10 April 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x9, Pacing Tools in the Rising Action
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
I finished writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.
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 also working on my 29th novel, working title School.
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: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
- 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.
For novel 28: 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.
For novel 29: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre 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
Novels are all about showing the description, action, and conversation. However, the novelist also has some tools that the playwright doesn’t but the storyteller does. Some of these special tools involve a little telling. I’m not into telling, but I’ll give you the tools—use them wisely.
In most cases omniscient voice and telling should not be used in a novel—until it is needed. Summaries and synopses for the purpose of pacing are great uses of both. Here’s how it works. When characters act within the plot, the appropriate approach is to describe and show everything. Here is an example from School:
Deirdre and Sorcha hurried out. They walked together to the dining facility. Once they were in the open, Sorcha started in, “Really, I don’t think this is going to work. I appreciate the uniform and everything, but the moment they begin to put me officially into their records, they’ll discover I’m not a real student. If I’m in the system, they’ll wonder why the bills aren’t paid. I can be a student as long as I’m under cover. The moment I start becoming a student, the jigs up.”
Deirdre’s head fell lower and lower as she thought everything through. Finally, in a very low voice, she responded, “Isn’t there anything we can do?”
Sorcha grinned, “Just watch how I handle the teachers in our classes today. I already cleared the Monday afternoon classes.”
“Okay.” Deirdre didn’t sound very happy at all.
They entered the dining room. Sorcha held the temporary ID in her pocket ready to go, but no one checked their IDs. Their uniforms seemed enough of an identification. They both picked up the hot choice of the day: scrambled eggs, chunky fried bread and grilled tomatoes. They both picked up tea and orange juice. They hiked their trays to a wonderfully bright but secluded part of the tall roofed dining room. The floors were a light wood, and the walls a patterned brown and white. The room was spacious with open alcoves. They were early and no one sat near them. Deirdre hadn’t eaten since breakfast the day before. Who knows what Sorcha last ate. Sorcha and she dug in like wolves instead of girls. They ate every bite and returned for another plate of the same.
When they slowed down a little, Deirdre asked, “Do you usually eat here? I didn’t notice you yesterday.”
Sorcha grinned, “I never tried before. I always assumed they would check my ID or student number or something.”
Deirdre’s eyes lowered a little, “Then what have your eaten for the last three years?”
Sorcha blushed, “I’d rather not say.”
“You don’t have any money, or I would assume you don’t have any money.”
Sorcha’s mouth twitched, “Not a farthing.”
“Then what do you eat?”
Sorcha glanced down, “If you intend to be a good friend, you won’t ask me again. I plan to eat here as long as they don’t check my credentials.”
Deirdre obviously wanted to continue the discussion. Instead, she bit her tongue, “I won’t ask now, but I’d like to know. My adopted sisters always claimed they could live anywhere. My Aunt Seasaìdh claims the same. I always wondered…”
Sorcha sat up straight, “Tisn’t a pleasant subject.”
Deirdre slouched in her chair.
“Don’t slouch. You’ll draw undue attention.”
Deirdre stuffed a piece of fried bread in her mouth, “You aren’t the ruler of me.”
Sorcha sniffed, “But I’m your friend, aren’t I. You help me, and I help you.”
“Will you tell me all about prison?”
Sorcha looked like she ate a bitter pill, “If you will strive to not draw undue attention when I’m around.”
Deirdre and Sorcha immediately stopped talking. They finished every bite on their plate and headed to class.
Look at the detail and the description. I will likely add more description in the future to this scene. This is the first breakfast scene. The detail is high. The next scene needs less detail:
Deirdre and Sorcha ate lunch together in the dining room. Sorcha just walked right in beside Deirdre. She still didn’t have the courage to walk in with her head up, but in her new, borrowed uniform, she looked just like any other student. They both ate chunky lamb and rosemary shepherd’s pie with a minted potato topping, honey and thyme roasted roots, butter braised leeks and topped it off with a dessert of banana and Syrup cake with custard. It seemed odd to both of them, that they liked similar things. In retrospect, Sorcha would have eaten anything. Deirdre was happy with what she considered simple British fare.
That’s all. The description comes down to the food plus a little more information, but that’s all you need. If something exciting happens at breakfast, dinner, or supper, I might need to interject more into the writing, but this is sufficient at the moment. It gets even less attention at the next meal:
Deidre and Sorcha headed off to the dining room. They both picked up seared fillet of Scottish salmon with lemon butter sauce and shaved fennel with parsley potatoes and green vegetables. They found the fencing club seniors and sat with them. Deirdre sat next to Emma and Sorcha sat next to Sarah. They were right beside each other. The other senior girls, Laura, Gemma, Victoria, Rebecca, Samantha, and Amy sat across from them.
All the older girls spoke mostly to each other. Deirdre and Sorcha didn’t mind. They kept their mouths shut and listened carefully. The biggest subjects were boys, fashions, and school work. Deirdre and Sorcha weren’t much interested in boys at the moment. They had no idea about fashions at all. And the school work was for the upper and lower forms—well outside of Deidre and Sorcha’s current concerns. Still, they listened. After supper, everyone headed to their dorms. The older girls all lived in Clarence House.
You see. More information for more happenings. If not, I could have simply written: they went to supper. The pacing tool is the ability to properly summarize and synopsize when appropriate. I think you can see if the author were to continue to describe the scenes in too much detail that would detract from the scene and the plot. Part of the author’s strength is to know when to us these tools and when not to use these tools.
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