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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 shuttle pilot not following the rules crashes on the island.
Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer. Lilly is my 24th novel.
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 Let's compare the excitement and entertainment I'm recommending with some of my published and unpublished novels.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. Next example the first paragraph from, Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon:
The dank stone room was filled with shadows. Every corner oozed darkness. Within a pentagram that was encompassed by a circle stood a slight young woman. Fat yellow beef-tallow candles marked the points of the pentagram and weakly illuminated only the area around her. A brazier of incense filled the room with the scent of myrrh along with an underlying smell that was indeterminate, but left a taste of blood in the mouth. The woman was dressed in a black gown that was much too large for her. Beautiful hand made lace cascaded down the front of the dress and decorated the sleeves. Thick velvet competed with black satin to form a perfect attire to greet a Tsar, but certainly not a commissar. The gown fell loosely away from the woman’s thin chest and small breasts. It looked odd draped on her body, like a girl playing dress-up from her mother’s closet. But this gown obviously came from the closet of a princess.
I gave Aksinya out on this blog with commentary to show how I approached and wrote an entire novel. It is a otherwise yet unpublished and uncontracted novel. The novel doesn't follow any of my Enchantment novels--it is conceptually an Enchantment novel. It's a complete stand-alone novel that weighs in at about 123,000 words.
The first paragraph of Aksinya is mostly scene setting and character introduction. The action is implied, and there is plenty of mystery. Perhaps we are talking about types of beginnings--all of which have potential to excite a publisher or reader. In the case of Khione, action was the focus--action, scene setting character introduction, and mystery. The first paragraph(s) in Hestia were conversation based--the action was the conversation. Conversation was the action with scene setting, character introduction, and mystery. Antebellum, perhaps the worst, had no action or character introduction, but did include mystery and scene setting.
So, what should an initial paragraph look like--it should have scene setting, action (implied, conversation, or actual), character introduction, and mystery. The mystery is the key, but don't neglect the other stuff. The point is that mystery must flow out of the scene setting, introduction of a character, and the action. I'll give you more examples from my writing, and I'll evaluate them. The big deal, is that I think I've pinpointed exactly the qualities that should be in the initial paragraph. Don't write it like my novel Antebellum; do write it with a focus similar to Aksinya, Khione, or Hestia.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: