15 July 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 376, Entertainment Scenes Developing Tension in the Rising Action
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.
Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer. Lilly is my 24th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’ve just started on the next major run-through of my novel, Escape.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
Short digression: I’m writing from Destin, Florida back from the world tour. Scene input (easy), scene output (a little harder), scene setting (basic stuff)–now to the hard part.
I hope developing the output and the setting has your creative juices going because the next part is wholly creative. Now you need to figure out how to make the scene entertaining. The entertaining is all creative, and it is all about tension and release. Here is an example from Lilly.
One of my prepublication readers asked a question about some of my writing and characters, and in contemplating the question, I came to a very surprising answer. The question was about the number of times I happened to have characters get drunk and drink. Most of my characters are not lushes, but I have one very specific scene in Lilly where two characters get drunk–the reason is purely entertainment. It also furthers the plot and theme, but let’s put it this way–I could have two “goddess” characters who are in a competition with one another eat dinner and discuss their circumstances, or I could have them bring their competition to their cups. Which is more entertaining? Which is more interesting? Add to that, the server is a bakaneko (a type of Japanese cat creature who looks like a human) and one of the “goddesses” is Coyote. Further, Dane is watching it all and is one of the competitive prizes in this slight competition. Lilly and Tolinka (Coyote) drink too much and are drunk at the end of the evening. They both try to hide their drunkenness from each other. The point of their inebriation is not gratuitous–it has a point in the plot and the theme, but it adds entertainment to the scene. Here’s an extract:
Kuro didn’t return to serve tea. Tolinka’s rice bowl was entirely filled with rice anyway. Unusually, the beer didn’t run out in the ceramic pitcher canister. Lilly kept filling up their serving bowls. After a long while, Tolinka staggered to her feet. She tried to take a step and achieved one forward and one to the side.
Lilly struggled to her feet. She swayed a little, “Tolinka, would you like to sleep here?”
Tolinka slowly turned her head toward Lilly, “I am not domesticated, and I certainly don’t like cats.”
“You can sleep in one of the guestrooms.”
Tolinka staggered a step backward. The wall just caught her, “I don’t like to sleep inside at all.”
“You may sleep on the grounds of the shrine.”
Tolinka hiccupped, “This isn’t the land of my being. Plus, I’m not feeling too well.” She burped, “I haven’t felt like this since my last potlatch.” She burped again.
“Do you need to…you know?”
Tolinka drew herself to her full height, “I don’t…you know.” She staggered and squirmed a little as she moved against the wall toward the sliding door. She gave a great smile, “Perhaps your shaman can help me?”
Lilly moved toward Tolinka, then back, “I would, but certainly he can help you.”
Dane stood and Tolinka moved quickly toward him. She put her arms around him, “Yes, he can help me. I like your shaman very much.”
Lilly growled, “Don’t get too comfortable around him.”
“Why not—I’d like to share him…”
“Not going to happen,” an angry gong.
Tolinka grasped Dane more tightly, “Just a little sharing.” She stuck her tongue out at Lilly.
Lilly took a staggering step toward them, “Kannushi, help my friend Tolinka to the torii. I’ll go with you.” Lilly stumbled around the table to his other side. She grasped Dane’s other arm, “Let’s see Tolinka out together.”
Tolinka smiled and held tightly to Dane’s arm.
Dane wasn’t in as bad a shape as the two ladies. He held them both up—one on either arm. When they reached the genkan, Kuro was waiting. She helped Lilly put on her shoes, then Dane. She hissed at Tolinka. Tolinka didn’t let go of Dane, but she pulled on her hide boots. She lifted her lip toward Kuro, but didn’t say anything. As soon as their shoes were on, Kuro opened the sliding door to the outside.
Lilly gently touched Kuro’s head as she passed, “Thank you, Kuro-san.”
Kuro smiled at Lilly, but completely ignored Tolinka. Dane acted as the buffer between them.
Both girls wobbled down the path to the stone steps. At the top of the steps, Tolinka swayed for a moment and Dane put his arm completely around her to keep her from falling.
Lilly gave a gasp, and Dane grabbed her. He carried them, one under each arm to the bottom of the steps and the torii. He was lucky both of them were very light. Tolinka felt like a firm bundle of muscle. Lilly was soft and slight. Lilly gave a smug glance at Tolinka. Tolinka just smiled back at her.
At the torii, Dane set them both on their feet.
Tolinka leaned against Dane, “Are you sure I can’t borrow him? The night is cold.”
Lilly growled, “I want him for the same reason.”
“You should have more compassion for me.”
“I let you eat my salmon and Dane’s salmon and Kuro’s salmon.”
Tolinka grinned, “Yes, perhaps I overstayed my welcome.”
“You may come back…”
Lilly lurched forward, “No…no, not at any time. You may come when we allow you to enter. You are invited when we invite you.”
Tolinka shrugged, “I would make the same stipulation, but it doesn’t mean I won’t bring some mischief to you or your shaman.” She raised her face and bright eyes to the skies and slipped through the torii gate. On the other side, there was a swirl in the darkness and a coyote sat beside the torii. The coyote’s mouth was open and its tongue lolled to one side. The coyote paced around in a small circle, lay on the ground outside the torii, and closed its eyes.
Lilly put her arms around Dane’s neck. She whispered in his ear, “I don’t think I can walk any farther–carry me back to the shamusho.”
Dane picked her up and carried her. At the top of the stone steps, out of sight of the base of the torii, Lilly struggled in his arms and Dane set her down. She rushed to the side of the Sandō and fell to her knees. Dane went to her side. Lilly lost her dinner, once twice, three times. She was very quiet about it. He thought he heard some strange sounds beside the torii gate as well.
We’ll look more at the concept of creativity in scene development. The point is very simple, scenes are built to be entertaining. Entertainment means they excite your readers. If you imagine an unspoken drinking contest with mutual failure at the end, that gives a degree of entertainment–it also demonstrates the primary means of entertainment development in a scene: tension and release. The tension is very obvious in the scene. It is built with the drinking and the banter about Dane. The release comes at the end–it’s a kind of literal “release.” Dane goes home with Lilly–they are committed anyway. Tolinka knows she can’t take Dane away from Lilly, but the tension is excruciating. For Lilly, who has never been loved before, it is devastating. The release is sweet–and not so sweet.