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The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 3rd Edition by Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter Eighteen

Transform Your Novel into a Symphony

How to Orchestrate Theme, Emotion, Character, and More

Elizabeth Sims

As an author and writing coach, I’m always searching for new ways to understand the novel form. Recently, while standing with my drums, cymbals, and bells in the back row of the orchestra I play in, it struck me that music, specifically the symphony form, is an apt analogy for the interplay of harmonizing elements that must come together in the crafting of a novel.

Some symphonies are crowd-pleasers: Beethoven’s Fifth, Dvorak’s The New World, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. And some require a bit more effort to get in touch with: Ives’s Fourth and Mahler’s Seventh, perhaps.

It’s the same way with novels, which is why my ...

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