Self-Publish 3: Form
I must be clear with readers of this article that I’m not a serious student of literature, nor a lecturer in the topic. I don’t even class myself as an author. I say I’m a raconteur who can write logically. As evidence, during my study for a first degree, I took a unit called English 10, which I passed. So I enrolled in English 20 for the following year. The focus was Shakespeare and it took me three weeks to decide it wasn’t for me. My study continued and I achieved a Ph.D but in an area far removed from literature. So my formal literature background is limited. In reading these articles, therefore, please view me as someone who’s gone from writing formal research reports to creating fictional novels via a process of orally transmitted and collected stories. These articles try to give clues on some of the intricacies of self-publishing from my perspective: why I did it, how, what happened and to share the information with anyone who’s interested. I’m not trying to do anything more than tell my story in language as simple I can muster. So don’t read anything else into these articles.
The previous section looked at “concept” which I defined as a starting point with a focus on, “the idea that you want to bring to life”.
This page is entitled “Form”, by which I mean, “ways to write the story you want to tell”.
There are several things to consider in terms of form. The first is whether the story is will be fiction or non-fiction. Once that’s decided, there are choices to be made in terms of what sort of fiction or non-fiction it could be. Countless people have written tomes on various forms of fiction and non-fiction. If it interests you, google the two terms and see what comes up. But to quote my son Drew, who’s a musician with the Australian progressive rock group Karnivool: “don’t get stuck on labelling things. Ultimately, music is music and we should see it as that, not spend our lives trying to squash it in boxes.”
Having said that, I’ll at least label my novels as fiction. I’ve taken elements from the past (mineerase as well as historical facts) and woven then eras: the 1930s, the 1970s and the present or near future. I’ve found fiction differs markedly from presenting non-fiction in that the latter requires certain research protocols; citations, bibliographies, quotes and other elements that must be respected. I believe fiction requires the acknowledgement of historical sources of data (see “The WILUNA Solution” as an example ) but if the story and characters are fictional, hopefully that’s enough. But having made that comment, perhaps read Self-Publish 5: Characterization for more information and consequences of character development.
The second decision I had to make about “form” was how I’d tell each story. In my language, I chose to tell “Hiding Place” in the third person; as a story-teller describing the events and action of people. I also wrote the story in what I describe as a “linear” style. By that, I mean it starts in April and finishes in August 2017. Sure, there a flashbacks to earlier times, particularly early in the story, but once Mick is in Alice Springs, timing follows the calendar.
I used the same two strategies for “Turn on a Light”; third person and “linear”, with a focus mainly on the 1970s but including a few flashbacks.
When it came to “The WILUNA Solution”, I varied one strategy. While still in the third person, it’s not linear. The story is set in two eras: the early 21st Century and the 1930s, which was the heyday of Wiluna as a gold-mining town. So the early action in the novel flips between eras, as does the conclusion, with the story from the 1930s positioned between those sections and written in a “linear” style.
The current novel I’m writing, tentatively entitled “Life Sentence”, is also different from the first two. While linear, it’s told in the first person by two individual story-tellers in the first person, while at times, there is a narrator describing events that neither story-teller would have been involved in or would know.
It’s been a challenge to follow this through but I’m enjoying painting two characters with quite different attributes which are painted through conversations and actions rather than descriptions in the third person.
The art of telling stories is certainly varied and experimentation is worthwhile if you intend to keep writing.