Writing – part x287, Novel Form, more Dénouement and Tension

13 January 2018, Writing – part x287, Novel Form, more Dénouement 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. Yes, Virginia, every falling action and every dénouement has tension and release.  Even though the climax of the novel has been reached, the author still must produce entertaining scenes and entertaining scenes are entertaining because they include tension and release.

In the case of this novel, I am setting up tension and release in the dénouement to become the kicker of the novel.  Now, about kickers.  The kicker brings together many of the elements of the novel and completes them.  The resolution of the telic flaw occurred in the climax, but the dénouement completes the novel.

Some authors leave the dénouement slipshod—they don’t conclude in a strong fashion.  Many authors use the dénouement to set up their next novel—I don’t advise this.  I think this frustrates readers more than anything. There is nothing wrong with alluding to the future, but don’t leave us with a cliffhanger.  Cliffhangers are for chapters and not novels.

The most powerful use of the dénouement is to complete the novel and give a kicker that wraps it up.  I know my novels have touched my readers well when they want more even after the climax and the dénouement.  That means they liked the characters and the ideas in the novel.  If my readers said they were tired of my characters or the ideas, I would know the novel didn’t appropriately touch them.

Here is the scene:        

Svetlana Evgenyevna Kopylova sat next to Aleksandr NikolayevichDiakonov.  Those were the names had sworn them in with by the judge at the State Department hearing.  They wore nondescript clothing:  Sveta, a woman’s dark dress suit, and Aleksandr, a man’s dark dress suit with a tie.  That was better attire than the orange prison clothing they had worn for so long during the days, weeks, and months of interrogations.  At least the Americans didn’t use torture, and Sveta and Aleksandr didn’t have much to hide.  They didn’t share the more unusual aspects of their travels or time together.  The Americans wouldn’t have believed them anyway.

 

Sveta was a little angry—they had not returned her tablet or possessions.  Already the hearing had produced hours of evidence about Sveta and Aleksandr.  They heard repeated transcripts from their testimony and interrogations.  They heard depositions from embassy staff and ambassadors.  They heard accounts from the Soviet newspapers and magazines.  They saw many official and not so official photographs of Sveta with multitudes of Soviets and embassy people.  Someone produced a photo of the portrait of Sveta that hung in the People’s Museum in Moscow.  That made Sveta blush.  The State Department even produced some Soviet radio broadcasts and newsreels with Sveta in them.

This was a rough period for the USA and for Soviet relations.  In general, the USA wanted to allow freedom to those who escaped Soviet oppression. At the same time, they had to be careful of Soviet infiltrators and spies.  The spying business was in full bloom.  The USA repatriated those who were found to be Soviet agents or possible Soviet agents by trading them for Western spies in the hands of the Communists.

We now know, the Soviet infiltration of the USA government was much worse than we thought.  When the Kremlin’s safes were opened at the fall of the Soviet Union, we found that many highly placed US officials were agents for the Soviet Union—that included the Rosenbergs and Algier Hess.

In the case of Sveta and Aleksandr, the case against them might be bad from either side.  The Soviets didn’t want to protect them and the US had no reason to keep them.  Thus we can see the case the US government is making against them.  This unspoken (yet) issue provides the tension in the scene.

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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