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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Writing - part xx002 Writing a Novel, Western Education

5 October 2019, Writing - part xx002 Writing a Novel, Western Education

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.

Education remained the same from the Greek model until the world learned to really read.  Reading turned from memorized mnemonics to real reading when training scrolls became the normal for writing.

Training scrolls were scrolls where the words were separated in the text.  This allowed the readers to pick out the words and form the ideas themselves.  Training scrolls were used as an educational tool to save costs—you didn’t require a scroll slave.  Somewhere from 300 to 600 AD, training scrolls began to become the normal means of writing.  You should note that this meant that the cost of paper was coming down—people could afford to put spaces between words.  Punctuation did not happen yet, but it was on its way.  With the advent of training scrolls, reading went from a group function to a solitary function.  This was the beginning of reading for individual entertainment.  Most people didn’t think much about entertainment and reading at the time, but that was the beginning.

Education changed radically based on the ability of people to read on their own.  The end of this was the age of universal literacy.  In any case, the world of education went from the complete inability to read from scratch to the ability to hand a scroll or a codex to a student and have them read it.  The problem wasn’t the reading but rather the knowledge. 

With reading what I could do now is hand a book to a student, have them reading, and then test them on the knowledge.  This became the basis for all Western education to the age of universal education. 

The presumption for book based education was that the student knew how to read.  Know how to read was considered a basic skill taught to a child by the age of seven usually in a day but for slow children in a week by their mothers.  Obviously, reading was a skill of the upper and middle class, but it was moving slowly into the lower classes.  By the age of universal literacy, almost everyone could read.

In this time and until the age of universal education, the children were taught to read.  The problem was the availability of books.  If you remember, books were very expensive—they each cost the same as a forty acre farm.  If you knew how to read, you needed access to books.  What a family did was to send their children to someone who had access to books.  This person, teacher, would hand a book to the new student.  The student would read the book—they were usually given a day or two.  At the end, the teacher would orally test the student on the content of the book. If paper were available, the student would write a paper on the book or some subject covered by the book. In Britain, this was called “reading for a degree.”  This was the basic process of all education until the age of universal literacy. 

Even today, a college education in Britain is called reading for a degree.  At Oxford and the other classical universities in Britain, the student was given access to books.  The student would read under the supervision of the professor.  When the student had read what the professor required, they would be given an oral test followed by a paper or dissertation based on the reading.  If they passed the oral and the written paper, they were graduated.  This is how and why many students in Victorian Era novels, stories, and accounts spent their time in dissipation instead of study and never ended up graduating.  Still, for the industrious, this was a wonderful way of study.

The next great change was the age of universal literacy in the West.

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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