23 April 2012, Development - Tension in 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.
Your first scene/chapter must be exciting, entertaining, and encourage your reader to continue to read. Now is not the time to be squeamish. If your novel doesn't start at an exciting point, now is the time to rewrite it that way. If you have a prologue, now is the time to get rid of it. If you have an introductory scene, delete it. The most important and critical point is that your novel must begin with some degree of excitement and entertainment.
I would argue that if you follow my advice on scene development, you should be half there. The point to add is the tension development that leads to the theme. If you designed your characters adequately, and your plot and theme flows out of them, then your first scene tension development should envelope the theme and drive the first scene.
What do I mean by that? If you go to www.novelscene.wordpress.com, you will see a long discussion on tension and release. Tension development is the means you use in writing a scene to create excitement and entertainment in a scene. In your first scene, this tension development must incorporate the theme and drive the theme.
Aksinya is an excellent example. Two of the main characters are introduced in the first scene--this is normally appropriate for any novel. Expect to introduce the protagonist and either the antagonist or the protagonist's helper. This is what Aksinya does. I'll stop there for today.
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/.