1 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x61, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Flashforward
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 up the list and we’ll contemplate creative elements to produce these plot devices.
Deus ex machina (a machination, or act of god; lit. “god out of the machine”)
Flashback (or analeptic reference)
Flashforward – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Flashforward: Here is a definition of Flashforward from the link– Also called prolepsis, a scene that temporarily jumps the narrative forward in time. Flashforwards often represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future. They may also reveal significant parts of the story that have not yet occurred, but soon will in greater detail.
This is an unusual plot device. I don’t think I’ve used it in my writing. The example from the link is A Christmas Carol where Scrooge is shown the projection of a possible future by the ghost of Christmas future. This use seems reasonable to me. You can see the author doesn’t reveal the true future plot, but rather a possible future and then with Scrooge’s change that is assumed to not be the progression. On the other hand, the idea that the author give a preview of a future scene in the novel may sound interesting, it seems to me that might ruin the force of the tension and release in the future scene. That is if the reader already knows what is going to happen, the force of the scene might be reduced. If this is what you intend, then go for it. If you present a flashforward that then doesn’t replicate the future scene, like in A Christmas Carol that further intensifies the future scene. In the case of A Christmas Carol, the actual scene doesn’t materialize because the protagonist has changed his destiny.
I don’t have an example from my own literature to show a flashforward. I might use this plot device in the future, but maybe not. Since I haven’t used it, I can’t imagine a set of creative elements that would support it. On second thought, I can provide creative elements that might give you a flashforward. You need a future viewing or moving element. In A Christmas Carol, this is the ghost of Christmas future’s ability to show a possible future. You require a supernatural means of seeing or moving to the future. You further need a reason to see the future. In A Christmas Carol, the reason was to correct Scrooge’s internal telic flaw. The visit of this ghost provided the climax to the novel. I suppose you need a way back. This is somewhat assumed in the means to go forward in time. Other creative elements in the scene provide entertainment value in the scene itself. I’ll leave those to you.
Yesterday, I realized, I didn’t provide any details on creative elements that potentially drive a flashback. I’ll give a few here to make up for missing that detail. You need a means to move back in time. This is easy for a flashback—most flashbacks rise out of a protagonist’s memories. I suppose a flashforward could also occur in the thoughts of a character. That would be telling unless it happened in a conversation, but you could do it.
The flashback usually happens do to the protagonist remembering an event. The author writes it as if it is occurring at the current moment. In The End of Honor, the creative elements were to death of Lyral, the fiancé, the plot against the Emperor, the plot against Prince John-Mark, the plan to unite the houses of the Empire, along with many other entertainment creative elements. In general, the point of the use of a flashback in The End of Honor was to move the most exciting scene of the novel to the initial scene so the rest of the novel could flow from that point forward in time.
This might also be the reason for a flashforward that is if the flashforward were used to move the initial scene from a point in the future to the beginning. I’m not sure how this would work, but it is an idea.
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