Announcement: My novels Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness are about to be published. I write this blog about 2 months prior to its publication. I just heard that the proofs will be here soon--likely before the end of the week. My publisher also wants to put the entire set of novels based on Aegypt on contract--that's 5 more novels for 8 total. They also want to put my other novels on contract. The release schedule should be one novel every 2 months. I'll keep you updated.
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 many 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.
Here is another example of scene setting from the novel, Aksinya. I'm giving you examples from the book so you can see different ways of introducing and writing a scene. In each snippet, you get the scene setting, the tension and release, and the input and output. This isn't true of every example, but the pieces should be there, and I've been trying to identify for you when all the pieces aren't evident. You can use these ideas to guide your own writing. Make sure you set the scene properly, then make everything come to life through the narration and conversation.
There is a continuing misunderstanding about Aksinya--I intentionally build these. The readers know Aksinya's mind. They know why she clings to Dobrushin. Father Makar does not know why--he imagines it is part of her problem. It is part of her problem, but it has a reason other than insanity. It is not necessarily insanity for a person to cling to another, but I put in place a pathetic action by Aksinya. She clings like a child to Dobrushin--this is what Father Makar observes. Father Makar has decided Aksinya's problem is mental. He can, in his worldview, imagine anything else. The reader knows Aksinya's actions are completely reasonable.
Aksinya would not let Dobrushin go. She held to him even as she sat and would not release his arm. He moved his chair closer to her so he could sit. Ekaterina placed a mug of hot dark tea before each of them. She sat down.
Father Makar squinted, “Look how she clings to you. Didn’t I tell you before, Dobrushin, she displays every indication of insanity? You traded your future for this,” he pointed at Aksinya.
“I know what I have done.”
“You spent all your remaining funds on her too.”
“I have bought a pearl of great price.”
“You are insane, Dobrushin. Why did you come back here? What do you want from me?”
Aksinya stuck her head forward, a little around Dobrushin, “We came to ask you to marry us.”
“To marry you? Are you both idiots? Dobrushin, what have you traded your future for?”
Dobrushin set his features, “Father Makar, we will be married whether you do it or not. We need to be married immediately. Either you do it or the Rathaus.”
“The Rathaus is closed for the day.”
Dobrushin grimaced, “This may be a matter of life and death. We had to make our plans. I had to propose. It was too late after that.”
Father Makar snorted, “You know what I think about all of this. Why don’t you go find a priest who will marry you tomorrow?”
“You know the problem. The Catholics have excommunicated Princess Aksinya. The Rathaus will do it, but this is a sacrament.”
“Others might do it for you.”
Ekaterina put her hand on Father Makar’s, “Makaruska, do you really wish them to be wed anywhere but here? They intend to do this. You know Dobrushin’s purpose. Grant them this small gift. I shall witness and you shall witness. Anything else would be wrong. You know that.”
Father Makar sighed, “I do understand. I just do not want to encourage this foolishness.”
Ekaterina stared at him, “This is not a sin. There is nothing wrong with marriage or marrying them. She is a Princess. He is the son of a Count. Their ranks are unmatched but acceptable. They would not come here together like this if they did not both agree. Do this for them and that will be the end of it all.”
“The end of it all?” asked Aksinya around Dobrushin.
“The end of these matters that have plagued Father Makar since you came to the Ecclesia last year.”
Aksinya turned them a curious look.
Dobrushin quickly continued, “Please, Father Makar, marry us and that will be the last favor I ask of you. We will go, and you will likely not see us again.”
“I will marry you, but you will not stay under this roof any more. I told you that when you left before. That means I will not untie your crowns either.”
“I understand. That was the agreement we made.”
“Come then. Quickly.”They stood. Dobrushin helped Aksinya take off her new coat. Ekaterina kissed Aksinya’s cheeks. She brushed Aksinya’s lengthening hair. Then they entered the Ecclesia together.
The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: I am awaiting for you to write a detailed installment on identifying, and targeting your audience, or audiences...ie, multi-layered story, for various audiences...like CS Lewis did. JustTake care, and keep up the writing; I am enjoying it, and learning a lot.