My Favorites

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Writing - part x278, Novel Form, Indirect Revelation and Tension

11 October 2017, Writing - part x278, Novel Form, Indirect Revelation and Tension

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.


Here is an example of developing or building tension and release in a scene.  This example is from Shadow of Darkness an Ancient Light novel.  We are moving toward the climax of the novel and of the revelation of the protagonist.  At this point, Stalin is dead and Beria is in the basements of the MVD (predecessor of the KGB).  Sveta is fleeing.  She goes with Aleksandr.  Now, the revelation.


When you have a protagonist’s helper, you can reveal all kinds of information to others through conversation.  Aleksandr is the protagonist’s helper.  Oba is a primary character.  Imagine if you can get these characters together so they can discuss the protagonist.  In this scene, Aleksandr and Oba get this opportunity.                     


Here is the scene:        


        When Aleksandr awoke, the sun already poured through his small window.  Sveta sat on the bed and prayed.  Oba still watched.  Aleksandr glanced at Oba, “Didn’t you sleep?”


        Aleksandr rinsed his mouth with water from his pitcher and offered some to Sveta.  She took a drink, “I’d rather have tea.  What do you have to eat?”

        “Nothing here.”

        Sveta turned to Oba, “Oba, what do you have to eat?”

        Oba’s mouth split into a frightful grin.  He opened his bag and brought out bread and sausages and a bottle of wine.

        Sveta pouted, “I still want tea—with milk and sugar.”

        Oba didn’t seem perturbed, “Next time you ask, mistress, I will have them for you.  You never asked for that before.”

        Sveta and Aleksandr shared the food.  Oba did not eat.  After their sparse meal, Sveta sat on the floor in front of the bed, “Oba, it is time.  Bring me the tablet.”  She pointed in front of her, the place she had seen in her many dreams, “Put the holder right here.”

        Aleksandr stood back perplexed, “What should I do?”

        Sveta closed her eyes and waved him back, “Stay back.  Keep out of the way.  Entertain Oba, and help him learn to speak Russian better.”  Sveta pulled out her rosary and let it hang between her breasts.  She held the crucifix while Oba brought out a highly ornamented wooden stand.  Oba reverently placed this in front of Sveta.  He dug deep in his sack and brought out a carefully wrapped package. 

        Oba knelt in front of Sveta, “I don’t dare to touch this, lady.”

        Sveta took the package from him and carefully opened it.  She was also careful not to touch its contents.  In the light of the luminous morning sun, Sveta unwrapped an unbelievably beautiful tablet of gold and onyx.  The lines of black moved raggedly in parallel diagonal lines from one corner to the next on the tablet.  It was only about fifteen by ten centimeters and about a centimeter thick.  It shined wonderfully in the light. Aleksandr wanted to get closer to it.  He wanted to see what signs and figures covered it.  Yet, for some reason, he was filled with terror of it as though the stone itself was a hazard.

        Sveta laid the thing on the dark wooden stand.  Aleksandr could see her lips moving.  He knew she intoned a prayer.  Then with deliberation, she touched the tablet.  A brilliant flash of light came from her direction.  It sprang from Sveta’s fingers and turned the light in the room golden.  Sveta would have been happy to see that.  Her shoulders sagged, but she remained upright as though she were in a trance.  Her body swayed slightly and moved.  Her face and fingers and toes twitched.  Aleksandr stared at her for a long time.  He stood up and was about to move toward her.

        Oba puckered his dark lips, “Don’t go near her.  Sit back down.”

        Aleksandr sat down, “What is she doing?”

        Oba was amused, “My mistress is using her tablet.”

        Aleksandr looked Oba up and down, “Who is she, Oba?”

        He smiled and then laughed at Aleksandr, “I heard my mistress say that she wants you to know who she really is—therefore I will tell you.  But, it is not who she is, it is a question of what she is.”

        Aleksandr stared at Oba and shook his head.

        Oba laughed again, “I cannot tell you who my mistress is—I don’t really know.  I can only tell you what she is.”

        Aleksandr gritted his teeth, “Then, what is she?”

        “She is the daughter of the Goddess of Light and her warrior.”

        Aleksandr stared at Oba as though he was insane, “There is no such thing.”

        In answer Oba pointed at Sveta, “Look at her.  Have you seen a more beautiful woman?  Her form and her face are exquisite.”

        Lamely, Aleksandr stated, “I have seen many beautiful women.”

        Oba shook his head, “I know, you have never seen one like her.  Look at the power she wields.  She is hardly more than a child, yet grown men and women bow readily to her.”

        Aleksandr leaned his elbows on his knees, “There you are right.  I never heard of such a thing before.  She is indeed beautiful, almost perfect, but how can she be a goddess?  A goddess is immortal, and Sveta was injured in the war.”

        Oba made a sound.  It was a terrible moan, “Mortal man, you try me as few ever have.  Her injury was my fault.  She tried to save me from harm.  She received those injuries because of me.  Because my mistress is who she is does not mean she cannot be harmed or that she cannot die.  She is mortal in that sense, but she is a mortal empowered by the world and, as she claims, by the Aton God.  Look at her.”

        Aleksandr’s thoughts were confused and muddy.  He licked his lips, “If she is some goddess, then who are you?”

        “I am her servant.”  Aleksandr stared at Oba expectantly and Oba continued, “I was a military leader, a warrior, a vizier if you like.  I led the servants of the court for the Goddess of Darkness.”

        Aleksandr sat up and snapped out, “Goddess of darkness, goddess of light.  These are impossible things.  Who or what are you talking about, Oba?”

        Oba carried on as though he instructed a child, “The Goddess of Darkness was a goddess to the Egyptian people.  Her sister was the Goddess of Light.”

        “How long ago are we talking about Oba?  This is certainly not true today.  The Egyptians today are Muslim.”

        “I don’t know what Muslim is, but the Goddess of Darkness and the Goddess of Light ruled Abydos in Egypt almost four thousand years ago.  My mistress told me it was from the time about fifteen hundred BC, but I don’t know what that means.”

        “That’s the eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.”

        “It was the rule of Rameses and after his death at the hands of the Aton God, the time of Akhenaton and Nefertiti.”

        “The supposed time of Moses and the Children of Israel.”

        “I don’t know those people.  I knew Rameses, and I knew Akhenaton and Nefertiti.”

        “Then how are you alive now?”

        “The same way my mistress’ mother and her aunt still live.  I was the head of the court for the Goddess of Darkness.  I managed her servants and her guards.  My position was very high.  When Rameses was defeated and destroyed by the Aton God, the Goddess of Darkness fled the two lands of Egypt.  We captured the Goddess of Light and took her with us to the land of the two lakes.  There we built a temple and a tomb.  The Goddess of Darkness can control the souls of men.  She can hold their kas, their souls from the land of the dead.  She entombed herself, her sister, and her servants under the temple.  We waited there for the world to change, and we waited a long time—almost four thousand years.  A warrior from your time released the Goddess of Light and accidentally the Goddess of Darkness.  The Goddess of Darkness eventually revived me.  She was defeated by the Goddess of Light and her warrior.  The Goddess of Darkness fled to the land called Germany.  She also interfered with your nation.  She stole my mistress from her family and forced her to learn the ways of darkness.  The Goddess of Darkness sought in my mistress a being to continue her reign of evil.”

        “Sveta was taken from her family?”

        “I admit—I kidnapped her myself from England from her mother and father, her brothers and sister.”

        “You kidnapped her?  From England?”

        “I held my mistress captive for years in the land called Germany.  The Goddess of Darkness worked through their leader, Hitler.  At the same time, she worked through your leader, Stalin.”

        Aleksandr paused a moment to think, then he asked, “Why do you serve Sveta now?”

        “That is a very difficult question.  My mistress did not want me.  She wanted to release me.  I would not let her.”

        “Why not?”

        “I owe her much more than life.  I serve her because I serve the Aton God through her.  I have much evil to make up for.  This is how I accomplish it.  This is my penance.”

        Aleksandr’s mouth moved, “This is all very difficult to understand, very difficult to believe.”

        “It really doesn’t matter what you think about it mortal man—it is simply true.”

        Aleksandr put his head in his hands.  He looked back up, “What is she doing now?  What is that stone?”

        “The stone is an offering formula—it is called a tablet.  At one time it was the Osiris Offering Formula.  What it is now, I don’t exactly know.  It once belonged to the Goddess of Darkness.”  Oba’s eyes blazed, “It belonged to the Dark Lady until my mistress defeated her.  The tablet changed to what you see now.  It is the tablet of my mistress.”

        “But what is she doing with it?”

        Oba shrugged, “I don’t really know.  She is using it to refresh her powers.  She is using it to manipulate the world.  That is her business.”

        “Oba, you have told me a lot.  I’m not sure I understand or believe any of it.”

        Oba’s chuckle slowly became full laugh.


In this scene, we have a direct revelation.  Oba tells Aleksandr who he knows Sveta to be.  How must is true?  This is the question.  You can see Aleksandr doesn’t know how much or what to believe.  This is all outside of his understanding.  Readers usually assume everything that is revealed is true.  This is somewhat correct, but should always be measured by the character. 


We know that Oba sees the world through his cultural and time-dependent blinders.  Everyone does.  The reader should interpret the revelation through Oba’s eyes to see what he really means.  This is one of the great powers of literature.


In any case, the revelation in this scene is Oba to Aleksandr.  Instead of internalizing it or having it come from Sveta’s lips, I show it directly to you through Oba to Aleksandr.  The information indeed tells Aleksandr about Sveta, but the point is to inform and reveal Sveta to the reader. 


Show, don’t tell.  Show the reader the revelation of the protagonist.  Use conversation and action to show your protagonist.  


I’ll give you more examples.


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

No comments:

Post a Comment