20 June 2018, Writing - part x530, Developing Skills, Build a Scene, Character Voice and Action
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.
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.
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. I’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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.
For novel 30: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
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
Today: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and then writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing). If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.
With a character, we now can move into the mechanics of the writing.
Here is my expected scene setup.
1. Initial scene: General Bolang informs Sorcha and Deirdre that they are going off to a Catholic girl’s boarding school instead of to aviation training. He gives them reasons, and sends them off. This is the output.
2. Based on the expected output, Deirdre and Sorcha are taken or go to school. Somehow I need to give them no options to escape. They inspect the school and the output is the end of the day.
3. First day of class is the obvious input. The output will be their investigation of the off areas in the school that they observed. Perhaps they will talk to the teachers and the students.
With a scene input, we can move to the scene itself. The scene input is the hard part. Following the setting, we move on to the output. The next step is to write the tension development in the scene.
An entertaining (successful) scene is always made up of tension and release in the scene. No matter what the subject or concept of the scene, a scene cannot be considered a good scene without tension and release.
First a scene is not a novel, but every scene must include tension and release. This is a complex way of stating that every scene must be filled with entertainment and excitement. Tension and release is the way you incorporate entertainment and excitement into a scene.
1. Setting tension – there can be tension that comes directly from the setting.
2. Character tension – tension that comes from the interaction of the characters.
3. Item tension – tension that comes from items interjected into the
Character tension is the main way we build tension and release in a scene.
Perhaps I should look at tension from this standpoint:
1. Telic flaw
4. Existing conflict
5. Character details
6. Setting details
7. Item details
Whole books have been written (or should be written on author voice). This is a very difficult and complex idea. Character voice is a little easier to tackle.
I made the point yesterday, the author must develop a great character (protagonist) and then reveal the character (protagonist). A major idea of the character revelation is the character voice. I wrote that character voice is mainly communicated through dialog. Actually, I’ll assert that most character voice comes from action tags. A really great author can develop some of the character voice from the actual words and dialog used, but without the context of expressions and movements, most dialog is very difficult to fully comprehend and especially to define as voice. There is another means to develop character voice, but it is somewhat limited.
You can develop character voice through action and description. Character actions and action define character voice. You might ask, what is the difference is action compared to action tags? Action tags occur in dialog, but action is what the character does.
This goes directly back to the concept of show and don’t tell. For example, you can write, Jack was compassionate. That is telling, plus it is meaningless. Sure you say Jack is compassionate, but is he really compassionate? A good author doesn’t tell us that Jack is compassionate, the good author shows us that Jack is compassionate.
The telling is an awful way to write. It might have been acceptable in the beginning of the novel, but it is not acceptable at all today. You see it in some modern novels, but this telling is not the way a good or great author writes.
If you want to express the voice of Jack as a compassionate person, show us Jack as a compassionate person. One of the most beautiful examples of this comes out of the end of the Victorian Era. Sara Crew, the Little Princess of the novel of the same name, is indeed a compassionate character. This is part of her voice. To show us just how compassionate Sara is, the author drags Sara down to the lowest level she can imagine. Sara loses her father, her wealth, her position, and is abused as a servant in the house. At the end of an especially terrible, wet, and weary day, Sara finds a six pence and uses it to buy buns to eat. She hasn’t had anything since breakfast, and she is starving (literally). Sara gives all of her buns but one to a starving urchin girl at the stoop of the bakery. The urchin is hungrier than Sara. With this scene, we know that Sara is compassionate. The author shows us in a very powerful way how compassionate Sara is.
The author could have written, Sara was a compassionate child. This would not even come close to the power and vividness of the picture the author shows us of Sara.
This is my point. The author should show the character. This is a huge part of character voice. This is exactly who the character is. Further, this is how great writers write—show and don’t tell. If you even feel the touch of a desire to tell, then figure a way to show what you want to tell. This will improve your writing 100%. I guarantee you.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, 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