10 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x70, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Plot Twist type 2
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.
Now as to the second type of plot twist: a plot change that still results in the expected climax, but with a different approach than expected at first. Many novels can’t reach the artistic level of unexpected but expected climax. Remember in the perfect use of this writing technique, the expected climax is shown to be impossible, but somehow the protagonist achieves the result in a satisfying, reasonable way. These are considered plot twists because the typical reader, publisher, editor, and reviewer will call this an unexpected or a surprise ending.
One step below the expected but unexpected is the expected climax with a different approach. This is also a type of plot twist. You must realize the climax of every novel is expected—this is the resolution of the telic flaw of the protagonist. My go to example is the mystery. The mystery is the telic flaw (external and perhaps internal) the protagonist must solve to resolve the climax of the novel. In a comedy, the protagonist solves the mystery. In a tragedy, the mystery overcomes the protagonist.
The expected climax with a different approach can be seen in the first Star Wars movie—the 1975 one not the current episode listing. In the original Star Wars (before it got really silly), the climax was the destruction of the Death Star. This was the expected climax. The writers tried to make this seem impossible, but they worked out a solution to destroy the Death Star. A small ship must fire a photon torpedo through the toilet drain. A completely untrained space pilot (Luke), the protagonist, is the only person who can potentially make the shot. He flubs it—ah, but we have a new approach—if Luke uses the foreshadowed “Force” he can make the shot and destroy the Death Star. The Death Star is destroyed—that is the expected climax and the end of the movie. The expected climax occurred. It was not unexpected but it was a different approach—kind of. This is a classic, though simple plot twist.
What would Star Wars have looked like with an expected but unexpected climax? In a Star Wars with an expected but unexpected climax, the Death Star would still be destroyed in a satisfying manner, but the agency would be different. It would definitely not be by shooting a light ball down the toilet hatch. It would more likely be an approach that affected the antagonist, Darth Vader as well as the Death Star. By the way, a direct approach to the climax would have had Luke fire the snot ball into the toilet drain without the use of the force, but he would likely have achieved that on the third try. I don’t know if it is an identified plot device here. If not, I should add it—the three attempts plot device.
I’ll look at the third type of plot twist next: a major revelation that casts a character, item, event, or place in a completely different way than expected. In other words, plot twists don’t just have to be about the climax.
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