23 March 2017, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part x76, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but the publisher has delayed all their fiction output due to the economy. I'll keep you informed. More information can be found at www.ancientlight.com. Check out my novels--I think you'll really enjoy them.
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.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
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.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
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
I finished writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja. I’m also working on my 29th novel, working title School.
I'm an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action--in fact, to write any novel.
1. Scene input (easy)
2. Scene output (a little harder)
3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
6. Release (climax of creative elements)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
For novel 28: Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
For novel 29: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
These are the steps I use to write a novel:
1. Design the initial scene
2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
a. Research as required
b. Develop the initial setting
c. Develop the characters
d. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
5. Write the climax scene
6. Write the falling action scene(s)
7. Write the dénouement scene
Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the outline:
1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
5. Write the release
6. Write the kicker
Below is a list of plot devices. I’m less interested in a plot device than I am in a creative element that drives a plot device. In fact, some of these plot devices are not good for anyone’s writing. If we remember, the purpose of fiction writing is entertainment, we will perhaps begin to see how we can use these plot devices to entertain. If we focus on creative elements that drive plot devices, we can begin to see how to make our writing truly entertaining. I’ll leave up the list and we’ll contemplate creative elements to produce these plot devices.
Deus ex machina (a machination, or act of god; lit. “god out of the machine”)
Flashback (or analeptic reference)
Self-fulfilling prophecy – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Self-fulfilling prophecy: Here is a definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy from the link-- A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and ancient India, it is 20th-century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression "self-fulfilling prophecy" and formalizing its structure and consequences. In his 1948 article Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Merton defines it in the following terms:
The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.
In other words, a positive or negative prophecy, strongly held belief, or delusion—declared as truth when it is actually false—may sufficiently influence people so that their reactions ultimately fulfill the once-false prophecy.
Self-fulfilling prophecy are effects in behavioral confirmation effect, in which behavior, influenced by expectations, causes those expectations to come true. It is complementary to the self-defeating prophecy.
Notice, you have both the self-fulfilling and the self-defeating prophecy. Let me give you the example from the link and then we’ll look in greater depth at this idea. Early examples include the legend of Oedipus, and the story of Krishna in the Mahabharata. There is also an example of this in Harry Potter when Lord Voldemort heard a prophecy (made by Sybill Trelawney to Dumbledore) that a boy born at the end of July, whose parents had defied Voldemort thrice and survived, would be made marked as his equal. Because of this prophecy, Lord Voldemort sought out Harry Potter (believing him to be the boy spoken of) and tried to kill him. His parents died protecting him, and when Voldemort tried to cast a killing curse on Harry, it rebounded and took away most of his strength, and gave Harry Potter a unique ability and connection with the Dark Lord thus marking him as his equal.
I placed a plot device at the end again. That plot device is just plain old prophecy. You don’t need the plot device to be self-fulfilling or self-defeating—you can have simply a prophecy that comes about. I will mark this for you, to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, it must be clear.
I have used prophecy as a plot device, but not the self-fulfilling or self-defeating prophecies. I think the power in using prophecy as a plot device is lack of clarity. This is like Nostradamus—his prophecies were so ambiguous, they can mean anything. You also see some of this in classic prophecy. I think you know what I mean. If you notice, for self-fulfilling or self-defeating, you need some degree of clarity to focus the prophecy and the actions of the affected. On the other hand with prophecy, you have some great options.
Using prophecy as a plot device means you haven’t given away any of the story (secrets) and the reader can go along with only a tiny inkling not the whole plot. The point is to then make a reveal to the readers that gives them an ah ha moment. You can refer back to the prophecy or not. I haven’t used self-fulfilling prophecy, but I have used prophecy. I’ll give you some examples. This is from Warrior of Darkness:
The room held no furniture. Only cushions encircled the peat fire and simple pottery along with a few gold and silver vessels.
Brigitta stepped to the other side of the fire, “I would like to honor you, Klava, but I don’t think you would wear my white robes…”
“No, I would not. It isn’t my nature.”
“Yes…” Brigitta sounded disappointed. “But I will offer you refreshment. I have bread and fruit.” She smiled, “Please sit. I have dark beer. I think you will like it as much as Guinness.”
Klava sat on a cushion across from Brigitta.
“Please sit closer to me sister. I wish to serve you.” Brigitta pointed to a cushion on her right.
Klava moved to the place. The cushions were decorated with intricate Gaelic symbols. The place Klava sat was more wonderfully decorated than all the others.
Brigitta handed her a golden cup filled with a dark brew. Klava smelled it and smiled. She took a sip then a longer drink. Brigitta picked up a silver flagon and drank as well. Klava took out her box of cigarettes. She offered one to Brigitta, and put one in her own mouth. Brigitta took the tube of tobacco with relish. She pulled a burning taper from the fire and lit Klava’s and her own. Brigitta breathed in a long pull. “Britannia forbids me this pleasure in her court…”
Klava chuckled, “I know, but you are too Irish not to enjoy it.”
They both laughed gently. They tapped their cups together and took another long drink. They didn’t say anything more until Brigitta replenished the drink and Klava the cigarettes. Finally, Klava remarked, “I didn’t think you had such a place in
“It is really in
, but I wander in my land where I
will. I can offer you refreshment
anywhere in this land, Lady of Darkness.”
Brigitta took another long drag on her cigarette. “Britannia will chastise me, but that is her
prerogative. I wish to thank you, Klava
for all you have done and are accomplishing in my lands.” Dublin
“I do what I am called to do. It is the work of the Aton God, the Dagda.”
“Yes, it is. I praise you for it. I know how it wears on you. You act as I cannot. This gives me great pleasure and great pain. I’m not sure I can bless or praise you enough. I understand your suffering. I hope you can understand mine.”
“Yes, I think I do. It is pleasant to be invited to be a sister to you.”
Brigitta took a long shuddering breath, “You are to know that you are my sister and you may always call on me—I give you this promise.”
“Thank you, Sister Brigitta.”
Klava waved her cigarette, “Surely, that is not all you had to tell me.”
“No, it is not. I have something I wish to discuss with you.”
“Now it comes…” Klava whispered.
“What was that, Lady?”
Brigitta accepted another cigarette, “I wish to ask you, Sister. You are training a priestess.”
“Yes, Scáth. What of it? That is my prerogative.”
“But a priestess in the ancient fashion…”
“I need her. No one else would help me. None of my other brothers or sisters would come when I needed them. I have great needs—you know this Brigitta.”
Brigitta blushed. The crimson flared in her face and robes, “I don’t think any of them could help you. Your power eclipses all of us except your true sister and your mother.”
“You needn’t be ashamed. I rescued Scáth from a much greater horror than my service.”
“She is not a virgin.”
“Purity was never a requirement levied on my servants nor of those of the Dagda. Not purity but repentance.”
“Still there may be a price to pay. She does not realize this.”
“I have not told her.”
“In that case, you may have to pay this price, Sister.”
Klava took another drink. “Have you seen something that I should know?”
“Only fragments. There are dark deeds and those who have begun to call on the old ways.”
“Yes, magic. I have encountered it. It can’t touch me.”
“But it can touch your priestess.”
Klava scowled and held up her cup. Brigitta filled it again and filled her own. “I protect her. Will you also?”
“I will do what I can. There is also the question of your protégé.”
Klava laughed, “There are none to follow me—yet. I don’t have a protégé.”
“I know and this worries more than me.”
“Until there is a child, twins actually, born of my true sister or from me, there will be no one to take my place. I am still young and so is my sister. Why does this concern you?”
“It concerns all of us. You have no warrior…”
“And I am likely to have none.”
“You risk yourself, Klava, all the time, and you must have someone to follow after you.”
“My true sister, Sveta, the Goddess of Light, has a warrior. They will eventually produce children. I will have successor. That is the way of things.”
“Where are your true sister and her warrior?”
“They work as I do. I’m not sure what she is up to.”
Brigitta took Klava’s hand, “Dear Goddess of Darkness. I have seen this. The children of the Goddess of Light will not succeed either of you.”
“My true mother bore a Goddess of Darkness in her time. Lumière, the Goddess of Shadows, is still alive. She still wields power in the world.”
“That is not the normal way of the world.”
“But it is the likely way things shall be.”
“This is my warning to you, Goddess of Darkness…”
“I told you to call me, Klava.”
Brigitta’s face filled with anger, “It is right a good to use the proper titles when giving such a pronouncement, but I will accommodate you, Klava. Dear Sister, I have seen that you will bear twins, and that much suffering will come to your priestess, Scáth. Yet the burden of all this will rest on you and not your priestess or anyone else.”
Klava stared into the fire, “This is a true seeing?”
Brigitta calmed her features, “It is a true seeing.”
“I have no warrior. I have a wonderful priestess. I save many.” Klava frowned, “My actions end the lives of a few. I feel them in my soul, but I can’t undo the will of the Dagda.”
“Then remember my warning.”
Klava stood. “I will remember it, but I’m not sure how it can affect me or how I can affect it.”
Brigitta stared into her empty cup. “I am not sure you can, Godd… Klava.” She smiled and stood. “Let me give you my hand. I will help you as I can. I do love you, Klava. Go in peace and with my friendship. I bless you.”
“Thank you, Brigitta.” Klava handed her an unopened box of John Players. “Visit with me again. I will entertain you in my domains next time, sister.”
Brigitta’s face radiated joy, “I shall. Now hold my hands, and I will take you to the place we met. Such is my power in my land.”
Klava clasped Brigitta’s hands. They walked out of the cottage door and immediately stood on the dark and empty street where they started. Before Brigitta left, she handed a carved piece of bone to Klava, “Accept this, Godd…Klava. Say my name, and anywhere in my lands, I will come to you.”
There are many plot devices and many creative elements in this scene. The most prominent is the prophecy. In the novel, this is not self-fulfilling or self-defeating—it just happens. The readers are surprised when it comes to fruition because it was somewhat obscure, but also seemed to be impossible in the current circumstances. Another example of prophecy from Children of Light and Darkness:
Father Malloy could hear the conversation clearly. The woman put out her hand and curtsied deeply to Kathrin, “Hello Ceridwen.”
Kathrin frowned, “Do not use that name.” She whispered, “I have not told them.”
The lady’s voice sparkled like a dancing flame, “Don’t worry, Ceridwen. They detect my presence, but they cannot hear me. I will not reveal your secret, Great Lady.” She curtsied low again, “I desired to see your change from maiden to mother. It was truly spectacular. The world of The Dagda rejoices with us all.”
“I did not you invite you, Brigita.”
Brigita raised her hands and motioned to the right and left, “You did not invite the others either. They all wished to come. My sovereign, Britania, sent me. No one dared anger you. We know you serve The Dagda just as we do. We wish to welcome you into your place, Your Royal Highness.”
“I am not ready.”
“So your father, Oghma Grianainech, tells us. He says you have refused to accept your responsibility, your place.”
“I have other responsibilities right now.” Kathrin gazed at Sveta and Klava then down at her own gently swelling belly.”
“So you do, Ceridwen. I have a wedding wish from all of us. It is a gift and a prophecy. We pray that you will come to us when you find this true.”
Kathrin leaned forward eagerly.
“Ceridwen, you may find the fate of the past is past, and the yoke of The Dagda is much easier than the yoke you once bore.”
Kathrin beamed, “Thank you, Brigita.”
The woman with the fiery red hair curtsied low again and was gone. Father Malloy blinked twice. She must have left quickly. That was the last guest. They all moved together to the reception in the lunch room at Saint Anne’s.
Obviously, I need to coordinate my spelling for my character’s names across my novels. It is the same Briggitta as before. In my novels Briggitta brings the prophecy and the novel progresses. In Warrior of Darkness, the prophecy has much to do with the telic flaw and the climax of the novel. In Children of Light and Darkness, the prophecy is just a fun device (creative element) as a precursor to building the case for the climax and the resolution of the telic flaw. I guess both prophecies are powerful in the context of the novels. They both point to the climax resolution. In one case, Klava’s ultimate problem in the novel. In the other case, Kathrin’s redemption.
My point about using prophecy is this. First, you need the proper creative elements. You need a prophet. I like the prophecies to be slightly obscure so it doesn’t give too much away. I don’t like the self-fulfilling of the self-defeating prophecy. These are psychological terms for those whose writing can’t have real prophecy. Authors can always create their own prophets and prophecy. It completely depends on the world of your novel. Prophecy can be used in all kinds of contexts. You can also have the unfulfilled prophecy. This would be a wonderful red herring—remember red herrings from yesterday? Throw in a little red herring—an unfulfilled prophecy to cloud the resolution and provide a creative element. That sounds wonderful to me.
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