Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nodes of Conjunction

Hello everybody!  As you may have noticed, last month I was suspiciously absent from YA Topia, so for that you have my apologies.  I moved house into the wilderness (the mountains of Cyprus) and had to wait for the roads to be dug up so that I could have internet access, which means this month, I owe you a good post indeed!

This month, I would like to focus on Nodes of Conjunction in writing.  Some of you may already know what these are.  Others may be looking at me in a rather confused fashion.  In order to cover all of the bases, let's look at an explanation of what Nodes of Conjunction actually are.

Every great novel (and let's face it, most of us want to write great novels, not just good ones) have many layers that run throughout the book, which the author weaves together to form the intricate tapestry of the novel.  These plot layers give depth and richness to the world and characters created, thus making the novel live on in the mind of the reader.  Having added layers to your novel, the next step is to get them working together; that is, to connect them.

A node of conjunction is how you achieve this to best effect.  For example, you may have a secondary character facing a problem in a subplot, and this subplot may introduce a new complication to your main character (or, it may provide relief from a stressful point in the novel).  Alternatively, you may use a reoccurring setting in your story – can a certain setting underpin your theme?  Link two characters together?  Show a situation from two different perspectives based on who is at the setting each time?

You can use main or minor characters as a place to build nodes of conjunction.  They can be pulled into each others subplots, or they can conflict or contrast with the protagonist's or antagonist's goals and desires.

In short, a Node of Conjunction is the place where storylines cross.

So why should we use these?  And more importantly, how?

Nodes of Conjunction help to build credibility in the world you have created, as well as building up backdrop that fuels the tension and conflict in the book.  Many writes focus only on the major conflicts and settings, neglecting to look at the plot layers that each character has and how they can interweave, creating a network of emotion, goals, conflicts and obstacles.  Just as in real life, the ripple effect of actions and events can be felt by all.  Do this in your writing and you will create a truly realistic and memorable world.

So how do you go about getting your Nodes of Conjunction to work?  The process is fairly simple but will take some creative brainstorming and lateral thinking.  First of all, draw up three columns – one titled Characters, the next Narrative Lines (these are main problems, extra plot layers, subplots, etc.), and the final one Settings.  Fill in the lists for each character in your book.  Start to draw circles and lines from one column to another, from character to setting or narrative line to narrative line.  Think about how these areas can overlap.  Can one character's narrative line link with another character's setting?  Can this in turn link to another character or narrative line?  Think of it as the ripple effect.  Or better still, seven degrees of separation.  It doesn't just need to be people who are tied to the seven degrees of separation rule – settings, events and plot lines can be too.

Play around with this exercise and see what connections spark in your mind.  The idea is to see how different aspects of your novel can cross over to touch upon each other, thus building texture into your work, and truly bringing your world to life.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

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