20 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x110, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)
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)
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society) – Current discussion.
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
One way love
Augmented Human (Robot) (Society): here is my definition – Augmented Human (Robot) (Society) is the use of mentally or physically augmented humans or society including robots or cyborgs to further a plot.
In the beginning was robots, but the science fiction authors who wrote about robots and missed cyborgs were completely out of touch. We got I Robot in the beginning. I Robot is a cute idea and a cute book, but Asimov completely missed the point. Robots are not the future problem–cyborgs and cybernetics is the problem. Then came the earthshattering Ghost in the Shell. How a movie, TV, anime, and manga could completely outclass major science fiction writing, I don’t know, but there you are.
A robot, to a degree is an augmented human brain. That is as long as the robot’s brain is based in human thought, it is. This is where Ghost in the Shell was revolutionary—it projected cybernetics and robotics almost without boundaries. Thus, you get humans that look like robots—the brains are human or include a human memory. You get robots that look like humans. Their brains are designed to be like humans. And so on. This is a plot device because it can be part of a plot without being a theme or a plot center-point. I’ve used this plot device before, and I intend to use it again. I think you can easily see this is the future for humans and robots—Ghost in the Shell.
Here is an example from my writing from Athelstan Cying.
Natana glanced helplessly at Den then reached her hand through the opening.
Dr. Fleisher grabbed her hand and pressed the end of the tube against her forearm. When he pulled away the tube, a small organic chip lay on her wrist. With the chip on her arm, the Doctor pulled his own hand as far back as possible until he held just her fingers in his pincher-like grip.
Natana’s head tilted up. Her mouth worked soundlessly. The chip began to move on its own and she gasped. A moment later, a bright red drop of blood lay on her wrist. The chip was gone. Natana cried out and ripped her hand out of the doctor’s grasp. She held out her arm and fell to her knees. She bit her lips and moaned.
The chip moved just under Natana’s skin about a centimeter a second up her arm. Den grasped her arm just above the chip and tried to stop its movement. The chip dug deeper and she screamed horribly. Natana held out her arm and arched her back, “Hold me! Den! Hold!”
Den rocked her in his arms. Sweat dripped down the sides of her face. She lay still and finally Den could think. What now? He couldn’t stop the thing. Then he had a revelation. He had accomplished mechanical manipulations many times before. But then he had manipulated inorganic circuits, and this was an organic device. He wasn’t sure he could control it, but, at least, he could find it in her body and determine what it was doing.
Den concentrated on Natana’s mind and body. He hadn’t attempted this kind of psyonic work in a long time. In a moment, he noted her body’s archetype, and he began to search mentally for the foreign device inside her. Up along her arm to her shoulder. At her neck—there, he found it. He could see the chip inside her. It was a floating mote of contrast moving through the muscles of her neck. Natana moaned. Den focused the force of his mind to stop the motion of the chip. It still moved unabated. He focused on the chip itself and tried to manipulate its internal components. He felt some success, but still it moved. Its pace was unabated. He began to trace the chip’s circuitry. It was incredibly complex. He could only quickly map out its major portions. His mind found the power source for its mobility. Yes, there, and he began to choke its power off. The thing slowed. It moved only at a crawl now. Den thought he had been successful. He thought he had beaten it. It rested near the top of Natana’s spinal column, and then he discerned its goal. It was programmed to attach itself at the base of her brain just where the spinal chord attached. In this position, he guessed it would allow her body to be controlled from some outside influence, physically, psyonically, he couldn’t tell.
The chip slowed, stopped. In his inner eye, Den saw it inside her, short of its goal. Suddenly, the chip set out thin tendrils into her brain. Miniature lines, nerve filaments from the chip sprang upward into Natanna’s cerebrum and cerebellum. Most of the lines stretched too short to meet where they were originally programmed to go and attached themselves in lower portions of her brain. They sought alternate connection sites. Many more touched her spinal chord and laced themselves into the base of her brain.
Den was vaguely aware of the Doctor’s movements. The Doctor had turned off the psyonic shield and now manipulated a keyboard in his hands. Natana pushed Den away. She stood up and held her head in her hands. Den maintained his mind and his thoughts on the chip buried in the depths of her brain.
Natana acted almost like an automaton. She stepped toward Den and raised her hand. Her face was full of woe and awe, “I can’t control myself,” she announced. She struck at Den with her open palm. He concentrated so intently that he couldn’t do anything to stop her. She hit him full in the face. He didn’t go down, but he tottered, and she struck him again. Den’s ears rang with the blow. Slowly with one strike after another, Natana forced Den back against the bars of the cell. When he was trapped there, he slid to the floor, and she fell on him and pummeled him with her fists.
Den manipulated the nerve strings from the chip in Natana’s brain. He cut one after another from the main chip to Natana’s spinal cord. There were too many to try to get all that attached themselves to her nerve endings, but the ones directly to the control points of her nervous system were the lines Den aimed for. He barely felt her attacks. He couldn’t defend against them and continue his delicate surgery. Natana’s movement began to slow. Dr. Fleisher cursed and shook his control pad. Under his breath he mumbled, “She isn’t supposed to stop until I command it.”
One after another, Den cut the tiny tendrils. He severed the last one. Natana halted in mid blow. She bowed her head and said to him in his mind, ‘I don’t know how you did it, but he can’t control me anymore.’
The Doctor snarled, “The meter is off the scale. They must be conversing mentally. I don’t know how they did it. Perhaps the chip was faulty. It was a very old piece of equipment and not fully tested in the past.”
Den opened his eyes. He could barely open them. They were bruised and he was bleeding from his nose and mouth.
In obvious disgust, the doctor turned the cell’s shield back on and left the laboratory.
In this scene, the doctor places a cybernetic chip inside of Natana. The result is rather spectacular, but the doctor never finds out. This novel is not focused around the chip or the capabilities of the chip, but the plot device allows many other future uses and entertainments. This is a foreshadowing and a Chekov’s Gun. The chip becomes very useful in the next four novels. This is just one example of human augmentation as a plot device.
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