11 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x71, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Plot Twist type 3
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.
On to the third type of plot twist. I hope almost every adult novel has the first type. I could care less about the second. The third should also be common in every adult novel and most children’s and young adult novels. I’ll also tell you this—every plot twist must be foreshadowed. You don’t have to tell the reader the punchline, but when the reader gets there, you want them to imagine they could have figured out what was going on.
Novels are interesting pieces of art. The most excellent are those where the reader feels as though they could potentially see every plot twist and any other plot event, but they never do. Let me give an example. A terrible mystery novel is one where the solution to the mystery comes out of the blue. Even if it isn’t a deus ex machina, such a mystery climax is not sufficient for your readers. The kind of mystery climax that readers want is one where as the detective or narrative explains the solution, the reader says over and over in their mind, “I knew it. I knew it.” They really didn’t know it, but as the mystery unfolds, it makes so much perfect sense from the foreshadowing, evidence, conversations, experiences, and etc. that everything falls into place for the reader as it falls into place for the detective. And all good novels are like this.
I’m sure that for some small percentage of readers, they fit everything together in a great novel before the climax. Perhaps some small percent never understand it. The major group of readers you are aiming for won’t get it until the climax. When the climax occurs, they will eat up every part of it with great excitement. This is true of every plot twist.
All my novels have major plot twists both the unexpected expected climax types and the third types. Here is an example of the third type of plot twist from my soon to be published novel, Sister of Darkness:
Lumière stood just inside the door. She bent her face in her hands and sobbed silently. Shudders racked her thin body. Leora stood by her side. Then she put her arms around Lumière. The girl stepped back and turned her face.
“What’s wrong, Lumière?”
Lumière’s mouth moved, but she didn’t say anything.
“What’s wrong? Why won’t you speak?” Leora tried to take her in her arms.
Lumière stepped back.
“Please, Lumière, tell me what you are thinking.”
Major Lyon’s ears perked up.
Leora grasped Lumière’s arms and pulled her closer. Lumie’re resisted, “Please, no, Mama.”
Lumière put her face in her elbow, “Because, Mama, I did this to Papa. I did it.”
Leora pulled Lumière into her arms, “How could you do this, my love?”
Lumière buried her head in her mother’s breast. There was a sudden blaze of light and Lumière fell back. Her eyes opened wide, the tears blasted out of them. “Mama?” fear overtook any other emotion.
Major Lyons stepped forward, “What’s going on?”
“Stand back, Lyons. This is my field, and if you value your life, you will keep clear.” Leora turned back to Lumière, “What did you do?”
“Mama, please,” Lumière held out her arms. Then she placed them at her side, “I cannot make the sign anymore. I cannot call in the light.”
Leora gingerly took Lumière’s arm and pulled her closer, but not too close, “What did you do?”
“I tried to help, Papa. I saw him. He and his men. They were surrounded by Leila’s servants. They were trying to capture him. I thought they were going to kill him. So I did it.”
“What did you do? Leora shook Lumière’s thin arms.
Slowly, ashamed, Lumière removed the small stained book bag from her back. She opened it and pulled out a wrapped rectangular block. With the block in one hand, she pulled away the cloth covering to reveal a small black metal tablet.
Leora stared and threw out her hands as if to ward the thing off, “The Osiris Offering Formula!”
Lyons took a step closer, “That’s the thing Paul found. That is what we were looking for all that time.”
“This is the thing my sister wants.” Leora’s mouth was dry, “Lumière how did you get this, and what did you do with it?”
“It called me. From my dreams I heard its call, and I found it on the top of the chimney. When I first touched it I knew it was powerful.” Lumière’s words went on as though she held them ready for a confession for a long time, “I could sense the power in it, and in my dreams I could use it.”
“That was my sister speaking to you.”
Lumière shook her head, “When I held it in my hand I could hear exactly how to use it. I saw across the world. I saw their souls, the thing you call the ka.”
“How long…how long have you had it?”
“Just before the dreams began, and not very long before the Major came to take us away from our house. It worked even better in Britain than at Hyères. It loves the dark and darkness as much as you love the light. With it, I saw Father’s ka, and I knew he needed my help. He would have died,” the tears ripped through her voice.
“What did you do?”
“I was so afraid. I touched the tablet and sealed their kas. Then I touched it again and made Leila’s servants’ kas depart. Mama, what did I do?” Lumière held her head in her hands.
Leora grabbed Lumière’s arms, “Why didn’t you unseal their kas again?”
“I’m sorry, Mother. I didn’t know how. I couldn’t find them. What should I do?” She sounded more like a lost child than a young woman almost fifteen.
“First, put the tablet down.”
Lumie’re placed the black thing on the floor. She could almost not take her fingers off of it. She caressed it gently.
Through the novel, Sister of Darkness, the British government, and Leora have been looking for this black tablet called the Osiris Offering Formula. It had been hidden on the roof of Leora Bolong’s house in France. When she departed with her children during the fall of France, she couldn’t find the tablet. This tablet was the focus of the German’s search in the previous novel, Sister of Light. We discover in this plot twist that Leora’s eldest daughter, Lumière has the tablet and has used it. All though the novel, I sprinkled clues to who had the tablet. Lumière has been having dreams and issues from the beginning of the novel. We are led to believe she has had the Offering Formula for a long time. She has learned to use it. She used it to protect her father and his men, but she couldn’t undo what she did. The Offering Formula further gives power of the Goddess of Darkness over Lumière. This is a remarkable plot twist in the novel and directs the rest of the novel in a significant fashion.
This is the kind of third plot twist I really like. It is significant, moves the plot, has been properly foreshadowed and breadcrumbed, and although the reader is surprised, they react with: “I knew it.” Beyond all this, such plot twists make for remarkably powerful scenes.
On this note, in the past, I’ve generally piled all this information together as secrets. There are many types of secrets in novels, this is one of them. Secrets are no good unless they are revealed. The revelation of secrets is what usually produces a powerful plot twist of this type. Secrets are a great property of all good novels.
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