27 April 2012, Development - and more on Classical First Scene
Introduction: I realized that I need to introduce this blog a little. I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. The working title was Daemon, and this was my 21st novel. Over the last year, 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.
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.
If you haven't guessed yet, I've left this up because I plan to use it in the future as we move through development. The steps in making and using a character in a novel are as follows:
1. Development of the character (history, description, personality, etc.)
2. Revelation of the character (within the novel, show don't tell)
a. Description of the character - introduction
b. Voice of the character
c. Continuing revelation by showing
In a classical plot (and in most of my novels) you have a protagonist, an antagonist, and a protagonist's helper. If you develop these three characters for a novel, the plot will naturally fall out of the development of the characters.
In a typical novel, you introduce the protagonist in the first scene. If you don't, you will likely be causing problems for yourself and your novel. There are novels in which the protagonist is not introduced in the first scene. I'll discuss those today.
My published novel, Centurion, does not introduce the protagonist, antagonist, or protagonist's helper during the first scene. The first scene begins with the protagonist's mother. The scene itself sets up the entire novel, and it is a poignant scene. Should it have been more exciting? I already made my confessions about the first scenes of my novels. I think for Centurion, it started in the right place and with the proper amount of energy. I think this because two publishers pursued me for the rights to publish the novel. It is, to date, my most popular novel.
Centurion shows that excitement and entertainment are not always fighting, guts, and glory. The excitement and entertainment in the first scene can come as an emotional event as well as an action event. I will warn you, if you can start a novel on an action event--do it. An emotional event will work, just read the first chapter of Centurion and tell me what you think.
I'll expand on this idea tomorrow--that is when the protagonist isn't introduced in the first scene.
I'll explain more about tension and first scene development. I'll talk about characteristics that make a bad first scene/chapter eventually.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.