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How to Write a Novel: Parts of the Novel

This is like awesomely late. I tried to do it at school, but then the internet went out and then we went shopping for a stove because ours just went bad. So I'm sorry, but life happens. Anywho, it took me a while to figure out what this blog post was going to be about because I wasn’t sure what aspect of the novel to write about. But I figured the best bet, if I wanted to go in some type of chronological order, the parts of the novel was what I needed to go to next. So let’s talk about it.

Exposition/The Inciting Incident

These two terms are interchangeable, but nowadays we writers are more prone to call it an Inciting Incident. Why? Because we curse exposition because newbies usually associate it with boring info dumps where we get the complete damn background story of the characters and don’t get to the actual story until chapter three. I know. I did it when I started. But at one point, that used to be okay. Back in the eighteen hundreds when it was mostly wealthy men and woman reading these things and they had nothing better to do than read all day because unlike the working class, they didn’t have to work all day. Fast forward, two hundred years later, the pages of exposition and background doesn’t work anymore. Why? Well I said it before. The audience changed and though people have more time, we live in a fast paced world where the internet and the next television series is a click away and people want some entertainment before they have to get up for work in the morning and do an eight page essay to do in three hours while high on caffeine. We have time, but not the time to sit and read background when we’re expecting a vampire story or something! The audience is impatient. So cut the three chapters and the prologue and get to the story. Sprinkle the background somewhere in between. Incite the story, get it moving.

Anyway, the inciting incident is the event that spurs the events of the rest of the story. It’s that simple. Get to it, don’t spend too much time on it, move on.

Rising Action

This is where the inciting incident that got the ball rolling gets much more complicated. Let’s put it like this. Inciting incident, Bella moves to Forks. She meets the Cullens. Edward is stalking her. Oh man, Edward can read her mind. Oh damn! He’s a vampire who’s this close to draining her dry, and she’s in love with him. Oh shit! This psycho vampire is after Bella because of her sweet smelling blood and to spite Edward. Oh hell! James got her and….

See what I mean. Something that began so simple got that much more complicated. The only reason I used twilight is because everyone has read it just about and it’s probably the simplest plot to dissect into that. The tension builds in this part and things just keep getting worse and worse and worse until…

The Climax

This is where (pardon the expression) the shit hits the fan and Edward battles it out with James! Some people call it a turning point. This is where the outcome will be decided, whether good or evil with triumph. This is usually marked by some big fight (in fantasy) or huge conflict where the protagonist faces the antagonist (whatever that may be) head on and proceeds to overcome or be overwhelmed by the antagonist. This is where we’re biting our fingernails and can’t turn the page fast enough to see what the outcome is, where the protagonist takes all the information, power, tricks, and lessons learned throughout the story to overcome, usually anyway. Or you can just do like Bella and pass out. Anyway,

The Falling Action/ Resolution

These two parts are usually kind of blended together although some people separate it. I’m blending it. This is usually where we get the outcome, who won the big fight. The dust clears and it’s revealed who the winner is (Pokemon loves to do this). Anyway, it doesn’t mean the protagonists has won or even that the antagonist has won, not completely anyway. The fact of the matter is that the battle or conflict is over and marked by a lesson learned by the protagonist, or a growth to a new level, or how the protagonist is better off (or maybe not if we’re dealing with a tragedy). Either way, we usually get a little bit of what happened afterward and some question are answered, issues resolved, and most loose ends ties. Generally, we end up back where we began at a new level. You don’t have to neatly resolve everything. Writers are free to “accidentally” leave some loose ends untied to make room for a sequel, imply that the novel was just one part of a bigger conflict, but the conflict that needed to be resolved in that particular novel is done. In other words, we ride away from Hogwarts on the Hogwarts Express… but there’s always next school year (for anyone living under a rock, that was a Harry Potter reference).

You might also find helpful:
The Novel
Types of Novels
The Gothic Novel

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