26 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 844, The Stage of the Novel, Conversation on the Stage
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.
I provided a dinner scene from Sorcha to show you about the stage, action, and conversation. I was writing about conversation being action on the stage of the novel. I’m trying to illustrate how conversation is action and how conversation can drive the plot of a novel. In this example, we see some of the most basic concepts of scene and novel development. First, look at the first paragraphs. They are action and setting based.
The Major turned into the parking for a large white twin peaked house. The sign at the street read, Launay’s Restaurant and Bar. The Major went to Sorcha’s door and opened it. She jumped out and took the Major’s arm. Captain Cross came to Shiggy’s side and opened her door. She stepped out and lightly took the Captain’s arm.
The Major led them to the front, and they entered a very modern looking restaurant. The overall colors were white and pink. Shiggy liked that very much. Sorcha and the Major went directly to the Maitre d’. Major Easom spoke, “We’d like a table for four.”
Sorcha added, “The heart table if possible.”
The woman nodded and led them to the back and a semi-private room. They entered a room that contained no other patrons. The floor was flagstone and the walls light fieldstone. Two tables backed to a huge ancient and now unused fireplace—it held antique decorations inside. A mirror-heart decorated the wall behind the corner table. The Maitre d’ directed them to the table. Sorcha sat in the corner across from Major Easom. Captain Cross sat Shiggy next to Major Easom and sat across from her. Major Easom passed a large pound note to the Maitre d’, “As usual, ma’am—if you could endeavor to not sit anyone else in this room tonight.”
“I will plan on it, Mr. Easom.” She spoke as though she knew them well. She handed the ladies menus, then the gentlemen, “Your server, as usual, is Emma.”
After a few moments, a young woman came by, “Good evening. What can I get you to drink tonight?”
Sorcha ordered a martini, Chopin very dry shaken with blue cheese olives. The Major and Captain Cross ordered martinis, but Shiggy noticed, they never took a sip. Shiggy ordered a martini too, Chopin very dry shaken with blue cheese olives. She’d never dared drink something like that.
Shiggy studied the menu. When Emma brought their drinks, Sorcha ordered from the Table d’Hote £38. Shiggy ordered from the Table d’Hote £28—she wanted the lamb rump and duck. Their gentlemen ordered from the Table d’Hote menu as they desired. Sorcha also ordered a bottle of wine.
Shiggy sipped her martini. She’d never tasted anything as strong as that. Sorcha drank hers with gusto. Shiggy really didn’t like the taste. She just took a sip every now and then and tried to look sophisticated. When the wine came around, Shiggy found that much more to her taste, but she hadn’t drunk much wine before.
At first, Shiggy just listened to the conversation and didn’t add anything to it. After the entrée came, Sorcha and Major Easom began a stirring conversation about current politics. Captain Cross smiled at Shiggy, “Ms. Shig…”
The wine and martini had loosened her tongue a bit, “I’m to be called Ms. Tash now.”
“But you may call me Shiggy.”
“Yes, Shiggy. That’s such a pleasant and fun name.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I do. I see you like to read.”
Shiggy took a bite, “I do like to read, very much.”
“What do you read?”
Shiggy smiled shyly, “I like to read science fiction.”
Captain Cross leaned forward, “I like to read science fiction too. That’s almost all I read.”
“Me too. You weren’t reading during our trip.”
“Never, ma’am. That’s during work.”
“Is that why you aren’t drinking now?”
“Yes. Not a drop while we’re on duty.”
“Are you always on duty?”
The Captain smiled, “Nearly always while I’m with you.”
Shiggy took another sip of wine then of her martini. She made a face, “I haven’t been entertained by many young men before.”
The Captain cocked his head, “I find that surprising.”
“Why…why would you say that?”
“You are wondrously beautiful. I’d think many men would want to entertain you.”
Shiggy blushed, “I’ve been very busy without much opportunity for entertainment.”
Sorcha leaned toward them, “William, don’t flatter her too much. She really is inexperienced about such things.”
Captain Cross didn’t stop looking at Shiggy, “I wasn’t flattering her. She is beautiful and very well spoken.”
Sorcha replied, “Continue your conversation…I won’t say anything negative at all. Not now.” Sorcha returned to her conversation with the Major.
The Captain and Shiggy discussed their favorite science fiction authors. They shared titles and decided to read a new book and converse about it next time.
By the end of dessert, Shiggy felt a little wobbly.
Sorcha gained the attention of the table, “Dustin,” she looked at the Major, “We need escorts for a Christmas party in two weeks.”
The Major nodded, “That’s Mrs. Long’s party.”
“Exactly. Mrs. Calloway will be attending. You may escort me, and William can escort Shiggy.”
Captain Cross smiled, “It would be my pleasure, Sorcha.”
Sorcha finished her wine, “That’s right, covert during the party too.”
Dustin and William finished their coffee.
When Sorcha stood, Shiggy struggled to her feet. Sorcha didn’t glance back, “William, you might as well give Shiggy your arm. I’m not sure she can walk out on her own.”
Shiggy clasped William and held on. He felt very strong and lean. She smiled in spite of herself.
Sorcha didn’t turn around, “Don’t get too comfortable, Shiggy.”
Shiggy surprised herself by responding, “But he’s very strong, and he smells nice.”
Sorcha sighed, “I’m certain you will regret every word of that when I remind you of it in the morning.”
Shiggy staggered. William held her tightly. When they arrived at the automobile, Shiggy asked, “Can William sit with me?”
Sorcha stood still for a moment, “I don’t see why not.”
Captain Cross opened the passenger door for Sorcha. Captain Cross and Shiggy sat in the back. Shiggy leaned on the Captain, and fell asleep.
In this bit of dinner conversation, the plot points of the novel are passed to the reader, we learn more about Shiggy and the rest of the characters, and we see a budding relationship between Shiggy and Captain Cross. We also see Sorcha making plans for the coming Christmas party. These are all plot points that the author needs to get out. Notice how seamlessly they fit into the conversation at dinner. This is why I love dinner scenes. I think about every novel I have written includes dinner and restaurant scenes. I also like to use plays, operas, ballets, and other cultural entertainments to promote conversation. If I were at all interested in sports, I might use sporting events in the same way. I do use shooting, fencing, and horse events in some of my novels. I know a lot about shooting and fencing, not much about horses. I don’t focus on the things I’m not familiar with but with those I understand well. Let’s look into that next.
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