Fascinated by Patterns
Patterns are an interesting phenomenon. Whether consciously, or subconsciously, most of us are fascinated with them. We like to discover patterns; and we like to create them.
When it comes to writing a novel, patterns are an integral part. This is often overlooked as the writing process is in full force. It’s easy to mistakenly believe that plots come together randomly in willy-nilly fashion. Creative urges may come in willy-nilly fashion, but plot structure and strategy should never come that way.
Novelists Ready for the Moment
And even if creative urges come at their own choosing, a seasoned novelist knows how to be prepared and ready for the moment. Because the pattern of the novel has already been structured and created. The seasoned novelist knows how to channel the energy into productive direction.
Patterns present a common denominator in science, art, and the humanities. In physics, for example, the aim is to discover patterns that control the natural world, such as the movement of the planets. In biology, the aim is to discover patterns of nature, such as animal migration.
Freedom and Responsibility
The author, on the other hand, rather than discovering patterns, creates patterns. And while you as the novelist have the freedom to create any world of your choosing, still and yet, you have a great responsibility. That responsibility is to be sure the world you create is congruent throughout the story.
The complex plant kingdom is one massive interweaving of patterns. But no matter how complex, as we take a closer look, we find logical patterns of ecosystems throughout. Likewise, a complex plot is a massive interweaving of many different patterns.
Fiction Hates Chance
Fiction hates chance and coincidence. While real life is filled with such incidences, fiction should not be. In fiction, there’s a reason for everything that happens. (Or there should be.) Fiction is not a recording of real life. How dull would that be?
Patterns are at the root of the plot development. Patterns of style, plot, characters, setting, and on and on. Begin to look for, recognize, and then appreciate the patterns you are creating as you write.
Don’t Violate the Patterns
Be true to the patterns as they develop. If you are guilty of violating the patterns, you lose reader trust, and they will lay the book aside. The reader may be thinking,
“Why did this story begin in this style – or pattern – and then suddenly change?”
“Why did this character suddenly act in this way? It’s out of character – he would never do that…”
The reader may not be able to express it, but what’s happened is that the pattern has been violated and reader is disgruntled.
Creating the patterns – the strategy of the novel – comes from preparation. This in no way means there is so much planning, or plotting, that free flow is stifled. But there must be enough structure to allow you to be open-minded enough to allow hidden parts of the story to emerge unbidden.
In my next post, we’ll take a deeper look at and how much should be involved in the pre-planning of a novel.
The first two titles in the Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection will be available in print form.
Flower in the Hills and Tiger Beetle at Kendallwood will soon be in bound copies.
Watch for upcoming announcements.