5 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 823, more Dénouement
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 started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.
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.
So here is a longer dénouement. This is from Aksinya.
Aksinya swung off the streetcar and skipped down the Union Park in Boston. She wore a tweed dress and a jaunty tweed cap. She carried a leather briefcase her Dobrushushka had given her at her graduation only a month before. It reminded her of the briefcase she owned when she attended Sacré Coeur, but she never remembered carrying that one herself. She was very proud of this briefcase—it held her diploma in linguistics and teaching from Radcliffe College. Radcliffe was one of the few woman’s college she could attend since all the Catholic ones excluded her. She had mostly escaped notoriety, but still she and Dobrushushka attended a very small Russian Orthodox Church near his office.
Aksinya spotted Saint John the Baptizer Greek Orthodox Church across the street and started counting the buildings down from it.
She and Dobrushin had been in Boston for a little over four years. They were delightful years. She already wondered what she would do to seduce him tonight—it had been two days already since the last time. He was already a partner at the law firm. Everyone in the firm knew he was married, but Aksinya rarely showed her face there. Dobrushushka begged off officially because of her schooling. That was a good thing, she didn’t need notoriety. She didn’t want her Dobrushushka to lose this job.
Aksinya halted when her counting reached the correct house number and glanced at the building. She stopped skipping and walked carefully up the stairs in front. The sign was right beside the door: Sacred Heart of Christ, Russian Orthodox Seminary for Young Women and Girls.”
Aksinya smiled. That sounded like just the place for her. All the other schools where she applied to teach mistook her for a student. None of them had called her back. She luckily heard about this place from a friend at their Ecclesia.
Aksinya pulled the bell. After a couple of minutes a matronly woman dressed as a chamber maid answered the door. She was pleasant looking. Aksinya smiled and announced in English, “I am Mrs. Aksinya Andreiovna Lopuhin.”
The maid responded in broken English, “This is a Russian academy, are you certain you are at the right place? We don’t accept married students.”
Aksinya changed to Russian, “I am here to apply for the position of English and linguistics teacher. You posted it with the Russian exchange office.”
“Yes, so we did.” The woman frowned and looked Aksinya up and down.
“Is there a problem?”
“None at all.” The woman’s tone of voice said there was. “I’ll take you to see the headmistress. She is also the wife of the owner of this school.”
The building was similar to many of the row houses Aksinya was familiar with in Boston. The foyer wasn’t large. It opened to a stairway that led up into the building and a hall that led to the rear. A parlor was on the right and a classroom on the left. Aksinya could hear the teacher lecturing through the closed door.
The maid didn’t lead Aksinya into the parlor or upstairs but rather headed down the hall on the first floor. They passed a second and a third classroom on the left and right and finally arrived at a large dining room and kitchen. They were also on the left. On the right was a door labeled Office of the Headmistress. The door was closed. Outside the door sat four hardback chairs in a row. A girl of about twelve slumped in one of the seats. She didn’t seem very happy.
The maid turned a stern look at the girl then pointed to the seats. Aksinya sat next to the girl. The maid knocked at the office, entered and closed the door behind her. She exited just a moment later, “The headmistress will call for you in a moment.”
Aksinya answered “Thank you.”
The girl beside her stared at Aksinya.
Aksinya stared back, “I’m Aksinya Andreiovna Lopuhin, and you are?”
The girl answered, “I’m Anastasiya, but everyone calls me Stacy.” Her Russian was from Moscow, but the name Stacy was said purely in English.
Aksinya laughed, “Do you speak English?”
“Not well. We’re supposed to learn it here.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“My brother taught me some words and the Sister didn’t like me to say them at all.”
“What were the words?”
Stacy motioned for Aksinya to lower her head a little and whispered into her ear.
Aksinya blushed, “Is that why you are here to speak to the headmistress?”
Stacy nodded woefully.
“You have a Nun teaching here?”
“Yes, she is Orthodox but not from Russia.”
“What does she teach?”
“English, German, and French, but mostly German.”
The girl, Stacy asked, “Are you going to go to school here? Where are your mother and father?”
Aksinya laughed, “I’m applying to be a teacher here.”
The girl’s eyes widened, “You look so young.”
“I’m married,” Aksinya held out her right hand.
Stacy admired Aksinya’s plain golden ring, “Mother told me they married young in the old country. Just how old are you?”
Aksinya laughed again, “I’m twenty-three. I just graduated from Radcliffe.”
“Do you like school that much?”
“Yes, I like it very much. I never was able to go when I was young.”
“You’d hate it if you were my age.”
“Why is that?”
Stacy held out her red hand, “Sister already used her ruler on my hand, and now I have to speak to the headmistress. If she tells my mother, I’ll get the strap for sure.”
“Perhaps you should tell the headmistress you didn’t know what the words meant and beg her forgiveness.”
“I truly didn’t know what the words were, and I still don’t know what they mean.”
“Then tell her that.”
“Sister wouldn’t listen.”
“Sometimes they are like that.”
The door cracked open, and a call came from inside the office. It was Russian accented English and sounded very pleasant, “Miss Anastasiya please come inside.” To Aksinya, the voice seemed slightly familiar.
As Stacy passed Aksinya, she whispered in Russian, “Don’t let her voice fool you, she is quite strict.”
After a few minutes, Stacy exited the office. She held her features set in a look of contrition. The moment the door closed, she gave a very American, thumbs up to Aksinya, and mouthed, “It worked.” Then louder she said, “I hope you do teach here.” She skipped back down the hall to her class.
The door opened a crack, “Mrs. Aksinya Andreiovna Lopuhin, please enter.”
Aksinya stood and entered the office. The headmistress had her back to Aksinya and walked back to her desk. The woman seemed young. Very young for a headmistress. One shoulder drooped a little lower than the other, but her back was ramrod straight and her clothing was very fine, much finer than Aksinya’s.
The desk was large and filled one end of the room. The office was rather deep and had a fireplace on the left wall. Some padded chairs and a simple tea table were arranged before the fireplace. An unpadded chair sat before the desk. Without turning, the headmistress pointed to that chair. Aksinya stood beside it and waited for the headmistress to sit.
The moment the headmistress turned, Aksinya dropped her briefcase. Her mouth fell open. She couldn’t speak.
The woman before her gave a cry, “Princess Aksinya.” She rushed around the desk and embraced her.
Aksinya couldn’t get her breath she couldn’t speak. Finally, she threw her arms around the headmistress and exclaimed, “Lady Natalya.”
Natalya buried her face in Aksinya’s thick braided hair and blubbered. They stood together for a long time without saying anything. Finally, Natalya spoke, “I thought I would never see you again, Princess.”
Aksinya kissed her cheeks, “Dear Lady Natalya, I would never have guessed I would find you here. Is Herr von Taaffe with you?”
Natalya gave a laugh, “I am Mrs. Natalya Alexandrovna von Taaffe, though not called a Lady anymore. And you?”
“Father Dobrushin married me although he is not a priest anymore, and I am no longer a Princess.”
Natalya’s moist eyes held Aksinya’s, “You will always be a Princess. My lady’s maid told me you were looking for a job.”
“Please, Lady Natalya, I’m certain you would not wish to have me around you all the time. I know I will bring back terrible memories to you.”
“You don’t understand at all Princess. You are the reason I am here today. Wait with me for a while. Let me hear all that has happened to you since we parted, then we will have luncheon with Sister Margarethe, and we will discuss your teaching work in my school.”
“Sister Margarethe is also here?”
“Herr von Taaffe retained her as our housekeeper. She converted to Russian Orthodox and entered an order in the United States. Our school is loosely affiliated with Saint John’s.” Natalya held Aksinya at arms length and looked her over, “Dear friend, we have so much to talk about and so much to share. I do love you, Princess. I want you to remain with us forever.”
“In spite of everything that happened?”
“Because of everything that happened before. That time marked the end of a horrible and wonderful period, yet redemption came to you, to me.” She held Aksinya close, “I could not bear to lose you again, Aksinya. You redeemed me, the first of many. You shall redeem many more. God exceeded our expectations in spite of what we had done.”
At the end of the falling action, Dobrushin told Aksinya they would go to the United States. So they then to the United States. They went to Boston. Some might consider this an epilogue, but it is properly a dénouement. Like I said, I don’t like epilogues although you might get away with one.
The connection of the dénouement to the falling action is where Dobrushin said they would go. Also Natalya told Aksinya that she and Herr von Taaffe would leave Austria. Boston was a popular place for the Orthodox to come in the USA. Dobrushin continued working with emigrants—that was his job as a priest. We knew Dobrushin was pressing Aksinya to continue her education. We also knew that Aksinya was excluded from any Catholic university or organization. We catch up with Aksinya in Boston. She’s finished her university, and she is looking for a job. You know why she is having a problem finding a job.
The kicker is meeting Natalya and the information about Sister Margaretha. This closes the curtain on the novel, yet leaves the reader with something to think about. I think every novel should end with some memorable quote—so I make up my own based on the theme of the novel.
To lay it out. Aksinya is a novel about Aksinya’s redemption. She could never imagine redeeming anyone else. Natalya leaves Aksinya and the reader with something important to think about.
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