Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 716, Scene Based Style, Initial Setting, Style Q and A

20 June 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 716, Scene Based Style, Initial Setting, Style Q and A

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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 26th novel, working title, Shape, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos SiEssie is my 26th novel.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’m editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader. I finished editing Children of Light and Darkness and am now writing on my 27th novel, working title Claire.

I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.

Scene development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. Release (climax of creative elements)

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.

  1. Conflict/tension between characters
  2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
  3. Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
  4. Evolving vs static character
  5. Language and style
  6. Verbal, gesture, action
  7. Words employed
  8. Sentence length
  9. Complexity
  10. Type of grammar
  11. Diction
  12. Field of reference or allusion
  13. Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
  14. Mannerism suggested by speech
  15. Style
  16. Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 15. 15.  Style

Woah—style is huge. I just spent more than six months defining style from almost every angle I could imagine. Here are the elements I found for an author’s style.

1.  Novel based style

a.  Writing focus
b.  Conversations
c.  Scene development
d.  Word use
e.  Foreshadowing
f.  Analogies
g.  Use of figures of speech
h.  Subthemes
i.  Character revelation
j.  Historicity
k.  Real world ties
l.  Punctuation
m.  Character interaction

2.  Scene based style

a.  Time
b.  Setting
c.  Tension and release development
d.  Revelation
e.  Theme development
f.  POV

Quick digression: Back on the tarmac at home.

Scene based style is moving down into the weeds of the novel. So far, I’ve looked at the higher level style of the novel itself. Now let’s look at the elements of style in the writing itself.

Look at my rules for writing 4a.

4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.

4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.

The initial scene and that setting are the most important scene and setting of your entire novel. This is an absolute statement of truth. When you pick up a novel in a store or online, the first thing you do is look at the first paragraph. That first paragraph either convinces you to buy the novel or not. If your potential readers read the first paragraph and don’t continue or don’t buy the novel, your book isn’t going to get read. This is the way the world is. You might have written the best novel in the English language, but if no one reads your book because the initial scene and initial paragraph are terrible, then your book will die in obscurity.

What does this have to do with style? First, as an author, forget style and go for a great initial scene and a great initial paragraph. Without these, you might as well have no style at all. Where this hurts many writers is they do have a “style” that prevents them from having a strong initial scene or good initial paragraph.

Those who don’t set scenes very well are going to have a problem attracting readers. Those who like prologues or other attachments to the front of their novels, are going to have a problem attracting readers. Those who can’t get rid of their non-action oriented style to produce an exciting and entertaining initial scene are going to have problems. This isn’t as much about style as it is about survival as a writer.

Success in writing novels is an entertaining and exciting initial scene and a great scene setting in the beginning. As long as you can get your readers to buy your novel, you don’t need to worry as much about the rising action. I’m being facetious. I can assure you—if you can write a strong (entertaining and exciting) initial scene and a great scene setting, you can write a wonderful rising action.

The point is to get to the rising action—both you and your readers. What this has to do with style is actually writing well enough to have a style. The question is skill first and style second. The style part follows almost entirely from the ability to put together a setting…and you should be able to see how the rest unfolds.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/
http://www.aegyptnovel.com/
http://www.centurionnovel.com
http://www.thesecondmission.com/
http://www.theendofhonor.com/
http://www.thefoxshonor.com
http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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