29 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x89, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Celebrity
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)
Two way love
Three way love (love rival)
Celebrity (Rise to fame) – Current discussion.
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)
Celebrity: here is my definition – celebrity is the use of the idea of a figure of importance or the rise to a figure of importance to further a plot.
I have used celebrity in a couple of novels. In using celebrity, the author either establishes the protagonist as a celebrity or builds the protagonist as a celebrity. When we say celebrity, we mean a political, scientific, popular, artist, actor, singer, and all figure of some real or false merit. You can have a deserving celebrity or an undeserving celebrity. You can start with the celebrity at a high level or build them to a high level. Or you can start them at anywhere in between. The most interesting are those brought up from nothing or those who are already figures of merit. I’ve used celebrity in Essie and in School.
From Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si:
When Elizabeth was seated, the museum director stepped to the front. His strong voice filled the room, “Your Majesty, her guests, ladies and gentlemen, we have been favored this evening with a fresh face to our Wales organ concerts. Ms. Essie Lyons will play sample pieces from the period of this chamber organ as well as her own composition called Nocturne. Ms. Lyons is a student from the Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls. She speaks Welsh and is an exemplary example of our Welsh youth and culture. May I present Ms. Essie Lyons?
Essie walked from the side to the organ. She wore a simple loose blue dress that reached to her knees. The dress sported short sleeves. She took off her shoes and climbed onto the organ bench. The organ bellows had already been turned on and prepared. She already checked the stops and the volume. Essie raised her hands and closed her eyes. She played the nocturne. Only this was no purely musical piece, it sounded like a real nocturne. To Kathrin it felt as though the room itself disappeared, and she sat alone in the gently falling evening. She heard the lowering summer sun in the sky and the rush of wind that ushered in the evening. She heard water burbling in a brook and trees swaying in the breeze. The insects, birds, and other animals called the end of the day. Slowly the light faded from the sky and slowly the land chilled. She felt the evening cool and the falling dew. The light faded and the evening world began.
The crowd remained silent as though they listened with their feelings as well as their ears. The music sounded fine and wonderful. No one moved until Essie coaxed the last muted note from the pipes. Not a whisper filled the place, and then the crowd erupted. People stood and clapped. They shouted and leapt up before their seats. Kathrin found herself on her feet. Elizabeth cheered. She clapped her hands for sheer delight. Britannia stood with her face in her hands. She blubbered and tried to clap at the same time, but that was just Britannia.
Kathrin looked through the crowd. Essie Lyons slipped off the organ bench and made a slow curtsy. She beamed. Her eyes filled with glee. A bright light seemed to sit above her brow, like sunlight in her hair. Another tall girl moved beside her and took her hand to lead her to the back of the room for intermission. Kathrin started. The tall girl looked very familiar to Kathrin. She glanced at Britannia and then at Brigitta, the red headed woman. Britannia’s eyes captured both girls in a moment. They all stared.
Elizabeth turned to Kathrin, “I’d like to meet this girl, Essie Lyons. Isn’t it odd that she has the same last name as Bruce and Matilda?”
“Yes, very odd,” remarked Kathrin. “Let’s see if we can speak to her during intermission.”
The Queen conversed with the man at her side. He stepped to the museum director. The Queen stood and the room stood. The Queen, Kathrin, Britannia, and her group followed the museum director through a back door and into a corridor. He led them to an elegant exterior room. Stuffed furniture filled the space, and heavy drapes covered the windows. Essie and the tall girl sat on a spindly classical French sofa. They both drank tea from a service on a low tea table before them. The Queen’s men entered first followed quickly by Elizabeth, then Kathrin and then Britannia. When the Queen entered, both girls stood. They put down their teacups. Elizabeth didn’t wait for an introduction. She stepped directly to Essie and took her hand, “Ms. Essie Lyons, I was so happy to hear you play this evening.”
Essie is a celebrity organist. The novel grows her from a foundling girl to professional playing for the Queen. The point of the novel isn’t really her celebrity, but it causes the climax and results in the end of the novel. I am using existing celebrity in School as a plot device:
Deirdre and Chris MacLeod continued to dance until the orchestra took their first break. Just as Chris had predicted, Mr. MacLeod moved to where Deirdre and Chris stood. Kathrin Calloway and Mrs. MacLeod followed close behind him. He gave a slight bow and asked, “Ms. Calloway, I freely admit, I asked you to our Christmas revelry with ulterior motives.”
Deirdre’s eyes widened. Older men had never bowed to her, and she wasn’t sure how to take ulterior motives.
Mr. MacLeod continued, “I understand you are a professional musician. Your mother assured me concerning your usual contract rates. I would like to hire you to sing some Christmas songs at our fete. I understand you have a wonderful program already prepared. In fact, I gave the music to our orchestra yesterday and they assured me they could play to your very exacting standards.”
Deirdre began to respond, but Mr. MacLeod raised his finger, “The second reason I asked you here is to test your metal, so to speak. Chris has had so many wonderful things to say about you, I must say, I was unconvinced. Until I heard you sing the Messiah, I would have said he was exaggerating. As a matter of fact, at this point, I wonder exactly what you see in my son.”
Chris cried out, “Father.”
“Oh, sorry. I’m joking. A bit of British humor there, and I’m Scottish. I’m very proud of my son, but he is still fifteen and still not entirely used to the potential limelight of a woman of your caliber and upbringing. Please sing for us. That in itself would be very pleasant.”
Deirdre cleared her throat to respond. He mind was moving as fast as usual. She smiled very pleasantly, “Mr. MacLeod, could I offer a Christmas medley as a gift to your family?”
Mrs. Calloway cut her off with a firm gesture, “One moment. I wish to speak to Deirdre privately.”
Mr. MacLeod stepped to the side. Chris reluctantly moved with him.
Deirdre clenched her fists. She squinted and raised her lip, “What is it mother?”
Mrs. Calloway came very close and put her arms around Deirdre. She whispered, “Luna told me I should slap you every time you do that. This time I shan’t.”
“You know what that means, don’t you dear?”
“It means you are treating me like an adult.”
“Excellent. Now, here is what you must consider. Your costs at school have been rather high this semester.”
“That’s because I have been taking care of my best friend.”
“I understand that too. Luna told me—well, she did after our little meeting with the Queen. I wondered how such a frugal girl could rack up such high expenses.”
“Are they really that high?”
“No, but I wish to place some adult pressure on you. So far, you have had most everything you could ever want or need. As I said, you are a frugal girl, but an adult must consider the costs of friendship and life.”
Deirdre choked, “You want me to give up on Sorcha—you’ll take care of her needs, won’t you?”
“My sweet Deirdre, I want you to face the consequences of your actions. They are wonderful, but they are yours alone. I love that you have taken care of Sorcha and Eliana.”
“Luna narked on me.”
“Yes she did, and I’m very proud. However…”
Deirdre steeled herself.
“However, I would like you to pick up the tab for your friends. You may take care of them as much as you desire, but with your funds. A little singing at your normal rates will go a long way this semester. In fact, the pay you received from Father Malloy will further bolster that your little fund.”
“I was going to give it all back to Father Malloy for the widow’s and orphan’s relief fund.”
“Sorcha and Eliana both are missing parents—they are orphans. Which one do you wish to support, those unseen or your friends.”
Deirdre smiled, “Mother, perhaps I never listened quite as well as I should to you, but you are forcing me to sing…”
“I’m not forcing you to do anything. I’m simply pointing out realities to you and giving you a choice.”
“I see. You must not let Sorcha or Elaina know.”
“Never. This is our private understanding. Plus, my sweet, you want independence. I can’t give you any greater independence.” She started to pull back, but hugged Deirdre closer, “One more thing. I like this Chris MacLeod very much. He is a gentleman and has a wonderful future.” She did pull back and stared in Deirdre’s eyes with a half-smile, “Don’t take that to be a license or permission. Do you understand me?”
“Your ball, in your court.”
Deirdre sighed, but she didn’t mean much by it. She stepped toward Mr. MacLeod with Mrs. Calloway at her side. She nodded to the gentleman, “Mr. MacLeod, I accept your terms. My standard rates. I do wish to warn you. The press is here and that might cause undo attention to your family and mine.”
Mr. MacLeod tried not to smile to broadly, “Your mother explained everything to me. I accept your conditions and understand the circumstances.”
Deirdre shrugged, “When would you like me to sing?”
“Do you need any preparation?”
“I need to speak to the conductor and the orchestra.”
Deirdre is the dangerous diva. She is a girl with issues, but she is coming to terms with them and reconciling herself to them. Deirdre starts as a diva while Essie ends up as a diva—okay celebrity. You can see that this provides some fun and entertaining situation.
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