Writing – part x803, Writing a Novel, Changing World, Love and Vocabulary

13 June 2019, Writing – part x803, Writing a Novel, Changing World, Love and Vocabulary

Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment.  I’ll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher.  More information can be found atwww.ancientlight.com.  Check out my novels–I think you’ll really enjoy them.

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 withhttp://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.

     4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.

  1. 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)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. Write the dénouement scene

I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential titleBlue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.  The theme statement is: 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 cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30thnovel, working title Red Sonja.  I finished my 29th novel, working titleDetective.  I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.

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 30:  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 31:  Deirdre and Sorcha are redirected to French finishing school where they discover difficult mysteries, people, and events.

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          

Today:  Why don’t we go back to the basics and just writing a novel?  I can tell you what I do, and show you how I go about putting a novel together.  We can start with developing an idea then move into the details of the writing.

To start a novel, I picture an initial scene.  I may start from a protagonist or just launch into mental development of an initial scene.  I get the idea for an initial scene from all kinds of sources.  To help get the creative juices flowing, let’s look at the initial scene.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. Indirect introduction of the protagonist

The protagonist is the novel and the initial scene.  If you look at the four basic types of initial scenes, you see the reflection of the protagonist in each one.  If you noticed my examples yesterday, I expressed the scene idea, but none were completely independent of the protagonist.  Indeed, in most cases, I get an idea with a protagonist.  The protagonist is incomplete, but a sketch to begin with.  You can start with a protagonist, but in my opinion, as we see above, the protagonist is never completely independent from the initial scene.  As the ideas above imply, we can start with the characters, specifically the protagonist, antagonist or protagonist’s helper, and develop an initial scene.

Let’s look at a subject that is really ignored in the modern era.  I’m not certain how much this can help your current writing.  I would argue that theoretically, this subject can really help those who write historical and futuristic fiction.  It depends on how your write your historical and futuristic fiction.  There are two ways to write historical fiction—let’s look at this.

The first and most common way to write historical fiction is to write a novel that projects modern ideas and history as historical ideas and history.  In other words to present modern ideas and historical ideas as the same.  I think this is perhaps the most egregious and perverse means of presenting a false view of history.  The author is either completely ignorant of the past, is intentionally attempting to education people in a false view of history, or both.  The real historical world is very different both culturally and socially from our current world.  The true author attempts to convey this in historical writing.

The second and less common means of historical writing is to actually incorporate the past into a novel to convey the actual way people thought and acted in the past.  This approach actually goes back into time to give a complete view of the way the people thought and acted.  To this end, let’s look at how the world changed and how people thought in the past.  This is more of a historical look at the world for the purpose of understanding how the world worked in the past and how people thought and acted.  We’ll use historical information to see what concerned affected their lives. Here is a list of potential issues.  We’ll look at them in detail:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Ideas
  3. Social construction
  4. Culture
  5. Politics
  6. History
  7. Language
  8. Common knowledge
  9. Common sense
  10. Reflected culture
  11. Reflected history
  12. Reflected society
  13. Truth
  14. Food
  15. Weapons
  16. Transportation
  17. Communication
  18. Writing

The first subject I want to look at is vocabulary.  Vocabulary has changed enormously in every language, but there is much more to this subject than simply using different words for things.  The first is that in any culture, words are loaded with significance.  This is especially true with time and changes in culture and society.

If you are writing historically accurate novels then the concepts of changing vocabulary are very important to you.  If you are trying to write in a way that communicates powerfully and historically in modern or futuristic fiction, the concepts of changing vocabulary are critical to you.  If you didn’t notice, changing vocabulary is directly connected with changing ideas in history.  We don’t use the same vocabulary, the word meanings have changed with time, and the very ideas represented by the words have changed significantly.  This is a very important thing to recognize because there are two ways to write historical fiction and, indeed, all fiction.

The first way to write fiction is to write from a current cultural framework.  In this modern cultural framework, only modern ideas have any validity.  All cultures are measured by some type of cultural ruler.  In a current cultural framework, the “cultural ruler” is the very limited view of the writer with every cultural bias exposed.  Taken to an extreme, compared to a current cultural framework, every culture in the past is unworthy, immoral, unjust and abusive.  Or, if the writer is absolutely ignorant of historical cultures, then the historical culture looks just like the world today.  The characters might walk around in old-fashioned clothing in historical settings, but they act, speak, and think just like people today.  So, if you write from a current cultural framework, you aren’t writing about the real world at all.  You simply have cultural blinders on and can’t express the world of the past at all.  Either you white wash everything without any understanding of the past, or you couch everything in negative terms and invalidate every positive aspect of the society you are writing about.  I think using a current cultural framework is a terrible way to write.  In fact, the current cultural framework results in poor historical, modern, and science fiction writing.

When you write using a current cultural framework (usually your cultural framework), you insert your impression of your culture over the novel.  In a historical novel this is exactly what you don’t want to do.  In a modern novel, don’t you want to reflect the culture of the novel?  In many cases, that culture is not yours at all.  In a science fiction novel, you are writing about a culture developed from some current culture, but it should not be your impression of the current culture.

To write using the framework of a historical culture, you need to know that culture the best you can.  I also helps if you can sympathize with that culture.  You don’t have to agree with it, but if you hate it or even dislike it, how can you write effectively about it.

I have written multiple historically based novels.  Some of these are about slave based cultures.  I don’t agree with slavery of any type, but to write these novels, I read every historical primary and secondary source I could get.  I tried to think and feel like the people in the cultures I was writing about.  At the same time, I was able to bring out the problems in their cultures.  The point is to produce a fictional work that relates the times of the setting as closely as possible to the historical time.  This makes your work as close as possible to the history of the times and not just modern people walking around in old fashioned clothing.

I write science fiction and modern fiction as well.  When I write it, I try to understand the culture of the setting in the same way as I do for historical novels.  This is easier than writing historical fiction, but it still requires research and work.  For science fiction, I develop a new culture based on a modern cultural framework.  Like modern fiction, I research the basic culture I’m starting with and extrapolate the culture of the novel.

If you look at my science fiction, they start with the Anglo-Saxon culture as the basis for the design.  I chose this culture for historical reasons, and to reflect a feudal type culture in the far future.  The point is to make our writing as real and historically accurate as possible.

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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