Announcement: There is action on my new novels. The publisher renamed the series--they are still working on the name. I provided suggestions as did one of my prepub readers. Now the individual books will be given single names: Leora, Leila, Russia, Lumiere', China, Sveta, and Klava--at least these are some of the suggestions. They are also working on a single theme for the covers. 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.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don't confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don't show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of my newest novel, Valeska, is this: An agent of the organization becomes involved with a vampire girl during a mission, she becomes dependent on the agent, and she is redeemed.
Here is my proposed cover for Valeska:
The plot is developed directly from the theme. The first steps are fleshing out the characters (not accomplished in the novel, but before writing the novel) and the setting. The main characters and the setting come directly out of the theme. The characters are revealed through the storyline that is based on the plot. Then how do you get to the plot?
I promised you the scene. Here is the first part. Notice, the scene is set: time, place, characters, and then the characters are set in motion.
At 1900 on Friday, 19 December George and Heidi stood in front of the Lyons House. Two new stone lions sat at either side of the very large oak door. The house the door fronted was large and beautiful. Its facing was stone and brick in the emperor style. It looked very old. George wore a suit and an inexpensive Christmas tie. Heidi wore a very frilly white dress that had red and green panels on the skirt and the top. She wore a jaunty beret that was made of the same white lace, red, and green material as the dress. It was a warm enough evening that they didn’t require their coats. The ground was wet, but the rain had stopped earlier in the afternoon.
A young looking butler opened the door to them, “Good evening. I’m Harold, the butler. May I announce you?”
George proffered his invitation, “George Mardling and my niece Heidi Mardling.”
The butler smiled, “The receiving line just ended. Please follow me.”
They stepped through the door and the butler closed it after them. Harold stepped ahead of them. Heidi whispered to George, “Did you time our arrival to intentionally miss the receiving line?”
George grinned behind his hand, “I don’t have to give up all my trade secrets, do I?”
The butler led them down the hallway off the foyer. It opened into a classical large ballroom with twin staircases at the back. The interior was made of dark and ancient wood. The rugs were Turkish and slightly ragged. Heidi cocked her head, “A very wealthy and old family.”
George smiled back, “Perhaps.”
The room was not filled with people, but at least fifteen couples stood in the space. Buffet tables filled with food and drink were under the stairs. A quartet at the left side played Christmas music and classics. Harold, the butler, led Heidi and George toward a handsome middle-aged couple at the side. The man was medium height and shorter than George. His hair was light brown and his features were fine but nondescript. He had a very pleasant face with a few wrinkles--most seemed to grace his eyes and lips as though he was used to smiling.
The woman was slight, petite and exquisitely beautiful. Her skin was the color of cappuccino. Her hair was black, long, and silky. Her eyes, more appropriate on an Egyptian tomb painting were large and brown and exotic. She seemed to have an almost timeless look, but slight wrinkles marked her eyes and lips in almost the same measure as the man—as though they had known many of the same joys and sorrows.
The butler stepped to the side, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Long, may I present Mr. George Mardling and his niece Ms. Heidi Mardling.”
Mrs. Long stepped forward and put her hand out to Heidi. She had a very bright smile on her face. She took Heidi’s hand and her eyes went wide. Heidi released her hand immediately. Mrs. Long was breathless. She stammered a little, “Good evening. I’m Sveta Long.”
Heidi made a deep curtsy, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Long for inviting us to your party.”
Sveta reached out to Heidi again. Heidi stepped back, but Sveta connected with Heidi’s shoulder. Sveta froze, and her head came up. She stammered again, “You are very welcome. Make yourself comfortable in our home,” but her face clearly said exactly the opposite.
Heidi glanced in Sveta’s eyes, then quickly turned her head away, “What I really need is a glass of sweet wine.”
Sveta looked like she was about to say something, but she lowered her head and stepped back.
Daniel’s lips twitched, “I’m not sure what is going on, exactly.” He grabbed George’s hand and shook it, “Good to see you back in England, old man.”
George forced a smile, “I’m glad to be back. I’m looking for a new assignment as soon as possible.”
Daniel clapped George on the shoulder, “I really hoped to keep you here in London for a while. I have some new recruits and training for you to supervise.”
George grimaced, “Sounds long term. I guess we’ll make do.”
“Heidi and I.”
Daniel frowned and put his head back, “Don’t tell me you are sharing your flat with this young woman.”
Heidi blinked, “I am happy to have a place to stay while I’m visiting in London.”
Sveta stepped forward, “No, you should stay here. As I understand, the single flats the organization is assigning now are barely suitable for one—I can’t imagine a young woman having to put up with such close quarters…”
Heidi glared at Sveta, “I would feel completely out of place anywhere else.”
Sveta glared back, “I insist.”
“I equally insist and respectfully decline—Mr. Mardling is my guardian. It would be unthinkable for me to stay anywhere else.”
Sveta squinted her eyes at Heidi and Heidi squinted back at Sveta.
Daniel stepped between them, “Sveta, dear, I’m certain I can assign George a larger flat.”
Sveta let out her breath. She visibly calmed, “Yes… I’m sure we can work things out. Are you certain, Heidi, you don’t want to spend your time here until we can get George a larger place.”
Heidi didn’t back down. She made a slicing motion with her hand, “I will not.”
Sveta forced a smile, “Very well. But, I do think you are a bit young to drink wine.”
At that moment, a maid carrying a platter of filled wine glasses walked by. Heidi gracefully plucked a glass off the platter. She downed it in a swallow and turned Sveta a deep frown, “I do not like dry white wines. Do you have something more acceptable to my palate?”
Sveta’s eyes bulged. She took a step toward Heidi and appeared like she was about to leap. Heidi crouched slightly.
Daniel grasped Sveta’s arm, and she came to herself.
George raised his hands, “Heidi is much older than she looks. We just came from Poland where there are no age limits for drinking alcohol. She usually has a glass or two every evening.”
Sveta squinted her eyes again, “I see. Heidi,” she almost spat the name, “You may drink as much as you desire in my house. Harold, please bring up a sweet German Riesling for Ms. Mardling.”
Heidi raised her head high, “An auslese, if you have it.”
Harold, the butler, bowed, “Yes, ma’am.”
Heidi glanced at Sveta from the sides of her eyes, “Thank you again for your hospitality.”Daniel pulled Sveta back a step. Heidi took George by the hand and led him toward the buffet tables.
In this scene, the name used for Valeska is her given, German name, Heidi. Notice the techniques used to develop tension and to indicate the tension between the characters. The tension continues to build until Heidi and George move toward the buffet tables. It will continue to build after that. Notice the secrets that are obvious, but not spoken. We know Sveta has some secret we are not privy to. We know Heidi/Valeska is a vampire. Sveta and Daniel don't know this. If they did, the sparks might be greater. I don't tell the reader anything in the scene--I show you and let you hear the conversation. This is how to develop tension and release from the theme through the plot and storyline.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: