I'm writing a novel, the first draft of which can be found elsewhere on the site. Over here you'll find my thoughts about writing.

Breaking the rules

When I discussed last week's diagram I found out something that I hadn't realised before: novels contain text that isn't part of a scene. (I'm afraid the fact that this hadn't become apparent to me before says a great deal about the depth of my ignorance on the subject.)

This is the new and improved version:

The scene and the story, 2nd try

I decided to ditch "theme", since that might be - in data modelling terms - an attribute rather than an entity. After some consideration I also got rid of "scene", since I found myself having a hard time coming up with a good and obvious word for those pieces of text that aren't scenes. One book about writing that I was reading today listed "action" as one of the basic elements of writing (along with "time" and "place") and "action" and "reflection" seem to work. Initally I had called the entity on the far right "story", but I like the matter-of-fact quality of "text".

Now, why do I care about this stuff, anyway? Because I'll have to get started on my second draft at some stage, and I'd really like to know what I'm doing. I want to understand the rules of creative writing and if I end up breaking them I want to do so by choice, not out of ignorance. Also, I'm not primarily interested in the rules, but in the reasoning behind the rules.

Writing is communicating, and it's quite possible that many of the rules of creative writing have a firm basis in the way humans think, learn and communicate. (This is, in my opinion, where many books on creative writing let you down: they tend to tell you what to do, not why.) On the other hand, I suspect that there are also many of these rules that come from writers who found that something worked for them, and jumped to the conclusion that their approach was the One True Way for everyone.


This article was written after writing episode 73 of the first draft of my novel After the War.
After the War (73)

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