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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Writing - part x216, Novel Form, Tension and Release, Entertainment

10 August 2017, Writing - part x216, Novel Form, Tension and Release, Entertainment

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.

These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of 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

I finished writing my 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.  The theme statement is: 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.  

Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja.  I finished my 28th novel, working title School.  If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that).  I adjusted the numbering.  I do keep everything clear in my records. 

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 29:  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.


This is the classical form for writing a successful 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 (protagonist, antagonist, and optionally the protagonist’s helper)

d.      Identify the telic flaw of the protagonist (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


The protagonist and the telic flaw are tied permanently together.  The novel plot is completely dependent on the protagonist and the protagonist’s telic flaw.  They are inseparable.  This is likely the most critical concept about any normal (classical) form novel. 


Here are the parts of a normal (classical) novel:


1.      The Initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)

2.      The Rising action scenes

3.      The Climax scene

4.      The Falling action scene(s)

5.      The Dénouement scene


So, how do you write a rich and powerful initial scene?  Let’s start from a theme statement.  Here is an example from my latest novel:


The theme statement for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School is: 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.


Here is the scene development 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


If you have the characters (protagonist, protagonist’s helper, and antagonist), the initial setting, the telic flaw (from the protagonist), a plot idea, the theme action, then you are ready to write the initial scene.  I would state that since you have a protagonist, the telic flaw, a plot idea, and the theme action, you have about everything—what you might be lacking is the tension and release cycle in your scenes.


Each scene must be entertaining.  I note above that with a scene input, characters, a setting, and a scene output, you can write a scene.  The question is then—how do we write an entertaining scene?  None of the elements of a scene (input, output, setting, or characters) can produce an entertaining scene—they can improve your chances, but they alone can’t achieve it.  What is required is the verb (action) of the scene.  The action is the tension and release.


Simplistically, the author needs to write the action of the scene to build tension to a mini-climax where the tension is then released and the scene ends (can end).  The kicker becomes part of that ending the resolution of the scene.  To be clear, until the actual climax scene, the full tension developed in the novel should not end—there is no complete release or resolution of the tension in any scene until the climax.


In my model of scene development, the author provides creative elements (nouns: characters, places, and things) that can be manipulated by the characters (and author) to build tension and then provide release.  For example: let’s say I set up a scene in a fancy restaurant for dinner with my characters.  One of the characters is trying to influence another to provide information.  Another character wants to romantically induce another.  The characters and the setting are creative elements and the setting itself provides creative elements (foods and drink, as well as conversation).  The author’s job is to put all these together.  Here is an example scene from the example.  This piece is from Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire.  A vampire, a living dead, a goddess, and a spy are all present at this dinner:


When they arrived, George pulled up to the door.  He was out right away and opened Heidi’s then Leila’s door before the valet could get to them.  He placed Leila’s coat over her shoulders.  She held the small black clutch in her hands as though she wasn’t used to it and didn’t know what to do with it.

George held out his arm to her.  Leila didn’t take it.  She didn’t raise her head, “I’m sure you would much rather escort Heidi.”  She pushed him away, “Please do.”

George took Leila’s hand and placed it on his arm.  He held it there and whispered to Leila, “Perhaps both of you.”

Leila tried to pull her hand away, but he held it tight.  She was about to protest, but when she turned, saw Heidi on his other arm.  Scáth led them.  Leila bit her tongue.

At the maitre d’s station, Scáth spoke to the woman there, “Yes, the small room should be reserved for Ms. O’Dwyer.”

The woman nodded and led them to a private room with a table that could seat ten.  Rich dark oak paneled the walls.  The table was set for four. 

George seated Leila and then Heidi.  Scáth was already in her chair.  George sat across from Leila and next to Heidi.  Scáth was across from Heidi.

George picked up the wine list, “May I chose the wine?”

Heidi took it from his hands, “I’d rather select what I like.”

George reached over to get back the list, “How many bottles do you think they will let you purchase.”

Heidi scowled.

Leila didn’t say a word.  She opened her clutch and dug around for a moment, then she pulled out an ID card.  She handed it across the table to Heidi.

Heidi took the card and examined it, “I has my name on it, and says I was born on 31 October 1994.”  She grinned, “That means I am 21 years old.  The picture is wonderful--it must have come from Gorski’s.”

Leila didn’t look at them, “Scáth had the same problem.  I thought it would make things easier for you.”

Heidi asked, “Why do you have a picture from Gorski’s?”

Leila gave a sigh, “We aren’t incompetent.  We investigated you from the moment you came to our attention.”

“Do you know what kinds of wines I like?”

“Sweet white Rieslings from northern Germany.”

Heidi handed the wine list to Leila.  Leila took it, and Heidi raised her chin, “Choose a wine for me.”

Leila scanned the list, “They are mostly French—they don’t carry any German wines.”

“Pity.  Select one for me.”  Heidi smiled, “What do you like?”

“Tokaji Classic, late harvest from Hungary.  It is a desert wine.”  Leila glanced at her, “I think it will be sweet enough for you and for me.”

Heidi laughed, “That will be pleasant.  I know the wine.  Do you know what I like to eat too?”

Their waiter came to greet them and George ordered the wine for them. 

After their waiter left, Leila took a deep breath, “Yes, we know your tastes.  That’s why I asked Scáth to order the chicken for us on the private dining menu.”   

Heidi smiled slyly, “Then this dinner is all about me and not about Mr. Mardling.”

Leila turned her face away from Heidi.  Her voice became very tense, “Yes.”

Heidi’s eyes softened, “I take it then, that for Scáth and for this organization, this dinner is all about business, but for Leila, it has other meanings.  Sweet, Leila, can you tell them to me?”

Leila didn’t face her, “I’d rather not.”

Heidi purred, “I think you are pursuing Mr. Mardling.”

Leila put up her hand, “I said, I’d rather not speak about it.”

“Mr. Mardling told me what you did and what Scáth said.  He also told me what you swore, goddess.  Did you mean it?”

Leila still kept her face averted, “I made an oath in the ancient fashion.  Because of who I am, I cannot take it back.”

Heidi continued, “So because of it, you have placed yourself in Scáth’s hands to try to make yourself more attractive to Mr. Mardling.”

Leila flashed an angry look at Heidi, but turned her face quickly away again, “Yes, yes, yes.  All of that is true.”

“Good.  I just want us to start on a platform of honesty.”

Leila turned to George.  She didn’t allow her eyes to touch Scáth or Heidi, “Mr. Mardling, this is all very embarrassing to me.  I’m sorry things have come about this way.  I was hoping they would be so different.”

Scáth snarled at her, “How could they be any different?  You usually dress like a charity-case, smell like a wet dog, and have the manners of an Essex girl.”

Leila started to say something, but stopped. 

The waiter entered with a bottle and a wine chiller.  He served the wine.  Heidi showed her new ID to the shocked waiter.  Scáth showed her ID to the doubly shocked waiter.  It still said she was somewhere around 21—Leila procured her a new one every year.  He served them all the sweet Hungarian wine.  Heidi raised her glass in a toast, “To London and new friends.  May we all achieve our goals such that we can remain friends.”

Scáth gestured to Leila.

George touched Leila’s arm.  She raised her glass and touched each of their rims.

Heidi glanced at Scáth, “You didn’t drink your wine.”

“I told you, sister.  I don’t drink or eat anything.”

“I see.”

George waved his glass, “You said that before.  Heidi eats and drinks.  What kind of being are you.”

Scáth grinned, “I can’t tell you.”

“Then how do you expect Heidi to tell you just what she is?”

Scáth continued, “I will tell Heidi if she asks.  I will not indulge your curiosity.”

George leaned back, “I can understand that.”

The waiter brought the soup—French onion.  That was followed by smoked & fresh salmon rillettes.

Leila calmed down a little by then, “Don’t expect this meal on the regular menu.  I asked for an enhanced private meal.”

The waiter brought a farmhouse terrine of pork pate, peppercorns, pistachio nuts, and other spices.  George ordered another bottle of the dessert wine.  The Hungarian wine was sweet, but not cloyingly sweet.  It matched their meal well.  Heidi drank with gusto.  Leila consummed about the same amount but with more delicate sips.

The entrée was young chicken with lemon and garlic served with aromatic couscous.  Various side dishes accompanied it including a small salad and mixed vegetables.  The meal was mostly light and white.  Heidi picked up her wine glass again, “Ms. O’Dwyer, your choice for the meal was excellent tonight.  I toast your selection and your hosting.”

Scáth drawled, “She chose the meal, but your host is really the organization…”

Leila blushed and nodded.

George raised his glass, “It is still a wonderful repast.”

Scáth raised her glass, “I do agree.”

They toasted her.

Leila nodded in acceptance, “I only wish this was the first time I went out with Mr. Mardling.”

Scáth stared at her, “How do you know he would be any more amenable to you?  He is a complete gentleman.”

Leila stared at her feet, “I don’t.”

Scáth nodded, “I’m certain he finds your depressing personality a trial.”

Leila winced, “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Scáth didn’t stop, “I would hope he will be willing to entertain you again.”

Leila’s eyes flashed, “Actually, Scáth, I am entertaining him and his niece, Heidi.  He is not entertaining me.”

Scáth stared her down, “In that case, entertain them.  I feel like I am at a funeral dinner, and I am not the least bit entertained here.”

Leila took a deep breath.  She forced a smile onto her face.  When the waiter came to take their dishes, Leila ordered another bottle of wine and coffees all around.


I didn’t give you the entire scene, just enough to introduce the event and the characters.  I showed you their conversation.  Ultimately, the character, Scáth, brings the point home to Leila—it is the same point I want you to see—Leila is supposed to be entertaining, as is the scene.  Part of the entertainment is to see Leila’s discomfort.  I should have prepped you, in the previous scenes, Leila made a complete fool of herself in front of Mr. Mardling and Heidi (Valeska).  Leila is trying to win over Mr. Mardling romantically—she’s fallen in love.  Scáth is trying to win over Heidi for her and Leila’s organization.  There is much behind this little dinner engagement.  


The point again is to be entertaining.  I’ll try to give more examples and more ways to produce entertainment tomorrow—perhaps we need a list.


More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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