Writing – part x377, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Lilly

13 April 2018, Writing – part x377, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Lilly

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 Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer.

For Lilly, I again had an idea that sprang from a character.  I wanted to develop a novel around a pathos developing character who was a math and computer genius.  As I’ve written before, the best of these types of characters is an abused, young girl—thus Lilly.  Lilly is the child of a druggy prostitute who never took care of her daughter.  Lilly is a math and computer genius who always took care of herself and has no friends.  She is currently attending college at a small science college on a state scholarship that pays for her tuition, but not her room and board.  She is living on the street and borrowing food to make ends meet.  Lilly doesn’t care about herself or others (except her other homeless friend, an old Japanese man and his cat).  That is, until she meets Dane.

Dane becomes the catalyst in Lilly’s life to make her change.  He also encourages her to aspire to something different and higher.  Here is a little of the initial scene:

All Dane knew about the girl was that she didn’t come into the FastMart very often.  When she did, she didn’t pay with cash.  She always used the FastMart Bucks, which you earned by purchasing gas or food.  What seemed unusual was that she used a different account ID and phone number every time.

She looked terrible, especially for this part of the city.  She wore a baggy old sweatshirt and an over-large pair of worn-out, not stone-washed, jeans.  She carried a ragged backpack on her back.  Her hair appeared matted and her clothing filthy.  Her face and hands always looked somewhat clean, but Dane couldn’t vouch for the rest of her.  He never came close enough to smell her—he figured that would be much too close.  He only knew her from his side of the cash register.  She carried an inexpensive tablet computer in one hand, and her shopping in the crook of her arm.  The tablet possessed a broken screen with tape across one corner.  Dane was surprised it worked.

She shuffled, literally shuffled, to his aisle, the only one open at this time of night and lifted a half gallon of milk and a cheap loaf of bread to the counter.  At that moment, a group of four high school boys rushed up impatiently behind her.  They tried to beat her to the counter to pay for their power drinks and snacks, but arrived just a second too late.  They pressed right up behind her, but she didn’t budge an inch.

Before Dane could ring up her stuff, she announced in a very soft lilting voice, “It’s four dollars and sixty-three cents with tax.”

Dane turned her a strange look and ran the items through the scanner.  The total came back, four dollars and sixty-three cents.  Dane glanced at her, “You’re right.  Four dollars and sixty-three cents.  How are you going to pay tonight?”

She smiled and lifted her tablet, “Use my FastMart Bucks.”

“What’s your phone number?”

She glanced at her tablet, “253-280-7061.”

“The name on your account?”

“Billy Martin…”

Dane started to ask her to put her password into the keypad when a voice raised behind her, “Hey Billy, this girl is using your account.  She has your name and password and everything.”

A tall older teen pushed up to the front, “No way.”  He eyed the girl, “You’re stealing my credits…”  It was a statement.

The girl’s face froze.  She moved pretty quickly, but not quickly enough.  Billy Martin seized her by the arm and pulled her back toward himself, “How did you get my name and account information?”  He gripped her other arm and moved the tablet computer into his line of view.  He cursed, “She has everything listed right here.”  He shook her, “How did you get my information?”

There is the question of the moment and the question that launches this novel: how did you get my information?

The rest of this 100,000 word novel answers this question plus a host of others.  In this novel, Lilly is revealed from the shuffling homeless girl in this first scene to what she eventually becomes through the novel.  There is much much more to Lilly and Lilly.

This is my point and has been my point in using an initial scene to launch a novel.  The exciting and entertaining must come out in the initial scene.  Ultimately, the exciting and interesting that propels the novel is the protagonist—the focus of the initial scene.  Thus we have a protagonist, Lilly that everyone (including the writer) wants to know about.  I write, including the writer intentionally.

More than anyone, the writer invents a character, in this case Lilly.  Lilly is such an intriguing character that the writer wants to write a novel about her with the expectation that the readers will want to know Lilly.  The writer provides an incident from the life of Lilly that excites the reader and provides some kind of demarcation in the life of the protagonist that brings her and her life to the forefront.  As I’ve written before, a great initial scene is usually the initial meeting of the protagonist with the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper.  In the case of Lilly—this is the meeting of the protagonist and the protagonist’s helper.  Notice, this isn’t exactly the initial meeting—Dane has seen this girl before.  He just hasn’t become involved with her before.

Do you see how I, as the writer, picked the perfect (in my opinion) scene for their closer meeting?  Dane is familiar with this girl, but he doesn’t know who she is.  You can read the rest of the chapter on my website.

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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