26 May 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 326, Enchantment First Paragraphs Initial Scene
Announcement: Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy. You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com. Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of my 25th novel, working title, Escape, is this: a girl in a fascist island nation will do anything to escape–a young cargo shuttle pilot not following the rules crashes on the island.
I’ll make a slight digression because I’m developing advertising and publisher materials for my newest completed novel, Lilly. Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene. I’m writing about the initial scene of my newest novel, “Escape.” Escape is the working title. I’ll decide on the proposed title when I finish the novel. I’m at the twelfth chapter right now. That means I’ve written about 240 pages.
The entertainment (and excitement) should start with the first sentence and paragraph and grow to envelope the first scene. Let’s compare the excitement and entertainment I’m recommending with some of my published and unpublished novels. As I grew as a writer, my awareness of the importance of the first paragraph grew. It’s one thing to be taught or realize and another to implement. Next example the first paragraph from, Antebellum:
Past the pavement of Shreveport, deep down the sandy dirt and red clay roads, between pecans and cottonwood, maples, magnolias, cypress, and pines, down in the depths of the forgotten, in the center of the unforgiven, in the fields once so bountiful, now so silent, where the magnolias have grown wild, are gardens and buildings and fields and people all overgrown and encircled by a billion stones cleared from a million fields by thousands of coal black men and women. Past all this, buried in the summer sunlight is a house.
Antebellum is a yet unpublished and uncontracted novel that could loosely fit in the Enchantment series. It is a complete stand-alone novel that weighs in at only 60,000 words.
Can you tell that this is one of my early novels. It may be the first I completed. This is an artsy-fartsy start for a pretty good novel. It might attract a literature publisher–then again, perhaps not. It’s a pity because the novel isn’t that bad.
The problems with the first paragraph should be obvious. It has scene setting and that’s about all. No action at all–no implication of action. It has some mystery, but most is scene setting. It doesn’t even have any character introduction. I didn’t tell you, but the first scene/chapter is almost a pseudo-prologue. I don’t call it a prologue, but it is an introductory scene prior to the first action scene. Here is the first action scene–from the second chapter:
The clouds sifted in brilliant soft puffs across the warming morning. As Heather walked slowly across the grass, moisture grappled the hem of her dress and anointed it as though for worship. The morning sun flashed brightly, lifted by the trees, and the air was clear - clear and intoxicating. The voices of songbirds floated quietly in it, and spiced the already flavored day with cinnamon sharpness. Heather hugged herself and trembled with the early morning chill and the fineness of the day.
Now, we have character introduction, scene setting, some action (not much), a little mystery (not much). I told you before, I learned not to have prologues (pseudo or otherwise). I learned to place the action scene at the beginning and keep it there. This novel will likely never be published–it’s too bad because it is a fun novel. I could fix it, but the entire novel would be pushed off balance–it’s a novel about a house and not necessarily Heather Roberts.