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 with http://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.
Here are my rules of writing:
1. Entertain your readers.
2. Don't confuse your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
A scene outline is a means of writing a novel where each scene follows the other with a scene input from the previous scene and a scene output that leads to the next scene. The scenes don't necessarily have to follow directly in time and place, however they generally follow the storyline of the protagonist.
A storyline outline is a means of writing a novel where the author develops a scene outline for more than one character and bases the plot on one or more of these storyline scenes. This allows the scenes to focus on more than the protagonist. This is a very difficult means of writing. There is a strong chance of confusing your readers.
Whether you write with a scene outline or a storyline outline, you must properly develop your scenes. All novels are developed from scenes and each scene has a design similar to a novel. Every successful novel has the following basic parts:
1. The beginning
2. The rising action
3. The Climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
Every scene has these parts:
1. The setting (where, what, who, when, how)
2. The connection (input)
3. The tension development
4. The release
5. The output
There are lots of approaches to scene setting. That means there are about a million plus ways you can set a scene. The main point is you have to clearly get across the where, when, who, what, and how.
I told you I would show you some examples. These are from the novel, Aksinya. First we have the beginning of the novel. This includes some very important scene and novel setting. Within this first part is the description of Aksinya. The description is wound up with the place setting. This is one method to set a scene and integrate the character description into it.
The dank stone room was filled with shadows. Every corner oozed darkness. Within a pentagram that was encompassed by a circle stood a slight young woman. Fat yellow beef-tallow candles marked the points of the pentagram and weakly illuminated only the area around her. A brazier of incense filled the room with the scent of myrrh along with an underlying smell that was indeterminate, but left a taste of blood in the mouth. The woman was dressed in a black gown that was much too large for her. Beautiful hand made lace cascaded down the front of the dress and decorated the sleeves. Thick velvet competed with black satin to form a perfect attire to greet a Tsar, but certainly not a commissar. The gown fell loosely away from the woman’s thin chest and small breasts. It looked odd draped on her body, like a girl playing dress-up from her mother’s closet. But this gown obviously came from the closet of a princess.
Aksinya, the woman within the pentagram, squinted across the dark cellar. She was barely eighteen and much too thin for her age. She was petit; that was a polite way of saying small. And underdeveloped, that was a polite way of saying she didn’t yet appear much like a woman. Aksinya’s hair was dark brown and silky and beautiful, bound up in a long braid, but her face was plain and Russian, so Russian. Her voice was soft and sometimes too shrill. When she was excited it rose in strength and pitch, so she never sounded very mature or well mannered.
Aksinya stood in the middle of the pentagram. She held a book in one hand, and the bodice of the dress in the other. It kept falling away from her chest and although there was no one to see, she felt uncomfortable and underdressed when it did. She squinted across the cellar again and focused back on the book. She knew the words and the pictures in the book by heart. She had memorized them long ago, but still she sought them like an anchor against the storm she was about to release. In the dark—she hadn’t thought about how dark it would be, she could barely read the text. Finally, she took up an extra taper from the floor and lit it from the closest candle. She had to hold the taper in one hand and the book in the other, which almost completely revealed her chest, but that couldn’t be helped now.
This initial description of Aksinya is about 420 words long. There is more to her description that is included in the first scene. You should read it again to get the full effect of the narrative and description.
The next description is that of the demon. This description is also intermeshed in the rest of the description and action in the scene. The demon gets over 300 words.
A great roar filled the cellar, and she almost dropped. She didn’t. Her voice rang out more clearly. A hot sulfurous wind rushed through the place and Aksinya smiled. Then she forced her face back to blandness. There was a dark flash, a scream like the sound of metal cutting metal, and across the cellar, in the corner suddenly was a shape.
Immediately, Aksinya’s words changed. They words of enticing and cajoling became those of welcoming and greeting. They leapt automatically from her lips. As she spoke, she carefully watched the shape across the room. It began to move. At first it slowly rose and fell as though it was just beginning to breathe, and then it began to grow. It unfolded like a flower, but this flower was like nothing beautiful the earth had ever seen. It was man-shaped and black. Its skin and muscles clung to it as though it was only bone and muscle without any fat at all. When it had unfolded completely, it touched the top of the ceiling, at least seven feet tall. More than two meters. Its limbs were long and at the end of its fingers were talons and of its feet were claws. They were black too. It’s face was black and handsome. Fangs jutted out of its lips on the top and the bottom, but the face was aristocratic and fine. At its head were ears that lifted up points like an animal and horns at either side.
The creature was naked, and Aksinya’s eyes moved almost without her control downward. There was nothing there. It was like an expurgated statue. There was nothing but a pubic bulge. Aksinya wasn’t certain whether to be disappointed. She raised her hands in the final greeting and let them fall.
Next, we have the initial description of Natalya. Natalya is the girl whom the demon forces Aksinya to accept as her lady-in-waiting. We get more about Natalya later, but this is the initial description.
“Your estate now…” the demon purred. He continued, “They are an aristocratic family, a royal family. They have a servant who takes care of their daughters and waits on the Prince’s wife. She is a lady-in-waiting, and here she is. Near the head of the table, the door opened. It wasn’t a door for a servant since the top was rounded. The girl who came in was petite and beautiful. Her hair was dark and silky. Her eyes were luminous. Her skin was pale and smooth. In all, she appeared very aristocratic and refined. Her clothing, likewise, though not as expensive as the gowns of the ladies around the table, fit her perfectly and brought out the best in her figure and features. It was not unusual that when she entered, the eye of every man and every woman turned toward her. She whispered to one of the older women at the table and sat against the wall behind her.
When you introduce a character, spend at least 100 to 300 words introducing them to us. That introduction is a description of their features, movements, and clothing. I'll give you more examples, tomorrow.
My Notes: once you have a theme, you need to begin to visualize your plot, focus your theme, and define your characters. More tomorrow.
I'll move on to basic writing exercises and creativity in the near future.
The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel creation....ie, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques.
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.centurionnovelthesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor, http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.