25 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x85, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Prophecy
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)
Prophecy – 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)
Prophecy: here is my definition – prophecy is the use of an overt or a subtle prediction that either comes true in some measure or does not, but in any case furthers a plot.
Prophecy is a type of foreshadowing, but it is not the normal use of foreshadowing. I mentioned about foreshadowing that I’m not sure it is really a plot device. Since every plot must include some degree of foreshadowing, foreshadowing is simply a normal literary tool. On the other hand, I recognize that foreshadowing can and does further the plot, the climax, and the theme. The main reason I call foreshadowing a literary tool is that it is used in nearly every plot (or it should be).
Prophecy, as a plot device, is a cat of an entirely different color. The prophecy plot device can be used to turn a plot, but it is not ubiquitous and it is not used often. Prophecy, however, is much more useful and variable than you might think. Here is a comparison of foreshadowing and prophecy. If I show my protagonist picking a lock for fun or practice and note that she is highly skilled at it, then had her use that skill later in the novel to solve a problem to resolve the plot toward the climax, that is a foreshadowing. On the other hand, if a gypsy lady pronounces that my protagonist will use her skills at lock picking to open an important lock in the future, that is prophecy. This example is a direct and overt appeal to prophecy. A much more subtle prophecy is for a father to say to his child, “My child, I expect great things of you. Your training as a lock pick at your father’s knee will serve you well.” Subtle, indirect, but a prophecy none-the-less.
You can have a character force himself to fulfill a prophecy—that is a self-fulfilling prophecy and already discussed. From another side, you can also have an unfulfilled prophecy or a partially fulfilled prophecy. These can come in any form: direct, indirect, overt, subtle, and etc. The point is the use of prophecy as a creative element in your novel and your scenes. .
I have on a few occasions used prophecy in my novels. I’ll give you an example from one.
From Ancient Light: Children of Light and Darkness:
In this man’s wake, trailed a woman dressed in a simple white dress that seemed to shimmer with red like a flame. Her hair was fiery red, and her face seemed oddly young. She ignored James and the others and stepped directly to Kathrin. The others seemed to not see her. Father Malloy was not sure why he could. Sveta and Klava, who lounged like they were bored near Kathrin abruptly perked up. That seemed strange too. Sveta and Klava had ignored many of the other very important guests.
Father Malloy could hear the conversation clearly. The woman put out her hand and curtsied deeply to Kathrin, “Hello Ceridwen.”
Kathrin frowned, “Do not use that name.” She whispered, “I have not told them.”
The lady’s voice sparkled like a dancing flame, “Don’t worry, Ceridwen. They detect my presence, but they cannot hear me. I will not reveal your secret, Great Lady.” She curtsied low again, “I desired to see your change from maiden to mother. It was truly spectacular. The world of The Dagda rejoices with us all.”
“I did not you invite you, Brigita.”
Brigita raised her hands and motioned to the right and left, “You did not invite the others either. They all wished to come. My sovereign, Britania, sent me. No one dared anger you. We know you serve The Dagda just as we do. We wish to welcome you into your place, Your Royal Highness.”
“I am not ready.”
“So your father, Oghma Grianainech, tells us. He says you have refused to accept your responsibility, your place.”
“I have other responsibilities right now.” Kathrin gazed at Sveta and Klava then down at her own gently swelling belly.”
“So you do, Ceridwen. I have a wedding wish from all of us. It is a gift and a prophecy. We pray that you will come to us when you find this true.”
Kathrin leaned forward eagerly.
“Ceridwen, you may find the fate of the past is past, and the yoke of The Dagda is much easier than the yoke you once bore.”
Kathrin beamed, “Thank you, Brigita.”
The woman with the fiery red hair curtsied low again and was gone. Father Malloy blinked twice. She must have left quickly. That was the last guest. They all moved together to the reception in the lunch room at Saint Anne’s.
This is a direct prophecy. The speaker is Brigitta, the goddess of Ireland. The receiver is Ceredwin, the goddess of all the Gaelic people. This prophecy comes true. In the past Ceredwin was condemned to bear an evil girl and a deformed boy. Kathrin instead has a couple of beautiful boys, then two girls, then another boy. Her curse from the past has been broken. The prophecy and the fact it comes true are important points in the plot. Thus we have the use of prophecy as a plot device.
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