26 April 2012, Development - 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.
Classically, one method to ensure the proper focus and excitement of the first scene in your novel is to use the first scene where the protagonist and the antagonist interact. I'm sure you can remember some novels where this is so: for example, Kidnapped, Treasure Island, The Fountainhead come immediately to mind. There are many others. I'll remind you that Aksinya does too.
Another classical method of developing excitement is to use the first scene to introduce the first or an early interaction of the protagonist and the protagonist's helper. This is often used in romance (not necessarily romantic) novels. This type of introduction works best for love stories, but can be expanded beyond those types of plots. We see in Akinysa that the introduction of the protagonist's helper, Natalya, is a very exciting scene.
In general, scenes that have a strong chance of being exciting are those where the protagonist and antagonist interact. Likewise, the protagonist and the protagonist's helper interaction can also be an exciting scene.
Back to the main point. Your initial scene must be exciting and entertaining. One way to accomplish this is by using a classical development--the interaction of the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist's helper to build an exciting first scene. Not introducing the protagonist at all is a bad plan. We'll look at this and other potential openings, tomorrow.
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/.