Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 901, Publishing, Learning to Write

23 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 901, Publishing, Learning to Write

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.

These are the steps I use to write a novel:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
    1. Research as required
    2. Develop the initial setting
    3. Develop the characters
    4. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  5. Write the climax scene
  6. Write the falling action scene(s)
  7. Write the dénouement scene

I know. I know. The goal of every reasonable writer is to publish. I think this is a good ambition, but it is the wrong ambition. The true ambition of a writer should be to entertain. Perhaps this is pie in the sky, but I think this is the best and most successful ambition for an author because it matches the purpose of literature. Think about it. If you are an architect, your goal might be to produce an architectural masterpiece, however, the purpose of architecture is to produce buildings that are esthetically pleasing to the eye and to the user. An architect that misses this point will likely never produce a masterpiece. Likewise, an author might seek to produce the most artful and literarily amazing novel in the English language—if that novel is not entertaining, the author might as well not have written it. A novel that is not entertaining will have almost no chance of being published and zero chance of becoming a bestseller.

People read novels to be entertained, and an author must grasp this fact if they are to be successful. The goal of every author should be to entertain. There is really no other goal. One of the main ways an author knows she is successful is that a publisher contracts a work from that author for publication. Unfortunately, this is a rare and difficult achievement. It has always been difficult. As I wrote yesterday, the author should not expect to have a contracted work until he has produced at least one million words (10 or so 100,000 word novels). You literally need to write ten novels to become skilled enough to have at least one novel that a publisher can publish. The smart author will go back through their other novels and rewrite them with all the new skills they have obtained. Don’t be surprised if those novels get better or are just unpublishable.

Many authors get discouraged with waiting and writing—the easy out today is self-publishing. There was a time when vanity publishing was expensive and notably only for the failed writer. Today, that’s not exactly true. It is inexpensive, and for the writer who will not or doesn’t want to wait for a publisher. I will admit, publishing is a difficult business, and my first novel was partner published which isn’t far from self-published. My regular publisher now would likely have published my partner published novel, so I wish I hadn’t. The skills I learned with partner publishing did help me to some degree with my later publisher. All in all, the experience was good, but my partner-published work has not done as well as my regular published novels. I really never expected it to. I choose that novel specifically because I thought the audience would be small and specific. I’ll tell you more.

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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