30 May 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 330, Valeska 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 Let’s compare the excitement and entertainment I’m recommending with some of my published and unpublished novels.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, Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire:
A full moon hung above midnight Gdańsk. The dark medieval streets were wet and filthy. Puddles ringed with oily rainbows covered the cracked cobblestones. The moon shown in each of the puddles, reflected as a milky glow that was grimed with the floating sheen. The scent of saltwater and rotting fish rose with the night time tide, an unavoidable stench this close to the waterfront. At street level, the night was utterly dark. The very few modern lights along the crumbling cobblestone avenue shared little illumination with the ancient alleyways that pierced the darkened buildings on either side of the street.
Valeska is an unpublished and uncontracted novel. The novel doesn’t follow any of my Enchantment novels–it is conceptually an Enchantment novel. It’s a complete stand-alone novel that weighs in at about 125,000 words. The novel does use characters introduced in my Ancient Light novels
The focus of this initial paragraph is scene setting and mystery–that’s it. Before, I identified good initial paragraphs that were based on conversation (Hestia), action (Khione), and character introduction (Aksinya). Now, I’ll broaden that to scene setting with Valeska. This isn’t like the long semi-prologue in Antebellum that I warned you against. In Valeska, the next paragraph begins the action and the character introduction. I’m not opposed to using scene setting to excite the initial mystery in the novel. Remember, the most important quality for the first paragraph is to get a reader to keep reading. It can be as artsy as you want as long as it holds the reader’s interest. And also note, when I write reader, I also mean prospective publisher.
I think I have one more first paragraph to share with you, then I’ll build into the writing of Escape. If anything, I hope you see how important the initial scene and the first paragraph must be for a novel. Because the first scene is so important, I’ll write about this and describe how I started writing Escape.