Writing – part x376, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Valeska

12 April 2018, Writing – part x376, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Valeska

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.

With a protagonist, a telic flaw, a theme statement, and an initial setting, I’m ready to begin a novel.  I’ll move to the telic flaw for the novel.  Since I am going to provide the first chapter as a teaser any way, I might as well show you the initial scene.

Here is the theme statement as a reminder:

Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.

With a single scene—the initial scene (along with the characters, setting, and the telic flaw), you have enough to write an entire novel.  This was the wonderful discovery I made by the time I wrote my eighth novel.

Let me pass on some examples.  My Aegypt (Ancient Light) novels were easy to write using the way I described.  That’s because they all had a historical premise tied to historical events.  The resolution and climax just fit into the historical events.  That’s part of the power of writing and authorship.  The novels that were a little more problematic, but still easy, are my Enchantment novels.  Let me point out a little about each one.  I’ll continue with Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire.

I wrote before, don’t write Vampire novels.  I’d go further, don’t write any overused cliché or idea…unless, unless, you have discovered an entirely new approach.  Whatever it is, your new concept must be fresh and unique.  I found a new, fresh, and unique idea to write about a Vampire.  This is Valeska.

I’ve used this initial scene as an example many times.  The point of the example and the scene is to show you a good example of how to write an exciting and entertaining initial scene.  Valeska is a real vampire (classical according to Bram Stoker’s Dracula character) with many very special twists.  The main twist is that she is a fifteen year old girl who was kept as the pet of another vampire.  She never hunted for herself and when the master of the vampire pack did not return, she found herself entirely alone in the world and out on the street.

In the initial scene we find George Mardling who is a hunter of a different type.  George is a spy for British intelligence, and while making a clandestine contact, he is mortally wounded and disrupts Valeska’s hunting.  In my take on vampires, they only hunt humans during the full moon, and more than a single vampire’s bite is necessary to make a new vampire.

Since George disrupts her hunt, Valeska asks if she can drink his blood.  Here is a part of the scene:

He was dying.

A movement caught him by surprise.  It came from the dark alleyway away from the street.  A small person moved very quickly from the opening to stand right in front of him.  It stopped suddenly and whimpered, then sat on its haunches.  It squatted outside of his reach and watched him.  Its face was thin and pale.  The face barely showed in his night vision goggle.  That in itself was surprising.  It wore clothing that seemed exceedingly fine, but which was filthy and obviously damp, the remains of a girl’s party dress.  The dress had once been white with red or pink ribbons, but now it was torn and bedraggled.  The ribbons blended with the stains on the dress.  The stains seemed to be long dried blood and not just the dirt of the streets.

The girl, it was a girl, stared at him with bright eyes tinged with silver.  They appeared slightly dull in the night vision goggle.  Her hair was black and matted.  It reached almost to the cobbles of the alleyway where she squatted.  Her face was finely etched and hard.  She let her tongue slip out of her mouth.  She licked her lips.  Her tongue was slightly pointed, and George could swear her incisors were elongated and pointed like fangs.

She raised her eyes to his and spoke.  It wasn’t Polish.  She pronounced her words in high German with a strange lilt.  Her voice was low and melodious, “You, mortal man, you are dying.”

George groaned, “I’m dying.  Can you call the police with my phone?”

She eyed him strangely, “I don’t have a phone here—what good would it do?”

“My iPhone.  It fell at my side.”

She shrugged, “I don’t know what that is.  I wouldn’t be able to use it.  You are dying.”

“I am dying.  Can you help me?”

The girl stared at him, “You are dying.  It’s a full moon—I’m starving.”

George laughed and immediately wished he hadn’t.  He felt the blood bubble from the wound at his front and his back.  His laugh cut off suddenly, “What did you plan to do—eat me?”

“I’d like to dine on your blood.”

He wanted to laugh again, but stifled it, “Are you a vampire?”

The girl drew her finger across the cobbles, “I’m a vampire, and I’m very hungry.  It’s a full moon, and you interrupted my hunt.”

There you have the full of the description and the circumstance.  You can read the rest of the scene and the first chapter at my website.  The point is that this is a vampire like you have never seen before.  Valeska looks like and is a homeless vampire.  She has no friends and no place.  She wears clothing that have not left her back since her vampire master was lost.  She is hungry and dirty.  Valeska is a pathetic character (in a literary sense).  She is a pathetic vampire in any sense.  This, I think, is both unusual and unique in literature.  The creation of a literary pathetic vampire is a new idea.

In Valeska, Valeska and George Mardling are brought together and develop a bond.  The bond comes from her dependence on his blood and his dependence on her protection and indeed, in the initial scene, she saves his life and he hers.

The plot is difficult to see directly from the initial scene.  The novel begins simply with this idea of mutual dependency, but because of who George is (a spy), the novel quickly rolls up into a ball of complexity.  I should write, because of who George and Valeska are, the novel becomes very complex.  The reason is that British Intelligence also has a group interested in thwarting supernatural beings and creatures.  Thus, we have Valeska, who is a real vampire, and George, who is a real spy caught up in departmental and intelligence issues while everyone is trying to figure out what is going on.

So, yeah, I think I have a new take on a vampire with a unique idea and a classical vampire.  Plus, this is a very interesting means to starting a novel.

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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