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Friday, May 5, 2017

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part x119, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)

5 May 2017, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part x119, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie)

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  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

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

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

Cover Proposal

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. 

Scene development:

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)

Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)

Third attempt


Judicial Setting

Legal argument


Two way love

Three way love (love rival)


Celebrity (Rise to fame)

Rise to riches

Military (Device or Organization manipulation)

School (Training) (Skill Development)





Impossible Crime

Human god



Silent witness

Secret king


Hidden skills

Fantasy Land (Time Travel, Space Travel)

End of the --- (World, Culture, Society)

Resistance (Nonresistance)

Utopia (anti-utopia)


Augmented Human (Robot) (Society)

Mind Switching (Soul Switching)

Unreliable character

Incarceration (imprisonment)

Valuable item





Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie) Current discussion.



One way love

Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie):  here is my definition – Brotherhood (sisterhood) (camaraderie) is the use of a non-romantic close relationship to further a plot.    

This plot device is very clear in my mind right now because it forms an important part of School.  In School, the relationship between Deirdre and Sorcha becomes closer and closer.  Sorcha is Deirdre’s first and best friend.  Deirdre is definitely the closest person Sorcha has ever known.  Their relationship starts with fisticuffs and ends with sisterhood.  They grow closer and closer in the novel and their own secrets become known to each other and the reader.  I think this is a great power in this plot device.  Human relationships have become oddly perverted in the modern era.  In the past, they seemed much more varied and robust.  I think many people are looking for this closeness without sex or romance.  The closeness of human trust and interaction outside of the sphere of anything else. 


This plot device is used routinely in early novels.  It is seen in many novels, but not celebrated quite as strongly in modern novels.  If you look at Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, George Elliot, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and all.  In these novels, you see people either in or building close relationships.  They are dependent on others for their health, happiness, and spiritual goodness.  These relationships depict strong friendships.  The reason I didn’t call this plot device friendship is because the idea of brotherhood is much more than friendship.  Who might die for a friend?  Many would die for a brother.  Friendship is not a strong plot device—it can be entertaining, but the most powerful relationship, by far, is the bond of brothers or sisters.  This bond is the basis for the perfection of love.


I’ve used this idea of brother and sisterhood in many of my novels.  I think many readers want to see this closeness because it is unusual to find in the real world.  When people trust each other completely, that provides a wonderful basis for interaction in a novel.  I’ll provide some examples.  


Here is an example from Sorcha:   


        Shiggy sat and read in Sveta’s sunroom when Sorcha finally returned to Lyon’s House.  The moment Shiggy heard the front door open, she jumped up and ran to the foyer.  Sorcha stood with her coat half off, Harold helped her with it.  She wore the same dress she had on two days ago.  Bloody stains and streaks marked it.  Her eyes looked red, tired, and swollen.

Shiggy didn’t need to think or say anything.  She ran to Sorcha and put her arms around her.  And she didn’t let go.

Sorcha let out a gentle smile and held Shiggy for a while.  She stroked her hair.  After a bit, she tried to push Shiggy away, but Shiggy wasn’t budging.  Sorcha unlocked Shiggy’s arms and held them, “Shiggy.  I missed you too.  Let me look at you.”  Shiggy still didn’t speak.  She let herself be pushed a step back.  Sorcha looked her up and down, “Do I need to check your weapons?  Your underclothing?  Come help me bathe and dress.”  She took Shiggy’s hand.

Shiggy didn’t move, “Where’s Dustin?”

“Dustin is in hospital.  He’s recovering.”

“Is he really all right?”

Sorcha let out a tense smile, “Dustin is well.  He is recovering.  Right now, you and William are my problems.”

Sveta followed by William entered the foyer.  Sveta stepped toward Sorcha, but Sorcha raised her hand, “Aunt Sveta, I’m not ready for an audience right now.  I will let you know, Dustin is well.  Let me bathe and dress.  I’ll be down with Shiggy for lunch in just a moment.”

Sveta twisted her hands in agitation, but she nodded.

Without a word, in a turnabout, Shiggy tugged Sorcha up the stairs to Sorcha’s room.  When the door closed, Shiggy put her arms around Sorcha again. 

Sorcha held her, “Shiggy.  I know you are needy, but it’s all right now.”

Shiggy pressed her face into Sorcha’s chest, “This isn’t for me.”

“You think I need to be held?”

“Yes.  Sveta and Angel are watching me like hawks.  I needed William to hold me more, but they wouldn’t let him.”

Angel glanced out of Shiggy’s hair, “That isn’t fair at all.  You were seducing him.”

Sorcha let out a little laugh, “That’s new for you Shiggy.  I say bravo.”

Angel let out an angry squeak. 

Shiggy held Sorcha tighter, “I know you couldn’t hold Dustin.”

“What makes you think I wanted to?”

“You screamed and you cried for him.  I thought he was dead because of me.  I don’t want you to hate me.”

“Hate you, Shiggy.  This isn’t about you at all.”

“It’s about my curse.  My curse caused all this.”

Sorcha bopped Shiggy on the back of the head, but her voice sounded gentle, “You’re just a ditz, Shiggy.  Your curse doesn’t bring misfortune, your lack of judgement brings misfortune.  That’s your curse.  You didn’t cause Dustin to be shot and neither did your curse.  You saved him and us, Shiggy.”

“I…I saved you?”

Sorcha held Shiggy closer, “I’m very proud of you.  You saved us.  You did well.  Your judgement was good—the misfortune happened to be that the bobbies and plonks arrived when they did.  A little latter and I might have done something about it.  As it is, we have a serious record problem at the moment.  Now let me go so I can bathe.  I’m a mess.”

Shiggy reluctantly stepped back, but she didn’t move too far from Sorcha, and she didn’t leave the room.

Sorcha stripped off her clothing, and tossed it to the floor.  Shiggy picked it up and put in in Sorcha’s dirty clothing bag.  Sorcha started the shower and stepped in.  Shiggy sat on the counter outside.  When Sorcha stepped out, Shiggy handed her a towel, “Do you want me to help you dry off?”

“This really upset you—didn’t it?”  Sorcha didn’t wait for a response, “Lay out underwear and clothing for me.”

Shiggy was already moving, “Sultry and sexy?”

“No, like you’re wearing.”

“Sveta asked me to stop seducing William.”

“I see.  Where you?”

“I wanted to.  I came close.  He said he loves me.”

“Angel stopped you?”

“Angel and Mrs. Long.”

“Yeah, they would do that.”

Angel stuck out her tongue.  Sorcha stepped over and flicked it.

Sorcha looked over Shiggy’s choices.  She started putting them on, “Angel.  I want you to leave and go downstairs.”

“Leave?” Angel squeaked.

“Leave right now, or I will make life very painful for you.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“I would.  I want to speak to Shiggy alone.  Now, spit spot go do some fairy thing someplace else in the house.”  Sorcha turned a glare on her, “It’s only for a few minutes.  We’ll be down soon.  Go, keep an eye on William.  I’m sure he’s contemplating stealing some of Shiggy’s panties.”

Angel grumbled, but she kicked up off Shiggy’s shoulder and streaked across the room then out the door.

Sorcha listened for a moment, “She’s gone.  What I wanted to tell you is that Dustin said he loves me.”

Shiggy pressed her hands together, “I told you, William said he loves me too.”

“Before or after you tried to seduce him.”  That sounded a little muffled as Sorcha pulled her fresh dress over her head.

Shiggy flopped down on the bed, “I made him turn and not look at me while he said it.”

“Ah, to take out the glamour and the fae marks…did it work?”

Shiggy shrugged, “He said he loves me—he didn’t say the m-word.  Durfin said men must use the m-word or they don’t really mean love.”  Shiggy made quote marks with her fingers.

Sorcha sat on the bed next to Shiggy and began working on her hair, “What if I told you Dustin asked me to marry him?”

Shiggy smiled, “That sounds very nice to me.  You should marry him before something else happens.”

“Something else like what?”

“I’m cursed remember…”

“I told you, it doesn’t work like that.  I took his proposal on advisement.  He meant to ask me on Sunday.”

Shiggy wrinkled her nose, “It was on Sunday.”

“Ah, my days are all messed up.  He gave me a ring.”

Shiggy sat up, “May I see it?  Why aren’t you wearing it?”

“I told you—I’m thinking about it.”

“I don’t think you should think about it too long.  I think you should marry him.  I like him very much.”

Sorcha leaned on her arm, “That’s the problem.  I think I love him.  What happens if something happens…?”

“That’s what I was saying.”

Sorcha grabbed Shiggy’s hands, “What if William asked you to marry him—what would you say?”

“I’d say yes.  I love him, and I like him too.  He protects me.  He entertains me.  Why not live with him.  It would make everything much more convenient.”

“You wouldn’t worry about losing him or harming him or other problems?”

“I already worry about all that—perhaps too much...”

“Yes—I do too—about Dustin.”  Sorcha finished her hair and started on her makeup, “Shiggy, don’t say a word of this conversation to anyone.”

“No, ma’am.  I didn’t intend to.”


When Sorcha was ready, they walked down to Sveta’s sunroom.  William sat in a reading posture, but obvious expectation.  Sveta looked up.  Sorcha dropped to the sofa, “Aunt Sveta, I’m starving.  Could we have luncheon while you tell me what you have done about Shiggy and William’s problem.”

This is an enchantment novel and on contract yet.  You can see that Sorcha and Shiggy’s relationship has moved from adversaries to friends and to some degree sisters.  They support each other in the face of great difficulty.  This is what I mean by sisterhood.  They fight as well—that’s part of the fun and entertainment.


Here’s another example from School:


When they returned to Pitt.  Deidre and Sorcha retired to their room.  Sorcha took the lead.  She had to move out of the way so Deirdre could unlock the door.  Once they stood inside, Sorcha turned and faced Deirdre.  Her eyes looked like sparks in the brightly lighted room, “Now what will we do?”

“I thought you were going to kill me in my sleep.”

Sorcha held her fists low, “It’s far too late for that now.”

“What did the Headmistress tell you?”

“I am to make an appointment to see her and the vice headmistress before the beginning of the next semester.  You know what that means, don’t you?”

Deirdre shook her head.

“It means they will check my records.  They will discover, if they haven’t already, that a Sorcha Weir has never been properly enrolled, has not paid the fees, and is not a proper student.  They will search for Sorcha Weir and find she is an escapee from Her Majesty’s Prison Aylesbury.  They’ll send the constabulary for me, and I’ll be rotting away in Aylesbury before the beginning of the first class here.”  Her fists and her lip trembled.

Deirdre stepped forward to embrace her.

Sorcha put up her hands, “Don’t touch me.  Don’t come near me, Deirdre Calloway.  All I want to do at this moment is beat you.  You’ve ruined my life.”

Deirdre stopped.  She pressed her lips to one side then the other, “I’ve been thinking about this all evening.  You did ruin my dinner, by the way, and upset my evening with Mr. MacLeod.  My feelings should count for something.”

Sorcha angrily lifted her lip.

Deirdre smirked, “If I did that, they’d think I was about to have a fit.”

“I am about to have a fit.  I’m completely narked at you…at you and at the world.  At the moment, there is absolutely no hope for me.”

Deirdre rubbed her face, “I think there is more hope than you think.”

“What are you talking about?”

Deirdre took another step toward Sorcha.

“I told you not to come near me.  I really could kill you at this moment.”

Deidre answered softly, “Let’s think about this logically.  The Headmistress just gave you three awards.  The Headmaster of Eton wanted to toast you.  You will be mentioned in the Eton Chronicle and the Wycombe Abbey Gazette.  The school will lose face if they dismiss you.”

Sorcha sniffled, “You really don’t get it.  I’m a criminal.  The moment they discover that, they won’t allow me to continue.  They can’t allow me to continue—it would dishonor the school.”

Deirdre stopped.  She put down her arms, “In that case, there is nothing else to do.  I really hate to do it.”

“Whatever are you talking about?”

“We will just have to beg a pardon from the Queen.”

Sorcha’s eyes widened for a moment, then she began to laugh a little hysterically.  Deirdre rushed up to her and grabbed her and held on.

Sorcha tried to get away, “Let go of me.  Let go.  I told you not to touch me.”

“I’m not touching you.  I’m holding you.”

“Well, I don’t like it.  You’re barmy and a pikey nutter.  What do you mean a pardon from the Queen?  Are you just going to sally up to her and ask, please give a pardon to Ms. Weir?  The Queen will tell you, off with her head.  And that’s what I should do with you.  Off with your head.”

Deidre held tightly to Sorcha, “I hate to do this, but I know it will work.  I just need to ask my mother.”

“I thought your mother had never spoken a civil word to you.”

Deirdre still held on tight, “She hasn’t.  I think she hates me, but if I beg her, she can make it happen.”

Sorcha stopped struggling, “Really?  Are you telling the truth?  Would you really do that for me?”

“I told you, I’d stick with you to the end.  I promised.  I hate to ask mother, but I’ll do it.”  Deidre sighed again, “She would be happy for me to come begging to her.  There would likely be consequences and promises, but for you—I’m willing.”

Sorcha sucked her lower lip for a moment.  It trembled violently, then she let go.  It wasn’t a small cry, it was a torrent.  She bawled.

Deirdre held her close and grimaced.  She imagined her mother, and what she would have to do to gain something like a pardon and help for Sorcha.

Even with sisters, they fight and have problems.  Sorcha has a great problem—she is attending Wycombe Abby secretly.  No one knows except Deirdre.  Deirdre has the ability to help Sorcha—or she thinks she does.  At this point, she would do anything to help her friend, her best friend.  This is the type of powerful relationship I like to cultivate in my novels.   


More tomorrow.

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