Announcement: I heard from my publisher that my Aegypt novels will continued to be titled Ancient Light and that the next two books will be called Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. These were the original titles. They will be released individually and as a 3 in 1 volume. I saw the proposed cover. 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 storyline?
I left up the example for the first scene plot outline from before. This outline is how I develop a scene in my mind. Once I have the scene outline, I can write the storyline. If you note, the plot outline comes directly out of the theme and the storyline comes directly out of the plot outline. So here is the outline--then how do you write the storyline?
Scene 1 (for this example): Christmas party at Lyons House 19 December 2014, damp night
George and Heidi arrive late
George and Heidi meet Sveta and Daniel
Heidi and Sveta have a confrontation based on contact (tension builder)
Heidi seeks a way to break off the confrontation
Daniel restrains Sveta, Heidi removes George (release)
First you set the scene. Then you set the characters in the scene. Then introductions. Not every scene will have introductions, but most with characters will have some type of introduction. If it is just a greeting or a "good morning." I'm trying to make this simple for those of you who are just starting and I'm giving a way to measure your writing if you are more experienced. So, here is an example from the scene above:
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.”
We begin with scene setting and character descriptions. Those descriptions move directly into the introductions. The storyline must always start with setting and that means descriptions. This takes scene writing to its simplest. Set the scene. Scene setting is fist about the time and place and second about the characters. Many inexperienced writers seem to miss this very critical step and try to launch directly into dialog or action. You can't have a stage play without first setting the scene (actually in empty stage, people try, but that's why it is an experimental and rare method of presenting plays). Let's put it this way, your readers can only see what you describe. If you don't give them anything, their palate is blank. You must provide the stage and the setting of the stage. You must describe the characters.
Once you have the stage, time, and characters set, you then begin the interactions in the scene. If the scene is mainly dialog, you will likely have introductions or greetings. This is normal human interaction. This is perhaps one of the places inexperienced writers first slip up. There is a lot of pressure and excitement in getting directly to the point, but that never happens in real life and sounds somewhat silly in a novel. Human interaction always follows some degree of social lubrication. "Good morning...," or "Let me introduce...," or "This is...." You can't have human interaction in dialog without this natural social lubrication. To do so is more than a faux pas, is it unthinkable. This also allows the writer to build naturally into the conversation (dialog). Notice how I work this in the example scene from Valeska. The butler provides the necessary introduction. This introduction is necessary because the reader and the characters must be introduced to these new characters. Then begins the social dance.
I use this opportunity to begin to build the tension in the scene. The moment Sveta and Heidi touch each other, they recognize there is something meaningfully different about the other. The reader knows this about Heidi, but how can Sveta know? Immediately, this provides the direction of the scene and the conversation. What is there to say? Obviously, the characters are locked in the social dance. Nothing of significance can be spoken here. Remember, I wrote before, that if you can get your characters into a safe environment for conversation, you can reveal all kinds of wonderful things (through their lips). Likewise, when they are in an unsafe environment, nothing can be said of consequence. This is such a situation.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: