23 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x83, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Judicial Setting
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)
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Judicial Setting – Current discussion.
Two way love
Three way love (love rival)
Celebrity (Rise to fame)
Rise to riches
Military (Device or Organization manipulation)
School (Training) (Skill Development)
Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)
End of the — (World, Culture, Society)
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Judicial Setting: here is my definition – judicial setting is the use of legal practice and legal settings to further a plot.
Judicial setting is indeed a plot device. It can drive an entire plot, like Perry Mason, To Kill a Mockingbird, or the whole host of modern crime or legal shows, or it can be a simple plot device such as in my novels or in The Cain Mutiny. I’m not sure why more authors don’t use the judicial setting. It may be because they are uncomfortable with law or the legal system, or they just don’t recognize this as a plot device. Using the judicial setting does require research, but the use in movies and television shows should indicate that it is a usable and reachable plot device.
The judicial setting is driven by certain creative elements. The basic is a legal idea or score. For example, your character has broken the law or appears to have broken the law. The only reconciliation, or a useful reconciliation is the judicial setting. At the lowest level, the police become involved and your character is exonerated or charged. The next level is a trial or a dismissal. Beyond that you have a conviction or guilty of innocent. Of course you can move a step further to incarceration, but that is another plot device, and I added it to the list. As an aside, many authors skip the judicial setting and just give it a footnote to move to the incarceration stage—The Count of Monte Christo for example.
I like to use the judicial setting. It can be simplified to the legal argument, which I also just added. I won’t define that here. Again, in the judicial setting, the author uses legal concepts, ideas, and settings to forward the plot. The legal can be a trial of any kind. Just to show you the bounds of the judicial setting, I’ll give you three examples, one a judicial trial, one a courtly trial, and the other an ecclesiastical trial.
From Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer:
The King County Courthouse courtroom was not packed by any measure of the imagination. The building itself was low modern and dower with wide thin windows and a brick façade. The courtroom wasn’t much better. The interior was decked out in Twentieth Century style with cheap paneling and expensive woodwork where you couldn’t miss it. It was laid out like most American courtrooms. The judge sat at a wooden podium at the front with the jury box on the right side. The bailiff and police guards stood at the left side. A fine wooden witness stand connected to the judge’s podium. Two heavy wooden tables lay at the front of the room before the judge. A low wooden rail separated the tables from the public gallery. There, wooden bench seats like church pews trailed back to the courtroom’s main door.
The prosecuting attorney sat at the table on the right side and the defending attorney on the left side. The four defendants sat at the table with the defending attorney. Lilly, Dane, Phelia, and Jeff, along with the responding police officers were the witnesses. They sat in the gallery. The judge sat behind his high wooden desk with the court reporter in front of him and a computer transcriber.
The trial moved slowly through the preliminaries. Finally, the bailiff called Lilly as the first witness. The prosecuting attorney asked her to describe the events of the evening in question. She did. Then the defending attorney cross examined her, “Ms. Grant.”
“Is there any reason my clients might want to attack you and Mr. Vale that night?”
Lilly didn’t pause, “I hacked Mr. Martin’s FastMart account.”
Jeff glanced up suddenly and whispered, “That’s the first I heard of that…”
“So you provoked Mr. Martin and his friends.”
The prosecuting attorney stood, “Objection—no simple provocation deserves assault and battery.”
The defending attorney glanced at the judge, “If Ms. Grant can be shown to be a questionable witness, her testimony should be thrown out.”
The judge rubbed his chin, “There is more evidence than just her witness, but you may continue with your questioning.”
The defending attorney turned immediately back to Lilly, “Are you a proficient hacker?”
The prosecuting attorney stood again, “Objection, Ms. Grant isn’t on trial here.”
“If Ms. Grant can be shown to be in the commission of a felony, then my clients’ actions might be perceived as legal under the law.”
The judge picked up an evidence folder, “According to the medical report, Ms. Grant and Mr. Vale received substantial injuries. How can that be justified by even any non-violent felony?”
“Self defense. I propose that Ms. Grant and Mr. Vale have been lying in their affidavits to hide their illicit activities.”
The judge’s brow rose, “Illicit activities?”
The defending attorney glanced at his notes, “I’d like to suspend Ms. Grant’s cross-examination and call another witness for the moment.”
Judge Kelsey took a deep breath, “I’m not sure where this is going, Mr. Liam, but I will allow the suspension and for you to call your witness.” He glanced at Lilly, “Ms. Grant, you may return to your seat. You are still considered under oath—for now.”
Lilly hopped out of the witness seat and sat back beside Dane in the gallery.
Lilly and Dane were assaulted by four young men. They were both injured. The trial isn’t about Lilly or Dane, but the prosecuting attorney is making it about them because Lilly did hack one of the men’s account. This comes out in the trial. This is a judicial setting that most readers are familiar with. Now to the court trail setting.
This is from Warrior of Darkness:
Klava and Niul walked side by side down the middle of the sacred grove of the Celts. Scáth had dressed them both. Klava wore the same dress she had when she came here before. It fit her a bit differently. Her belly poked the black fabric out at the front. Scáth had made it fit properly, but Klava thought it still looked odd. She thought it accentuated her belly rather than deemphasized it. Niul wore a black shirt and pants in a similar style. He simply calked it up to Scáth’s idiosyncrasies and Klava’s preferences. Scáth stepped right behind them also in black.
The grove was a marvelous place. The sunlight reflected through the trees as though it were the middle of the day. The leaves formed a peppering of light and dark on the grass covered ground. A slight wind moved the leaves and the temperature was comfortable. Niul noted strange creatures and beings on either side. He didn’t dare turn to look at them too closely. Klava hung on his arm and when he slowed too much, she tugged on him, “Don’t stare, Niul.”
“What are they?” he whispered.
“I’ll explain it to you later…”
“There may not be any later, Lamb.”
Klava clung more tightly to him.
At the end of the grove stood an enormous oak tree. On it sat Kathrin. The tree formed the impression of a throne. Around this oak and Kathrin stood many stately beings. Right beside Kathrin was a very tall woman. On her other side was James. Aleksandr stood at James left. He held a large sword and a book. Lumière held to Aleksandr. She did not lift her face.
James and Aleksandr’s clothing was fine and modern, but many of those around the throne wore very ancient styles of clothing. Kathrin wore a gown of dazzling white with a silver belt, and a silver caldron sat at her feet.
When Klava had approached to within about two meters, she halted and curtsied. Niul bowed. Klava didn’t wait for an invitation, “Mother, Ceridwen, let’s get this over with. Just pronounce your judgment and end it all.”
The gods and goddesses around the throne murmured. Aife stepped forward to say something, but before she could, Kathrin raised her hand, “I was promised that the court would give you a new hearing. That is my right as the Great Lady. Why are you rushing this, Klava?”
Klava nodded but she didn’t remain quiet, “Mother, the last time this hearing brought shame and embarrassment to you, to your court, and to me. I do not wish you or your court to face anymore shame.”
“What about you, daughter?”
“I already told you, I am guilty. I claim guilt to every crime you accuse me. I will not oppose you.”
Britannia interjected, “Yet you did oppose the judgment of the courts. You stepped foot on the Celtic lands when you had been banished by these courts.” Aife nodded energetically.
“Then, I am guilty of that too.”
Kathrin’s eyes flashed, “Tell them why you violated your banishment.”
“Is that a command?”
“Yes, I, Ceridwen, insist that you inform the courts why you violated their pronouncement.”
Klava shrugged, “It will do no good, but my warrior had been captured by the PIRA. They threatened his life. I could not leave him. I am bound to him. I still broke the law you placed on me. I am guilty.”
“Is this your warrior?”
“Yes. This is Niul Ríoghbhardán O’Dwyer. He is my chosen warrior.”
“You still have not wedded him.”
“We are contracted in agreement to wed. I likely will not have the opportunity to wed him. I will die before then, but by ancient contract, we are wed.”
Brigitta stepped forward, “Great Lady, may I speak?”
Here, we had a judicial setting that is like those of the ancient courts. The author isn’t bound to write a judicial setting from the standpoint of lawyers and modern judges. Kings, queens, and other nobility as well as the gods and goddesses hold court—like the Greek, Roman, or other gods. For another type of judicial setting let’s look at Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon:
Frau Becker reluctantly let go of Aksinya’s hand and moved behind her.
After a few minutes, Inquisitor Esposito entered. He did not sit. He nodded toward Aksinya. Moments later, the Archinquisitor Gallo came in from the door at the side of the altar. Everyone stood. The Archinquisitor glared at Aksinya then bowed to the altar and immediately began an ascension prayer in Latin. He led the court in a general confession and absolved them. He led them in the Apostolic Creed. Then he sat down and signaled for everyone to be seated.
The Archinquisitor brought out a paper, “Alleged Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna…”
Aksinya interrupted, “I am not an alleged Countess. I am the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”
“You are not allowed to speak until you are called upon.”
“I am not an alleged Countess. I am the Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”
“Little girl, you are already prejudicing this court against you.”
“That may be so, but I insist that you address me by my proper title.”
“Your identity is one of the questions before this court, but if you fail to hold your tongue, I will have you bound and gagged.”
“That is your prerogative, but I also have the right to be addressed properly by this court.”
The Archinquisitor turned to Inquisitor Esposito, “Instruct the Fraulein in the proper decorum of the court.”
Aksinya glared at him, “This is the first issue before the court. If you can’t identify me properly then what kind of trial can this be?”
“I warned you once, little girl. I will have you bound and gagged.”
Inquisitor Esposito stammered, “If it pleases the Archinquisitor, the promotor fiscalis should first establish the identity of the accused.”
The Archinquisitor frowned at him, “Very well. This is not the usual procedure, but I will take the advice of the advocatus reorum and first prove the identity of the accused.” He faced Aksinya, “Little girl, what is your baptized name? I know it is not Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”
Aksinya nodded, “What you say is true. My baptized name is not, Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna.”
The courtroom let out a sound between a gasp and a groan.
The Archinquisitor smiled, “Then what is your baptized name?”
“My baptized name is Aksinya Georgovna Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov.”
The Archinquisitor glared at her, “Preposterous.”
Aksinya stared him down, “My father was Grand Duke George Alexandrovich Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov. He died of tuberculosis before I was born. My mother was Princess Nina Vladimirovna Golitsyna, nee Bockmann. She later married my adopted father Count Andrei Nikolaevich Golitsyna. I was given my adopted father’s name and all rights to the name by him.”
A whisper started in the courtroom, “She claims to be a princess.”
The Archinquisitor half stood, “Quiet in the courtroom. Preposterous, I say. You claim first to be a Countess and now to be a Romanov Princess.” He slowly lowered himself back into the Bishop’s seat.
“I am a Romanov Princess and a Countess and I insist on being addressed properly.”
This is a snippet of an ecclesiastical trial. The piece I gave you also points to the idea of the legal argument. I’ll provide an idea—every judicial setting should encompass legal arguments. In other words, one of the primary creative elements and a plot device incorporated in a judicial setting is a legal argument. The author has not only the opportunity, but the obligation to include a legal argument in such a setting.
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