1 February 2020, Writing - part xx121 Writing a Novel, Tension and Release in Scenes
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 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 websites 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 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.
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
Ideas. We need ideas. Ideas allow us to figure out the protagonist and the telic flaw. Ideas don’t come fully armed from the mind of Zeus. We need to cultivate ideas.
1. Read novels.
2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
6. Make the catharsis.
The development of ideas is based on study and research, but it is also based on creativity. Creativity is the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect). Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.
If creativity, especially in writing, is caused by writing—then we better get writing. Write-on. Yes, so what does this writing for creativity look like?
Developing creativity is all about writing. Well, there are the other six actions you should accomplish. Then write. Many ask, what should I write about? I understand this. If you don’t know what to write about, then what do you write about? Random stuff? Nah.
Let’s write about stuff that will help us both write better and that will build up our writing portfolio.
I’ll repeat. We started with paragraphs. I recommended settings. So the exercise was setting paragraphs for places and people. Next, we put the people into motion in action scenes in our settings, and then we brought two characters together for dialog. We have been writing vignettes. They are almost scenes, but not quite. What we need to make them a scene is to give them a tension and release. Tension and release might turn our vignettes into short stories as well as scenes. Here is a trick of writing—a scene can make a short story. The question is how do we place tension and release into a vignette?
Pick a theme. Develop a tension and release and write your scene.
The creativity we are aiming for is the tension and release in the scene. We saw how the setting paragraphs are nothing but description. The creativity is in the writing and not necessarily the setting itself. Perhaps you could say the creativity is in the choice of the setting, and indeed it is. Skill and creativity in writing is very different than the concept of creativity in creating a novel, short story, or a scene. Let’s make this very clear.
Some people are incredible writers. The words fall trippingly off the tips of their pens, pencils, and fingers. Most great writers are not necessarily incredible writers. Great writers keep the words and writing out of the way of the readers. They put the readers into the suspension of disbelief and keep them there. This is great writing. Incredible writing is writing where the words become the focus of the writing itself. Think Shakespeare. Shakespeare, Alan Bradly, Ray Bradbury, and Catherynne Valente are just four writers whose writing skill is based highly on the use of words and figures of speech. They are all very creative writers, but their skill as a writer isn’t wholly based on their creativity, plots, themes, and imagination. They are incredibly skillful authors, but then there are great authors.
Great authors like Charles Dickens, the Bronte sisters, George Elliot, Ray Bradbury (incredible and great), Robert Heinlein, Steinbeck, Nathanial Hawthorne, James Cooper and all are great authors because they use creativity to develop settings, characters, plots, and themes and are able to write them into a cohesive and complete novel where the writing puts the reader into the suspension of disbelief and holds them there.
Ray Bradbury is the rare author whose style of writing turns prose into poetry. Authors who are incredible, write prose that is like poetry. Authors who are great produce an entertaining novel that is entertaining to generations and not just single markets, times, or groups. The question for us is how do we develop this kind of creativity?
This kind of creativity is more than just the choice of setting, character, actions, and dialog. This creativity is focused on the protagonist, antagonist, protagonist’s helper, and telic flaw. Notice that the characters are indeed a part of this creativity. The interaction of the characters through the telic flaw is the plot. This is also a part of creativity.
If you remember, I wrote that the scene outline follows the overall outline of the novel (see above) and that the scenes should follow the input/output sequence shown in the scene outline. This means that as an author, the creativity I need to apply is first the development of the protagonist (relatively simple and easy). Second, the telic flaw (the resolution is obvious, but the means of resolution is not). Third, the means of the telic flaw resolution (likely the most complex piece of creativity). Many novels by great and incredible authors have insufficient telic flaw resolutions, but the novels are still considered great writing.
If you boil this down to the scenes, the tension and release in the scenes, all of which lead to the telic flaw resolution, is the main part of the creativity of any novel or short story. Let me see if I can explain this clearly. To me, the protagonist is a very important part of the creativity in my novels, but you see that generally the protagonist isn’t really all that complex. If you use pathos development, you can produce a pretty complex and creative protagonist off the cuff.
The telic flaw requires more creativity, but it usually is tied directly to the protagonist. Make a protagonist, make an antagonist, and the telic flaw becomes clear. It might not be a great telic flaw, but it will work to be a telic flaw. The telic flaw resolution is really the most creative thing a great author designs. The resolution for a comedy must appear to be impossible, but then be resolved in a way that seems inevitable. This requires real creativity.
Since the resolution of the telic flaw is the main part of creativity and the tension and release in each scene drives to the resolution of the telic flaw, this means the main development of creativity in any novel is the tension and release in each scene. We will look at this a little more.
We moved from settings and description to action and dialog in terms of choices and creativity—the next movement is to themes and tension and release in the same context.
I need to get to the point of extrapolating creativity, and also finish the thought about event horizon and worldview.
The beginning of creativity is study and effort. We can use this to extrapolate to creativity. In addition, we need to look at recording ideas and working with ideas.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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