Writing – part x347, Novel Form, Secrets in Novels, Shadowed Vale

14 March 2018, Writing – part x347, Novel Form, Secrets in Novels, Shadowed Vale

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.

The release part of the scene development cycle is similar to a punchline.  This is the point at which the tension of the scene is released.  The complete tension is never released until the climax of the novel, but the tension of the scene is released to some degree at this point.

I’m still addressing conflict and release from the standpoint of scenes, but I thought it might provide a good example to look at secrets in my novels.  If you remember, there are two basic types of secrets in a novel.  The first is the plot revelation.  The revelation of the plot and the protagonist are secrets until they are revealed in the novel.  This is the number one basic element of secret in a novel.  This secret is unknown to the characters and the readers until it is revealed.

The second type of secret is the secrets of the protagonist or other major character.  These are secrets known to the readers, but not known to other characters in the context of the novel.  These are revealed (or not revealed) through the plot.  I write not reveled because these secrets may remain secrets from no one, a few, or all in the context of a novel.  The writer uses the revelation of these secrets to create tension and release and to drive to the climax.

I’ll write a little about my science fiction novels.  I write science fiction that is set in the far future.  I have a series that is in not yet in publication called The Ghost Ship Chronicles.  This is a quintology (5 novels).  I hate those types of novels, but the initial novel kept growing, and I have to separate it into multiple novels.  You can read the novels separately without the others, but they are connected and form a larger plot.  The titles are based on the names of spaceships.  The fourth novel is Shadowed Vale.

The background for these novels is that following the collapse of the Human Galactic Empire, the reps, Republicans won and created a short lived system of interspace government.  This system slowly evolved into a representative government where the Family Trader Ships were equal in representation to the planets.  A confederation of planets and large spaceships formed the representative government.

At the end of the Human Galactic Empire, esper or mental psyonics became the weapon of the day.  These were used routinely by the members of the nobility and were bred into the population.  This was part of the problem with the Human Galactic Empire—inbreeding caused the collapse of the noble families.  This is teased and foreshadowed in The Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox.

In Athelstan Cying, one of the mutant espers of that time survived as a disembodied spirit.  When the Family Trader enters Athelstan Cying to salvage it, the Captain’s son, Den Protania, a near-do-well, causes a critical failure which results in his death.  The spirit tries to save Den Protainia, but it is instead trapped in Den’s body.

Shadowed Vale, still follows Den and Natana but adds in the excitement of Nikita.  Nikita is Den and Natana’s adopted child.  They are also having their own children.  The novel continues the story of Nikita as she gains position and experience in the family.  It also brings in the obvious character secret represented by Nikita.

Nikita is the child of a man from a Family Trader and a woman entertainer from El Rashad.  Sex outside the Family Trader Ship, leaving a Family Trader Child, and not taking care of your family is considered one of the greatest sins of the Family Traders.  Therefore, Nikita’s great secret is who is her father and then what will be the ramification of the revelation?  The result is terrible.  Another esper member of the Family Traders who is related to Natana, the Kerns, is Nikita’s father.  When he finds out about Nikita, he claims her as his own and insists Nikita be brought to his Family Trader Ship.  I won’t reveal the how, but let’s say, Nikita builds her own little rebellion and escapes back to her ship.

The other great character secret about Nikita is her status in the Family Traders and on the ship.

The plot secret in the novel is the loss of Family Trader Ships.  Den and Natana believe the Athenian Charter is responsible for the loss of one Family Trader Ship a year.  The first to be lost was the Shadowed Vale.  Thus the title of the novel is Shadowed Vale.  This is the mystery and as I noted, the plot secret in the novel.

These novels are all part of a series bound together by the advent of the person of Den Protania, thus they are an –ology, however, as I mentioned, they are also separate with their own climax and plot thus they can be read individually.  The plot resolution takes care of the Shadowed Vale issue, but brings up new ones, and the Athenian Charter is still in operation.

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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