23 May 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x52, Creative Elements in Scenes, Enjoying 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:
- 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
Although the initial scene builds, focuses, and sells your novel, the rising action is the novel. I really enjoy writing, editing, and reading the rising action. You should too. That is, you should enjoy writing the rising action of your novel. This is the place most of the real action happens and the revelation of the protagonist is accomplished. If you aren’t enjoying the rising action, you either don’t have an idea worth writing about or your characters aren’t worth writing about. I generally like to write scene to scene with no breaks—scene output to scene input. You can have time or position breaks when you write this way, but the breaks will appear seamless to you and your readers. I like to write this way, but I don’t always write this way. Sometimes I will throw in a scene not directly based on the output or input. I usually only do this to change the Point of View (POV) of the novel to give the antagonist or other character’s viewpoint. In general, a break from output and input scene development is only necessary or worthwhile to bring the antagonist’s view into the novel. Pretty heady stuff for a quick paragraph. This is likely worthy of more discussion, but what I really wanted to write about is how to produce ideas for the scenes in the rising action. It is one thing to write about output and input of a scene, but quite another to actually put it into practice.
I’ll use School as an example, of course. The initial scene of School introduces Deirdre and Sorcha. The output of the scene is their fight. Sorcha starts it and Deirdre overwhelms her and wins. The output is Deirdre is restrained and punished while Sorcha runs away. Since Sorcha is an unofficial student anyway, there is no way to trace or find her. The output of the initial scene is Deirdre is punished. The input of the next scene is Deirdre is punished. This is interesting and fun on its own. The nugget is not that Deirdre is punished but rather what Sorcha does. Sorcha has been discovered. She can continue in her life, but that is now tenuous. She was beaten by Deirdre, but not punished by Deirdre. Sorcha has a few choices, but most are bad. The least bad for her is to confront Deirdre and either convince or force her to not let out Sorcha’s secret. Her secret is, of course, that she is attending Wycombe Abbey unofficially. This is also something the reader wants to know about as well. The reader wants to know the secret(s). Why is Sorcha at Wycombe Abbey? How does she do it? What is her power(s)? They also want to know about Deirdre. How to get all of this? A confrontation of the characters. Since Deirdre is under a lockdown as her punishment and she doesn’t know where to find Sorcha, Sorcha should make the first move. Sorcha knows that Deirdre is in Pitt. She has a yellow tie. Sorcha may have access to other information we don’t know about. She actually she does based on her interaction with the teachers.
This is a break from the input output method. It is a necessary interjection into the third scene and forms the third scene—Sorcha confronts Deirdre and asks for a truce. She really has no other options. She wasn’t discovered in the school for years and now one person has found her out. Her only option is to make some kind of agreement, or get rid of Deirdre. The best means to get rid of someone is to get to know them. Sorcha can’t imagine what Deirdre’s response will be. The reader might guess it. Deirdre is a person who desperately needs a friend. She hasn’t had many if any friends. She is very independent, but she wants a friend. What better friend for her than someone she has complete or near complete control over. This isn’t the kind of friendship we imagine, but this drives Deirdre. This also propels the novel. The interaction of Deirdre and Sorcha on this level is exactly what I was trying to capture in the novel. The interjection into the third scene propels this new relationship. You might be able to see the logic and my thinking in this. Here is an outline: Deirdre and Sorcha meet. Deirdre notes Sorcha’s differences. Sorcha attacks to scare and bully Deirdre. Deirdre wins. Deirdre is punished. Sorcha’s first attempt didn’t work (fighting and intimidation). Sorcha needs to negotiate or at least learn more about her enemy. Sorcha seeks negotiation but finds Deirdre wants to make friends. Sorcha isn’t so keen but goes along. And so on. There are obviously other ways another author might have chosen to write this novel—or not. I saw and see only one direction. I like to think my readers can only see one direction—this is the expectation of the plot mixed with the unexpected in the plot. This is very similar to what I write about in the unexpected climax within the expected climax.
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