18 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x108, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Utopia (anti-utopia)
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)
End of the — (World, Culture, Society)
Utopia (anti-utopia) – Current discussion.
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
One way love
Utopia (anti-utopia): here is my definition – Utopia (anti-utopia) is the use of a theoretical perfect social construct (government, system, society, and etc.) to further a plot.
From the very moment the first utopia was proposed in literature, the first anti-utopia novel followed it. In my opinion, utopias are for the immature and ignorant. The last great attempt at utopia, the Soviet Union and communism, ended with the murder of over 100 million human beings (at the hands of the communists). This idea of utopia and the deaths haven’t ended because there still exists a horrific and vile communist nation on the face of the globe (China). In my opinion, if you want to write about utopia, go ahead, but no adult will believe you. There are some classical novels based in utopia: Utopia, Lost Horizons, and I can’t remember any others off the top of my head. Now, let’s get to the meat of utopia—anti-utopia (dystopian).
Anti-utopia is a very popular and well used plot device. Just look at popular and young adult literature to see modern examples. Look at early and late science fiction for older examples. The fascists in World War Two and their cousins, the socialists and communists excited a huge development in anti-utopia novels. 1984 is a wonderful example as is Animal Farm. Add to those: Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Hungry Books, and a whole bunch more. Every dystopian novel can be considered to use an anti-utopian plot device. My Ancient Light novels are marketed as dystopian—that should show just how popular anti-utopian has become. I have written a dystopian novel that uses an anti-utopian plot device.
Here is an example from my writing from Escape from Freedom.
V10+S10537 Rebecka trudged home alone from the Development Center. She took the shortcut across the headlands instead of the main road—that way she wouldn’t have to view the pictures of the supreme leader or read the current slogans posted along the way. She rated a sensitivity level ten plus for visual acuity and a sensitivity level ten for detecting scents. The colors of the posters always upset her and the smell of the processing facility made her nauseous. Usually Racheal, Robin, and Ruth walked home with her this way, but they had not been released from their normal shifts immediately, and Rebecka felt hungry, plus her head hurt. She always finished her quota early and usually, Robin released her from their shift on time.
She wasn’t hypersensitive to sounds the way she was to visuals and scents, but the soft murmuring of the wind and the crashing of the waves on the cliffs below always refreshed her. The clean scent of the cold ocean became very welcome after blending chemicals and matching colors all day at the Center. She could look at the green grass, the toiling dark blue sea, and the white and grey cliffs and imagine a place much different from the Development Center, their small community, and the bleak windowless room where she lived. She longed for somewhere, anywhere away from this place.
She stopped at the center of the headlands on the thin path her work companions and she had long worn in the high grass, and moved a few feet from it toward the ragged wedge of land that jutted out into the deep roiling ocean. The sea grass whipped against her long, stiff, dark-green dress and tugged against her heavy work boots. She waded through it to where the grass finally gave way to bare rock.
White bird droppings covered the stones at the edge of the cliff. She unconsciously noted and cataloged the chemicals in the excrement. She closed off the acrid urea scent of it from her conscious thoughts. The smell would have overwhelmed a less experienced chemical blender. She could easily mask a single scent—multiples continued to be difficult for her. With that complete, she could step to the edge of the precipice and gaze down at the crashing surf many meters below. She could discern no beach here, only cliffs. She heard that in some places citizens could actually touch the sea, but she knew of no place like that anywhere near her community or the buildings of the Development Center.
Many times she had thought about casting herself to the mercies of the waves, but she feared the water and she didn’t want to die—she only wanted to escape. She heard tales of citizens who had once escaped from Freedom, but no one knew if those were true or only myths. The Supreme Leader spoke to them every free day once a month and told them about the evil places beyond the horizon. Were those the places also myths? Did they really exist?
Rebecka glanced up—she imagined it before she saw it. Her very sensitive and trained eyes caught the contrail she sought. Through the billowing clouds, she spotted what she searched for. High above, a steady white trail moved from far in the west. She thought she could note a dark speck at the front of that quickly growing line. She watched for it every day. It crossed the headland with regularity—once every sevendays, and usually on this day. She felt hope in that speck and in that long white trail across the skies.
No one else seemed to notice it. When she had asked other visuals about it, they shushed her. They kept their eyes focused on the ground, just as the slogans told them. They looked at the soil of Freedom and not at the skies. No one could fly. No one knew of any citizens who ever left Freedom. Not even the rumors from the Capital ever spoke of flying machines or of other Citizens who might have flying machines. The Supreme Leader assured them that they remained the only civilized nation in the entire world. For all the Citizens, there was only Freedom and work, and for her, the Development Center.
Rebecka knew she gazed at something that didn’t come from Freedom. She knew she looked at something that was truly free—a machine of plasteel that flew across the heavens. She longed for that kind of freedom. Not the freedom the slogans constantly harped about, not the freedom the Supreme Leader told them all Citizens possessed, but true freedom—something away from this place. She longed for it and would give anything to achieve it—freedom.
Escape from Freedom is one of my new science fiction novels—I’m looking for a publisher. This stand-alone novel is about a horrible anti-utopian place called Freedom. I can’t begin to describe the horrors of this place—that’s why I wrote the novel. The novel gives wonderful details through the writing—through showing, of the terrible place Freedom is. The problem is that the people who live in Freedom have no idea how terrible their lives are and world is. That is what makes the anti-utopian plot device so powerful. In this novel, the people have no idea their society is cocked up. Compare that to other anti-utopian novels—in most, the people know how terrible, they just can’t do anything about it. How would it be not to know…?
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