9 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 918, Publishing, More 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. I’m enjoying this, but I’m sure it will get stale after a while. You find the rare novel like the Harry Potty books that don’t have a great initial scene or first couple of paragraphs, but they are still bestsellers. That probably says more about the publishing business than anything. Still, it shows that if you write a compelling novel even with faults, it might be published and become a bestseller. Don’t count on it, but it is still possible. Don’t chance it—write as well as you can and continue to revise to make your writing better. Keep writing. I’m sure some poor sot writes their first novel and it becomes a bestseller, but not in the normal world. The regular world for ninety percent of all authors is lots of writing, hard work, publication, rinse and repeat. There aren’t a lot of bestsellers, and if I knew how to produce a bestseller, I’d have one. Even great authors find difficultly when they attempt to publish a novel under a pseudonym—their pseudonym novels never sell as well as their regular works—go figure. It is obviously in the name, advertising, celebrity, etc. as well as the novel.
Perhaps we can find another example. I’d like to find a bad example, but the problem is most of those are not and will not be published. How about Gone with the Wind:
SCARLETT O’HARA was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught
by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. In her face were too sharply blended the
delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy
ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square
of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly
black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows
slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin—that
skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils
and mittens against hot Georgia suns.
Seated with Stuart and Brent Tarleton in the cool shade of the porch of Tara, her
father’s plantation, that bright April afternoon of 1861, she made a pretty picture.
Her new green flowered-muslin dress spread its twelve yards of billowing material
over her hoops and exactly matched the flat-heeled green morocco slippers her
father had recently brought her from Atlanta. The dress set off to perfection the
seventeen-inch waist, the smallest in three counties, and the tightly fitting basque
showed breasts well matured for her sixteen years. But for all the modesty of her
spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the
quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly
concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty
with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manners had been
imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions and the sterner discipline of
her mammy; her eyes were her own.
Here is a bestseller with a beginning that is okay, but not that good. The author does give us the protagonist and scene setting, but the telling almost makes me want to gag. The author is obviously not well trained nor experienced. The revelation of the characters and the plot should show us all this about the protagonist. Better yet, the initial action or conversation could have shown us the character of the protagonist—instead we are told by the omniscient voice of the author all about the character of Scarlett O’Hara. Don’t write like this. Although Rowling is worse, most can write better than this. This is why this was the first and perhaps last novel written by the author. Tomorrow, perhaps we should look at To Kill a Mockingbird.
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