Part 3: Structure and Editing with a review of The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, published Sept 2000, Penguin.
We have looked at the basics for a novel and the character. Now we have an idea and we have got to know our main character, and hopefully a few other characters that will appear in the story. Next we need to think about how we will structure our novel and, beyond that, redrafting and editing.
A story is the linear order of events; the plot is the order of how those events are related. A scene helps move the plot forward, builds characterisation and can help the narrative arc development. A chapter helps create the structure. In creating the structure of the novel some writers will plot the chapters and/or scenes on post-it notes.
Part 2: Character – with a review of Searching for the Secret River by Kate Grenville, published July 2007, Canongate Books; and Conspiracy by SJ Parris, published Jan 2017, Harper.
Our seminar on character throws up some interesting points. The protagonist in a book is the main character. However, will my protagonist also be the narrator of the story? By telling the story in 1st person voice –‘I did this or that’, my protagonist is also my narrator. By telling it in 3rd person –‘she did this or that’, my narrator becomes another character. Is the narrator the author or a separate person?
I’m writing my first historical novel, a fictionalised account of my Ukrainian-born great-grandmother, and I’m struggling. How much research should I do? Can I make up facts? What is more important, the character’s voice or the plot? Is there even a market for this type of story?
So, I’ve decided to reach out to those in the know and ask them ‘what makes a successful historical novel?’ The results of my enquiries to a variety of authors, agents, bloggers and publishers are set out below.
I’m studying for my Masters in Professional Writing and taking a module in novel writing. This three part blog series will capture some of the module’s themes alongside reviews of the novels I am currently reading. This way it will hopefully serve as an analysis of the novel writing process.
Part 1: Ideas – with a review of ‘The Secret Wife’ by Gill Paul, published August 2016, Avon Books.
What do you need to make a novel? Apart from the obvious – setting, characters and a plot – there are the less obvious – point of view, texture and language landscape. I need to think about the atmosphere I wish to create right from the start. Who will narrate my story and how will it sound? Will it be a chatty, first person, dialogue-heavy novel, or perhaps third person narration with beautifully descriptive passages? Another thought – is my book to be a writerly or readerly book? Will I expect my reader to fill in the blanks or will they be taken along for the ride?