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.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I’ll use my newest novel as an example. It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above. Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play. A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point.
In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:
Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
In fiction writing, we want to show and not tell. The most basic example of this is that we, as authors, want to reveal our characters. Revealing means telling their inmost thoughts and desires. The trick is you can’t tell what the character’s inmost thoughts and desires are. The best way to accomplish this is through conversation. This is why I write that I love to get characters into personal conversation. If I can find a time for the protagonist and the protagonist’s helper to talk quietly to each other, that is the time for powerful revelation.
You don’t need to have the characters say they feel this or that—you communicate their thoughts and emotions through their gestures and opinions. Plus, showing is showing. If you want to show us your protagonist loves children, put them in a situation where they have an opportunity to show their love for children. If you want to show us your protagonist is honest, set up a situation where the protagonist must show honesty. Again, you can give all kinds of information through conversation.
Conversation is a fantastic means to give a character’s history or general history. In giving history, the character can relate how they felt about a situation or their gestures and emotions can show how they felt or feel. You can always use gestures and emotions as a means to show character feelings and inner thoughts. Sometimes they are true and sometimes they are false. Ever hear of crocodile tears? One of the powerful aspects of showing inner thoughts and the conversational revelation is that they might be true and they might be false. The author has great control over the revelation and the means of revelation. The author can show truth or falsehood, and the author can provide all kinds of breadcrumbs that reveal the accuracy or inaccuracy of a character’s self-revelation. This is what makes writing so powerful.
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