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Lonnie Hicks

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How to Write The Great American Novel-Part Two
By Lonnie Hicks
Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Last edited: Saturday, August 11, 2012
This short story was "not rated" by the Author.

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This is part two of an essay on writing the great American novel. Part one appears in another blog on this site.
Update: 10-1-10 "So if I write seeking to depict reality, what then is the nature of reality?
Update: 10-11-10 "Alice Lives in Harlem?"

Sept 29, 2010

How shall I tell my Story?

So we ask are we as writers writing from imagination, from experience, from some ideology or point of view, from human strengths and weakness? Upon what canvass?

Now with a novel you have several choices. You can write first person.

The story is being told  from one person's point of view and that person is depicting what everyone else thinks and does. But the issue here is how do we know the report of this first person is true , accurate or tells the whole story?  We don't.

We can tell the story from the point of view of some sort of narrator, omniscient or not omniscient. This person may have a God-like ability to read everyone's mind in the story and is a reliable reporter of what is really going on in the story. Or not.

We can tell the story where each person is telling their view of what is going on and the reader is left to figure out how all of the these pieces fit together or not fit together.

We can tell the story interactively, that is, we don't know what the characters think and we judge them by their actions and reactions to one another as the story unfolds. Their actions define them not their words.

We can tell the story in the past, in the present or in the future or a combination of all three.

We can mix and match all of the above.

Deciding how to tell the story is often the crucial first step in storywriting and there are pros and cons with each choice. Let's look at these pros and cons in the coming days-seeking to understand in choosing the consequences of each choice.

Oct 1, 2010

Now interestingly, if we base our choice on visions of reality that modern physics theories project, we get some interesting answers to these questions.

For example, Einstein, if he were to comment on this question, might say:

1-Since the past, the present and the future all exist at the same time then our story-telling should reflect this perspective. And since time and space is relative to the postion and speed of the observer, then we might guess Einstein would choose a fluid time perspective for his story and his characters and we would have the same story being told from the point of view of all the different characters. But, the story would likely be different for each character because each occupies a different time and space in the story.

Sort of interesting huh?

A science fiction story might take this tack but add the aspect of multiple dimensions into the mix. Time travel, dimensions, black holes, and multiples of one's self do show up often in science fiction stories and come directly more or less from string theory and multiverse theories of of how the universe works.

Now this dicussion becomes even more relevant if the ask the question should the author seek to depict some kind of reality and if so what is the nature of that reality if we include real world ideas about how the universe works.

So depicting reality may be a legitimate goal rooted in modern theories of how the universe works. Now it gets interesting.

Now, we wonder, what would be the story construction if we take quantum mechanics as the true nature of the universe? Now that would be more than interesting.

Let's take a look tomorrow.

Oct 11, 2010

So what would our story telling be like of we sought to depict reality utlizing the precepts of quantum mechanics thereotical physics? (See my blog on this "Einstein " to get a quick look at the precepts sof quantum mechanics.

Here is how it might go:

1-Since in QM the world is constantly changing, electrons are literally popping in and out of existence, this produces a fluid story line where characters are not only constantly changing but each character might undergo drastic changes which in a single novel, is often not explained.

2- We would have characters who impact one another (quantum entaglement) following the theory that all the universe, (our universe of characters too) are connected. If this is so and the basic nature of reality then all characters, whether close by or not are impacted by all others characters and their actions.

This would stretch across time as well and we would have inter-generational novels which tell how each character has been formed and is impacted by his or her family history. This. has of course, been done. This is to say that individuals are not individual but are the product of the impact of many other individuals, living and dead.

(I like this one but obviously it takes a tremendous amount of work)

Now let look at dimensional theory, (there are multiple dimensions to the universe)

Again this has been done in a lot in science fiction but let's focus on the reality aspects of this:

1-In a novel, the imagination can and has created entirely new worlds, with totally different realities and different cultures, strange ideas and different ways of relating. We then want to know how does an imaginary world, or a novel created soley in our imagination, impact the actual behavior of our characters?

We have a lot of freedom here because we can introduce entirely new ways of being and entirely new ideas. Think about "Alice in Wonderland."
Now that is truly another dimension or perhaps another world. Think about fairy tales. What rules do these imaginary worlds, where pigs talk, and bears live in cottages and eat porridge follow?

So you can see that there is a theory of physics which actually considers even these flights of imagination entirely possible. Modern physics says that Alice in Wonderland or something quite similar, in a multiverse universe.

Humm, which ones of these realities you or I might choose, depends upon several factors. Let's look at what those factors might be in the coming days.

After all, that is the basic decision. How jarring it might be to tell an "Alice in Wonderland" story but set in in 1920 America? You can do it but it would require a lot of work and set up.

If you did it on another planet, that might make the story-telling a lot easier.

You get the point.

Let's visit Alice and these other worlds tomorrow.


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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 9/30/2010
enjoyed the read

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