Writing – part x378, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Essie

14 April 2018, Writing – part x378, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Essie

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 Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.

Essie is my delightful protagonist.  In the initial scene, Mrs. Lyons captures Essie in her pantry.  Essie is naked, hungry, and dirty.  You can guess the question, who is Essie?  Indeed this is the theme question of the novel that drives the plot.

It gets a little deeper than that, but I wanted to convey this scene and this point as the first base in this novel.  Here is a little from the initial scene:

Mrs. Lyons, actually, Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons, who happened to once be married to Colonel Bruce Lyons, and who held onto the Mrs. and the Lyons as mementos although the man was long dead, heard a crash in her kitchen.  She was a light sleeper anyway, but the crash rang loud enough to wake the dead.  She reached under her pillow for the prototype Etan Arms AP-1 nine millimeter semi-automatic pistol she kept there.  She examined the sleek weapon, a gift from her favorite adopted great grandchild, Leila, and returned it, with the safety still on, to its hiding spot.

She slipped out of the covers as quietly as a very old woman could and instead of her pistol, picked up the heavy cane beside her bed.  She constantly carried it, not because she needed a cane, but because everyone expected her to carry one—she enjoyed the privilege and the recognition.  Mrs. Lyons was very old, but not weak, demented, or non-mobile.  She looked wrinkled and gray now, but didn’t care a lick about appearance anymore.  She still looked thin and athletic—about as athletic as she always was, which wasn’t very, but she could move as well if not better than a woman half her age.  So she imagined.

Mrs. Lyons pulled her dressing gown over her nightgown and hefted her cane.  She didn’t turn on any lights.  Her vision was still good, and her eyesight was already well adapted to the thick moonlight that shined outside her windows.  She walked through her open doorway and down the hall toward the front of the house.

Her country house was small, much smaller than the places she inhabited as a child, a young woman, or a married woman.  She was now a widow, and a small cottage in the country seemed to suit her.  The hallway led to a classic branch.  To the right, lay the foyer and front door.  The foyer opened to a dining room on the left and a parlor to the right.  To the left lay the servant’s quarters—none in use at the moment.  In front of her ran a short hall to a phone closet and a water closet—an odd combination to be sure.  To the right of that short extension, lay the dining room and to the left… the kitchen.

Mrs. Lyons heard another peculiar bump and then a thump from inside her kitchen—she strained to listen closer… or perhaps the sounds came from her pantry.  She held up her cane like a baseball bat and peeked around the opening into the kitchen.  She squinted in the darkness, but didn’t spot anything amiss.

She heard another thump.  Slurping sounds and a slight growl followed it.  Mrs. Lyons wondered at that.  The constable had reported thefts of food and unusual break-ins across the shire, but they seemed wholly of human origin.  This sounded…animal-like.

Mrs. Lyons almost continued on to the phone closet to ring the constable’s post in the village, but she realized no one would be on duty at this time of night.  She shrugged, and soundlessly—well, as soundlessly as she could, stepped into the kitchen.

She snuck around the cabinet side, where she knew none of the creaking boards would betray her, and almost tripped over a light metal boiler on the floor.  Her visitor must have knocked that from the counter.  With greater care, she slowly slipped to the pantry door.  The door stood open—of course it did.  She knew she had shut it tight after making her evening tea.

Mrs. Lyons brought her cane up in front of her, but with a slight cock for leverage.  She craned her neck around the opening to the pantry and kept to the shadows so she wouldn’t be backlit from the kitchen window.  Only a thin slice of the evening’s full moon shone through that window, and it lay to her side at the back of the kitchen.  She noted her kitchen’s outside door stood fully open and that let in more light than the lace covered window.  That door was also obviously how her little kitchen thief had entered.

Mrs. Lyons hefted her cane again.  She didn’t intend to use it, except in defense, but she did want to catch her little kitchen thief.  The sounds of eating, not pretty sounds at all, as well as growls rose out of the depths of the pantry.  Mrs. Lyons smelled the baked ham she’d put up for the weekend.  She spotted other odds and ends scattered on the shadowed floor of the pantry.  That put her immediately into a more indignant mood.  She didn’t like thieves, but she liked untidy thieves even less.

Mrs. Lyons pitched her cane back a bit more for leverage and pressed her elbow against the pantry light switch.  It was a new switch and not the old twist type.  With a push of her wrinkled elbow, the switch moved, the light came on with a fluorescent blink, and a startled cry emerged from the pantry.

Mrs. Lyons gasped.  Her gasp sounded almost as loud as the shocked yowl from inside her pantry.  A naked girl or young woman sat on the center counter and shielded her eyes.  She was completely starkers and trailed half of Mrs. Lyons’ baked ham from her mouth.

Mrs. Lyons finds a young woman in her pantry.  The question is what is she going to do about it.  I didn’t give you the capture of Essie, but I assure you, she is captured.  Now, Mrs. Lyons must determine what to do about this feral young woman.  The book is a revelation of Essie.  If you do some research on the Aos Si, you might begin to get the point of the novel, but there is more.

What I love about novels is how they have a focus and a life of their own.  A novel should never include anything that doesn’t lead to the climax, but in a complex novel, many instances and events point to the climax.  This is what makes characters and novels so fun.  Like some of my readers, I wish the novel could go on and on and on, but you have to cut it off somewhere and that is the climax.

I hope you can see that with a scene output, the plot of Essie can continue.  The question of who is Essie leaps from the initial scene.  The answer is an entire novel.  I will say, the climax is a bit unusual—the Queen is bitten and Essie escapes, but that is a fun and interesting plot.

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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