23 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x113, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Incarceration (imprisonment)
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)
Mind Switching (Soul Switching)
Incarceration (imprisonment) – Current discussion.
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
One way love
Incarceration (imprisonment): here is my definition – Incarceration (imprisonment) is the use of captivity to further a plot.
Incarceration is a great plot device—think of The Prisoner of Zenda, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Count of Monte Christo, The Little Princess, The Hungry Games, Harry Potty (some of the books), and there’s many many more. If you will note, incarceration can be individual, communal, or national. A novel about the Soviet Union, We the Living for example is about the incarceration of an entire people. So is Henri Tod and Berlin. The prisoner can be held by walls as in the first three or by culture, society, or fear as in The Little Princess. The captivity can be self-inflicted or forced. In Harry Potty it is self-inflicted and forced. Harry is kept in a safe house in one novel and held captive in Hogwarts in most of the novels. How much is self and how much is forced?
Incarceration is a wonderful plot device. I’ve used it in many shapes and forms in my novels. I’ve written about whole nations under the captivity of communism. I’ve written about individuals properly in captivity for crimes or mistaken identity or crime. I’ve had characters in almost every degree of imprisonment or captivity for many reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I just don’t throw in into a novel for no reason, but if you have a reason, why not? Here are a couple of examples.
Here is an example from my writing from Athelstan Cying.
They drove to the outskirts of the city where forested hillsides and almost fully concealed villas blanked the area. The roads seemed almost random and ran without apparent destination. They transported Den and Natana to a large ancient house covered with ivy and surrounded by thick vegetation. The thin man and Ari conducted them to the front entrance of the building.
At the first knock, a man who appeared like a university professor opened the door. He was medium height with thick curling hair and a long straight face. His hair was partially covered by a hat and under it Den could just make out a wire mesh shield. He nervously motioned them all inside.
The room was pleasant and archaic with a heavy fireplace on one side and comfortable furniture all around it. Dr. Fleisher motioned for them to sit.
He turned to the thin man, “I received your message. Quite a catch, Heald. Two talents for me to study.”
“This one is quite dangerous.”
“Who, the man?”
“Yes he knocked out three men using psyonic force alone.”
“The shields seem to keep him at bay.”
“Yes, they should. The technology is ancient empire. What of the job?”
The thin man’s lips tightened into a straight line, “It didn’t work, but we think these two interfered.”
“Nonsense, the organic security computers should have been easy to crack. That is unless they knew ahead of time exactly what we were planning.”
“Jorg couldn’t get the lock system to sequence. The girl set off the detector in the shield.”
“I’m sure the girl was just responding to the signal in the organic computer scrambler. I told you anyone nearby who was sensitive would be affected.”
“What about the boy?”
“Have you asked them? That seems an obvious question.”
Heald mumbled something inarticulate.
Dr. Fleisher looked at Den then Natana, “Are you working for the police?”
Den answered, “No.”
“Why do two unusually strong talents happen to be walking around together. Are you a psy team?”
“If you mean a trained team, no. We are from the same ship, and they will be looking for us.”
“Not as obvious.”
“I doubt they will find you. That’s why we wear the shields. They provide a double purpose, but the primary is to prevent the police from finding us with their seekers.”
“Seekers?” asked Den.
“The police on Neuterra use organic seekers to home in on those identified through their brain scans. These are limited talent powered organics rather than humans. I don’t often get human talents to study. This should be very good. I’m working on a number of advanced devices that require refinement.”
“What do you want with us?”
“I thought I made that clear, I want to study your talent, then…”
“Then what?” asked Natana a little overloud.
“Well, after that I won’t need you anymore. Ari, take them to the holding cell in the basement. We already risked too much with them out in the open like this.”
Ari jerked his pistol at Den, “Move.”
Heald and Ari led them through the kitchen down a thin set of stairs to a bright basement laboratory. Well kept workbenches and equipment filled almost every bit of the space. A zone without any equipment encircled a single cell that stood in the far corner. The cell was made of an open latticework of thick ceriplast wire that completely enclosed it on every side including the floor. It stood against two walls while the top and two sides were open. A single door with a complex electronic lock was installed on one side. Cameras and equipment pointed from every direction at the cell. The basement was completely enclosed, except for the narrow steps that led to the upper floor, not even a window broke the seamless ceriplast walls.
Den had not marked any point where Natana and he could try to escape, and he couldn’t think of anything to do now. Accelerator pistols covered them the whole time, and their assailants were protected with mental shields. He could think of no way to get away. Natana and he stepped into the cell, and Ari slammed the door behind them. After Dr. Fleisher checked the lock, he flipped on a switch, and the three returned to the house above.
As soon as the Dr. threw the switch, a heavy mental darkness closed in over Den and Natana. As well as being physical prisoners, they were completely cut off from outside psyonic energy, but they could still communicate together mentally.
Above, we have Den and Natana being held by criminals and an evil scientist to discover the basis of their psionic talents. This is a forced incarceration by the bad guys. This is always good for excitement and entertainment. You can basically see how it fits into the novel and it makes sense. Why not put your main characters into a deadly and dangerous situation. That’s what action oriented science fiction is all about.
This second example is from School. This chapter hasn’t been edited much—there may be errors. Sorcha and Deirdre were captured by the police. They actually didn’t do anything wrong—they were set up. Still, the excitement and the entertainment is that they police captured them and incarcerated them until a judge let them go.
Sorcha and Deirdre sat in a holding cell in orange jumpsuits. They had taken their clothing and strip searched them. Luckily, it was policewomen. Unluckily it was policewoman. They hadn’t missed any nook or cranny. Deirdre still felt dirty from the experience. Her knuckles were still bloody, and her mind was in a daze.
Sorcha sat quietly on the bunk. They hadn’t said much to one another. They knew they were under surveillance. After what seemed like hours, two policewomen came to the cell. The first, a sergeant by her rank, held a baton. She motioned toward Sorcha and Deirdre, “Stand up and step back from the door.”
Sorcha and Deirdre complied.
“Drop your suits.”
Sorcha and Deirdre unzipped them and let them fall to their knees.
“Turn around, and bend over.”
“Put out your hands, and don’t move.”
Deirdre heard the cell door open. One policewoman came to her and pulled her hands behind her back and lashed her wrists together with a zip tie. The woman turned her around, “Move slowly and carefully. I saw your video. Quite the fighter you are. Dangerous in the extreme.”
The policewomen marched them through the cell door and down an open corridor through another locked door. They took them to the side and into a stark room with a metal table in the middle. The table and the chairs were bolted to the floor. Two chairs sat on the other side. A single chair sat on the side near the door. The woman sat Deirdre and Sorcha in the two chairs on the other side. The first one raised her baton, “Don’t move from this chair. We are watching everything you do in here. It’s all on the record.”
One of the policewomen stepped out, and Luna came in.
The remaining policewoman moved to the door, “Are you certain you don’t want us with you? These two are very dangerous.”
Luna drawled, “I know they are. I saw the video.”
The policewoman laughed, “Likely everyone in Britain has seen it. How it got into the hands of the media, I have no idea.”
Luna motioned to the woman, “I’ll be all right alone with them. You are recording everything here, aren’t you?”
Luna sighed. She frowned, “Good.” She sat in the chair, “Inform me immediately when they are released to my custody.”
The policewoman exited the door and closed it.
Luna discretely touched her lips, “Now Ms. Calloway and Ms. Weir, I need to inform you about some things. I’ll get the entire story later, but I’d like you to know exactly where we stand. The first is that your entire altercation was recorded on video. In addition, Ms. Weir and Ms. Calloway’s records have been made available to the press. The video is very interesting. It shows Ms. Calloway exiting a building in the woods while pulling her pants and knickers up. She is seen attacking a teacher with her fists and feet. Ms. Weir joins the fun and appears to be beating the fallen teacher. That’s exactly what the video shows. It is very detailed. Detailed enough that the news had to pixilate Ms. Calloway’s more delicate parts.”
Deirdre didn’t say anything. She blushed a brilliant shade of crimson.
Sorcha didn’t speak.
Luna touched her lips, “We’ll discuss this at our leisure, and we should have plenty of time for leisure. You will not be returning to Wycombe.”
Deirdre almost said something. She leaned forward then back. Hot tears filled her eyes.
Sorcha asked, “How are Tim and Chris?”
“Not much worse for wear. You both did quite a job on them. I assume it was you. They were released from hospital. They weren’t happy. They were very confused.”
Deirdre kept her head down, “I will not say it was us.”
Luna tapped her lips again.
The door to the room opened. The sergeant policewoman looked in, “The judge released them to your custody. Not sure why you would want them, but that’s that.”
Luna stood, “Yes, that’s that.”
The policewomen led Sorcha and Deirdre to a room where they could retrieve their clothing. They released the zip ties and stood over them while they put back on their knickers, vests, sweaters, slacks, and coats.
The sergeant remarked, “There isn’t much to you girls. Surprised you could do that much damage to a couple of strong boys and a fully grown woman, but wild ones are like that.”
Deirdre and Sorcha followed Luna out of the police station and to her Triumph. She put them in the back, like usual and headed into London.
Deirdre asked, “Are we going to see mother?”
“Yes. Mother and father.”
“You might as well kill me now. This is the end.”
Luna laughed, “It isn’t quite the end, but I’m certain you may not appreciate the results.”
If you notice, part of the entertainment about incarceration is the setting. Not many of us have the opportunity to be incarcerated for any reason. I had the opportunity through five different Air Force survival and captivity (torture) trainings. The descriptions are fun and entertaining in themselves and add to the scene, plus all the terrible stuff prisoners have to go through. For the bad people, this is great. For the not as bad, this is terrible. For your readers, this is just perfect.
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