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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Writing - part x218, Novel Form, Tension and Release, Means of Entertainment

12 August 2017, Writing - part x218, Novel Form, Tension and Release, Means of 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.


What makes a scene entertaining?  My off the cuff answer is tension and release.  This is an adequate answer as long as you understand just what is tension and release.  As an author, you look for conflicts that can be used from scene to scene to continue building tension and giving some release until you hit the climax of the novel.  The climax must resolve the telic flaw of the protagonist. 


How do we find tension and release?  Tension should be built into your plot and theme by the characters, telic flaw, and setting.  Thus, if I have a vampire and she goes to a Christmas party given by a supernatural person whose job and sensitivity is to find and eliminate vampires.  Is that tension enough?  Yesterday, I gave you an example of a girl who was secretly attending a boarding school.  Another girl could see through her magic.  Is that tension enough? 


Every one of my protagonists, their telic flaws, and the situations I surround them with produce tension.  If that isn’t enough, I will develop more circumstances to produce tension in a scene.  Let’s look at the first example.  This is from Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire:


At 1900 on Friday, 12 December George and Heidi stood in front of the Lyons House.  Two rather new looking stone lions sat at either side of the very large oak door.  The house the door fronted looked large and beautiful.  Its facing was stone and brick in the emperor style.  It appeared very old.  George wore a suit and an inexpensive Christmas tie.  Heidi wore a very frilly white dress with red and green panels on the skirt and the top.  She wore a jaunty beret made of the same white lace, red, and green material as the dress.  It was a warm enough evening that they didn’t require their coats.  The ground was wet, but the rain stopped earlier in the afternoon.

A young looking butler opened the door to them, “Good evening.  I’m Harold, the butler.  May I announce you?”

George proffered his invitation, “George Mardling and my niece Heidi Mardling.”

The butler smiled, “The receiving line just ended.  Please follow me.”

They stepped through the door, and the butler closed it after them.  Harold stepped ahead of them.  Heidi whispered to George, “Did you time our arrival to intentionally miss the receiving line?”

George grinned behind his hand, “I don’t have to give up all my trade secrets to you, do I?”

The butler led them down the hallway off the foyer.  It opened into a classical large ballroom with twin staircases at the back.  Dark and ancient wood paneled the interior.  The rugs were Turkish and slightly ragged.  Heidi cocked her head, “A very wealthy and old family.”

George smiled back, “Perhaps.”

The room was not crowded with people, but at least fifteen couples stood in the space.  Buffet tables filled with food and drink were stationed under the stairs.  A quartet at the left side played Christmas music intermixed with classics.  Harold, the butler, led Heidi and George toward a handsome middle-aged couple at the side.  The man was medium height and shorter than George.  His hair was light brown and his features were fine but nondescript.  He possessed a very pleasant face with a few wrinkles--most seemed to grace his eyes and lips as though he was used to smiling. 

The woman looked slight, petite and exquisitely beautiful.  Her skin was the color of cappuccino.  Her hair was black, long, and silky.  Her eyes seemed more appropriate on an Egyptian tomb painting and were large and brown and exotic.  She possessed an almost timeless appearance, but slight wrinkles marked her eyes and lips in almost the same measure as the man—as though they had known many of the same joys and sorrows.

The butler stepped to the side, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Long, may I present Mr. George Mardling and his niece Ms. Heidi Mardling.”

Mrs. Long immediately stepped forward and put her hand out to Heidi.  She maintained a very bright smile on her face.  She took Heidi’s hand in hers and her eyes went wide.  Heidi instantly released Mrs. Long’s hand.  Mrs. Long became breathless.  She stammered a little, “Good evening.  I’m Sveta Long.”

Heidi made a deep curtsy, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Long for inviting us to your party.”

Sveta reached out to Heidi again.  Heidi stepped back, but Sveta connected with Heidi’s shoulder.  Sveta froze, and her head came up.  She frowned and stammered again, “You’re very welcome.  Make yourself comfortable in our home,” but her face clearly said exactly the opposite.

Heidi glanced in Sveta’s eyes, then quickly turned her head away, “What I really need is a glass of sweet wine.”

Sveta looked as if she was about to say something, but she lowered her head and stepped back.

Heidi sighed.

Daniel’s lips twitched, “I’m not sure what is going on, exactly.”  He grabbed George’s hand and shook it, “Good to see you back in England, George.”

George forced a smile, “I’m glad to be back.  I’m looking for a new assignment as soon as possible.”

Daniel clapped George on the shoulder, “I really hoped to keep you here in London for a while.  I have some new recruits and training for you to supervise.”

George grimaced, “Sounds long term.  I guess we’ll make do.”


“Heidi and I.”

Daniel frowned and put his head back, “Don’t tell me you are sharing your flat with this young woman.”

Heidi blinked, “I am happy to have a place to stay while I’m visiting in London.”

Sveta stepped forward, “No, you should stay here.  As I understand, the single flats the organization is assigning now are barely suitable for one—I can’t imagine a young woman having to put up with such close quarters…”

Heidi glared at Sveta, “I would feel completely out of place anywhere else.”

Sveta glared back, “I insist.”

“I equally insist and respectfully decline—Mr. Mardling is my guardian in London.  It would be unthinkable for me to stay anywhere else.”

Sveta narrowed her eyes at Heidi and Heidi squinted back at Sveta.

Daniel stepped between them, “Sveta, dear, I’m certain I can assign George a larger flat.”

Sveta let out her breath.  She visibly calmed, “Yes… I’m sure we can work things out.  Are you certain, Heidi, you don’t want to spend your time here until we can get George a larger place.”

Heidi didn’t back down.  She made a slicing motion with her hand, “I will not.”

Sveta forced a smile, “Very well.  But, I do think you are a bit young to drink wine.”

At that moment, a maid carrying a platter of filled wine glasses walked by.  Heidi gracefully plucked a glass off the platter.  She downed the whole glass in a swallow and turned Sveta a deep frown, “I do not like dry white wines.  Do you have something more acceptable to my palate?”

Sveta’s eyes bulged.  She took a step toward Heidi and appeared like she was about to leap.  Heidi crouched slightly.

Daniel grasped Sveta’s arm, and she came to herself.

George raised his hands, “Heidi is much older than she looks.  We just came from Poland where there are no age limits for drinking alcohol.  She usually has a glass or two every evening.”

Sveta narrowed her eyes again, “I see.  Heidi,” she almost spat the name, “You may drink as much as you desire in my house.  Harold, please bring up a sweet German Riesling for Ms. Mardling.”

Heidi raised her head high, “An auslese, if you have it.”

Harold, the butler, bowed, “Yes, ma’am.”

Heidi glanced at Sveta from the sides of her eyes, “Thank you again for your hospitality.”

Daniel pulled Sveta back a step.  Heidi grasped George by the hand and led him toward the buffet tables.

When they moved out of earshot, George leaned over and whispered, “What was that all about?”

Heidi didn’t look at him, “I think she realizes what I am.”

“What?  Are you kidding?”

“I am completely serious.  I think she would have attacked me right there if she could.  I am in serious danger here—in this house—and in this city.”

George turned and glanced back.  Daniel and Sveta engaged in a heated conversation.  Sveta did not look at them.  She pointed back toward them.

Heidi moved to the buffet and picked up a plate.

George whispered, “Why did you have to antagonize her so much.  She is my boss’ wife, shouldn’t you try to gain her as an ally?”

Heidi glared at him, “She antagonized me first.  Does a wolf try to ally itself with the hunter?  Or the sheep with the wolf?  Right now, I wish to eat her food.  It surely isn’t poisoned—not if she fed it to her friends.  I also wish to remain in the crowd where she can’t find me alone.  When we return to your apartment, I will go on foot.”

George caught her arm, “You sound like you have been through this before.”

“Never before, but I have not lived this long without learning some degree of caution.”

“I find that hard to believe—you were not living very well when I discovered you.”

Heidi raised her voice, “Your life-blood was eking out of your body when I found you.”

George whispered forcefully, “Sveta is my boss’ wife.  She runs an office in the organization.  You need to mollify her and not antagonize her.”

Heidi stared at him, “You choose her over me?”  Her eye twitched.

“I didn’t choose her at all.  I just want to keep my job.  Where do you think this clothing comes from?”

Heidi threw down her plate, “If that’s the way it is, you may have it back right now.”  She began to unbutton her dress.

George grabbed her hands, “Stop that.  I didn’t mean it that way.”  He continued lamely, “I need this work.”

She stopped, “I understand.  I’m just not happy about it.”

George buttoned her dress, “Everyone is staring.”

She lowered her head, “I’m sorry, Mr. Mardling.”  She kept her head down and glanced up at him with her eyes alone.

Arguments between strangers, friends, and lovers are always fun that is tension.  The resolution is the release.  I promised you a vampire in the house of a person whose job is to protect from such creatures.  That little confrontation causes a confrontation between George and Heidi, the vampire.  The one tension (initial argument) is not resolved yet—it is later in this scene.  The argument between Heidi and George peters out. 


The situation I set up provides exquisite tension for great release.  I also produced more tension, on purpose, just because I could.  The episode with the wine is pure Heidi.  The fight with George is based on Heidi’s personality, but also a little jealousy.  As an author, we look for points and issues that will provoke tension, then we write our way out with some release.  That is the point and the power of tension and release.   


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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