8 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x68, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Ochi
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)
Ochi – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Ochi: Here is a definition of an Ochi from the link– A sudden interruption of the wordplay flow indicating the end of a rakugo or a kobanashi. Rakugo (落語?, literally “fallen words”) is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller (落語家, rakugoka?) sits on stage, called Kōza (高座?). Using only a paper fan (扇子, sensu?) and a small cloth (手拭, tenugui?) as props, and without standing up from the seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical story. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters, the difference between the characters depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head. The speaker is in the middle of the audience, and his purpose is to stimulate the general hilarity with tone and limited, yet specific body gestures. The monologue always ends with a narrative stunt known as ochi (落ち?, lit. “fall”) or sage (下げ?, lit. “lowering”), consisting of a sudden interruption of the wordplay flow.
I don’t really think this is a legitimate plot device, but I will include it because I think we can use it. Most specifically an ochii is a Japanese term meaning an ending construction. The ochii is somewhat contrasted with the sage. The ochii is a sudden verbal stop while the sage is a verbal trailing off. Both of these are similar in form to the Western kicker.
In journalism, a kicker is a short, catchy word or phrase over a major headline. In literature, a kicker is an end that cuts off the scene, novel, or event with a catchy thought provoking point. The ochii is similar to the idea of a kicker in literature. The ochi suddenly cuts off the narrative, conversation, or scene, and provides an immediate end that tells the audience to laugh or at least to cogitate about the words and presentation. A kicker does exactly the same thing. Let me see if I can find some examples from my writing. I do write with kickers, but I like subtle kickers. Here is a great kicker from Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si:
“I need to know a little bit more, but that is neither here nor there. Why were you starkers in my pantry?”
Essie stared a moment, “What is starkers?”
“You didn’t have anything on. You were naked.”
Essie glanced at her, a little amazed at the question, “I didn’t have any clothes.”
“Yes, that is the point. Why didn’t you have any clothes on?”
Essie glanced at the clothing she now wore, “I’ve never owned any clothing.”
Mrs. Lyons pondered that a moment, then she answered, “Well from now on, you shall wear clothing. I have plenty to fit a girl your size. What else do I need to know about you?”
Essie made a face.
“With that, I suspect you mean you won’t say. That will be sufficient for now…except I’d like to know. Why didn’t you have any clothing? I can’t quite fathom that part. Every person wears clothing.”
“But I’m not a person.”
Do you get the kicker? Essie deliberately states: But I’m not a person.” If this doesn’t make the average person think, I don’t know what would. This certainly makes Mrs. Lyons think. The kicker excites the reader and encourages the reader to continue reading. It is too short to really be a cliffhanger and the force is not in the entire end of scene, but rather in the single statement. This is an ochii and a kicker. Here is another example from Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse:
Shiggy almost made it out of the grocery fully intact. Unfortunately, when she knelt to pick up the grocery bags, a child accidentally ran against her. She dropped the bags and pitched forward on her face. Her bottom stuck up in the air. Shiggy felt hot on one end and cold on the other. She felt every eye in the building on her parts.
Sorcha placed her hand on her cheek and exclaimed, “Ms. Shig, do not flash your panties—it is very impolite.”
The old cashier simply smiled, “They’re very pretty ones, dear.” She turned to the next customer.
This is a kicker, and ochi, and a joke. Shiggy flashes her knickers in the grocery. The old cashier makes a tongue in cheek statement. The scene suddenly ends with a funny, the cut off is the end of the scene and the indication of the lightening of the atmosphere and the events. This is exactly what an ochii intends—cut off the narrative for a joke effect. I suggest the end of every scene needs a kicker of some type. An ochii is a type of kicker—use it.
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