10 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x100, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Games
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)
Rise to riches
Military (Device or Organization manipulation)
School (Training) (Skill Development)
Games – Current discussion.
Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)
End of the — (World, Culture, Society)
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
Games: here is my definition – Games is the use of a competition to further a plot.
All it takes is competition. Games can be focused on a sport, on a pursuit such as chess, or on a made up competition. The classic games plot device is Rocky or the Karate Kid. In both, the game (sport) is the theme and the focus of the plot. You don’t have to make the game, the competition, a center of the theme or the plot. I like to include completion wherever it will fit and sports anywhere in the context of my writing. Competition is a wonderful plot device, and the inclusion of sport is just entertaining.
Here is an example from Regia Anglorum:
The five girls stuck together. They were called into the soccer group. Since Nikita was an unknown quality in soccer, they just put her on the girl’s lowest team. This was just an easy level of competition for the structured sports. The better players were usually moved to more proficient teams. In all there were four classes in their age groupings during the second shift. This shift included almost all the children who were eleven, twelve, and thirteen on the ship. The other classes averaged twenty kids and the triple had fifteen. That gave enough players for eight teams. On soccer days, they could play four games at once and even promote playoffs between the groups over a group of sevendays.
The five girls found themselves on the same team. Nikita worried out loud, “I’ve never played soccer before.”
Alaina told her, “We aren’t any good either, but we try hard, and it’s fun. You just kick the ball.”
The recreation supervisor was an older recreation area ranger named Journeyman Slate—Coach Slate, Nikita learned to call him. At first, he led the teams through a series of training maneuvers. They dribbled the ball and practiced passing. They kicked goals and practiced some plays. Everything was new to Nikita. She didn’t know what to do. At first, she stood at the back with her friends and watched. When it was her turn, she valiantly tried to do what she had seen and what the instructor described. In the beginning, she was at a loss, but very quickly the skills came to her. She didn’t know where they came from, but she found could easily perform the drills. It was a little spooky. At first, she could barely dribble the ball, but by the tenth time down the field, she was moving it faster than anyone else. It was as though her mind captured and reproduced exactly what she was expected to do. The other thing she noticed was she was able to keep running much longer than anyone else. She had run and crept everywhere in Carnival. With enough food, she knew she could run nearly full out for a very long time. She had done it almost every day in Carnival while she ducked and hid and kept away from the creeps and catchers. She had to have those skills to survive, and those skills gave her an incredible edge of endurance. She wasn’t strong. Like Dieter had said, her muscles were underdeveloped, but the muscles she had could keep firing and firing. She didn’t feel any lactic acid burn, or else she had trained herself to ignore it. She couldn’t kick the ball far, but she could move it quickly and precisely.
When they started playing, she discovered something else. Those skills that kept her safe for so long in Carnival told her immediately where everyone was on the field. The discomfort she felt when anyone was too close, or she had few options for escape, turned into a source of a sport’s skill. When she had the ball, she knew when someone was near her and could turn or stop or swerve almost automatically. It was uncanny. At first, Nikita just played the ball a little. When she received it, she took it and moved it to a passing position and passed it. That seemed the best, but she discovered quickly that when she had the ball, no one could take it from her. That’s when her teammates started to pass the ball to her. She would bring it up toward the front line of forwards and cleanly pass it to them. Her passes were so accurate that she could always move the ball forward. Her passes were not far, but they were accurate, and she always found the right hole to kick the ball through. By the end of the half, their team hadn’t made any goals, but then Nikita hadn’t made any goal shots—she was a halfback behind the line of forwards.
Alaina ran up to her during halftime, “I thought you hadn’t played any soccer.”
“I haven’t. I just feel natural playing it.”
“You sure know the rules.”
“I used to read the papers everyday. It was real popular on El Rashad. They always had stuff on the game. With that kind of attention, it’s not hard to pick up.”
At their field, Journeyman Slate switched Nikita to a forward; then he called out the beginning of the second half. Nikita received the ball early and passed it. The next time someone passed it to her, Alaina screamed, “Go for the goal, Nikita. Go for the goal.”
She did, and she made a goal. It was the first for their team.
Here is an example of sport competition. This is a game and education. I use the sport plot device where I can. I think this is a great plot device. You can also use completion. I couldn’t think of a good and easy example for just competition. However, competition is a great plot device, and a type of the game plot device.
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