15 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x105, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)
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)
Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel) – Current discussion.
End of the — (World, Culture, Society)
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel): here is my definition – Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel) is the use of fantastic or scientific (natural) means to transport a character(s) to a new, historical, or fantastic setting (world) to further a plot.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is the fantasy land plot device author. ERB transports the reader to the world of Tarzan, to the world of Pelucidar, to Mars, to Venus and beyond. None of the worlds of ERB are real—they are all fantasy constructs from the jungles of Africa with people, animals, and stuff that just never was there or existed to the center of the earth with dinosaurs, strange people, and beautiful princesses. The same for all his other novels, and he could do it without the reader really gathering that ERB moved them to a fantasy land.
Harry Potty uses a fantasy land plot device. The magical world lies just between platform 10 and 11, that is the means and the place. The fantasy world of Harry Potty is right there, but not there—it is a fantasy land. I mention time travel and space travel. The time travel concept in fantasy land is when the author takes the reader back or forward in time to places outside of human history. If the place is purely historical in time travel, it isn’t really fantasy land. Space travel is always fantasy land (at the moment) unless you go to the moon or any of the real planets. The moment the author uses space travel to go to a world outside of human knowledge, that is fantasy land.
I use fantasy land in all my science fiction. I develop worlds outside any other person’s experience. In my regular fiction, I have presented places outside of time and history, but not often. Most of my regular fiction is not fantasy land—not that there is any problem with fantasy land as a plot device.
Here is an example from my novel Athelstan Cying:
In a slow transition between open space and the safety of the civilized universe, the Twilight Lamb coasted into the orbital starport of the city of Neukoln. Neukoln was the capital and largest city of the planetary moon Neuterra. Below, the city spread out in the nighttime darkness like a blanket of lights that stretched from one horizon to the other, while above them, Asa-Thor, Neuterra’s primary stared balefully down on the Twilight Lamb.
During the entry into the system and docking, Den held the command position on the bridge. His father observed the operations from his office with pride and pleasure. Natana wasn’t on duty this time—instead, first officer Kern sat at the main helm and directed their course. Den called for docking, and the Twilight Lamb settled gently into the giant repair berth. On every side, the ship was dwarfed by the many gigantic ships and structures around her.
The council of the Twilight Lamb negotiated the details for repair while the ship traveled inbound through the Neuterran system. The Athelstan Cying in their hold was as good as sold. Den knew a sense of loss, but he felt a greater pang when he thought about Natana. She hadn’t tried to talk to him for weeks, and he stayed away—partially from concern about her mother’s threat, but mostly in response to Natana’s request and his own guilt.
Natana had not returned to her normal affability, but she was back in command of herself and her actions. She threw herself into her work, and Den did the same. With the ship’s schedual, they were too busy to spend any time together.
Dr. Kern was as good as her words—Den earned his Master of Command rating. His debt, though still quite large was, from a future perspective, only a shadow of itself. Additionally, she and Chaplin Snee convinced the council to extend Den’s privileges. He could now use most of the ship’s facilities, and he was granted the freedom to travel planetside on Neuterra while the ship was in dry dock.
This was the fifth planetfall the ship made since her encounter with the Cying. The first two occurred while Den recovered from his injuries. During the last two his debt restricted him to orbit. Nata had traveled planetside, of course, and the very scent that clung to her on her return reminded Den nostalgically of the many planets he visited in his extended lifetime.
From the bridge, the planet Neuterra appeared like a beautiful blue and white ball under them, and Den’s heart swelled at the thought of that he would soon set foot on it. The thought of planetfall exhilarated him. He remembered this planet from another age. In that time, Neuterra was the center of biological research and production. Although that was still true today, many of the discoveries of the past had been lost. Humankind made many key developments since Den’s past lifetime, but biological developments were not as fruitful as other disciplines and in some respects had regressed.
Den drew the first run of passenger shuttle flights to the planet. He didn’t know if that was due to his new trustworthy status, the luck of the draw, or Dr. Kern. On the first flight Johan gave him a line check to qualify him in a real shuttle as opposed to the virtual sim.
The terminal building they were assigned was ancient and low, and like most of the planet’s buildings painted a light pastel. Multiple shipways stretched from it. On the ground, Den and Johan didn’t shut down the engines, just off loaded their passengers and made a quick turn around. They flight planned using the shuttle’s instrumentation and planetary and orbital data connections. This was the procedure they followed while they conducted multiple passenger flights until they ran out of crew day. The operations schedule required that they leave the shuttle at the space port for the next crew and take their crew rest on the surface. With a shuttle-full of planet-bound crewmembers, Johan and Dan flew their final shuttle flight for the day to Neukoln’s spaceport on the planet.
The weather was beautiful and clear. It had been that way all day, and the spaceport spread across the horizon with orderly rows of ships parked from the far perspective into the haze of the city. Every type of modern vessel and many ancient craft sat on the tarmac. Johan turned command of the ship to Den, and Den flew the shuttle to a smooth running landing on the huge ten kilometer runway. They taxied the shuttle to one of the many secondary terminals that spotted the field.
After they off loaded their final group of passengers at the low terminal, Den taxied the shuttle to their parking spot. Den shut down the engines, and Johan swiftly opened the lock for the first time to the open air. When the hatches opened, Den reveled in the planetary atmosphere as it filled the small ship. All the smells: biological and wet, thick, oxygen rich air swept into him. He closed his eyes and unbidden knew again an ancient time. He heard military commands. His men ready for planetfall. The ship dropped into darkness and settled unpressurized. A jarring mental recognition thudded against his thoughts. Who was that? He touched a gentle mind that wasn’t his second in command. The mind…
Johan shook his arm, “Hey Den,” he laughed, “No time to take a nap now.”
Den gave him a silly grin, “Just preparing for later. I need about a week of sleep to make up for all I missed.”
“Let’s get the niceties attended to and we can both get some shuteye before they call us back to duty.”
Their passengers had already long left for the city of Neukoln before Den and Johan secured the shuttle and stepped into the brilliant light of Neuterra’s sun and planet. Neuterra was a moon that circled the gas giant Asa-Thor. Asa-Thor rose late that morning—the days would be very pleasant for the next week of the lunar cycle, and the evenings would be nearly twilight, the skies augmented the light of the planetary primary.
Asa-Thor was an aborted star, an active gas giant. And because of the additional heat it provided its large moon, Neuterra, the combination made the winters and summers warm. The system’s sun alone was not nearly close enough to give Neuterra a properly comfortable climate, but with both of sources of light and heat, Neuterra was a veritable paradise.
The only disadvantage to this combination was Neuterra’s diurnal cycle—the human metabolism could barely adapt to it. When the sun and Asa-Thor shared the sky, the days and nights were in proper order, however, when the sun and planetary primary were on opposite sides of Neuterra, the separation between night and day was nearly indefinable. Normally, the cycle divided into four weeks: a week of proper light and dark; a week of successively lighter nights and slightly darker days; a week of nearly similar dimly lit days and nights; and a week of lightening days and darkening nights. The cycle, except for eclipses and odd angular lineups was incredibly regular.
Human beings could not properly align their bioclocks to the phenomenon, and other difficulties presented themselves. One problem was the tides—a difference of thirty meters was not unusual. Landmass on Neuterra was at a premium already, and the high water didn’t help. Neuterra, an old and established moon, didn’t suffer often from the earthquakes that would have plagued a younger planetoid, but minor vibrations were common when the star and Asa-Thor came into juxtaposition.
The spaceport bordered Neuterra’s capital, Neukoln. The city was larger than Den remembered. Over it hovered a towering line of clouds fully natural, but drawn by the vast number of soaring skyscrapers. Johan clapped Den’s shoulder. “Been a while since you were last planetside?”
You don’t know, thought Den.
They settled the Twilight Lamb’s business quickly. Den and Johan left the shuttle in the hands of the surface spaceport. Then they registered it and the Twilight Lamb and organized some of the details of the shuttle cargo traffic and orbital work at the spaceport command center. The port authorities noted Johan’s well-worn Master’s badge and Den’s new Journeyman’s badge and passed them quickly through customs and control. When they passed through customs, artificial psy scanners flashed at the periphery of Den’s mind. He blanked his thoughts, just in time. A large sign on the other side announced the use of mind scanning equipment for identification purposes and public safety. Den guessed this was the legacy of Neuterra’s synthetic talent studies.
Cheap shot, I know. This is a science fiction novel about space travel. The worlds developed in space travel have to be fantasy land—they are developed entirely from the mind of the writer. That doesn’t mean they can’t be based and developed from science and knowledge—it just means they are fantastic are created worlds. Use fantasy land when and where you need it—it’s just another plot device tool for the author.
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