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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, The Fox's Honor:
All the young maids, and the old ones as well, discreetly watched the young men announced to the ballroom. The same was true of Duke Falkeep’s three daughters. The two oldest, though already wed, spent a delightful evening weighing the rank, title, and characteristics of each nobleman who entered the ballroom. They justified their occupation in the interest of their youngest and unwed sister, Tamar. Tamar didn’t necessarily agree with their assessments.
This isn't too bad of an initial paragraph--it does lack direct action. It does introduce mystery and draw questions. There is scene setting and character introduction. The paragraph could be strengthened by some touch of the science that defines this world. Perhaps it is enough to introduce a ball in a science fiction novel to generate excitement and interest.
The question should always be this: will a publisher or reader who reads this initial paragraph be interested enough to read farther. The obvious answer for a published novel is--yes, they did. I do think it is instructive for me to review what I've learned in writing 24 novels and having eight published. It is instructive for me--as I write more novels, and for you as you write novels. I will actually change and work on future novels based on my own evaluation. You should do the same--or at least think about my examples and see if they can improve your writing.