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. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
The initial scene in this novel is the meeting of the protagonist and the protagonist’s helper. The protagonist is Dorothy Smith, aka Red Sonja. The protagonist’s helper is Mike Rush, who goes by the tactical, Blaze. The setting is the opportunity to describe the place and the characters. Thus we get the rest of the description of Dorothy:
Dorothy glanced to the left and right again. She caught a glimpse of herself in the window directly above the bench. Her hair was a mess, even under her scarf. Brunette waves stuck out at the sides and the back. Her face looked pretty. She’d been told that over and over—she was pretty, even somewhat beautiful. She believed that to a point. Her face still held the smile she’d tried to plaster there. Her eyes were green and her nose small. She had an oval face set off by her hair. The wind tried to catch her dress again, but she held it down and then sat on the bench.
Already, she could feel the sweat trickling down her sides and between her breasts. They weren’t her best asset, but she’d been told they were sufficient for the work she needed to do. Sweat marked her dress under her arms. It was sleeveless. She’d taken up the habit of shaving there, but she was certain that needed a touchup. She should have insisted on spending a night in Lancaster where she could greet him in the morning, when she looked her best and would make the best impression. Dorothy gave another sigh—it was too late now.
This is more of the character setting. We see this woman Dorothy Smith who has come to Lancaster, California by train. The setting is Spring 1960. She is waiting for Lieutenant Mike Rush to pick her up. I’m still working on this scene, but most of the important parts are put together.
A man wearing a khaki shirt and pants ran around the corner of the train station. His shirt was open at the top and his white t-shirt showed there. Silver lieutenant bars were pinned to his collar, and silver pilot wings sat above his left shirt pocket. He wore a blue garrison cap with an officer’s silver braid. He was lean and looked tall to Dorothy. His hair looked a slight burnt red, lighter than brown, but darker than red. It was parted and longer across the front that at the sides and back. His face was taunt and thin, but he wore a relieved smile and it appeared more gentle than tough. He looked like a contrast to the kinds of men Dorothy was used to. Still she had been warned about this over and over. They might look pleasant, but they are still men and especially American military officers and pilots.
Looking at him, she didn’t have to fake her smile, until she noticed he appeared perfect, pristine. His clothing was unwrinkled and the creases on his pants and shirt were sharp. In spite of the heat, he wasn’t sweating. He looked irritated, but not uncomfortable. She hoped he wasn’t irritated at her.
The moment Dorothy spotted him, she stood. That seemed to spur him to even more speed. He came right up to her, and didn’t remove his flight cap. He touched the silver edge. His voice was a slow baritone with a slight southern inflection, “Good afternoon. Are you Miss Smith? Miss Dorothy Smith?”
Here is the meeting. Not super exciting. I hope the overall scene is entertaining. The most important thing to note is the setting and especially the character setting. This is a very important part of the initial scene. In terms of the initial scene, that’s about it. From this scene, we can write an entire novel. The output of this scene forms the input for the next scene. I’ll discuss the output next.
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