9 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x69, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Plot Twist
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)
Plot twist – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Plot twist: Here is a definition of a plot twist from the link– A plot twist is a radical change in the expected direction or outcome of the plot of a novel, film, television series, comic, video game, or other work of narrative. It is a common practice in narration used to keep the interest of an audience, usually surprising them with a revelation. Some “twists” are foreshadowed.
I’ve written extensively about this concept from another viewpoint entirely. I can identify three types of plots twists. The first is what I’ve called the unexpected, expected climax. The second I haven’t mentioned much, this is a plot change that still results in the expected climax, but with a different approach than expected at first. The third is a major revelation that casts a character, item, event, or place in a completely different way than expected. I’ve called the third, secrets in the past.
To the first, the unexpected, expected climax. Here it is again. The telic flaw of the protagonist must be resolved in the novel. This is the climax. The telic flaw is the protagonist’s problem that drives the entire plot and novel. This telic flaw is introduced in the initial scene or at least when we first are introduced to the protagonist. You might ask, who is the protagonist? The answer is recursive, the protagonist has the novel’s telic flaw, and the novel is the revelation of the protagonist and his or her telic flaw. The simplest example is a mystery detective novel. The telic flaw is the mystery that the detective must solve to reach the climax of the novel. The solution of the mystery is the “expected” climax. In a very complex novel, the author designs the “expected” climax to be impossible. For example, in my novel Aksinya, which you can read in its entirely on this blog (with commentary), the expected climax is that Aksinya gets rid of her personal demon (the one she called). We know this is impossible from the history of literature. The problem of Faust is that Faust could never get rid of the demon (devil)—that was an impossibility in the context of history and reason. In Aksinya, the setup is this impossible resolution. In the novel, the impossible becomes possible, this is the unexpected, expected climax. All great novels have this type of presentation. If they didn’t then the problem of all literature would be the obvious expectation of the success of the protagonist. I will add that the ancients didn’t have this problem because they relied much more on tragedy. In a tragedy, the protagonist is overcome by the telic flaw. In a comedy, the protagonist overcomes the telic flaw.
In this regard, every great novel will have a strong plot twist—the plot twist is the unexpected but expected resolution of the telic flaw. To be precise, the climax is usually the vehicle for this plot twist. Throughout the novel, the telic flaw and the climax resolution is known, it should also be impossible. As the protagonist gets closer and closer to the climax, the expected resolution looks less possible. In perfection, the reader gets a powerful sense of doom—the resolution is impossible. A sufficient climax is one where the unexpected becomes the expected with no loose ends. An insufficient climax is one where the unexpected becomes the expected but the reader doesn’t fully accept the premise of the resolution. This resolution of the expected with an unexpected climax is the first example of the plot twist. This is fundamental to almost every adult novel. The primary characteristic of most young adult and children’s novels is a direct and expected climax. The reason for this is that children haven’t figured out the basis of comedy yet. To the new and inexperienced mind, the expected climax is purely reasonable—there is no need for trickery or complexity. Billy Bob can join the baseball team and make a homerun and his telic flaw (the desire to be a baseball player) is complete.
I’ll look at the second type of plot twist next: a plot change that still results in the expected climax, but with a different approach than expected at first.
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