21 May 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x50, Creative Elements in Scenes, Examples, Tension
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:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
- 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
Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
What the author does with the creative elements is a function of the plot and theme of the novel. Specifically, all creative elements should be used to build tension in the scene to the release. Here is the example from yesterday again. Take a look at the setting elements, how they turn into creative elements through interaction, then how they create tension.
Luna glanced back at them, “Now, ladies. Do you have your rosaries?”
“Leave your iron pieces under your blouses, but keep the crucifixes on the outside.”
Sorcha spoke up, “That’s not allowed with the uniform.”
Luna laughed, “It is Sunday, and it is required for what we will do.”
Deidre asked, “What will we do?”
Luna laughed again. She drove back to Wycombe Abbey and went to the left and the east side of the campus, across the lake and just before the Lacrosse Pitch. There, she pulled the automobile to the left side of the road. No one was practicing and no one seemed to be anywhere about. They exited the Triumph, and Luna headed into the trees near the road. This was a rather deep wood with tall trees and deep leaf mold. The trees didn’t block out all the sunlight, but when they arrived at an open glade, the sunlight suddenly engulfed them. It ran like thick syrup from the near noon sun and sparkled on the still frozen dew that was just clearing in the still cold air. Luna stood near the center of the glade. She placed a small ceramic bowl on the ground and filled it with a thick golden liquid. She spoke in Gaelic, “This is mead. Regular honey will work, but this always gets them. The best time for this is really the early morning and just before dusk, but our prey is lazy, and we don’t want to attract anything untoward. Now, I need you to give me a little song, Ms. Calloway.”
Deirdre scratched her leg, “What song?”
“Come, come, Ms. Calloway, the fae song you sang every day of your life in the garden at Rosewood.”
“Sing it sweet and sing it properly in Gaelic.”
Deirdre took a deep breath and began to sing in Gaelic:
“Little sìthichean le casan beaga bìodach
Cluich ann an gàrradh seo – ach ga fàgail grinn
Little sìthichean le làmhan cho milis
Tha mi a ‘fàgail ìobairt seo – tha thu airson a bhith ag ithe
Little sìthichean, mas e seo a ‘ghàrradh tha grinn
Tha mi a ‘fàgail barrachd ìobairtean aig do chasan beaga bìodach [i].”
Sorcha glanced around.
Luna stood very still. She whispered, “Don’t move too much and don’t look for them. Keep singing, sweet.”
Embarrassed, Deidre kept singing the simple song.
After a few moments something or rather more than one something began to move at the edge of the glade. Sorcha and Deidre turned very slowly toward the sound.
Luna hissed under her breath, “I told you not to look. Just stand still.”
Deidre kept singing. She turned a greater and greater shade of crimson.
Slowly a small woman with white wings and gossamer wrapped around her body flew from the edge of the woods toward the bowl in its center. The woman’s hair was the color of honey, and her face was shining and beautiful. The features were small but well defined. They looked somewhat similar to Sorcha’s but they were more rounded and plump. Her body was also well defined and as she flew toward the bowl, the outline was completely visible through her thin clothing. The fae being came in small fits and starts. It watched the three ladies carefully, but when they didn’t move, she became more and more bold. Finally, she came right up to the bowl and touched the liquid inside. She glanced around to make sure no one of them had moved, then she took a tiny handful of the contents and touched it to her lips. She gave a very broad smile, then glanced back to the woods. In Gaelic she called in a very low but sweet and thick alto that didn’t match her appearance at all, “It is a pleasant offering. Come forth, friend.”
From the beginning of the piece of the scene I gave you, they are traveling in Luna’s Triumph automobile. This is a setting element that is a creative element. It isn’t so obvious in this scene, but the automobile is a means of interacting with the setting. That makes it a creative element in itself. It is also a potential tension developer—not so much here.
The rosaries and the iron pendant are setting elements. They are turned into a creative elements and immediately build tension. Sorcha’s comment about not being allowed with the uniform is an unnecessary statement. It is an immediate tension builder. It is petulant and shows us something about Sorcha’s and Luna’s personalities. It also pushes into the broader question that comes next: what will they do? There is another question based on the rosaries: why do we need them? That isn’t asked, it is an obvious part of the tension development. Indeed, what are they about? Why rosaries, and why a piece of iron? Why shouldn’t Sorcha put the iron next to her skin? That was in an earlier scene.
In response to the question, Luna laughs—this is also tension development. We are building tension to produce an entertaining scene. Each of the creative elements are there to be used for that purpose. The scene itself is a bit complex but ultimately simple—the details and the interaction of the characters, who are creative elements in their own right, and the things in the scene produce this entertainment.
The setting for the event is provided with sufficient detail to tantalize and provide other setting elements. Then Luna asks for a song. This is a setting element that is immediately made into a creative element. Tension is built from the request and the providing. The reader wonders what is going on. The characters seem to know. This is a little secret held for the readers to see.
Notice the use of secrets in the development of the tension. At first only Luna knows what they are about. The creative elements provide clues to the excursion. Rosaries and iron—both protection from fae and evil. The reader should know this, the girls perhaps. Then we have the song with the expectation of something happening. Deirdre knows what the song portends. If you remember, Sorcha also speaks Gaelic—she knows what the song means. At this point only the readers are in the dark. There is still the final question for this scene—will they show? The reader has expectations. The characters have expectations. We suddenly have a response to the song and the preparations—there is a release of the tension and then a rebuilding of the tension.
This is how all scene writing and development works. Look back at the scene development outline and the scene method outline. The output of this scene is to invite the fae to tea (so to speak). The creative elements build tension to this release (resolution). The end is entertaining as is the journey to the end. This is what makes a scene entertaining.
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