Don’t Let Your Playwright Get in the Way of Your Novelist!

Do you ever find yourself blocking your novel? Positioning everything in your scene either upstage right or downstage left or right centre or upstage centre? Do you ever hold your thumbs together to form a block with your hands in which you envision your scene…so that you can ensure it’s visually pleasing and correct as you imagine it?

Do you ever accidentally write in a character leaving the stage? Entering the stage? Stage whispering?

Do you ever write END SCENE at the end of a chapter or SETTING at the beginning of one?

You may be suffering from playwriting fever. A novel is NOT a play and a play is NOT a novel. This advice is more for myself than for anyone else. I tend to work the play of my novel in my head while I’m writing the novel. It makes me consider every single word of my dialogue—which is a great thing—but it also slows me down at times and makes me forget to write the prose between the dialogue.

Stage blocking can help when writing a novel. Truly…it can. You should try it sometime. It allows you to see if the picture you’re creating is going to work, if everything you’re writing is possible/viable. But it can also get in the way. You can’t cross that line where you forget you’re writing a novel. Things get stifled if you actually write your scenes like you’re blocking them. There is no poetry in the act of stage blocking. That’s probably why it’s all parenthetical in a script. In a novel, you have to make sure everything flows…not just your dialogue.

Again, this is advice for myself. I sometimes forget this…as I enjoy playwriting almost more than I enjoy novel writing. Sometimes it’s hard to turn the playwright off.

By all means, position your characters properly within your scenes. But remember not to spell it out. You’re not telling actors where to stand…you’re carrying your characters through an imaginary world which your readers have to reconstruct effortlessly. Readers are not going to read the stage directions. They’re going to float through your novel…see what you tell them to see. The trick is to get it into their heads without them knowing it’s there. Effortless scenes…not—character A is here and character B is here, okay go…read.

This concludes today’s lesson/reminder to self. Next I should tackle – If you’re going to fling your characters off of tall buildings, there is no need to fling yourself from such precipices in order to write the flinging accurately.

Sebastian’s Poet Nearing the Gate! (Editor Love)

Okay, so I love working with a good editor. I just went through the first round of edits for my soon to be released adult novel, SEBASTIAN’S POET. My editor was so precise and helpful. I just love the way she was able to take a sentence that was a little foggy and rework it until it said exactly what I wanted it to say. It was like she was a clairvoyant, reading my intent and making it reality. I hear writers often complaining about the editing process. Heck, I’ve done it myself. But when you read the notes of the editor and they all help you to see things in a slightly different slant—a more correct slant—it’s such a euphoric feeling. I love that my editor is able to adjust things here and there until the clarity that I was looking for comes through. It’s an amazing experience. I felt giddy as I read some of her suggestions and notations. 

Round two of my edits will be coming my way shortly. I’m really excited about this book. It was a real journey writing SEBASTIAN’S POET. The first draft was written in a 48hr writing marathon. By the end of that marathon, I was peaking on words. I felt like Carlos Castaneda flying on peyote. But it was such a clean high, this high of words. There is NOTHING to describe the feeling of writing a novel in one sitting, without an outline, without an idea of where you’re going to go. I just sat down and wrote. I watched the words appearing on the screen and felt as though I were seeing them for the first time, like they didn’t just travel through my mind, down my arms and through my fingers onto the screen. I wrote faster and faster so that I could find out what would happen next. 

Over the next couple of years (Sebastian’s Poet was written in July, 2007) I worked extremely hard at polishing the manuscript. Once it was accepted for publication by Musa Publishing, I felt like my favourite baby was picked! I’ve written seven or eight novels over the past few years, but this one…the emotional attachment is so great. It was my first marathon novel. I lived and breathed nothing but it for an entire weekend. It was my peyote. When it recently went through the first round of edits, and I saw my editor making all the iffy sentences I thought to be ready actually resonating with more clarity—well, I wanted to dance. It made me that happy. I can’t wait to see the second round of edits.

This is the novel I am most proud of. I am on tenterhooks to see the cover of SEBASTIAN’S POET. So excited! Can’t wait! 

More to come on the release of this novel. Until then, SUMMER ON FIRE, my young adult novel, is still available. (-:

 

My debut novel, Summer on Fire