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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 25th novel, working title, Escape, is this: a girl in a fascist island nation will do anything to escape--a young cargo ferry pilot not following the rules crashes on the island.
I'll make a slight digression because I'm developing advertising and publisher materials for my newest completed novel, Lilly. Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer.
The entertainment (and excitement) should start with the first sentence and paragraph and grow to envelope the first scene. Let's compare the excitement and entertainment I'm recommending with some of my published novels. As I grew as a writer, my awareness of the importance of the first paragraph grew. It's one thing to be taught or realize and another to implement. So let's look at some of my other novels. For example, Centurion:
Naomi walked swiftly across the screed hillsides toward the village. The sun was as merciless as her tormenters. She shaded her eyes. She shouldn’t be going for water during the hottest part of the day, but it was the only time she could approach the well and find no other women there.
Here is a great initial paragraph. There is action. There is description. There is character introduction and revelation. There is mystery. There are questions direct and implied. This is what I'm talking about. I'll give you, there is little art or embellishment in this paragraph, but I didn't write this novel with embellishment. This is an intentionally non-embellished novel.
This is how to write a great (okay good) first paragraph. This kind of paragraph will attract a publisher or a reader. This is my most popular novel. It is popular because of its subject, and I'd like to think, because of its strong writing. It is a novel filled with adventure and history. It is also meant to be a novel that appeals to many different people. Notably, it is chock full of historical information about the Roman Legions and warfare, but it also has a love story and very strong cultural information. I'd like to think that many readers of many different types will like this novel.
The first paragraph characterizes and sets up the rest of the novel. As I mentioned, it is straightforward and direct with lots of action, adventure, and entertainment.