Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x115, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Identification

25 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x115, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Identification

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:

  1. Don’t confuse your readers.
  2. Entertain your readers.
  3. Ground your readers in the writing.
  4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
  5. 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.

Cover Proposal

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 development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
    1. Research as required
    2. Develop the initial setting
    3. Develop the characters
    4. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  5. Write the climax scene
  6. Write the falling action scene(s)
  7. Write the dénouement scene

Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the outline:

  1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
  2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
  3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
  4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
  5. Write the release
  6. 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)



Frame story, or a story within a story

Framing device


In medias res

Narrative hook


Plot twist

Poetic justice

Predestination paradox


Red herring

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)

Ticking clock scenario

Chekhov’s gun

Unreliable narrator

Third attempt


Judicial Setting

Legal argument


Two way love

Three way love (love rival)


Celebrity (Rise to fame)

Rise to riches

Military (Device or Organization manipulation)

School (Training) (Skill Development)





Impossible Crime

Human god



Silent witness

Secret king


Hidden skills

Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)

End of the — (World, Culture, Society)

Resistance (Nonresistance)

Utopia (anti-utopia)


Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)

Mind Switching (Soul Switching)

Unreliable character

Incarceration (imprisonment)

Valuable item

Identification – Current discussion.




Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)



One way love

Identification: here is my definition – Identification is the use of an attempt to discover the identity of a person or thing to further a plot.

One of my favorite novels by Jack Vance is from the Demon Princes series. In The Book of Dreams, the identification plot device is used in multiple ways. Jack Vance is likely most well known as a science fiction and fantasy author, but he also wrote some great mysteries. His skill at mystery writing pours over into his science fiction and fantasy. In The Book of Dreams and in all the Demon Princes novels, the protagonist is attempting to identify and find the intragalactic criminals called the Demon Princes. This leads to the use of the identification plot device in all of its glory and in many manifestations. In most cases, the protagonist is at work trying to use all types of means to discover exactly who a given person is and whether they are one of the dreaded demon princes. In the case of this last book, the protagonist is trying to identify the people in a picture along with the details of the picture itself.

The creative elements necessary for this plot device are a person or item that is not identified, a reason to identify them, and some connection to the protagonist or other character.

I’ve used this plot device in various ways and in various novels. In Aegypt, the main mystery in the novel is the identification of the tomb and the contents of the tomb(s). In Sister of Light, the protagonist is seeking to identify many different items and people. In Sister of Darkness, the protagonist is seeking to identify both items and individuals. In many of my other novels, I use this plot device as a means to develop the plot and to entertain.

Here is an example from my novel Hestia: Enchantment of the Hearth.

When each of them held a glass of wine, and a large steaming bowl of fried calamari sat in the center of the table, Phil put on a thoughtful look, “Okay, time to get to work.” He popped a hot piece of squid in his mouth, “Jack, open up your notebook.”

Jack complied. He pulled a small notebook from his pants pocket. He always kept a notebook and pen with him.

“We need a place in Greek myth with a gate, a door, and a box or jar—preferably all three in the same location.”

Jack chewed on the end of his pen for a moment, “There were seven gates in Thebes.”

Hestia leaned forward, “Yes seven: Ogygian, Electran, Neistan, Hypsistan, Homoloidian, Proetidian, and Dircean. But I don’t know what good that will do, we don’t have seven keys, and the gates of Thebes were barred, not locked.”

Timon tapped the table, “I don’t think any of the Thebian Gates are still standing.”

“Write it down anyway,” said Phil, “but it sounds like a dead end. What other gates?”

“Odysseus’ house had gates, doors, and boxes,” Jack threw out another idea.

“The problem with that,” stated Angela, “is where is Ithaca? There is the modern island of Ithaca off the northeast coast of Greece, but no ruins match Homer’s descriptions, and not all archeologists agree Ithaca is Odysseus’ Ithaca.”

“Homer says Ithaca is an island that can be reached ‘on foot.’” Jack waved his pen and recited:

“I dwell in shining Ithaca. There is a mountain there,

high Neriton, covered in forests. Many islands

lie around it, very close to each other,

Doulichion, Same, and wooded Zacynthos–

but low-lying Ithaca is farthest out to sea,

towards the sunset, and the others are apart, towards the dawn and sun.

It is rough, but it raises good men.”

“The modern island of Ithaca doesn’t match that description,” stated Angela.

“Yes, one of Homer’s many paradoxes,” Jack looked happy with himself.

Hestia gestured with her hand, “Ithaca is on the island of Leucas. I have been to Odysseus’ palace many times myself.”

They all stared incredulously at Hestia.

She shrugged and looked smug.

“Okay,” Phil rocked forward a bit, “We have an island…”

Angela cut him off, “Leucas is a very large island, and since the ruins of Odysseus’ palace are unknown they probably still aren’t standing. If not standing, then no gate, no door, no box.”

“I know where Odysseus’ palace is,” stated Hestia.

They stared at her again.

“Very good. Write that down, Jack,” Phil rolled his hand on the table, “We have one potential, but there must be other gates in Greek myth.”

Timon pursed his lips, “There is the Gate of Hades.”

“Not a good gate,” stated Phil.

Timon continued, “The Gates of Heaven are guarded by the Horae. They are the wardens of the sky and of Olympus. Their purpose is to open and close the Gates of Heaven. Could the iron key open one of the Gates of Heaven?”

Phil shrugged.

Timon continued, a reflective tone filled his words, and a pensive look came over his face, “There are the Gates of Sleep. The child of the goddess Nyx, Oniros, dreams, comes to men in their sleep through one of two gates. The first gate is the Gate of Horn. If Oniros comes through the Gate of Horn, the dreams are true and will come to pass. The second is the Gate of Ivory. Through the Gate of Ivory come dreams that deceive men and events that will not come to pass.”

“No doors, no boxes, not corporeal,” Jack spoke as he made notes, “I don’t see a direct connection.”

Timon’s face became more thoughtful, “There are references to Hades about doors and boxes. In Hades, specifically, is a place of punishment called Tartarus—the pit. Around Tartarus runs a fence of bronze. Night is said to spread in a triple line all about it. Some ancient Greek authors write that the gates are iron with a threshold of bronze. Others say a threefold wall itself made of night encircles it. Around this triple wall flows the river Pyriphlegethon filled with flames and clashing rocks. The entrance of Tartarus is said to be an enormous iron gate. On either side are pillars of solid adamant that not even the gods could break. At the top of this gate sits the Tower of Iron where sleeplessly day and night the Erinye, Tisiphone, guards the entrance. She wears a bloody robe girded with a serpent. Further, Nyx and Oniros both live in Tartarus,” remarked Timon. He placed his hands on the table, “There. In Tartarus, you have an iron gate, ivory gate, horn gate, and bronze. And in Hades, there are boxes filled with treasures: Persephone’s Golden Bough, for example.”

“Yes, many treasures are in Hades, I’m sure,” Angela made a chopping motion with her hand, “but I don’t want to go there. First we would have to find Hades and then get into Tartarus. Jack can write them down, but let’s put Hades and Tartarus at the bottom of the list for now. Come on, think. Aren’t there any other gates?”

No one spoke for a while. Finally, Jack sat up straight, “What about the Lion’s Gate at Mycenae.”

Angela barely looked up, “The gate itself is gone, and there are no doors in the ruins. Same for the Gates of Troy. Maybe the gate we are looking for is not a gate we would know in myth.”

They all sat back in their chairs and stared at the table top. Once or twice someone half opened their mouth about to speak, but thought better of it and said nothing.

“Let it rest for now,” Phil rubbed the back of his neck, “The pitcher of wine ran out a while ago, and I don’t have any more ideas. Let’s sleep on it.” He rose and shook Timon’s hand, “See you early in the morning.”

“Yes early,” Timon’s thoughts were still filled with what they had discussed. He sat back down. Angela and Jack stood up and, with Phil, left for their rooms. Hestia remained with Timon at the taverna.

In this novel, the characters are trying to identify a place with gates that require keys. In addition, Angela has a set of three keys on her arm. The reason for the search for gates is for these keys. The keys need identification, the locks need identification, the one who can take the keys off Angela’s wrist needs identification. All this is a real problem in the novel—just one example of the use of the identification plot device.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:








fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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