17 August 2018, Writing – part x503, Developing Skills, Build a Scene, Input
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.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
- 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:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- 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.
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’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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.
For novel 30: 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.
Here is the scene development outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Today: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and then writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing). If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.
With a character, we now can move into the mechanics of the writing.
Here is my expected scene setup.
- Initial scene: General Bolang informs Sorcha and Deirdre that they are going off to a Catholic girl’s boarding school instead of to aviation training. He gives them reasons, and sends them off. This is the output.
- Based on the expected output, Deirdre and Sorcha are taken or go to school. Somehow I need to give them no options to escape. They inspect the school and the output is the end of the day.
- First day of class is the obvious input. The output will be their investigation of the off areas in the school that they observed. Perhaps they will talk to the teachers and the students.
The first item in scene development is the input. There is an implied input to the initial scene. The author develops the implied input for the initial scene. In the case of the novel I’m contemplating, the implied input comes from another novel I wrote, Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The implied input doesn’t have to come from another novel, and in general, the author doesn’t start writing with the implied input.
The implied input is implied. The quickest way to turn off your readers is to begin with a prologue or any other scene or novel prehistory. Don’t do it. For the initial scene, you just jump into the action and the scene. The initial scene must be action oriented. Dialog is plenty of action, but the greater the action the better.
You clean up the rest of the implied part with explanation as necessary in the following scenes. For example, in the novel I’m contemplating, it begins with the fight between Deirdre and Sorcha and their current guardian. The reasons for the fight come out—in the fight. This is a gotta be. When you are fighting in real life, everyone knows the reasons, until you forget them. In a fight in a novel, just like dialog in general in a novel, the author controls the dialog and inserts logical and obvious clues and conversation that provides the information the readers need to fill in the blanks. Here’s an example:
Deirdre twitches her lip, “You promised to teach us until we could attend Cranwell.”
General Bolang, “Well, Mademoiselle Deirdre, that can’t be. At the moment, I must deploy with my command, and you two must go to school.”
And so on. I haven’t written the dialog yet, but you get the idea. In two sentences of dialog, I’ve told you most of the input for the scene. Maybe this is difficult for you–it is a skill you must learn. I find it to be basic to writing. Notice, I didn’t tell you—I showed you. The following is telling:
Deirdre was promised by her mother that General Bolang would train her and Sorcha in the field of aviation until they were ready to attend Cranwell.
Not only is this the dreaded omniscient voice, it is in passive voice and all telling. Don’t tell.
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