4 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x64, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Framing Device
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)
Framing device – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Framing device: Here is a definition of Framing device from the link– A single action, scene, event, setting, or any element of significance at the beginning and end of a work. The use of framing devices allows frame stories to exist.
This is an adequate definition. A great example is Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. The link uses the example from… “Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, the newly wed wife to the King, is the framing device. As a character, she is telling the “1,001 stories” to the King, in order to delay her execution night by night. However, as a framing device her purpose for existing is to tell the same 1,001 stories to the reader.”
I think a framing device can be a little broader than this. For example, I could argue that the soul of the being from the spaceship Athelstan Cying from the Ghost Ship Chronicles: Athelstan Cying is a framing device. The purpose for the novel plot and theme is this creature from an earlier time. The being “frames” the theme and plot of the entire series of novels. The concept of this being doesn’t form the bases “frame” of stories, but rather of the scenes in the novel.
In The Martian Chronicles, Mars and the spaceflights to Mars as well as the Martians forms the framing device for the novel. The Martian Chronicles is a set of connected short stories. Another framed novel is Tuf Voyaging by George R. R. Martin. This is a set of connected short stories framed by Tuf and his biowarfare spaceship. I’ll give you a bit from my Ghost Ship Chronicles as an example.
As if he rose, buoyed up from dark ocean depths, Den Protania—the new Den felt himself come awake. The process of waking, in his memories, at once so familiar, yet after a millennia of sleeplessness, so strange. Within moments after he woke, he became aware of pain. Pain deadened by drugs and nerve induction, but still, a wash of ceaseless agony. Den worked a long time to filter out the throb of his body awareness along with the residual physical feeling that lingered beyond the drugs. Uncomfortable things the drugs—he recognized they slowed his mental processes along with the pain.
Den lay quietly with his eyes closed. After he dispensed with the pain, he possessed little energy left to do more than rest. Slowly, he took stock of the physical body fate left him. The body was thin and lanky, well muscled but unfortunately untrained. Not trained at all—the entire brain and body was undisciplined. Den was shocked; the man’s nervous system was almost untouched by productive neural paths, and his motor skills were completely undeveloped. On one hand, the body was like a blank slate, a body and mind he could cultivate, had to cultivate since he was now irrevocably bound to it. Yet it was a liability—an obstacle to his capabilities until he could properly develop it.
The new Den stretched his introspection further. He explored the stored knowledge and the mental processes. Difficulty and frustration blanketed the brain’s immediate memories, and a progression of similar feelings overlaid the long-term thoughts. In each case, the theme was similar, the striving of immaturity to overcome an impossible adversary. So ingrained was failure and depression, he wondered if he could overcome the limitations of the man’s mind and achieve anything with it himself. Immediately, he put away such speculations—the mind and body were undisciplined, but the unsuccessful strivings he remembered were fettered by a lack of motivation and exertion. He would affect a change by an alteration in lifestyle. Not a great change at first, he realized the danger in that, but a gradual improvement, one that could be explained by his near brush with death.
Under these circumstances, it was not uncommon for a person to change personality. But he realized one very important fact—if he wanted to integrate comfortably into the company of the ship, he must show a reasonable progression of change. If Den Protania changed too radically, someone might realize he experienced more than a brush with death. That kind of realization might torch off a reaction he could not control. Even in enlightened times, emotions rather than reason could govern human thoughts, and a hysterical reaction from an entire ship’s Family would be deadly. If anyone acquired an inkling of what occurred in the person of Den Protania, Den could easily anticipate his end—captivity and death.
The reality of the situation was not hard for him accept, but his circumstance was outside normal reason. If he could not understand it, he knew the situation would be impossible for others to accept. The incident was impossible. It was an occurrence that existed only in the realm of imagination. Yet, because he knew it happened, it was incredibly real. Even so, he could not answer the fundamental question: how could he exist bodiless and then replace this body’s rightful owner? The idea was borne of fantasy, yet it had occurred.
On a new train of thought, Den reviewed his new mind’s knowledge of history and was disappointed to find so little that concerned his original period, the end of the old Empire. Only a clouded and circumspect panoply of war and atrocities overlay Den’s memories.
He held different recollections of the same times, and the events were still very real to him. Suddenly, as though viewed backward through a dim telescope, tiny, brilliantly focused images trailed through his thoughts and overlay the memories in the dead man’s mind. He caught himself up sharply and tried to halt the sudden flow of remembrances. With surprise, he found he could not stop the transfer of memories. He strove to save Den’s true memories from the ancient thoughts that once marked the life of a long cold corpse. The effort was akin to physical, and he did not have the strength to halt it. When the transfer of thoughts was complete, he sank exhausted in the bunk. In a new combined mind, he was thankfully able to separate much of the long forgotten from the youthful thoughts of the man he now was.
The “framing” in this example is the new “soul” within Den Protania. He is the beginning and the end of this series of novels. He, himself, is the framing device.
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