24 April 2012, Development - Purpose of the 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.
The absolute purpose of the first scene/chapter is to convince a reader to buy your novel. If you can't capture them with the first scene/chapter, they won't read your novel. Many say you must capture your reader with the first page, sentence, paragraph. This isn't all there is, but those are good rules to write by too. If a reader doesn't like the first sentence, they might not read the first paragraph, which means they won't read the rest of the page, etc. I'll give a reader the benefit of the doubt. I don't remember the first sentence of almost any novel I've read. I've read some pretty bad first sentences, and I will say that negative impression stuck with me through the book. Usually because the writer wasn't very good.
In any case, the focus here must be the first scene. The reason I keep writing scene/chapter is because, many readers will read the whole chapter in a "Look Inside" feature. If they "Look Inside" and don't like what they see, they will not continue the novel (they won't buy it). Therefore, if your first chapter (or the look inside feature) is more than a single scene, you need to make certain the whole chapter showcases your novel.
The big deal is excitement and entertainment. I mentioned yesterday that Aksinya is an excellent example of a novel where the protagonist and the antagonist are introduced in the first scene. We'll talk about this tomorrow.
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/.