24 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x84, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Legal Argument
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)
Legal argument – 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)
Legal argument: here is my definition – legal argument is the use of an argument based on law to further a plot.
A legal argument is not a Quibble. A quibble is based on a technicality in the law—a legal argument is simply based in the law. When I write, legal argument, I mean any argument based in law. Therefore, you could have a legal argument based in the laws of science. Aka, a science fiction novel whose plot rested on the concept of gravity or biological science. Most legal arguments will be based on some type of law or legal system. Many will be based in logic. Some will be based on scientific law. You might even have a legal argument based in a tribal law—a taboo for example.
I think the legal argument is a fine means of developing a plot—it is a plot device, so the theme isn’t dependent on it, but the plot might be. Here is an example of a pure legal argument.
From Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer:
Mr. Vale kept their glasses full, and after dinner, they all cleared the table and went out to the back patio. The air was crisp, but the wine warmed them. Phelia joined them this time.
Mr. Vale started, “So you’re both living in Dane’s apartment…?”
“Yes” replied Dane and Lilly together.
Lilly was bubbly, “We aren’t shacking up…yet. If that’s what you mean…”
“That’s exactly what I meant.”
Phelia didn’t look at them, “They are shacking up. I’ve seen them come out together every morning this week. Lilly couldn’t come out one morning because, because…”
Lilly grinned, “Really, Phelia, he didn’t wear me out. I like the idea, but your brother is just too much of a gentleman. He’s kissed me every morning and each night…”
Phelia yelped, “That’s just what I mean. I’ve seen them kiss and everything…”
Mrs. Vale laughed, “Ophelia, a little romance is what it’s all about, and if Dane’s has the intention to marry her, then everything is all right with me.”
Phelia balled her fists, “Is this all right with you, dad. What about your political career?”
Mr. Vale leaned back in his chair, “I suspect Ms. Grant and Dane are being careful about their relationship.”
“Dad, they are living in the same apartment, and she’s sixteen.”
“Actually, Ms. Grant is seventeen. She just turned seventeen. In Washington State she can marry with her guardian’s permission.”
Phelia mumbled, “But what about statutory rape?”
“For better or worse, sex is allowed when the woman is seventeen.”
Phelia’s shoulders drooped, “So you’re happy with this?”
Mr. Vale snorted, “I didn’t say I was happy with it—I’m just pointing out the laws. I don’t want Dane and Ms. Grant to have sex outside of marriage, and I’m not very happy with them living together…”
Mrs. Vale sat up, “I’m happy with it. Your father and I lived together for a while before we married.” She blushed, “I’m not saying that is the right thing to do, but I want Lilly and Dane to be together, and I want them to marry. I know Dane. He’s a man who has never been in a relationship with a woman before, and I’m happy he found someone who loves him.”
Phelia mumbled again, “How do you know she loves him? I think she’s after his money and position.”
Lilly perked up, “I didn’t know he had any money or position. He’s working at FastMart with me.”
Mrs. Vale wasn’t deterred, “Lilly is completely independent and capable on her own. She doesn’t need your brother at all, but she has latched on to him—that’s enough for me. I like her very much. I want her in our family—she is part of our family.”
Phelia bent her head, “Aren’t I daughter enough for you? Why do you want someone like her around?”
Mrs. Vale took Phelia’s hand and shook it, “Listen to me Ophelia. I love you. I’ve always loved you. You are my special and one and only daughter. I like what you are, and I like what you are becoming. Dane is going to marry someone, why shouldn’t that someone be Lilly?”
“Because I don’t like her…”
Mrs. Vale pleaded, “What don’t you like about her?”
Phelia glanced up at her, “I love my brother. I liked who he was before he met her. I’m afraid he’ll invest himself in her, and she’ll dump him—then where will he be. Where will our family be?”
Lilly started to laugh. She couldn’t stop. Everyone turned to look at her. Dane could hear the wild chimes in her laughter. Finally, between hiccups she snorted, “Dane is mine, and I am his. I will not leave him for any reason, and you said yourself, he hasn’t been interested before…”
Dane put up his hands, “It’s not that I wasn’t interested—I just never found anyone as special as Lilly. I…I love her.” He blushed to the roots of his hair.
Lilly stared at him with big eyes, “That’s the first time you’ve ever said you love me.”
“Really,” Phelia, Mrs. Vale, and Mr. Vale exclaimed.
Phelia pouted, “That’s too much for me, Dane Vale. You’re living with a girl, and you never said you loved her…”
Dane put up his hands, “It’s hard for me to say and harder for me to realize. I’ve never loved anyone like this before…”
Lilly looked like she was about to cry.
Mrs. Vale’s eyes turned soft and damp, “That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.” She glanced around the table, “I want to do everything I can to make this happen.”
Mr. Vale nodded, “In due time. You two can marry when you’re ready, and when we think you’re ready.”
Lilly pressed her lips together, “He still hasn’t asked me yet…”
Mrs. Vale grasped Lilly’s hand too, “Yes, he must ask you in the proper way, and you must have our permission. You can marry, by Washington State law, when Lilly is eighteen.”
Lilly cried, “Eighteen, that’s a whole year away—I’m not sure I can wait that long.”
Mrs. Vale grinned, “Remember, he hasn’t asked you yet…”
Lilly glanced at her then at Dane. She let out her breath, “He hasn’t asked me yet.”
Mrs. Vale smiled, “When he does. We can make a second appraisal.”
Phelia took a deep breath, “Well I’m against it, for now.”
Mr. Vale nodded, “For now.”
Mrs. Vale let go of Lilly and Phelia’s hands, “Lear, get another bottle of wine. You need to speak to Dane about the asking and we need to celebrate the potential. Right now, I want to talk to our client…”
There is a lot in here, but I think this is really fun. They are bantering about love, marriage, sex, and legal concepts of all of these. Dane and Lilly are living together, but not shacking up. They are in love, but not married. The Vales are lawyers. I set this up from the beginning of the novel. This little scene (part of the scene) is the fruition of half a novel. The arguments are legal, but based in different types of legal—religion, state law, moral law, and etc. A legal argument is a wonderful plot device that can provide great creative elements for a scene and a novel.
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