Writing – part x283, Novel Form, Near Climax and Tension

9 January 2018, Writing – part x283, Novel Form, Near Climax and Tension

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.

These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of 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

I finished writing my 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: 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.

Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’ll be providing information on the marketing materials and editing.

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 29: 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.

This is the classical form for writing a successful 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 (protagonist, antagonist, and optionally the protagonist’s helper)
    4. Identify the telic flaw of the protagonist (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

The protagonist and the telic flaw are tied permanently together. The novel plot is completely dependent on the protagonist and the protagonist’s telic flaw. They are inseparable. This is likely the most critical concept about any normal (classical) form novel.

Here are the parts of a normal (classical) novel:

  1. The Initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  2. The Rising action scenes
  3. The Climax scene
  4. The Falling action scene(s)
  5. The Dénouement scene

So, how do you write a rich and powerful initial scene? Let’s start from a theme statement. Here is an example from my latest novel:

The theme statement for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School is: 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.

Here is the scene development 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

If you have the characters (protagonist, protagonist’s helper, and antagonist), the initial setting, the telic flaw (from the protagonist), a plot idea, the theme action, then you are ready to write the initial scene.  I would state that since you have a protagonist, the telic flaw, a plot idea, and the theme action, you have about everything—what you might be lacking is the tension and release cycle in your scenes.

Here is an example of developing or building tension and release in a scene.  This example is from Shadow of Darkness an Ancient Light novel.  I decided to show you the climax of the novel.  There are many examples of the use of tension development and then release.  This also shows extended release and how the overall climax provides a release for the novel.

If you remember, the climax of every novel should be an action scene.  The climax must resolve the telic flaw of the novel.  This is technically the final build-up to the actual climax.  This provides the climax for the external telic flaw—Sveta escapes from the Soviet Union.  The internal telic flaw resolution follows directly after it.  I’ll show it to you tomorrow.

Here is the scene:        

She picked up her handbag and walked slowly toward the back.  The guard watched her appreciatively.  When she passed him, she said in German, “I need to go to the water closet.”  He turned to look at her as she walked to the end of the car.

 

The train moved slowly past the switch and came to a full stop.  Aleksandr stood and walked toward the back of the car.  The guard completely ignored him.  Aleksandr stopped outside the water closet door, “Svetochka, it is time.”

 

She opened the door and they ducked into the aft part of the passenger car.  The train started to back.  Aleksandr tried to open the rear door.  It was locked.  He looked around frantically, “The door is locked.  They are never supposed to lock these doors.”

 

“There is an emergency handle.”

 

“The alarm will go off.”

 

The guard at the front of the car shouted in German, “Halt.  Was tun Sie?”

 

Sveta pushed on the emergency handle, and the door fell out of its frame.  An earsplitting alarm began to blare.  Aleksandr pushed the door out of the way and stepped through.  He pulled Sveta after him.  Aleksandr half carried Sveta off the platform and to the ground.  He dragged her after him, and they ran as quickly as they could toward the front of the train.

 

Ahead of them armed men exited the first train car.  Aleksandr pulled Sveta back to the train and lifted her between two cars.  They ran to the east. Behind them came calls of, “Halt, halt.”

 

A rifle went off, “Keep running Svetochka.  Run.”

 

On their left, to the north, was a wide canal and in front an open flat area of dirt, gravel, and straggling grass.  They didn’t dare head toward the south; that was back into East Germany.  There was no cover except for the canal. Ahead, Aleksandr spotted a bridge that crossed the canal.

 

Aleksandr took a glance back and almost fell.  The guards were running after them.  They were still a ways away, and they heard no more gunfire.  For that he was thankful.  The guards were quickly catching up with them.  They cried out “Halt,” repetitively.

 

Sveta Struggled to keep up.  She was towed by Aleksandr’s grip of iron. She cried out, “I don’t think we are going to make it Sashechka.  They are much too close.  Let go of me.  Let me go.”

 

Aleksandr ignored her.  At that moment, a dark clad figure rushed from the side of the canal.  Aleksandr started, but recognized Oba.  He heard confused yells close behind them.  Oba threw Sveta over his shoulder and ran with her.  Aleksandr noticed, Sveta perversely still held on to her traveling bag.  Now Aleksandr was hard pressed to keep up.  Oba headed for the bridge that spanned the canal.  Oba reached it and started across.  Now other soldiers from a checkpoint at the south end of the road took up the chorus. This was not German.  Aleksandr recognized English, but with a rough subtext, it had to be American.  These soldiers shouted at them and the East Germans alternately, “Stop and halt.”

 

At a sprint, Aleksandr followed Oba across the bridge.  Near the other side, he began to catch up with Oba.  Oba was strong but burdened with Sveta and her bag.  Across the canal, on either side of the road were trees, a forest. If they could make the trees, they would be safe.  He called to Oba as he caught up to him, “Into the trees.  Into the trees.”  Behind them, he heard a rapid clicking and the words, “Bereit, Ziel.”

 

Sveta cried out, “Sasha, they are going to shoot us.”

 

Aleksandr launched himself at Oba.  He tried to put himself between the soldiers and Sveta.  He was able to knock over the big man, and they began to fall toward the ground.  A yell in American almost drowned out the final word, but Aleksandr heard, “Feuer!”

 

Oba went down.  Sveta fell on top of him.  Bullets flew over their heads and burst against the ground all around them, but those that should have hit them struck Aleksandr instead.  He didn’t make a sound.  He just collapsed half across Sveta’s feet.  She rose up with an anguished cried.  It was a terrible sound, half a scream and half a feral wail.  At her cry, the soldiers did not fire again.  The Americans had reached the East Germans and warned them back.

 

Sveta grabbed Aleksandr.  Her hands and arms were immediately covered with gore.  She gave another inarticulate cry.

 

Oba grabbed her, “The tablet, mistress.  The tablet.”

 

Sveta grasped for her handbag.  It was too far from her.  Oba ran and half threw it to her.  She pulled out the tablet and held it between her palms.  She gave one last tortured look at Aleksandr, and brought the tablet against his chest.  There was a burst of light.  The soldiers, later, all swore it was the setting sun.

 

This scene includes many characteristics that build up tension and then provide partial release until the actual climax.  There are traces of some repetition to increase tension and ironic observations that provide foreshadowing for the events at the actual climax.

One very important foreshadowing is the traveling bag.  Sveta holds to the bag for very good reasons—the author reminds you of this fact more than once to solidify in the minds of the readers that the bag is in her possession. Further, at the end, we know thought foreshadowing that the tablet can heal.  Is Sveta too late to heal Aleksandr?  She has the tablet.  There was some delay in her getting it.  The soldiers are coming for them.  This is the ultimate tension development at the end.  The first was the threat to Sveta and Aleksandr.  Aleksandr gave his life for the others.  The second and most critical question at this juncture is the survival of Aleksandr.

I’ll give you more examples.

More tomorrow.

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

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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

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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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