Writing – part x380, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Deirdre

16 April 2018, Writing – part x380, Novel Form, A New Novel, Plot and Climax from the Initial Scene, Deirdre

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 Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.

This novel likely shows the strongest influence of pure initial scene development.  In writing the initial scene, I was completely focused on the scene and less on the characters.  The characters actually grew out of the initial scene.  To make the scene work, I needed to develop certain types of characters, but until I actually started writing the scene, the characters weren’t completely developed.  You might say, the initial scene actually drove the character development.  From my previous comments, this is not my usual method for novel development.

Usually, I design the characters and the setting first.  In the case of this novel, I also designed the setting to accommodate the initial scene.  In other words, the initial scene drove plot, characters, and setting.  To synopsize the differences, usually I hit on a character and a setting and wrap an entertaining initial scene around them.  In the case of Deirdre, I conceived an initial scene and designed characters and setting to fit the scene.

My initial scene concept flowed from the idea of a girl hiding in a boarding school, and not just hiding but rather attending school without anyone knowing she wasn’t supposed to be there.  I discovered this idea through writing about initial scenes for one of my writing blogs.  I was describing pathos developing characters.  A pathos developing character immediately evokes an emotional response in the reader.  A girl alone, illegally attending a boarding school to learn is a pretty pathos type character, especially for readers (readers are attracted to people who suffer for knowledge).

Thus, I proposed a great initial scene for a girl who is clandestinely attending a boarding school is when a new girl arrives who can see through the hiding girl’s secret.  Now the situation and the initial scene gets slightly complicated.  I’ll give you a piece of it so you can see what I mean.

Deirdre focused back on the classroom.  She spotted only one other person in the room.  She knew she arrived early—that was on purpose.  She wanted to miss the drama and unruly conduct—getting involved with drama and unruly conduct is what got her in trouble before.  She couldn’t properly handle conflict or unruly conduct, especially in the morning.

Deirdre stared at the other girl.  She sat in the last seat next to the window.  It was the seat Deirdre always coveted. She sniffed—it was already taken.  She cocked her head and squinted at the girl.  Something seemed off about her.  Deirdre scratched her cheek.  There was something strange about the girl’s clothing, but Deirdre couldn’t tell exactly what.  She squinted a little more.  The sun reflected across the courtyard and burst through the windows.  Deirdre caught both a whiff and a view.  As the early morning sunlight cascaded across the windows, the clothing of the girl in the corner desk suddenly changed.  At one moment, it appeared like the perfect uniform: pressed, dark blue, wrinkleless, tie tied exactly and correctly.  The next moment, everything changed.  The skirt appeared faded black and not blue.  The sweater looked threadbare and washed-out.  The shirt was entirely white and not pinstriped at all.  The tie was tied perfectly, but it was black and not the color of any house.

Deirdre smelled it too.  It was the sweet scent like honey in the comb.  Like boiled down sunlight and dandelions.  It could only be one thing, the scent of the power of the fae.  She thought it smelled particularly like potent fae glamour.  When the sunlight came back to normal brilliance, the girl’s uniform looked ordinary again. Deirdre knew some tricks she could use to cut through fae glamour, but she didn’t want to try them now.  She examined the girl.  She was short, perhaps as short as Deirdre.  That was part of Deirdre’s problem—she was short and very conscious of it.  The girl wasn’t well developed either—Deirdre was there too.  The girl looked thin—almost as thin as Deirdre.

She moved her attention to the girl’s face.  She was trying very hard to ignore Deirdre.  Her hair looked very dark—as dark as Deirdre’s hair was light.  The girl’s complexion was pale, as pale as Deirdre’s sickening strawberry light skin.  Her face was heart-shaped with a slightly pointed chin and thin cheeks.  Her dark hair fell long and loose.  Deirdre’s hair was strawberry blond and also long.  She had put it up in a tight French braid today.  Deirdre couldn’t see the girl’s ears. It suddenly became important for her to examine them.  She moved sidelong toward the back of the room and the girl.

When Deirdre came close, the girl shifted her seat closer to the window and she turned her head away.  By then, other girls began entering the classroom.  Deirdre didn’t take her focus off the girl, but she kept an eye on the others.  No one came close to her…to the two of them—that was good.

Deirdre sat in the chair next to the girl.  She carefully scooted her chair slightly away from the girl—she understood this exactly about herself.  She assumed others would also be uncomfortable with someone too close.  She could barely stand to have her mother, father, brothers, or sisters hug her—she never wanted anyone too close to her.  Deirdre checked her watch.  It was an awesome pilot’s watch she got from her sister, Sveta’s, husband, Daniel when they sent her off to Wycombe Abbey.  It wasn’t a girl’s watch at all—she loved it.  She still a little time before class began.

Deirdre turned her head down and slightly toward the girl, “Good morning.  I’m new here. Are you?”

The girl didn’t turn her head.  She seemed to make up her mind and hissed, “Read the atmosphere.”

Once an idea struck Deirdre, she never gave up, “I’m not used to being ignored.  I’m trying to be pleasant.  I’m new, and I’d like to make friends.”

The girl gripped the desk with white knuckles.  She made a strange sound under her breath and said a couple of ancient Gaelic words.

Deirdre waved her hands under her nose, “There isn’t a problem with your glamour, sweet.  It won’t work against me.”

The girl turned in shock toward Deirdre.  She stuttered, “It…it won’t work?”

“Not a wit.  I’m immune.”

The girl stood with a panicked look on her face.  Her clothing flickered for a moment then came back to its visible perfection.  The bell rang, and a tall smiling woman wearing a severe blue skirt suit and a poufy white blouse breezed into the room.  The girl sat firmly back in her seat.  Deirdre noticed her eyes were light grey, and her nose was slightly sharp like her chin.  Deirdre wasn’t sure if the girl was very beautiful or just very unusual looking.

The girl quickly pulled out her official briefcase and took out a pad, pen, and her Greek book for the class.  Deirdre copied her.  When the sunlight touched the briefcase, Deirdre noticed it looked much too worn with broken buckles and hand repaired corners and seams.  She didn’t get a very good look.  The Greek study book the girl had also appeared significantly worn.  Everything put together, Deirdre thought this entire meeting and this person was extremely peculiar.  She was so caught up in thought, she missed it the first time the teacher called her name, “Deirdre Effie Calloway…are you present, dear?”

Deirdre called out a little overloud and late, “Present.”

There are lots of ways I could have designed this little initial scene.  I chose to have the hidden girl using Fae glamour (the power of the Fae) to hide her poverty and lack.  Deirdre is able to see through Fae Glamour.  There are other ways you might develop this type of scene, but I used this one.  This is one of my signature styles and part and parcel of my Enchantment novels.

You can see the immediate theme question and plot question that comes out of the scene: who is this girl?  I mean this question in the broadest sense: who is this girl and why is she attending school this way?  There is much much more to this.  And I haven’t touched on the other question the scene brings up: who exactly is Deirdre Calloway?  It is one thing to have a girl using the power of the Fae to hide in plain sight—it is quite another to have a girl who can detect a girl hiding in plain sight.

I love this initial scene.  The novel it launched was a fun write, and I think, a fun read.  In this case, just the design of an initial scene drove characters, setting, and plot.  I think this is a neat lesson in the power and use of the initial scene.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:








fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


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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