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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Writing - part xx Writing a Novel, Education and Judaism

3 October 2019, Writing - part xx Writing a Novel, Education and Judaism

Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment.  I'll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher.  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 websites
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 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.  The theme statement is: 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 cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective
Cover Proposal
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30th novel, working title Red Sonja.  I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective.  I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter
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 30:  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 31:  Deirdre and Sorcha are redirected to French finishing school where they discover difficult mysteries, people, and events. 

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:  Why don’t we go back to the basics and just writing a novel?  I can tell you what I do, and show you how I go about putting a novel together.  We can start with developing an idea then move into the details of the writing. 

To start a novel, I picture an initial scene.  I may start from a protagonist or just launch into mental development of an initial scene.  I get the idea for an initial scene from all kinds of sources.  To help get the creative juices flowing, let’s look at the initial scene. 

1.     Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
2.     Action point in the plot
3.     Buildup to an exciting scene
4.     Indirect introduction of the protagonist

The protagonist is the novel and the initial scene.  If you look at the four basic types of initial scenes, you see the reflection of the protagonist in each one.  If you noticed my examples yesterday, I expressed the scene idea, but none were completely independent of the protagonist.  Indeed, in most cases, I get an idea with a protagonist.  The protagonist is incomplete, but a sketch to begin with.  You can start with a protagonist, but in my opinion, as we see above, the protagonist is never completely independent from the initial scene.  As the ideas above imply, we can start with the characters, specifically the protagonist, antagonist or protagonist’s helper, and develop an initial scene. 

Let’s look at a subject that is really ignored in the modern era.  I’m not certain how much this can help your current writing.  I would argue that theoretically, this subject can really help those who write historical and futuristic fiction.  It depends on how your write your historical and futuristic fiction.  There are two ways to write historical fiction—let’s look at this.

The first and most common way to write historical fiction is to write a novel that projects modern ideas and history as historical ideas and history.  In other words to present modern ideas and historical ideas as the same.  I think this is perhaps the most egregious and perverse means of presenting a false view of history.  The author is either completely ignorant of the past, is intentionally attempting to education people in a false view of history, or both.  The real historical world is very different both culturally and socially from our current world.  The true author attempts to convey this in historical writing.

The second and less common means of historical writing is to actually incorporate the past into a novel to convey the actual way people thought and acted in the past.  This approach actually goes back into time to give a complete view of the way the people thought and acted.  To this end, let’s look at how the world changed and how people thought in the past.  This is more of a historical look at the world for the purpose of understanding how the world worked in the past and how people thought and acted.  We’ll use historical information to see what concerned affected their lives. Here is a list of potential issues.  We’ll look at them in detail:

1.   Vocabulary
2.   Ideas
3.   Social construction
4.   Culture
5.   Politics
6.   History
7.   Language
8.   Common knowledge
9.   Common sense
10. Reflected culture
11. Reflected history
12. Reflected society
13. Truth
14. Food
15. Money
16. Weapons and warfare
17. Transportation
18. Communication
19. Writing
20. Education

Education is everything in terms of writing and especially writing novels.  If you remember, really before universal literacy, the novel didn’t have a chance.  Just like every great innovation or invention, the development of an entertainment market caused the novel to be created and to make its mark on human history.

The Jews had a different view of education.  From the beginning of the synagogue system to the modern era, Jewish education has been similar although the rigor has decreased significantly since it began. 

The synagogue system started sometime between the splitting of the kingdoms (Israel and Judah) and the Babylonian diaspora.  I’m in the camp that it happened early, but there is some contention.  What’s about 500 years among friends, a drop in the historical bucket?  In any case, the purpose of the Temple in Jewish thought was not education, but sacrifice.  No educating went on in the Temple—or rather no education outside of the education of the Priests and the Levites.  The point of the education of the Priests and the Levites was not in the Jewish ideas but in the sacrifice and the Torah basis for sacrifice.  This is where we see the influence in history.  In the Old Testament we see the rediscovery of the scrolls of the Torah and Tanakh under Jehoshaphat.  At this point, we know the advent of the synagogue and the pharisaic model was about to be launched.

In the pharisaic model, the rabbis taught in the synagogues.  The synagogues were not places of sacrifice (only the temple was supposed to be) but rather of gathering, praying, and learning.  The main focus of the learning after Jehoshaphat was that of the Torah and Tanakh.  The Torah is the first five documents of the Old Testament.  The Tanakh is the remaining scrolls including the apocryphal scrolls. 

In the synagogue ever boy was sent to memorize the Torah, and they did.  The synagogue had a rabbi and a set or a single Torah scroll.  The boys would memorize the scrolls.  They had to memorize them because ancient writing is all mnemonics.  We’ve been over this before.  When the boy became twelve or had pubic hair, he was considered an adult and made the “reading” from the Torah scrolls for the day in the synagogue.  This was called the bar mitzvah, and was the coming of age for the boy.  The reading of the Torah scroll is done the same way today.  The reader is a layman from the synagogue community and has two helpers beside him.  He places a Torah pointer called a yad under each letter and recites the text based on the symbols and memorization.  The helpers are supposed to aid in the reading and the exposition of the reading—in other words, the unmarked commas, periods, and expression in the writing.

Once the boy memorized the Torah, if he showed special skill in learning, the rabbi might suggest that he apply to another higher rabbi—basically one with the Tanakh scrolls.  The boy would go to the new rabbi and sit down in the presence of the rabbi and his other followers.  The rabbi would recite the scrolls of the Tanakh and the followers would sit around the scroll and memorize it.  At some point, likely daily, the rabbi would check the progress of his followers.  If the student did well, he was fed and housed—if not, he was not fed or housed.  This continued with the memorization of all the scrolls of the Tanakh.  Then began the learning of the Mishna and the commentary and rulings called the Talmud.

The Mishna and the Talmud were not written anywhere until about 100 AD.  They were passed on via the pharisaic system through the synagogues.  Since the Mishna is the oral Torah, the synagogue system needed to be in place from a very early time.  The advanced followers would memorize the Mishna and the Talmud.  Then began the reasoning and advanced point of the pharisaic learning. 

The student who had memorized the Torah, the Tanakh, the Mishna, and all the Talmud would be in a position to provide insights on the problems that came about and needed rulings to add to the Talmud.  Only the most advanced and educated of rabbis could provide these new rulings.  Their words became eternal parts of the Talmud.  So it is today.

Thus, we see the very advanced system of the Jewish pharisaic education, and in a very modern mold (to us).  We see students involved in memorization and learning concerning ancient writings.  The early Greeks were not similar at all and focused mainly on the physical with forays into memorization and later logic.

I pose, along with other scholars that the Greek’s exposure to the Jews likely moved their education process more to the systems we see during the first Century.  We’ll get to that next.           

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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