8 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 917, Publishing, Great Examples from the Initial Scene
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.
These are the steps I use to write a novel:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
Would you like to write a novel that a publisher will consider? Would you like to write a novel that is published? How about one that sells? The initial paragraphs should set the scene, begin with action, and introduce the protagonist. Let’s look to see how the initial scene is written in the novel. We can do this with my novels and with novels from any internet bookseller. The author must begin in the initial scene to build this suspension of reality. Let’s look at the greatest author and novel of the 20th Century, Ray Bradbury and Dandelion Wine:
It was a quiet morning, the town covered over with darkness and at ease in bed.
Summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the
world was long and warm and slow. You had only to rise, lean from your window, and
know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living, this was the first
morning of summer.
Douglas Spaulding, twelve, freshly wakened, let summer idle him on its early-morning
stream. Lying in his third-story cupola bedroom, he felt the tall power it gave him, riding high in the June wind, the grandest tower in town. At night, when the trees washed
together, he flashed his gaze like a beacon from this lighthouse in all directions over
swarming seas of elm and oak and maple. Now . . .
“Boy,” whispered Douglas.
A whole summer ahead to cross off the calendar, day by day. Like the goddess Siva in
the travel books, he saw his hands jump everywhere, pluck sour apples, peaches, and
midnight plums. He would be clothed in trees and bushes and rivers. He would freeze,
gladly, in the hoarfrosted icehouse door. He would bake, happily, with ten thousand chickens, in Grandma’s kitchen.
Dandelion Wine is the richest and most powerful coming of age novel in the 20th Century because it is not just about the coming of age of Douglas Spaulding, it is about the coming of age of the 20th Century. This novel is the advent of the 20th Century. Perhaps it is dated for those who were not born in that century, but it will reside as perhaps the greatest novel about the changes of the modern era from the past. No other novel encapsulates this richness and power like Dandelion Wine. Just the title lends itself to this homey richness of past agrarian and homespun compared to the bottled pop and store-bought clothing of the modern era.
The first paragraphs are perfect. They begin the suspension of reality with description and move directly to the protagonist introduction. They are filled with action, but it is an action of place and existence rather than action of movement. It moves quickly to an action of purpose. This is pure art in literature. The reader is immediately confronted with entertainment, excitement, and the theme of the novel. How can you not want to read it? Compare this with Rowling’s painful attempts at scene setting and whatever she was trying to do. Compare this with Hemingway or Steinbeck. Their descriptions and movement into action are wonderful, but nothing compared to the personal view of Douglas Spaulding exalting in the beginning of summer that soon becomes the exalting of the beginning of a new Century.
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