Writing – part x379, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Sorcha

15 April 2018, Writing – part x379, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Sorcha

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 Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.

I really had fun with this novel, protagonist, and initial scene.  In the initial scene, Shiggy finds that she has been tranqued and tied up on a medical table in a mysterious place.  You need to know a little about Shiggy.  Shiggy is a member of the British intelligence community in training.  She has been in training in about nine different intelligence offices in the British government.  The problem is that Shiggy is a screw up.  She has been shuffled from office to office as she caused catastrophe after catastrophe.  In the end, the system and she ran out of options.

Shiggy is now in the hands of Sorcha, and Sorcha intends to fully train her.  Here is a clip:

Shiggaion Tash woke with a start.  Her eyes flew open.  Her mouth tasted vile and bitter like bile and chemicals.  She tried to swallow the taste away, but her throat felt bone dry.  Bright light shone all around her.  She tried to raise her hand to cover her eyes, but her arms wouldn’t move.  She tried her legs.  They wouldn’t move either.  She attempted to wrench her body around, but without any success.  She could move her head—at least that part of her didn’t seem to be completely immobilized.

At first, the light appeared so bright, she couldn’t make out anything.  Gradually, her eyes adjusted.  That seemed to take longer than usual.  She sniffed.  Her nose felt stuffed up.  Her mind couldn’t stop, never stopped evaluating. She put together everything she knew about drugs and anesthetics…and came up short.  Cocaine and other amphetamines caused some of these symptoms, but they weren’t anesthetics—they were stimulants.  What was the last thing she could remember?

The last event happened to be the hostage training exercise.  At the time, she fumbled her pistol and accidentally shot one of the hostages…whoops.  That would be another looming black mark on her ledger.  In her own records that made eight now.  Nine if you counted the accident during the Oxford laboratory lecture.  That one wasn’t entirely her fault.  She couldn’t review her classified records, so she didn’t know if they counted that one or not.

Ah, she remembered, right after she accidentally shot the hostage, she felt a sharp pain in her left buttocks.  They weren’t using real bullets, only laser gunfire trackers.  She sniffed and felt slightly miffed.  They shouldn’t get their panties in a wad about a little accident like that.  Well enough self-scrutiny—Shiggaion took a good look around.

She lay on a hard but padded surface.  A thin sheet lay over her, and she felt naked underneath.  That seemed slightly odd.  As she gained awareness, she felt a stinging on her left buttocks.  She cursed under her breath—they really didn’t have to knock her out for that slight infraction.  No one told her the evaluators were wielding tranq guns.

Shiggaion realized something like straps immobilized her arms and legs, but she couldn’t see them even if she depressed her head as far as it would go.  She lay in a very bright room.  The walls looked metallic white and very clean.  The room appeared smaller than she imagined at first.  The ceiling seemed to rise to a normal height.  The walls were close, but provided enough space to allow a couple of people to work around them.  Two walls looked like they held doors—also metal.  What was this place…a battleship?  One wall appeared too shimmery to be metal, but it was the same color as the rest of the walls.  Uh oh, Shiggaion knew what that meant—mirrored glass.  That would be an observation area.  Were they watching her?  That made her feel uncomfortable, but then she really began to feel uncomfortable—she needed to go.

How long had she been out, and how long here?  Where was here and why?  Everything seemed a bit over the top for accidentally shooting a hostage.  Admittedly, her classmates were becoming a little personal with their complaints and comments.  Shiggaion couldn’t help it if she was clumsy and a little slow about some things—in other things she excelled…, but she still had to go and bad.

Well whyever, she was here and for whatever reason, she knew the training protocol.  Shiggaion opened her mouth wide and called…only nothing came out… at first.  She swallowed a couple of times and tried it again.  At first, her voice sounded very weak.  It slowly grew in strength until she was finally able to yell, “Hello, is anyone there.  I need to go.”  The first cry she got out sounded like a whisper.  So she called again, and again, and again.  Until her voice eventually reached a very acceptable scream.  By that time, Shiggaion, was becoming desperate.  She needed to go, and the room felt cold.  She thrashed around on the table, but that didn’t do any good at all.  It wore her out, and stimulated her…um…going needs.  Why wasn’t anyone answering her?

Finally, she screamed, “Why isn’t anyone coming?  Why aren’t you following the training protocol?”

She heard a very loud click, and the door in front of her feet burst open.  A tall strawberry blond woman stood in it.  She wore a costly sequin and lace blouse, but Shiggaion couldn’t see any farther than that.  The woman’s face looked beautiful, like a model’s. She wore makeup, but it was very finely applied.  Her eyes looked large, the makeup accentuated that look.  Her nose and mouth were small, and her face heart-shaped.  Shiggaion thought the short hair didn’t fit her at all.  It made the woman’s very lovely face look larger and less feminine.

The woman threw open the door and yelled, “Shut up, Shiggy.  You’re disturbing my tea.”  In spite of the words, the woman sounded very aristocratic and Oxford.

In her own too Oxford accent, Shiggaion replied, “My name is Shiggaion, not Shiggy.  I will not answer to such an abominable term.”

The woman laughed, “You’ll answer to whatever name I care to call you, Shiggy.  You’re mine now—I bought you.”

“Release me immediately.  I need to go.”

“I really should make you beg for the privilege.”

Shiggaion became a little desperate.  She’d almost forgotten how badly she needed to go, and that very uncomfortable feeling came back full force.  “This isn’t allowed in the training protocol at all.  You must allow a trainee basic human amenities—the toilet is one of those.”

“Miss prissy pants, I know you have the training protocol memorized.  You’ve mentioned it over one hundred times in your many complaints during training.  I do not follow the training protocol.  As I said, you belong to me.”

“You mentioned that already.  In any case, if you don’t let me use the toilet, I shall have an accident right here.  That is obviously a breach of human rights as well as the training protocol.”

The woman smiled, “Would you like me to tickle you a bit?”

“What about basic human decency?”

“Human decency doesn’t apply to you at all.  If you soil my linens, table, or floor, I shall make you lay in it until your excrement dries.  Then you shall clean it all with your tongue.”

Tears leaked down the sides of Shiggaion’s face, “I shall endeavor to not soil anything, but I do need to go.”

“Then you must beg me for the privilege.”

“I’ve never begged for anything from anyone in my life.”

The woman leaned over Shiggaion.  Her face hovered just above Shiggaion’s.  Shiggaion thought for one moment about spitting in that smug face.  She quickly drowned that thought.  The woman touched Shiggaion’s lips, “You were thinking, you’d really like to spit in my face.  I told you, you belong to me.  You are my slave.  You must comply with my wishes.  If you don’t, I have leave to treat you in any way I please.  If you do, I have leave to treat you in any way I please.  Would you like me to tickle you?”

Just a little bit.  I know you want more.  When I wrote this, I was so excited to write about this character.  Shiggy is the perfect ne’er-do-well.  She is a slacker and a bit incompetent.  She is selfish and conniving.  I just had fun writing about the character, and Sorcha is her perfect foil.  Sorcha is a slacker and socially incompetent.  She is selfish and conniving.  She and Shiggy are similar except Sorcha is trained and Shiggy is not.  The training is the fun part.

From this initial scene (you can read the entire first chapter from my site atwww.ldalford.com under new novels) I built the entire novel about Shiggy’s training and education.  Let me point out, the character was fully developed.  The setting was fully developed.  The initial scene was fully developed.  All I needed was a plot to go with it.  The obvious theme and plot question from the initial scene is: how does one train a Shiggy.  This is the novel in a nutshell.

Now, I will admit, there was another subtheme I wanted to put into the novel.  My main prepub reader wanted a pursuit plot (or subplot) and I wanted to write one.  I built a great romance subtheme into Sorcha.  This was really fun to write too.

Again, the initial scene drove the entire novel.  I’ll say, although I loved the subtheme and the novel, it wasn’t as popular with my main prepub reader. Lady Wishart will get her.  I made it a pure pursuit novel.  We shall see.

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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