Writing – part x869, Writing a Novel, Changing World and Truth

18 August 2019, Writing – part x869, Writing a Novel, Changing World and Truth

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

What is truth?  Actually, this isn’t a very difficult question to answer.  My personal opinion is that a person who doesn’t know how to discover the truth is uneducated and inexperienced.  The Greeks developed the three means to know truth starting back about 500 BC.

Around 500 BC, the Greeks realized that it might be a good idea to write down human history.  The Hebrews had been doing this for a while before the Greeks, and the Greeks might have gotten their ideas from the Hebrews, but the Hebrews’ focus wasn’t on human history or really Hebrew history.  The Hebrew’s focus was on the revelation of Jehovah (God) in their history.  Some other groups had written about spiritual revelations, but most of those were not concerned with history.  What the Greeks realized was the means to determine truth in the record of history.

I’m not asserting that they accomplished this immediately or that they had a coherent plan to design the historical-legal method, but the method for knowing truth in history, the historical-legal method, was the result of their development of recording history.

The historical-legal method was the first method developed by the Greeks to know truth.  As the name implies, it is used for history and in legal proceedings.  Once I remind you, you will recognize the background of this method.  Here’s how the historical-legal method works.

First, we take a record of history or in the case of a legal proceeding, we take a witness.  The record of history is also called a witness.  There are three types of witnesses: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  A primary witness is an eyewitness.  Just like a court of law, in history, the primacy of witness places an eyewitness (primary witness) as the most reliable source.  An eyewitness is a witness who actually saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and/or felt the event or occurrence.  In history, just as in a court, a primary witness is considered the most accurate witness.  In a court where I might have more than one eyewitness, the court (jury and/or judge) must weigh the value, knowledge, and quality of the witnesses.  You see this all the time in sports where the judges (umpires) view multiple replays to determine if a play was legal or not.  In a court of law, the verdict of the judges and jury might determine the fate of a person.  In most cases, only eyewitnesses are allowed.  In history, a secondary witness is considered inferior to a primary witness, but it is used and worthwhile.  A secondary witness is the record of an eyewitness taken by another source.  For example, Mary Todd Lincoln was an eyewitness to her husband’s (President Lincoln) death.  Mary Todd Lincoln’s self-authored, recorded (there was no recording machines at the time), or directly quoted account of the event would be considered a primary source.  On the other hand, if a journalist interviewed Mary Todd outside the Ford Theater, that journalist’s account would be considered a secondary witness.  In a court of law, a secondary witness is called a hearsay witness.  It is usually not allowed.  A secondary witness is well accepted in history.  However, the rule of primacy always applies.

The rule of primacy is that an eyewitness account is always considered more accurate than a secondary account, and a secondary witness is always considered more accurate than a tertiary account.  Very rarely are primary accounts ever discounted in history.  There would have to be overwhelming evidence that the primary source was wrong or mistaken.  In almost one hundred percent of the cases in historical evidence a primary source is always trusted more than a secondary or tertiary witness. There is much more to this, but you likely would like to know what a tertiary source is.

A tertiary source is one that is not primary or secondary.  A tertiary source is a history book, or should I write a book about history.  This is why historians and historical fiction writers don’t use history books to write their histories or historical fiction.  Historians always use primary and secondary sources if they have them.  They only rely on tertiary sources if there is no other option.  In a court of law, only a primary witness is used to prove the truth of what happened.  And here is the point of everything.

The historical-legal method is used to prove the truth of events that happened or could happen only once.  It is specifically used to prove the truth of events in history, historical events.  This is how you can prove that certain historical figures lived, events occurred, and things happened.  There is no other method, and stuff before human literacy or literary evidence becomes impossible to prove historically.  However, in history, every piece of evidence is a piece of evidence.  You can’t discount any account of history that is declared to be history and asserted to be a primary, secondary, or tertiary source…unless you have another source of equal measure that directly contradicts your source.

For example, let’s say Caesar (pick one) wrote that he crossed the Rhine River on 2 July 60 AD and engaged the Teutonic forces of Beowulf.  During the battle the Romans were being overcome but Caesar had his personal priest sacrifice to the goddess Diana and as a result, the rain began and flooded the positions of Beowulf.  Caesar is an eyewitness (primary source), and none of his account can be debated unless you have another source of better primacy.  Let’s say after the battle Caesar’s priest interrogated the captured Beowulf (that’s a secondary source).  Beowulf said his priest predicted they would win the battle and the rain caught them all by surprise, but he thought the Roman’s training and weapons were what won the day.  As a historian, you can’t discount Caesar’s account or opinions.  That doesn’t mean you have to accept his worldview.  It means, you must accept his record of the events, about Caesar’s opinions, that’s something else.  He is a primary source.  On the other hand, Beowulf’s account is a secondary source.  You might agree with his opinion more than Caesar’s but as a historian, all you can do is corroborate the events.  If Beowulf in any way contradicted Caesar, you are required by primacy of witness to accept Caesar’s account.  Further, if the priest’s son who was not present at the battle wrote an account, his record of his father’s remembrances would be secondary, but anything else would be tertiary.

The historical-legal method is what we use today to prove history (non-repeatable events).

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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