13 August 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 770, Description in the 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 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 Si. Essie is my 26th novel.
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 my 27th novel, working title Claire. I’m working on marketing materials.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
- Scene input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Here’s the theme statement from Sorcha.
Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Let’s be very specific about setting and description in the initial scene (and all scenes). Set the stage of the novel. Here is a repeat of rule for writing number 4 (listed above).
Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
I added 4a because this is so important in fiction writing. The first paragraph (or more), the first 300 to 500 words (or more) of every scene should (must) be used to set the stage of the novel. You don’t have to slavishly use pure narrative description, as in:
Linda stood in a forest surrounded by clown leafed trees.
You can use conversation, for example:
Linda looked all around, “The colors of the leaves are amazing right now, aren’t they?”
You can use tags and gesture:
Linda picked an obscenely colored red and yellow leaf from the floor of the forest, “Which tree do you think this fell from.”
Use them all, but use them. I didn’t give 300 to 500 words here in the example, but that’s what you will want to do in every scene. You can use fewer words when the same setting is used, but you still need to tell us the time, place, etc. You also need to describe the characters. You need 300 or more words for every major character and 100 to 300 words for minor characters. You may use less than 100 words for bit characters—sometimes a name will suffice.
The rule for scene setting is this: show your readers what your characters can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste, and show your readers what would be obvious to them on the stage of the novel. Imagine a stage play for this idea. By the way, the number of words of description come righ tout of Arlo Guthrie’s Field Guide to Writing Fiction.
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