22 May 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x51, Creative Elements in Scenes, another Example, 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
I’ll toss this scene at you. It hasn’t been completely edited, but I’m certain it will stand with perhaps a few changes. My point is to introduce you to setting elements, see how they turn into creative elements, and then how those creative elements flow through the novel in the plot and the theme. This scene is a perfect example of all of that and especially the latter—creative elements moving through the entire plot and theme of the novel.
As I’ve written, School is a fanciful novel that begins with a girl, Sorcha, who is illicitly attending a famous British girl’s school. She reluctantly takes on a friend who has caught her out, Deirdre. Deirdre has been sent to Wycombe Abbey for finishing, actually beginning and finishing—she has problems with fighting and acting out. At Wycombe Abbey is a teacher who is also a somewhat relative to Deirdre, Luna Bolang. Apparently, Luna Bolang’s job is to finish Deirdre, among other things. The girls also learn that Luna is the Steward of the Abbey, whatever that means. She also looks after other students with issues; Elina Stuart is one of those. Luna instructs through what she calls electives. Sorcha and Deirdre are required to attend and achieve during these electives. They range from shooting and fencing to making friends and tea parties. In the partial scene below we see a transition from a fencing competition scene to a pizza party scene. The fencing competition was at Eton college and included not mixed fencing, but mixed schools for the convenience of the judges and officials. Deirdre and Sorcha have already met Chris and Tim. Chris has shown interest in Deirdre before. Thus the transition and part of the scene. Take note of the setting elements and the creative elements.
Sorcha took a place in foil and Deirdre a place in sabre. They weren’t high in the standings. Mr. Fletcher and Mr. MacLeod both finished with a first and second in sabre and foil. The girls and the boys found themselves at Domino’s Pizza again, and Deirdre ended up next to Mr. MacLeod while Sorcha sat next to Mr. Fletcher. The other girls and boys didn’t mix much.
Deirdre tried to listen in on Sorcha’s conversation with Mr. Fletcher. She couldn’t—she was too busy speaking with Mr. MacLeod. The first thing he said was, “Ms. Calloway, you were smashing with the saber. I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”
Deirdre blushed. She was used to speaking with her brothers, and they were mostly noncomplementary, “Perhaps you should have kept a better watch on your opponent.”
It was Mr. MacLeod’s turn to blush. He didn’t skip a beat however, “I’d like it if you would call me Chris. May I call you by your first name?”
Deirdre examined him coolly, “I think that would be all right. I’m Deirdre.”
Chris stuck out his hand, “That’s a beautiful name. Nice to meet you Deirdre.”
Deirdre shook his hand.
Chris grinned, “I think we will seeing a lot of each other. You know the mixer will be in a couple of weeks or so. You’ll be there, right?”
“I think I told you before, I shall.”
“Wonderful. I’ve never met a girl who fenced and shot before. What else do you like to do?”
Deirdre almost told him she liked to fight and cause problems, but she didn’t. She announced, “I’m a bit rough…for a girl.”
Chris smiled more broadly, “That’s just it. You seem to be a very exciting person. I’d like to get to know you better.”
Deirdre wasn’t certain how to respond to that.
He continued, “What are your plans after school?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“I’m for Sandhurst or Cranwell.”
“You want to be a military officer?”
“That’s my goal.”
“I’m not sure what I want to do.”
“Someone with your skills would be wonderful at either academy.”
“You think? Do you want to fly?”
He smiled. His face took on a pensive look, “I would like to be a pilot more than anything, but the competition is tough.”
I’ll list the setting elements for you. We have fencing, saber, foil, shooting, pizza, competition, the mixer, future plans, Sandhurst, Cranwell, military, flying, and first names. I can see already where I need a few edits, still the major points come out. The fencing competition where the girls and the boys fenced completed and they went to pizza together. Luna is training Sorcha and Deirdre in fencing and shooting. The boys Chris and Tim happen to both be on the fencing and the shooting teams. If you know anything about my other books, unfortunately unpublished, but I’ve yacked about them in this blog before, I like to see those who work in covert intelligence and military business, among other training, be trained in languages, fencing, and shooting. It makes sense that these would be how you train people intellectually (and to communicate), physically (for all striking weapons, endurance, and agility), and for modern weapons skills. The question of what is Luna about should be obvious.
Additionally, fencing and shooting bring the girls into contact with other girls and with boys. I’ll give you a hint that one of Luna’s electives will be for the girls to go to the mixer, the formal, and have boyfriends. The reason for this should be obvious from who Sorcha and Deirdre are. Neither have had many friends. Both are isolated socially and emotionally. Whatever Luna’s ultimate job of finishing is, part of her responsibility is to make Deirdre especially, but Sorcha also into social human beings. This can only happen if they learn to make girlfriends and if they can interact with boys in a normal fashion.
These are all plot elements (new element term). That is these are creative elements that move through multiple scenes and build the plot. They are also theme elements (another new term). The point of the novel theme is that Deirdre is redeemed. This doesn’t mean she has a religious conversion, but rather that her life takes on a new focus and meaning. This is what I mean when I write about a redeemed or redemption theme.
Look at the other plot and theme elements that come directly out of this small scene. Chris brings up military training colleges or academies. He wants to become a British military officer preferably a flying officer. Deirdre hasn’t thought about it. She should have. Her family is embroiled in this type of work and these schools. Her favorite brother-in-law went to Sandhurst. Her father might have gone there too. Many of her family friends went there—they are all in the intelligence business. In any case, the plot and theme element of military training and academies gets brought up here for the first time in the novel. The big deal about this is that the training Luna is providing leads to more than one place, but ultimately to only one place—a military academy. Why else would you train people in fencing, shooting, and social graces unless you expected them to be able to use those skills? This is a spoiler, but important within the structure of the novel. There is much more to this. Could Luna be preparing the girls for an intelligence future? This is exactly how we turn setting elements into creative elements that become plot and theme elements and that run through the entire novel.
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