26 May 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x55, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices
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
Below is a list of plot devices. I’m less interested in a plot device than I am in a creative element that drives a plot device. In fact, some of these plot devices are not good for anyone’s writing. If we remember, the purpose of fiction writing is entertainment, we will perhaps begin to see how we can use these plot devices to entertain. If we focus on creative elements that drive plot devices, we can begin to see how to make our writing truly entertaining. I’ll leave the list and well go through the elements.
Deus ex machina (a machination, or act of god; lit. “god out of the machine”)
Flashback (or analeptic reference)
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
I want to look at secrets in regard to plot devices and creative elements. I added it to the list of plot devices. I think secrets are an overarching idea in plot devices. Many of the plot devices relate directly back to secrets. For example, backstory, red herring, unreliable narrator, and there are others. A secret is a plot device and a secret is a creative element. The more powerful the secret, the more powerful the creative element or the plot device. For example, a typical movie, TV show, or spy novel secret is the amorphous, but very concrete—secret bomb, secret missile, new laser, new radar, etc. These are concrete because they can be carried on a chip, a memory stick, a computer, or in paper. They are amorphous because the writer doesn’t have to describe them any more than a secret this or that. No one really looks or sees the secret, it’s just a plot device, a creative element that happens to convey s nation’s secret thing.
There is another type of secret altogether. This is the type of secret I like best. It is the secret about a person’s existence or past. A secret that can ruin or harm. A secret that if revealed will harm at least one life and perhaps many others. These kinds of secrets are not amorphous at all. They are absolutely concrete. They are real and powerful. They can be looked at and immediately reveal themselves when they are exposed.
The novel I’m writing at the moment, School has such a secret. Sorcha has been illicitly attending Wycombe Abbey school. She is a juvenile criminal who escaped from prison. She lives in the old WWII bunker on the school grounds. She is the discarded child of an Unseelie fae and a human. She uses fae glamour to hide and attend classes. She is hungry, friendless, and devoted to learning. Then dreadful Deirdre discovers Sorcha’s secret. There was originally one who knew the secret—Sorcha. One other discovers the secret and in that process so do the readers—Deirdre. As long as no one else discovers the secret, Sorcha is safe.
This is what is beautiful about secrets as plot devices and creative elements. They are powerful when not exposed, and they are like an explosion when they are exposed. Although I haven’t made Sorcha’s secret the telic flaw of the novel, its exposure is an important part of the rising action in the novel. It drives much more in the novel, and proceeds the plot in a powerful way. Secrets are perhaps the best and most powerful plot devices and creative elements.
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