MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #30.

DOES AN END OF A NOVEL ALSO GIVE A NOVELIST AN EMOTIONAL CLOSURE ?

        In my previous blog , I had discussed the process of ending a novel. I had suggested that a climax and a twist in that climax are necessities. I had suggested that a novelist is bound to attempt to create a climax even when she/he knows that it is a difficult , if not an impossible task. In my last few blogs , I had described the structural and thematic compulsions for creating a climax in the narrative. While ending a novel is something that is preordained , it does not imply that a novelist is comfortable ending   a novel. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss emotional problems that a novelist may feel while completing a novel.

        From a novelist point of view , this situation is poignant because she/he is torn between two conflicting emotions. On one hand , a novelist wants to end the novel because she/he wants to experience an emotional closure. On the other hand , a novelist doesn’t want to end a novel because , over a period of time , she /he has found a sense of identity with that novel and therefore would like the novel to go on. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss my own experience while closing my two novels.

           The conflicting emotions that I mentioned above arises from the ambivalence that a novelist experiences towards the novel under preparation. On one hand , a novelist is observing the characters from outside. On the other hand , part of her/his own self gets indirectly reflected in these characters. It is this duality of frames of being an observer and a participant that gives rise to the conflicting emotions mentioned above. I recollect that when I began writing my first novel , I was hopeful of analysing my own creative instinct while writing that novel. As that novel progressed , I realized that the process of creative writing is far more complex than I had anticipated. Finding myself unequal to the task , I decided to focus on writing the novel. However , insights into my own creativity would surface in my mind now and again.

      As my first novel approached its climax , I experienced this duality of the frames for the first time. I was determined that I would not experience emotional closure as a novelist through the emotional closure of the protagonist. I wanted to arrive at my emotional closure through the plot itself. Since my first novel had two climaxes , one structural and one thematic  , it was easier for me to experience my emotional closure when the plot ended with the nervous breakdown of the protagonist. As a novelist , I felt satisfied that three different threads in the narrative converged into the climax. This convergence of three different threads required a creativity which I didn’t know I had. Therefore , when I could manage to bring about the convergence , I felt cathartic and cleansed as a novelist. Later on , when the protagonist found his own emotional closure by finding a new meaning of his life , I achieved my own emotional closure.

       In my second novel , I am nearing the end of the narrative. This time , I am trying to have a single climax having a structural momentum and a thematic depth. As I have mentioned in my previous blog , I wish to achieve this by introducing a twist in the climax. Therefore , my challenge is to make sure that the twist is already present in the backdrop of the novel but in a different context. Moreover , I want to surprise the protagonist and the readers as well. Therefore , I want to achieve my emotional closure as a novelist through the fine tuning of the twist in  such a way that it brings out tragedy of human life. This tragedy consists of our ability to delude ourselves with convenient explanations. The human mind is clever, but not clever enough to see through its own deception. The tragedy of human life is that our mind uses deception to make our life bearable , but in the process , our mind is itself deceived.

           There is another aspect of closure from the novelist’s point of view. It refers to the novelist’s own transformation during and after the writing of a novel. While ending a novel , a novelist may achieve an emotional closure , but that novel remains embedded in the novelist’s psyche. The true closure for a novelist happens when the plot , the characters and the theme of the completed novel are dissolved into the novelist’s subconscious mind. This process of dissolution takes a very long time. For instance , the details of my first novel and its narrative construction is very much present in my psyche. Of course , it helps me because every time I find an echo of my first novel in the second novel , I stop and make a conscious effort of not repeating myself. However , it does indicate that I have not achieved a complete closure in case of my first novel. While I make conscious effort of not repeating myself , I realize that , at a fundamental level , there is continuity between my two novels. This perhaps represent my inner self. In that sense , I don’t think a novelist can ever achieve complete emotional closure while ending a novel. That novel remains in the novelist’s sensibility forever. This continuity is inevitable because life itself goes on forever without achieving any such closure.

            In my next blog  , I would discuss why a novelist is inclined to continue writing novels. The question that bothers me is that is there any point in a novelist’s life , when She /he feels that she/he has nothing new to offer and therefore must stop writing novels ? Frankly speaking , I can’t think of myself ever reaching that saturation point. However , I want explore the motives and motivations of a novelist that prompts her/him to begin again. I would discuss these issues in my next blog. 

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MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #29.

               IS TWIST NECESSARY IN CLIMAX ?

       In my previous blogs , I had discussed relevance and importance of climax in a novel. I had suggested that there are two types of climax. I had suggested that every plot has its own momentum and that momentum  culminates into the climax of a novel. On the other hand , every novel has some specific theme which gives rise to the thematic climax. Ideally , in a good novel , both these climaxes occur simultaneously. In this blog , I would discuss the need and significance of a twist in the climax. Of course , everyone loves novelists like O. Henry who invariably introduce twists in the climax to allow readers to experience catharsis. Honestly , I  don’t think anyone else can come close to that exceptional calibre. The real problem with a novelist is that , in spite of being aware of one’s limitations , a novelist is still required to construct a climax in her /his novel.  Therefore , I would restrict myself to the idea of a twist in the climax from a novelist’s perspective and describe what problems a novelist faces while introducing a twist. I would try to describe my own experience while writing a climax and why I find it difficult to introduce a twist.

              Let me begin with the kind of twists that a novelist can introduce in the climax. There could be a twist that obviously results in the climax which is exactly opposite to what a reader is led to expect. This is de rigueur for crime and detective novels. However , there is another type of twist that is employed in a lesser number of novels. This type of twist consists of arriving at the anticipated climax but in a manner that is totally unexpected. This type of twist is rarer because it demands greater skills from a novelist. Just think of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. In some of his  famous movies , the audience is told about the climax right in the beginning. However , a viewer is kept in suspense till the end about how the climax is brought about.

     The distinction between these two types of twists is based on two premises. The first type of twist , where a reader is misled into expecting particular climax , depends on the momentum of several subplots culminating into the climax. The description of these subplots is such that a reader starts expecting a certain climax. However, when there is a twist in the plot , an unexpected end occurs. This build up of expectations and its subsequent denouement brings about the desired catharsis. This kind of climax is essentially a structural in nature.

     In the second type of twist , the premise is not structural in nature because the climax results in accordance with the demands of the several subplots and is in tune with a reader’s expectations. However , the twist arises because of subtle changes in themes of the subplots. Since the climax is as anticipated , it brings about a sense of emotional  release. However ,  since the climax comes due to the unexpected reasons from the known details of the subplots , it results in different emotional experience. This leads to enlightenment and emotional closure.

            Thus there are two types of twists , structural and thematic. This requires different types skills from a novelist. Therefore , let me describe my own experiences while writing two novels. As I have mentioned in my previous blog that in my first novel , I was forced to employ two types of climaxes separately. This was because the novel is written by the protagonist in the form of recollections of his life in hospital. Therefore , the structural climax of the plot occurs before he is admitted to hospital after his nervous breakdown. However , the thematic climax , in the form of emotional closure , occurs when the protagonist achieves while reconstructing his past and narrating his nervous breakdown. 

        In the second novel  , which I am about to finish , I am trying to blend both , the thematic and the structural , climaxes into a single event. However , I am facing a different kind of problem. This is a problem of being faithful to readers as well as characters of my novel. Since this novel is in the first person narrative , the protagonist narrates his innermost thoughts to the readers. This results in the readers forming a very intimate view of the protagonist. Therefore , whatever the climax maybe , it has to arise naturally from the perception of the protagonist that a reader might form. However , this perception by the readers need not be same as the self perception of the protagonist himself. Therefore , I am trying to create a scenario wherein the climax would be a natural culmination of the expectations of the readers based on their perception of the protagonist. However , this natural culmination must come as a surprising twist from the protagonist’s perspective. This is because , there is a mismatch between the self perception of the protagonist and the perception of the protagonist by the readers. The readers already know how the protagonist is deceived by his own subconscious mind. However  , the protagonist is never aware of this deception. Therefore , what readers could anticipate clearly , becomes a surprising twist to the protagonist. His subconscious mind prevents him from detecting this deception. Though , I have not actually written this part , I am very clear about it.

             However , the real challenge , according to me , is to create a climax which not only surprises the protagonist but also surprises the readers. This would be possible only  when readers experience thematic twist. This is because readers would have clear idea of the momentum of the plot as well as a clear theme of the protagonist’s mind. Therefore , they can not be surprised by either structural or thematic twist. So , I am planning to introduce a thematic twist that would thematically surprise both ,the protagonist and the readers. If I can achieve this , then it would enable readers to realize that their own subconscious minds too had set up a deception. Therefore , the readers would experience catharsis from two sources, one by identifying themselves with the protagonist and the other by realising that they too were deceived by their own minds. Frankly speaking  , I have just a vague idea how to do that. In next few weeks , I hope to finish the novel.

        In my next blog , I would discuss how a novelist copes with the emotions  that she /he experiences while closing the novel.