27 July 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x117, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Search
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)
Search – Current discussion.
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
One way love
Search: here is my definition – Search is the use of a quest to further a plot.
Search isn’t exactly the same as retrieval or a MacGuffin. In some cases, the protagonist may know what the item or person of the quest is, but in the case of retrieval or MacGuffin, the protagonist always knows what the item or person is. A search is less determined. It isn’t a MacGuffin. It is a thing or a someone. Examples of search plot devices are Treasure Island, Moby Dick, and Huckleberry Finn. A search plot device can also be more amorphous, for example, the search for peace or contentment. I’m sure you can remember novels that used this plot device in this way.
I’ve used the search plot device quite a few times in my writing. I find it a very useful plot device. It has so many variations, it is very utilitarian. You can and will find many circumstances where search can be used to greater or lesser effect in your novels.
Here is an example from Shadowed Vale:
Natana pushed a button on her computer and the door slid open to near absolute darkness. Ultraviolet lights came on from the hoods of their CES, and they could see through the darkness. It was a colorless and strangely blue landscape. Den touched a stud on his suit and brought up normal illumination. The darkness pealed back, but the view didn’t improve much. They were looking into an enormous space. It was completely open. In the space hung seemingly randomly placed three meter square vaults. The vaults could be reached by thin plasteel walkways that crept across the underground structure. The space reached out further than they could see in every direction.
Natana declared, ‘This is the level recorded for the vault.’
‘Where is it?’
Natana tilted her head and set off. They followed. First, Den near Natana’s side, and then a little ways back Nikita. Nikita sent, ‘What does it mean the data wasn’t transcribed?’
Natana answered, ‘The Galactic Library’s original means of data storage was on large platters in radioactive digital coding. The half-life of the radioactive material is such that the data was safe for billions of years. The material is written and was originally rewritten at set intervals to ensure there was never any data loss. After the defeat of the Reps, the Confederation decided to use a more cost effective and denser data storage method. The original dedicated data vaults, all these cubes you see, were built in the opulent and elegant style of the Empire. They were designed to last forever and to record human information for millennia. Technology quickly overcame them, but the need to change was never pressing until about five hundred years ago. At that time, the data in these cubes was transcribed onto the current system. It is much smaller, simpler, cheaper, and provides much greater data storage. Some of the data wasn’t transcribed. What we seek is one of those.’
‘And it wasn’t transcribed, because…?’
‘Because it was considered too dangerous for unrestricted use. We don’t hide information that is common to all—that is the credo of the Confederation. But we did choose to exclude some information that was very dangerous. Contemplate, Kita, building a nuclear device or highly poisonous substance like a nerve gas is available as unrestricted information. That was not considered as dangerous as the information on psy control and psy devices from the Empire and the Reps.’
‘Then I hope we are better guardians than the Reps or Empire turned out to be.’
Natana’s thoughts took on an edge, ‘They both tortured me with such tools—be assured little sister, I will not allow them to be used that way on anyone else.’
‘Hi, Mara,’ quipped Nikita.
Natana let out a tense chuckle, ‘Sorry.’
They both followed Natana down the plasteel pathways. She led them directly, but it still took a while. Eventually, they reached one of the cubes. In the fancy ancient script of the Empire the number one hundred thousand eleven six hundred sixty six crawled across each of its six faces.
Natana stood in front of it, ‘There is also a backup cube, but it is harder to reach.’ She plugged her computer into the cube. After a while, she cried out aloud, “Eh.” Then mentally, ‘Sorry about that. There’s nothing.’
‘Nothing,’ sent Dena and Nikita together.
‘The power is completely out and the cube will not run without power. It is based on special motor drives and high power systems and not just simple electron transfer. I’m not sure what to do.’
‘Can you turn on the power?’ asked Den.
‘The power for this entire part of the facility is off. It has been physically redirected to the new data systems. The control nodes are also depowered and have been removed.’
‘Can you get a schematic,’ Nikita asked.
‘I’m bringing it up now. Take a look.’
Nikita shot, ‘Can I come forward, Den?’
‘Come on. I’ll go on defense.’
Den and Nikita exchanged positions. She and Natana studied the schematics for a long time. Den saw a lot of pointing and shrugging. Nikita and Natana spoke mentally in partial thoughts and technical jargon. Den could barely understand their basic private communication—it was all woman speak, almost a different mental language. When they moved into an advanced level of mathematical theory, probability mechanics, and chaos math, Den was immediately and totally lost—and he was a Master Astrogator.
Finally, Natana sent him a directed thought he could understand, ‘Den we can’t do it. It’s not possible with what we know. The systems are not just complex, they are ancient and unique. We can’t figure it out.’
Den launched a tight thought, ‘Then who can get the data for us?’
Nikita made a face, ‘Alex could do it.’
‘Alex, you say?’
Natana frowned, ‘Are you sure, Kita?’
‘If Alex can’t make it work directly, he can invent something to get the data for us.’
Den sat on the walkway and let his legs dangle over the edge. He waved Nikita and Natana over to him. They sat down one on either side. Den looked out into the immense open space, ‘Kita, it could be really dangerous to bring a non-psy into this.’
She kicked her legs out in the space, ‘Yah think? We don’t have time to read him in during this visit. That gives us a year to figure out how to approach and use him.’
Natana stared at her, ‘Have you been thinking about this before?’
Nikita shrugged, ‘Nah, it just came to me when we were digging in the design of the data cube. He has a brain that lets him look at any logical schematic and immediately understand what’s going on. He’s just like that. It’s like the one handed input device he made for me. He had no clue how to do it; he just could visualize it and build toward it. It’s pretty amazing actually.’
Natana touched her lips, ‘Okay, we give up for now. We read Alex in and bring him here to dig out the data.’
‘Yeah,’ Den nodded.
‘Yeah,’ Nikita agreed.
This is a really fun novel. Alex has no idea what he will be getting into. Nikita and her parents are searching for information on psionic devices. They find the location, but they can’t get the data. They need Alex. This is just a small part of this novel, but a very fun part.
Here’s more. From Sister of Darkness:
The evening was especially dark. Clouds covered the skies and the moon. A wind blew in from the coast that reminded them that winter was not long past. An anguished cry awakened Leora and Paul. It was a single sound of childish loss. A howl of fear and grief, “No…”
Paul leapt out of bed and pulled on his robe. Leora was only steps behind him. When he opened the door, Marie stood there already. Two fingers threatened to slip into her mouth and her threadbare rabbit was clutched by an ear in her fist. She stared wide-eyed, “Lumière is gone.”
Without a word, Paul ran to Lumière’s room. The windows were all opened and the door was gaping. The raw night blew through the openings and chilled Paul to the bone. He pulled up Lumière’s bed clothes and searched her room. Leora stood in the doorway. She held a rosary in her hand and mouthed a prayer, “Paul, she is not here. She is gone.”
Leora buried her face in her hands, “I don’t know. I can’t see her. She is not in the house. There are things in the night that block my sight.”
Paul leapt back through the door. The scream was loud enough, it had already awakened the house. Major Lyons stood in the hall followed closely by his driver, Lord Hastings, Goodberry, and a group of servants.
“What is wrong, Paul?” Lyons grabbed the sleeve of his robe.
“Lumière is gone. She has been taken—abducted. Leora says she is not in the house.”
Lyons gestured to his driver, “Come on we’ll scour the grounds.”
Lord Hastings stepped forward, “Do you need weapons?”
“We are armed already.”
“Then go to it man. Just watch out in the darkness that you don’t shoot each other.”
“And don’t go alone,” Leora stood in the doorway and clutched a piece of Lumière’s clothing.
“Quickly, men, go!” Lord Hastings pushed them toward the outside.
In groups of two, the men ran into the night and scoured the area around the house. They found nothing and no one. As soon as Lord Hastings could make a call on the telephone, they were joined by the constabulary of the closest village. In the morning, Major Lyons made a call and a company of soldiers showed up and began cordoning the fields.
Paul entered into his and Leora’s room tired and discouraged. When he came in, Tilly rose from her knees beside Leora and left. She gave him a piteous and, for Tilly, an attempted cheering look, as she passed.
Leora was on her knees before the window. Her face rested on the lounge and her hair stretched across and over the side. Trembling sobs shook her.
Paul went to his knees and lifted her up. She came into his arms. Her face was wet, her lashes strung with tears like dew. Paul held her close. She held him for a minute then a moan escaped her lips, “Paul, she is gone.” She shook her head violently, “I searched and searched for her. With the scepter and golden tablet, I touched her ka once or twice, but each time, it was masked from me.” Her voice rose in fear, “I traced her out of Britain. Paul, hold me, our child is gone. Our child is gone.”
“If Lumière is alive, we must get her back again. We know who has taken her, and we know where they are taking her.”
“And we know why,” Leora moaned, “She is a hostage to keep us from retrieving the Osiris Offering Formula. Paul, you understand, as well as I, we might be required to trade our daughter’s life for that cursed thing.”
“I should have destroyed it when I had the chance.”
“The question is what will we do now?”
Abruptly sober and tearless, Leora turned up her face, “We go to Windsor and seek the offering formula. Where we find it, we will find Lumière. Eventually, where we find Lumière, we will find my sister. There is no purpose in searching anywhere else in England for her. Tell everyone to stop looking for her here, help me comfort our children, and let us make our way to Windsor. That is the only way we will return her to our family and safety.”
Paul and Leora departed with Major Lyons the next day headed for Windsor Castle.
Paul and Leora will search for their missing daughter. She was kidnapped and taken to Germany during the height of World War Two. I hope you will soon be able to read this novel. It is on contract.
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