Writing – part x285, Novel Form, Falling Action and Tension

11 January 2018, Writing – part x285, Novel Form, Falling Action 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. The climax of almost every novel written is one scene.  Once simple scene completes the telic resolution and that’s it.  I’m not sure how many novels you have evaluated.  If you haven’t thought much about the parts of a novel, you likely haven’t really looked at how it is really put together.  If you notice, every author does what he or she can to extend the climax as long as possible, but no matter what you do, eventually you have to complete it.

In this case, Aleksandr and Sveta escaped the Soviet Union.  During the escape, Aleksandr offered up his life, but was saved by Sveta.  This part of the novel continues the falling action.  In a most perfect sense, this is the entire falling action.

Here is the scene:        

Inside the building, they took Aleksandr to an elevator while Sveta was led to the side.  Sveta cried out, “Where are you taking him?  I don’t want to be away from him.”

 

The man in the suit told her, “Calm down Svetlana, they’re taking him to the infirmary.  They’ll check him out.  You get a cell for now.”

 

“A cell?”

 

“More like a secure locked room, but a cell nonetheless.”

 

A couple of American women stripped and searched Sveta.  They documented the marks on her body and took all her things—including the tablet.  Sveta felt the loss of the tablet from her possession only second greater to her separation from Aleksandr.  They gave her an orange prison suit, and snapped Sveta’s photograph.  One of the women led Sveta in an elevator down into the basement and locked her into a cell.  The cell was like a large hotel room.  It had a double bed, a desk, a couch and a couple of chairs. A door at the side opened into a washroom with a toilet, sink, tub and shower.

 

Sveta sat on the side of the bed.  She was trembling still as a result of the events of the day.  She touched Oba at the edge of her awareness.  She felt the tablet locked somewhere in the building above.  An alarm clock sat on the bedside table.  It read eight o’clock.  She had had nothing to eat or drink all day.  She wondered if they would feed her.  Sveta went into the bathroom and took a shower.  She washed off the remainder of Aleksandr’s blood and the many days of traveling grime.  She felt refreshed afterward even with the orange prison suit and coarse prison underwear.  She left her long hair loose to dry.

 

When she left the bathroom, she found a hot meal on the desk.  It was the most food she had eaten in a long time.  It was prison food, but chicken and potatoes and American peas.  She smiled remembering the food she had eaten as a child in America.  They served her coffee—she hated the stuff and filled the cup with water.  She wondered if she could get them to bring her tea with sugar and milk.  She wondered when she would see Aleksandr.  After Sveta ate, she lay down on the bed.  They had not given her any night clothing.  Still in her prison garb, she slipped between the very fine sheets and the thick covers.  She thought she wouldn’t sleep for a long time, but she almost immediately fell into a deep and dreamless slumber.

 

In this scene, the tension comes entirely out of the action.  The action is all the normal kind of thing you might expect in this circumstance.  What ties this scene to the rest of the novel and back to the climax is the introspective narrative in the action.

I don’t like introspective narrative, and this scene is almost a sequel, as some in writing like to call it.  This is the main reason I like protagonist’s helpers and dialog, unfortunately, in this circumstance, I can’t do anything but show, and to a limit degree as possible, tell you what Sveta thinks.  To put this more in the showing category, I should have had her say her comments aloud, but under very possible observation, you certainly would not do that.

In any case, here is a very short scene with some introspection.  I don’t like introspection, but I feel like I must entertain and through that entertainment, tie the scene tightly to the climax and the rest of the novel—this is how I do it.

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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