this one article a while back where this novel written in China or maybe it was about China...I can't remember, anyways, it focused on more than 4.5 million people! That's gotta be tough.

So, what do you think is a difficult novel? What's the hardest thing you've ever written and why?


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