Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x88, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Rival

28 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x88, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Rival

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:

  1. Don’t confuse your readers.
  2. Entertain your readers.
  3. Ground your readers in the writing.
  4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
  5. 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.

Cover Proposal

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 development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
    1. Research as required
    2. Develop the initial setting
    3. Develop the characters
    4. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  5. Write the climax scene
  6. Write the falling action scene(s)
  7. Write the dénouement scene

Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the outline:

  1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
  2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
  3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
  4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
  5. Write the release
  6. 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)



Frame story, or a story within a story

Framing device


In medias res

Narrative hook


Plot twist

Poetic justice

Predestination paradox


Red herring

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)

Ticking clock scenario

Chekhov’s gun

Unreliable narrator

Third attempt


Judicial Setting

Legal argument


Two way love

Three way love (love rival)

Rival – Current discussion.

Celebrity (Rise to fame)

Rise to riches

Military (Device or Organization manipulation)

School (Training) (Skill Development)





Impossible Crime

Human god



Silent witness

Secret king


Hidden skills

Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)

End of the — (World, Culture, Society)

Resistance (Nonresistance)

Utopia (anti-utopia)


Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)

Mind Switching (Soul Switching)

Unreliable character

Incarceration (imprisonment)

Rival: here is my definition – rival is the use of competition of any type to further a plot.

You can have a love rival that is usually two or three way love. You can have a rival in any type of competition. For example, The Hunger Games was filled with rivalries of all types. It included a three-way love that was a love rivalry plus competitive rivalries, political rivalries, social rivalries, even familial rivalries. Rivalries are a powerful plot device. I recommend their use especially in competitive situations. Competition comes in many varieties. For example, you can have academic, sports, capitalistic, magic (Hogwarts), sorcery, flying, military, leadership, and all competition. Don’t sell this plot device short. In any competitive setting all you need to do is provide a rival to your protagonist and you immediately have a rival plot device in action. The use of this plot device can bring very powerful entertainment value to your novel. Just think of the Harry Potty novels. The author uses rivalry almost too much as a plot device. Everyone is a rival for everyone else. Snape is even a rival for Harry’s dead dad in academics, magic, and love. Too bad he gets it.

In any case, use rivalry, the rival plot device in your novels when appropriate. I’m not sure I have a good example from my writing. I’ll just leave up the example from yesterday—that’s a love rival, oh well.

From Khione: Enchantment and the Fox:

A little later, Jason, Jennifer, and Yumi brought their trays over to where Pearce and Khione sat. They took their normal places around the low table. After a while, Jennifer asked, “Hey Pearce, I’ve got a couple of tickets to a movie on Saturday. Would you like to go with me?”

Pearce glanced up from his notes. He tapped his pencil on his lips and thought a moment, “Next weekend’s a three-day, I have to visit my parents.”

Jennifer looked unhappy.

“Could I get a rain check?”

Jennifer licked her lips, “Sure, I guess.”

“I’m sorry. I can’t leave to visit them during Thanksgiving, and I promised I come see them. There aren’t any classes on Monday or Friday.”

Khione piped up, “Is that a date? Did Jennifer ask for a date?”

Jason laughed, “That is a date. Hey, Jen, you aren’t asking Khione to come too, are you?”

Jennifer scowled at him, “Of course not.”

Jason continued, “Are you taking Khione to visit your parents? That sounds serious.”

Pearce thought a moment more, “I really hadn’t thought about it. I guess I’ll take Khione.”

Jennifer shook her head.

Khione smiled, “I’d like to go.”

Jennifer scowled again, “I’m sure you would.”

Yumi touched her arm, “I’m certain Khione doesn’t know what that means.”

Jennifer wasn’t mollified, “Yeah, sure.”

Jason wasn’t about to be put off, “Do you know what it means to meet the parents, Khione?”

Khione gave a puzzled look.

Pearce scowled this time, “I don’t mean anything by it. It would be good for Khione to see how normal people live.”

“Yeah,” Jennifer looked down.

“Yeah,” Jason smiled.

In Khione, I use three way love, a love rivalry that includes Khione, Jennifer, and Pearce. Pearce is the love interest. Khione falls in love with Pearce slowly as she gets to know him. Jennifer has been pursuing Pearce for almost a year in college. Pearce is unobservant of Jennifer especially. Through the entire novel, the reader slowly gets the message. The scene portion I gave you was more to the point than most. Jennifer wants to ask Pearce to a movie, but Pearce has plans to take Khione to visit his parents. Like all love rivalry, there is confusion, attempts at communication (mostly that don’t work), miscommunication, and all. I advise using a love rival to spice up any novel where you have an obtuse character—no that’s not right. Some plots and themes accommodate this type of plot device better than others. I wouldn’t have used it in Sorcha, it would have been a detractor. In Khione, it is a powerful part of the plot development. As I wrote, competitive theme novels work better for the rival plot device.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:








fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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