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.
When you complete a novel, you need some sense of completion. I didn't feel that the end at the second climax of Aksinya was sufficient. That's why I added this last scene. I wanted to give the reader a completion of Aksinya, Natalya, and Ernst's lives. This isn't the end, but it certainly completes an entire epoch in their lives.
The door opened a crack, “Mrs. Aksinya Andreiovna Lopuhin, please enter.”
Aksinya stood and entered the office. The headmistress had her back to Aksinya and walked back to her desk. The woman seemed young. Very young for a headmistress. One shoulder drooped a little lower than the other, but her back was ramrod straight and her clothing was very fine, much finer than Aksinya’s.
The desk was large and filled one end of the room. The office was rather deep and had a fireplace on the left wall. Some padded chairs and a simple tea table were arranged before the fireplace. An unpadded chair sat before the desk. Without turning, the headmistress pointed to that chair. Aksinya stood beside it and waited for the headmistress to sit.
The moment the headmistress turned, Aksinya dropped her briefcase. Her mouth fell open. She couldn’t speak.
The woman before her gave a cry, “Princess Aksinya.” She rushed around the desk and embraced her.
Aksinya couldn’t get her breath she couldn’t speak. Finally, she threw her arms around the headmistress and exclaimed, “Lady Natalya.”
Natalya buried her face in Aksinya’s thick braided hair and blubbered. They stood together for a long time without saying anything. Finally, Natalya spoke, “I thought I would never see you again, Princess.”
Aksinya kissed her cheeks, “Dear Lady Natalya, I would never have guessed I would find you here. Is Herr von Taaffe with you?”
Natalya gave a laugh, “I am Mrs. Natalya Alexandrovna von Taaffe, though not called a Lady anymore. And you?”
“Father Dobrushin married me although he is not a priest anymore, and I am no longer a Princess.”
Natalya’s moist eyes held Aksinya’s, “You will always be a Princess. My lady’s maid told me you were looking for a job.”
“Please, Lady Natalya, I’m certain you would not wish to have me around you all the time. I know I will bring back terrible memories to you.”
“You don’t understand at all Princess. You are the reason I am here today. Wait with me for a while. Let me hear all that has happened to you since we parted, then we will have luncheon with Sister Margarethe, and we will discuss your teaching work in my school.”
“Sister Margarethe is also here?”
“Herr von Taaffe retained her as our housekeeper. She converted to Russian Orthodox and entered an order in the
Our school is loosely affiliated with United
States .” Natalya held Aksinya at arms length and
looked her over, “Dear friend, we have so much to talk about and so much to
share. I do love you, Princess. I want you to remain with us forever.” Saint John’s
“In spite of everything that happened?”“Because of everything that happened before. That time marked the end of a horrible and wonderful period, yet redemption came to you, to me.” She held Aksinya close, “I could not bear to lose you again, Aksinya. You redeemed me, the first of many. You shall redeem many more. God exceeded our expectations in spite of what we had done.”
So, we learn what happened to Natalya. We learned what happened to Ernst. We learned what will happen to Aksinya--she will find a job with her friend, Natalya, and with Sister Margarethe. The reader realizes that this isn't the end of the whole tale. It is certainly the end of the novel--it isn't the end of the lives of the characters. There is no purpose in continuing the story because the plot and theme have been played out. They have run their course. Finally, the reader gets a statement of the theme of the novel. This is the last paragraph. Most authors don't give you such a clear statement of the theme--I thought it was important here. Notice, it is provided by the conversation of a secondary character.
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.
For more information, you can visit my author site www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel, http://www.centurionnovel.com, www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, thefoxshonor, aseasonofhonor.