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Thread: What would define a problem novel,

  1. #1

    What would define a problem novel,

    If its looks like their short stories or novel are heading in that direction? I know my character has a problem she is forced to hide, but thats more an if the military finds out, she's dishonorable discharged. Probably if my characters father were still around, she'd tell him. So I'm not sure if its a problem novel per say.

  2. #2
    _ SomethingOrOther's Avatar
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    A novel in which the characters have problems is called a "novel."
    Stop what you're doing and give me some short story recommendations in this thread.


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  3. #3
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Do you mean an issue novel? Like your MC is a pregnant teen, and that's what the book is about even though she's also saving the world?
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  4. #4
    might be a giant maybegenius's Avatar
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    An issue or problem novel is a novel in which living with, overcoming, or being destroyed by an issue/problem is the primary focus of the novel. They tend to be contemporary (real life). Is the "problem" the main driving factor of your manuscript?
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  5. #5
    Its more like a subplot. The main characters old mental illness symptoms is starting to resurface, after about three years of remission. Even then, its not even clear if she's possessed or has a mental illness. As in deliberately ambiguous. However the main conflict is protecting her village.

  6. #6
    might be a giant maybegenius's Avatar
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    Then no, it doesn't sound like a problem novel.
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  7. #7
    we're gonna make it out of the fire The_Ink_Goddess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustSarah View Post
    Its more like a subplot. The main characters old mental illness symptoms is starting to resurface, after about three years of remission. Even then, its not even clear if she's possessed or has a mental illness. As in deliberately ambiguous. However the main conflict is protecting her village.
    A genuine question: can you be in 'remission' from mental illness problems? I thought they could be controlled.
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  8. #8
    Thats what I'm not sure about. Given the setting, there isn't exactly medication.D:
    Last edited by JustSarah; 12-22-2012 at 08:08 AM.

  9. #9
    Problem/Issue Novel: A novel in which the plot revolves around a singular issue (usually drugs) and the author typically tries to overtly moralize the situation without presenting both sides. That's the definition I'm currently going by, anyway.

    Go Ask Alice is the most famous example. It and its spawn are horrendous, but ingenious if you ask me. It was a pretty painful read, overall. I hate being hit over the head with a sledgehammer.

  10. #10
    Actually if I were more accurate, I would say the story is largely an issue about my characters finding identity, with subplots of including finding their roots.

  11. #11
    might be a giant maybegenius's Avatar
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    Well, some examples of issue novels with a fresh and inventive take on the classification (beyond the "drugs are bad m'kay" superficiality of works from the 70's-90's) are those written by Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins.
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  12. #12
    we are the words 'i love you' kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Ink_Goddess View Post
    A genuine question: can you be in 'remission' from mental illness problems? I thought they could be controlled.
    Quote Originally Posted by JustSarah View Post
    Thats what I'm not sure about. Given the setting, there isn't exactly medication.D:
    Not really, but there can certainly be periods where you're better or worse than others. Things like stress and conflict will always make it worse.
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  13. #13
    I think my issue is that the character is implied to have a specific supernatural problem in her previous life, buts its not really stated directly what, as it's up to the present point largely historical.

  14. #14
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
    Not really, but there can certainly be periods where you're better or worse than others. Things like stress and conflict will always make it worse.
    Agreeing with this.

    It also depends hugely on the mental illness. [Edited to remove personal anecdote. Basically, I was saying depression can be 'recovered' from by developing coping mechanisms but it can still loom up when you're run down.]

    For other mental health issues, like bipolar disorder, you can't ever really recover because it hits you in cycles.

    Whatever mental illness you have, please make sure to do as much research as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by JustSarah View Post
    Its more like a subplot. The main characters old mental illness symptoms is starting to resurface, after about three years of remission. Even then, its not even clear if she's possessed or has a mental illness. As in deliberately ambiguous. However the main conflict is protecting her village.

    I think my issue is that the character is implied to have a specific supernatural problem in her previous life, buts its not really stated directly what, as it's up to the present point largely historical.
    Are you able to say what mental illness in particular your main character has (and maybe how you show it in the story)? I'm wondering how it could be unclear whether she's mentally ill or possessed, as most mental illnesses would not cause 'possession-like' symptoms.
    Last edited by EMaree; 12-25-2012 at 02:48 AM.
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  15. #15
    I guess I could just go with possession. It just might be a little weird writing such a character when the writer is not religious. Basically what she has is extreme black outs, and her fellow students consider her a freak, even though she doesn't remember the event. And her feather is concerned enough to call her parents to take her to her home bunker.

  16. #16
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustSarah View Post
    I guess I could just go with possession. It just might be a little weird writing such a character when the writer is not religious. Basically what she has is extreme black outs, and her fellow students consider her a freak, even though she doesn't remember the event. And her feather is concerned enough to call her parents to take her to her home bunker.
    It sounds like you're in for a bit of research either way. Possession would require a bit of research into past possessions, especially if you want to link it to a specific religion (e.g. for a Christian-based possession there'd probably be some references to Satan, whereas a Shinto-based possession might have behaviour linked to a particular Yokai).

    Don't worry about writing about religion when you're not religious though. I write about dragons sometimes and I've never met them, likewise I write about Christians and Muslims despite being neither -- I just try to keep my personal feelings out of it and portray the religions fairly.

    If you go along the mental illness route there's a whole load of research to be done there on exactly what the illness involves, and which common mistakes are worth avoiding. (I wrote a book about a depressed character with manic mood swings before realising, oops, his behaviour fitted bipolar more accurately.)

    Whatever way you decide to go, I'm sure it'll go well -- and you've got the research forum here if you need a hand.

    I hope this is helpful!
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  17. #17
    I'll probably work it out later, I mainly wondered how much of a focus on it makes it a problem novel.

    Oh, can something still be considered a novel, if the relation each chapter has to the previous, is merely linked by one character, maybe two? I mean distant relation, like Charles being related to Anna is that Diane his mother had a baby with her boyfriend.

  18. #18
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Any piece of long prose narrative is a novel. The problem would be what genre and age range to market that novel as. You're posting in the YA forum, so if you're intending to market this book as YA it's best to focus on teen characters.

    But if you haven't decided on a genre yet, there's nothing to stop you doing that. The world is your oyster!
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  19. #19
    Well the main characters are between 8-16 generally. I've decided on the post apocalyptic genre, although it overlaps a bit with dystopian. Its sort of the dystopian sf equivalent to epic fantasy.

  20. #20
    Hero, villain, angel, demon AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    We're getting off topic here, but I don't know that what JustSarah has described in other threads actually is a novel instead of a bunch of short stories in one book. My main question is whether this book will have an overarching plot. Since we lose the main character over and over, we need something more than the setting (which changes too, since we're jumping from generation to generation) to gel this book together.

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  21. #21
    The overarching plots is the trials and tribulations of the human race during the countdown to leave planet for good, as the planet is slowly dying. What they find is a toxic universe that does not welcome them, instead other races seek to protecting their motherland.
    Last edited by JustSarah; 12-26-2012 at 01:25 AM.

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