28 May 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 328, still more 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 Let’s compare the excitement and entertainment I’m recommending with some of my published and unpublished novels.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, Khione: Enchantment of the Fox:
A young man stood at the edge of the darkness and cupped his hands around an advanced night vision scope. The autumn night was cold and crisp, and the white clouds of his warm breath kept billowing up around the lens of the scope. He wore a black uniform, but he had carefully tucked his white identification badge into his pocket. He whispered right under his breath, “Okay Pearce, move up slowly, very slowly and take a look.”
Khione is a yet unpublished and uncontracted novel that follows Hestia in my Enchantment novels. It’s a complete stand-alone novel that weighs in at about 85,500 words.
Here–I’ve redeemed myself. Perhaps Hestia doesn’t have everything I want from a first paragraph, but Khione does. The first sentence implies and includes action. With the action comes mystery. What are they doing out in the dark with a night vision scope? There is scene setting–and lots of it. You get the scene, the time, the weather, the season–not yet the place. You get character introduction. Note, I introduce the character Pearce and not the other (Jason) because Pearce is the protagonist in the novel. You get character description and that also drives mystery. Why dark uniforms? Note that the black uniform is undercut with the “white identification badge,” that is tucked into the pocket–they can’t be military.
In this first paragraph, we have everything I recommend for a first paragraph. This is the point I would like you (and me) to wrap our heads around; you can write a great novel, but if you (or I) submarine our novels with the first paragraph, we aren’t going to be published or have people buy our books. The point is this–look at that first paragraph. Ensure it includes all the excitement and entertainment possible. If there is no action, adventure, mystery, excitement, etc. in that first paragraph–change your novel. Fix it so there is.