Writing—So You Want to be a Writer, Current Novel, Theme Statements and Scene Themes

21 January 2020, this blog is about writing in scenes.  I’m focusing on the tools to build scenes.  I’ll leave up the parts of a novel because I think this is an important picture for any novelist.  I’m writing about how to begin and write a novel.

  1. The initial scene
  2. The rising action scenes
  3. The climax scene
  4. The falling action scene(s)
  5. The dénouement scene(s)


Announcement:   I need a new publisher.  Ancient Light has been delayed due to the economy, and it may not be published.  Ancient Light includes Aegypt, Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness.  If you are interested in historical/suspense literature, please give my novels a try.  You can read about them at http://www.ancientlight.com.  I’ll keep you updated.

Today’s Blog: The skill of using language comes from the ability to put together figures of speech that act as symbols in writing.

Short digression:  In Kansas.

Here are my rules of writing:

  1. Entertain your readers.
  2. Don’t confuse 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.

  1. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.


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.

Scene development:

Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the 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


First step of writing—enjoy writing.  Writing is a chore—especially if you don’t know what you are doing, and you don’t know where you are going.  Let me help you with that.


I’m currently writing a novel that is a little difficult to explain.  It’s a reflected worldview novel so it includes fairy creatures, British mythical beings and gods, and a vampire.  It is an adult novel, but is set in a girl’s boarding school in Saint Malo France.  The initial scene was based on another novel titled Deidre: Enchantment and the School.


What I’ll do now is focus on the details of words, sentences, paragraphs, and scenes on entertainment.  I can assure you if these are right, the other parts will be too.


A novel lives or dies based on the initial scene.  This means if you don’t get the initial scene right, you won’t sell the novel to a publisher, get the novel published, sell the novel when it is published, or get another novel published.  The initial scene is so important it is worth dedicating most of any discussion on writing to the initial scene.


Eventually, you finish your exciting and action packed initial scene, and you are ready to write the rising action.  The rising action is the heart of the novel.  It is the most fun part to write and the most interesting part of most novels.  However, notice, if the initial scene is poor, poorly written, boring, or whatever, no one will ever get into your rising action.


Let’s presume we have a good initial scene, and we are ready to move forward with the rising action.  Just follow 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 we start with the scene input from the output of the previous scene and begin writing with the setting, we have made a great beginning.  The next question is what happens in the scene.


Each scene needs to have its own theme or idea that relates back to the telic flaw and to the input and setting.  In a scene, we need to develop tension.  In the development of the scene, the tension is what will make the scene entertaining.


Scenes have themes and novels have themes.  I don’t necessarily write down the theme of most of my scenes, but I always write down a theme statement for each of my novels.  I mostly do it for you, my readers, but I also do it as a creative exercise for myself.


Novel themes are works of creativity—they are the basis of a novel.  The trick is that we need to write one.  If you can write a theme statement, theoretically, you can write the novel.  Here are the two examples of theme statements I gave you yesterday.


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.


I breached the concept of the theme as a movement in a novel—a movement just as the movement in a symphony has its own theme.  The theme of a movement in a symphony can’t be expressed with a single word even if we try with a word like allegro.  Likewise, the theme of a novel can’t be properly expressed with a single word like, love, horror, fear, and etc.  You definitely want to express the theme (movement), but you need more than a single word to express the theme of a novel.  At the same time, how do you capture the feel of a novel with even a statement?


This is why I suggest the use of the theme statement like the examples above.  I’ve toyed with longer theme statements, but I’ve found them useless.  I have written a “concept of the work,” but I’ve found these to be more explanatory than helpful for writing.  To be clear, in a concept of the work, the author tries to explain what he or she was trying to express artistically within the work.  Many times this is better left unsaid, but I’ve found it important for myself to write it down, almost always after the work was complete.  In other words, not helpful for writing, helpful for understanding.


There is a lot in both the idea of the theme, the concept of the plot, and the idea of storylines.  I think the theme statement captures the idea of the theme and the plot.  In fact, I have had other sources call a theme statement a plot statement.  This is why I think they are different.


The theme statement’s purpose is to capture the movement or feel of the novel—it is a beginning concept that doesn’t change through the writing of the novel.  On the other hand, the plot makes significant changes and development in my writing, and I assume in most writers writing.  If you asked me to outline or describe the plot, I’d have problems.  In fact, if you have written a synopsis of any novel, you know how difficult it is to get even a portion of the basic plot on paper.  Let’s step off from this and look at the idea of the synopsis, theme, and plot.  I still want to tie the theme statement to the themes in the scenes.


The most important thing for the scene is developing the entertainment in the scene.


I’ll write more tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site 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

About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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