Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 847, The Stage of the Novel, Developing Action on the Ancient Stage

29 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 847, The Stage of the Novel, Developing Action on the Ancient 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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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 SiEssie is my 26th novel.

Cover Proposal

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 development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. 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:

4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.

4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.

The first step in writing outside of now time is to know what existed in the time you are writing about. You have to know what to populate your stage with. I guess you could make it all up—that’s what most movies and many authors do. Instead, if you want your novel to be accurate and to reflect the actual times, you need to know what the world was like at the time.

Primary and secondary sources are your best friends. After you exhaust all these, go to tertiary sources, but realize—tertiary isn’t really considered historically accurate. To review, a primary source is a first person source. The author saw the event he or she wrote about. A secondary source is the record of a primary source taken by another. Examples of primary sources that most people are familiar with are the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Matthew, Paul’s Letters, Julius Caesar, Aristotle’s works, Plato’s philosophical works.  Usually, secondary sources are newspapers, but in the ancient world, they might be a record from a primary source that another wrote down. Examples are the Socratic Dialogues (written by Plato and attributed to Socrates), The Gospel of Luke, The Gospel of Mark. Tertiary sources are not primary or secondary. The author never saw the events or interviewed a person who saw the events. Common examples are most of Josephus, Hippolytus, Theodicles, Pliny.

The problem with many ancient works is they don’t tell us much about the daily lives of the people of the times. Luckily, we do have good information and the historian can pull a lot from archeology and from logic. For example, metal was dear. So dear that iron was used for some coins. Only the very wealthy had any kind of metal bowls or pots. Without metal bowls or pots, you can’t boil much of anything. There are tricks, but most common cooking was done over open coals or in ovens. The people had roasted stuff, but not much meat. They had bread, but not much of that. They had beer, mostly barely beer, cheese, flat breads, but very little meat. In the ancient world, most people only ate meat at the religious festivals about 12 times a year for the Greeks and Romans and six times a year for the Hebrews. All meat was sacrificed to the gods or God. During the festivals, The people ate a shared meal with the gods or God. Only the very wealthy ate meat more than this and those were the very wealthy. Fish was more common to the Greek world, and the world was Greek.

The civilized world in the West was a Hellenized world. Greek language, Greek gods, Greek athletics, lyceums, gymnasiums, everything was Greek. The world was one of slavery—mostly white barbarians who gave the name Slav that became slave in English. Slavery was the way of the world until about 1830 when Western civilization began to outlaw the practice of owning human beings. Free men and women lay down to eat. They had little furniture. Only the very wealthy had much more than cushions and a low table—much like the Japanese until recently. I could go on and on. The important thing to note is what they had and what they could do. If the author imagines a Greek world without much metal, with food that can be cooked as I mentioned, without many things, he or she might begin to build the stage of the ancient world. For more details, read my historical fiction.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:


fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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