1 August 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x122, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, One Way Love
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)
Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)
One way love – Current discussion.
One way love: here is my definition – One way love is the use of an unrequited or unreturned romance to further a plot.
One way love is sometimes called unrequited love. It is especially prevalent as a plot device in Asian literature. It is a wonderful and can be a very powerful plot device. It is not used as much in Western literature because of the potential outcomes. Unrequited love can have an outcome of requited love. In that case the plot devices still stands but it really wasn’t unrequited. It was in the mind of one or both of the characters. There is the other problem. If it is in the mind, then your character better be talking to himself or herself a lot or you’re telling and not showing. Then there is that other problem. Unrequited love can only exist in an environment of lack of or unclear communication and substantial ethical filial piety. These exist in buckets in all Asian cultures I’ve experienced. It has a real problem being sustained in a Western culture or society. I’ll explain in a moment, but I need to write the most painful reason it isn’t used in much Western literature. The top reason is that if it is truly unrequited love, you don’t get a happy ending. There is scope for an eventual happy ending, but someone is going home alone.
So, what makes unrequited love so hard in a Western culture? It can exist, and I’ve used it in a couple of novels. The problem is that the approach to these issues in the West is that the one who loves tells the one who is loved and that’s usually all she wrote. You can play an ambivalent response into an entire novel, but usually one character rejects the other and that is the end—unless you have a stalker. The stalker model turns your unrequited lover into a crazy head—that’s about the end. So, the problem with this plot device, and I love this plot device, is that it can end in a tragedy, someone gets hurt, it can turn your character into a crazy head, it can cause your writing to turn into too much telling, and it is hard to sustain.
In any case, I have used this plot device with great results in a couple of novels, and I will use it again if I need it. Here is an example.
Here is an example from Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon:
Natalya glanced at Aksinya. Aksinya nodded to her. Natalya sat in the chair, and Ernst led Aksinya to the end of the sunroom. The small room was like an enclosed balcony. The outer wall was glass and overlooked a courtyard within the interior of the building. A low stone wall stood at the end as though the balcony had once been open, but the glass had been added later. He rested against the edge and held Aksinya’s hands. She pulled her hands from his and leaned on the top of the wall. The top was unfinished stone with some crumbling mortar in between. She picked at the loose pieces of it, “What did you wish to say to me that you couldn’t say in the ballroom?”
“The reason I am so interested in you.”
Aksinya toyed with the mortar, “I was about to tell you… you are interested only because of the sorcery. I understand that.”
He stared out at the darkened courtyard, “It isn’t the sorcery.”
Aksinya picked at the mortar a little more fiercely, “It has always been about the sorcery.”
“Why are you trying to tell me how I feel about you?”
“It is obvious. It is because of the sorcery. Isn’t that what you told me before?”
Ernst grabbed her hands and made her look at him, “It is obvious that I love you.”
Aksinya tried to pull her hands out of his and turned her face away, “It is obvious because of the sorcery. Don’t bring in such ideas as love.”
“I’m telling you, Aksinya. It isn’t the sorcery. I love you.”
“You…you used my name.”
“Sorry, I’m telling you, it isn’t the sorcery. It never was the sorcery. That was just an excuse I used to get close to you.”
“You said you were trying to accomplish sorcery, and you wanted me to teach you.”
“You said my courtier told you about me.”
“I heard about you from your uncle. He pointed me to your courtier. I don’t know why the subject of sorcery came up with him. I have been studying it. I have been completely unsuccessful. I know I can’t really do it. It requires a faith in the world I don’t have.”
“So you took my book just to get me to go to the ballet with you.”
“Your courtier said there was no other way to convince you. I wanted to get to know you. You are an astonishing person. In my mind, you are a perfect woman.”
Aksinya mumbled, “Ha, you know nothing about me.”
“But I do know a lot about you now. Everything I know, I love.” Ernst pulled Aksinya closer to him, “Listen to me Aksinya. I want you to be mine.”
She trembled and tried to pull away, “What do you mean by that?”
“I want you to marry me.” He pulled her close again and put his lips on hers. Aksinya allowed him to kiss her. She sunk into his embrace. They stood there for what seemed like to Aksinya for a long time. Slowly he let her go, and she settled back with her feet solidly on the ground.
Natalya rushed from the other room. She grabbed Aksinya by the arm and tried to pull her away from Ernst, “Get back Ernst von Taaffe. I know impropriety when I see it. That was much too forward. Let her go.” She punched at the young man.
Ernst let go of Aksinya’s hands, and she fell back a step. She stared at Ernst with dawning realization, “You…you kissed me.”
“Mistress, you should have slapped him. Otherwise, he will be encouraged…”
Aksinya closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath, “No, Natalya. I wish to speak with him further.”
“I will stand right here between you.”
“No,” Akisnya’s voice softened, “No, please, Lady Natalya. Just let me speak with him a moment more. I shall stand away from him, and he shall not touch me again.”
“Only if he promises…”
Ernst growled, “I will promise for now.”
Aksinya pleaded, “You see, Lady Natalya, he promised. Allow me to speak to him for a little longer after that you and I will retire for the evening.”
Natalya scowled at Ernst. She glanced at Aksinya from the sides of her eyes, “Very well, mistress. But he must stand on one side of the room and you on the other. I shall be watching.” She pointed at Ernst, “If you make a single move toward her, sir, I shall scream for her aunt and uncle and tell them everything.”
Ernst moved to the end of the enclosed balcony, “Lady Natalya, you need not fear. I will not attempt to molest your mistress again.”
Natalya glanced at Aksinya. Aksinya hastily moved to the other end of the balcony. They waited for Natalya to return to her seat.
Aksinya bent forward a little toward Ernst. She whispered and tried to get her voice to carry to him, “You…you kissed me.”
Ernst kept his voice low, “I have wanted to kiss you for a long time.”
She touched her lips, “Why?”
“Because I love you.”
“What will you gain by loving me?”
Ernst smiled, “I desire you. That is all. I love you. Do you love me?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“Then I’m sorry I was so forward, but I’m not sorry I kissed you. I would hope to continue to woo you. I want you to marry me.” He pulled a small box from his coat pocket, “I have a ring for you. I would like to give it to you tonight.”
“For me? Then you are serious?”
“Why would you think I wasn’t serious?”
“What about your father, and his wish for you to join his business?”
“I told him tonight that I would join the firm. I made arrangements with him to begin to work the following Monday. I will still be able to escort you to dinner and the opera on Wednesday. Didn’t you understand me? Even if you will not make up your mind tonight, I will continue to see you and entertain you. I will pursue you until your answer is yes. You have no other suitors?”
Aksinya shook her head.
“You don’t have another lover?”
Aksinya shook her head.
Ernst’s voice softened, “Then there are no others ahead of me. I have no competition.”
“But I have never imagined someone loving me before.”
Ernst shook his head, “Why should a man not love you. You are beautiful and intelligent. Your deportment and social skills are excellent. You enjoy all the past times I enjoy. Why should I not want to share my life with you?”
Aksinya stared out into the darkness and whispered, “This is a temptation to me. It is surely a temptation.” She spoke more loudly, “Did Anatov Aznabaev put you up to this?”
“Your courtier? I haven’t seen him in a long time.”
“Have you been engaging in sorcery?”
Ernst put up his hand, “Not since I met you. I realized then, I could not achieve any of it. I told you already, I don’t have the skills or the power to do it. I want to give you this ring.”
Aksinya raised her eyes to his, “I’m not sure of what I will answer to you. I’m not certain if I love you.”
“Isn’t it enough if I love you? I swear I will give you everything in my power.”
Aksinya cried, “Do not swear. Do not swear anything to me. Don’t use those words around me. Don’t you realize how dangerous that is?”
“Dangerous to swear what I am truly willing to do? I do swear it. I swear to Aksinya that I love her, will do anything I can for her, and will marry her.”
Aksinya pressed her hands over her ears, “Don’t swear. It is enough to say you will do it, but do not swear it.”
“Will you accept my ring?”
“I cannot—not yet.”
“Will you accept my love?”
“I must think on this—it is too difficult for me to decide right now. My mind is in turmoil.”
“Will you allow me to continue to court you?”
Aksinya sighed, “Will you kiss me again?”
“I will, but only if the Lady Natalya will not scream.”
Aksinya turned a little toward Natalya, “Lady Natalya, I wish to allow Ernst to kiss me again. Will you please let him?”
“Kiss him? You should hit him.”
“I wish to kiss him. Please allow me. I shall not ask for more than one tonight, but I would like to kiss him once more.”
Natalya’s anger was evident on her face, “I shall turn around for ten seconds. By the time I have counted to ten, I expect you to be at my side. If you are not, I shall certainly yell for your aunt and uncle.”
“Thank you, Lady Natalya.” Aksinya didn’t wait to see if Natalya turned, she ran to Ernst and put her arms around his neck. She clumsily brought her lips to his and lingered there in a measured kiss. He put his arms around her and held her tightly. They parted at eight seconds and Aksinya ran to Natalya’s side. Natalya noted Aksinya beside her with an impatient nod and began walking. Aksinya glanced back at Ernst. His eyes lingered on her. They did not leave her the entire time until she lost sight of him when she exited the parlor.
Ernst loves Aksinya. She isn’t sure she loves him. Actually she may, but she likely does not. This is the ambivalence I wrote about above. You can use this to keep the one sided love moving forward for a long time. In this case, Natalya, with the help of the daemon, Asmodeus, destroys any chance for Aksinya to love Ernst. This is unfortunate, but this is the way one sided love is supposed to turn out. On the other hand, the author can gradually move the character toward love.
Here’s another example from The Ghost Ship Chronicles: Shadowed Vale:
Nikita found she needed Alex’s help right away. The moment she and Natana began psy training, Nikita’s sensitivity to Natana’s mind exploded. There was little Natana could hide from Nikita, and Natana broadcast a lot. She broadcast in a very narrow band; it didn’t affect anyone else, even those who were sensitive, but her frequency was right on Nikita’s main wavelength, and blocking was very difficult, especially during sleep. Natana promised things would get better, and they did with training, but not fast enough for Nikita. Nikita couldn’t sleep. Natana and Mara along with a strange third mind Nikita couldn’t place invaded Nikita’s thoughts and kept her awake and aware. Distance and Natana’s awake mind helped. Nikita started taking naps at each shift transition, but that wasn’t enough either.
Since Nikita couldn’t sleep, she studied shuttle and astrogation, and when she tired of that, she explored the files Gigi had taken from Den and Natana’s computers a long time ago. Those files informed Nikita a lot more about Den and Natana’s small crusade and their investigations into the Athenian Charter as well as their other clandestine psy operations. After a couple of tortured sevendays, Nikita came across the files describing ancient psy technologies, and there she discovered a solution to her Natana broadcast problem. Nikita was at Alex Porson’s door the next first shift.
Edaline answered the tone, “Oh, hi Nikita. Are you all right. You look a little tired.”
“Yeah, I’m all right. Is Alex here…?”
“Sure, come on in. I’ll get him.”
“No need. He’s in his room right?”
“Yeah, mom might not like you going there by yourself.”
“It’s okay. I don’t have any romantic inclinations.”
“Sure,” Edaline eyed Nikita strangely.
Nikita waved at the other members of the Porson family and went straight to Alex’s room. She knocked on the door, “Alex, it’s Nikita. I need to speak to you.”
The door slid open, “Come on in.”
Nikita entered. She shut the door behind her and locked it.
Alex stepped to the back of his room, “My mom isn’t going to like that Nikita.”
“Your mom’s thoughts right now are not important to me. I need you to make something for me. I need it right away.”
“What is it?”
Nikita handed him a chip, “The plans are all on this. I’ll pay you whatever it costs plus profit. I just need it.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a psy blanker.”
“That might be kind of an illegal item under conformed law.”
“Since when has law meant anything to you, Alex?”
“Since I started to become an engineer under Master Stewart. That was your idea, Nikita.”
“Listen to me Alex,” a dark frown crossed her features, “If you make this for me, I’d be willing to teach you astrogation.”
A look of longing moved Alex’s mouth only a moment, “No way.” He glanced down, “Then was then, now is now. I know what I want. That’s your fault too.”
“Yeah, my fault. I really need this Alex. Please make it for me.”
“There’s no money in it, Nikita.”
“I told you already—I’ll pay you.”
“It’s that important to you?”
“Yeah, it is. Don’t ask why.”
Alex let out a big sigh, “I’m taking a big risk for you, Nikita.”
“I know that—don’t take advantage of me because I ask you for this. No one else could do this or would do this for me.”
“I’ll do it. What else can I make—that is legal.”
“I haven’t had time or the ability to think about it Alex.”
“Now, you will.”
“That’ll be my pay, Nikita. I’m no good thinking these things up. I need ideas. You have great ideas. You owe me at least two ideas for this thing.”
Nikita smiled, “I can do that—two ideas.”
“Two is all I ask.”
There was a heavy knock on Alex’s door. Alex’s mom’s voice came through the door and the intercom, “Alex Porson, open that door right now.”
Nikita went to the door, unlocked, and opened it. She stood in the opening, “Sorry to bother you, Master Porson. My business is complete with Alex. I won’t bother him again this shift.”
“Uh,” Elaina Porson replied. She moved slightly to the side.
Nikita slipped by her, “Sorry again.”
Elaina Porson led Nikita to the door, “Is everything all right, Nikita.”
“It is now, Master Porson.”
Master Porson let Nikita out of the cabin door. As it shut, Nikita heard her yell, “Alex Porson, just what did you do to that sweet girl…”
Maybe not the best example. This relationship is completely one sided for most of the novel, but it slowly grows. Alex loves Nikita. Nikita, at first, hates Alex, but slowly she warms to him. Alex has issues, and Nikita has issues. They somehow end up working together very well. Their animosity turns to love. This is a rally fun novel, and this is one of the reasons I like this plot device so much. You can always take one sided love and turn it into mutual love. It takes a lot of work and careful writing, but I love those kinds of novels.
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