13 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x103, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Messiah
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)
Messiah – 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)
Messiah: here is my definition – Messiah is the use of a special person who has a claim to some spiritual authority with spiritual or physical ramifications to further a plot.
Dune is perhaps the most famous modern novel that uses a messiah plot device. There aren’t a high number of novels that use this plot device, and the opportunities to use it are somewhat limited. The creative elements are relatively limited as well. I will say, you could use this plot device for much more than spiritual circumstances. Dune is a great example here and so is Harry Potty. Dune has a developed messiah rather than a spiritual messiah. Paul in Dune is the creation of a breeding program. He is a created messiah because he himself builds his own self-fulfilling prophecies to become the messiah of the universe. He isn’t a spiritual messiah—he is a physical and leadership messiah. This was and is a new cut on the concept of the messiah plot device.
Harry Potty is a messiah more akin to the normal spiritual messiah plot device. Harry Potty is not a spiritual messiah, but he is a god-like messiah. Harry Potty is a god with god-like powers that just happen to be miracles called magic. Harry fights against another god-like being called Voldermort. The V-guy is an evil god, while Harry is the good—kinda god. So, there you are, Harry Potty is a messiah plot device. Harry Potty and Dune are both messiah plots and themes, but that’s okay—you don’t have to use messiah as a plot of theme, but usually, the concept is so large, it fits into this mold.
I have used a messiah plot device for real—that is, I used it for a plot device and not purely as a theme or plot. I use this plot device in my Ghost Ship Chronicles. Before I give my example, I should mention the creative elements that drive the messiah. First, you need a special protagonist. This protagonist is special because they have some god-like attribute. Harry P. was not killable by the evil god-like dude. Paul in Dune as the end creation of a breeding program—a male who could drink and change the water of life. Second, you need a religious or religious-like organization. This is like a mysterium. A mysterium is a group, usually a religious group, that has secrets, hierarchy, and power of some type. In Dune this is the Bene Geserate. In Harry P., this is the magical world. In The Ghost Ship Chronicles, Den Protania’s body is saved by a being from the past. We don’t learn the full purpose for this until the last novel (which I haven’t written yet). The group is ad hoc in this novel.
Here is an example from Athelstan Cying:
The man opened the doors to the first and second cabins.
He realized the direction of the man’s search and attempted to turn him from his intentions. The man now stood before the door to the breached cabin.
“Stop!” the being shouted soundlessly into the stillness. “Stop!” he pleaded without effect. “Fool!” he screamed as the door opened and the white suited body swept into the cabin. The man tore through the remains of a friend, and was impaled on a dagger of plasteel that rimmed the breach in the hull; one gaping wound produced another.
The being moved instantly to the wounded man. He felt the man’s life as it slipped out of the body, and he struggled to call it back. He tried to hold on to the man’s soul. He tried to restart the dying body and recapture that breath of God’s devising. Unbidden, his consciousness merged with the dying man’s, and he felt the pain and then more than pain as Den’s soul slipped from his hold. He could do nothing to stop it. Den would no longer fight for his life or his body. His soul was gone and the only thing that was left was the castaway husk.
Then, with dread, the presence realized he was caught in the vacuum of the discarded body—a body that still desired life, but whose original master was gone. He became a person he never wished to be, a being he was not born to be. He was captured, a soul encased in a body that would not let him go. Resolved and as unrelenting to death as he had been for millennia, he struggled least he slip the way of this body’s previous tenant. With a will as powerful as the plasteel that pierced him, he recovered the body’s breath and then the heartbeat.
The contest was more than any, the man, Den, could have made himself. Slowly, the body responded, stabilized, fell from shock to unconsciousness, helpless but sustained and alive! He was safe for the moment—that is, if anyone would come help him. Resolutely, the powerful mind and soul kept guard over its new and fleshly prison.
Steven reached the breach in the ship just as Den’s vacsuit clad body rushed uncontrolled out of it and was impaled. The limbs trashed for a moment, then became still.
Steven yelled over the suit radio, “Johan, Den’s hurt!”
“How bad?” Johan snapped back.
“Really bad,” Steven tried to keep the horror out of his voice as he picked his way through the shattered plasteel toward Den. Steven choked back nausea as he hurriedly scanned the biomonitors on the suit. The suit sealed along the edges of the plasteel, but the indicators showed no respiration, no heartbeat, and the composite monitor gave a report of severe shock. Den’s faceplate was entirely fogged over.
Suit’s malfunctioning, Steven whispered, “If the suit’s sealed, the faceplate shouldn’t be fogged—ever—unless…,” but he wouldn’t think of that possibility. Den would have to be… Then, for a moment, the fog cleared, and he caught sight of Den’s eyes through the ceriplast; at first, the eyes remained dull and wide open, but then, as if a fire were kindled behind them, they suddenly lit up. Den’s face took on an appearance like none Steven had seen there before, an aspect of maturity unsuited to the visage of his youth. Then the eyes closed and the mask fogged over again. When Steven looked back at the suit monitors, the body functions had become incredibly normal.
Steven shook his head, and counting all he’d seen to fear-heightened imagination. He gazed all around the impaled body trying to determine how he could move it. After a moment, he noticed Johan enter the shadows of the cabin behind Den.
“How is he, Steven?”
“Hard to tell. The suit’s systems showed him dead for one instant and alive the next. That must have been a malfunction. They read normal now, but I think the suit’s fouled with blood, and I don’t believe he can survive a careful rescue.”
Johan propelled himself across the open cabin. As he checked Den over, Johan called over the radio, “Lokki, dispatch with Scott for emergency medical. We’ll meet them halfway…” Then finally, he noted the size of the piece of the ship that pierced Den’s suit, he continued, “Hold it… Dear Lord! Look at his suit. Lokki, tell medical we need them here, major medical. There’s no way we’re going to get that out of his suit without a vactent.”
Den is the messiah character, but no one knows it This is similar to the secret king, but with the messiah twist. Den is a type of historical messiah—a person with skills and abilities that don’t exist in the current time, but that are required to face the evil of the times.
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