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This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Where to Start: The Novel's First Scenes

I never begin a novel at the beginning. I usually have a vivid scene in my head featuring the hero or heroine that makes me want to tell a story around it. Oddly enough, it usually isn’t a love scene that spurs me into action. They are the most fun things to write, but my stories rarely befing there.

For ‘The Gift of Surrender’ it is the moment that Sarianna first lays eyes on Nikulainen. I admit to being inspired by the amazing exploits of the wondrously beautiful Legolas Greenleaf. I saw a lithe, beautiful man racing around the tops of the Citadel outer walls dispatching assassins with his long blond hair whipping in the wind. I had a recurring image of how he looked at the battle’s end in the light of the setting sun with his hair still mussed as he looked at the woman he would love for the first time. It was a scene that I couldn’t get out of my head.

I had no plans to write a novel at that time, but the characters begged to be written. Thus, I had to figure out who Sarianna was and what forces were swirling around such a young woman that would result in assassins arriving to kill her. I had to figure out how a man unlike any Sarianna had ever seen came to be in the area and in a position to save her. Then, I had to figure out how they would end up together happily ever after. The entire plot of the novel sprung from that one scene.

The sequel (and possibly a third novel) have sprung from single scenes as well. For ‘The Price of Surrender’ (it will be released next month), it was a scene in the woods where Sarianna is once again in peril from assassins. This time, her 6 year old son is trying to convince her and her companion, Laurila, that the danger is real and headed their way. Though he is a child, Sarianna trusts his instincts because he is so much like his father. They hide in the trees while Laurila tries to flee. There is a taut cat and mouse game in those woods where Armas, Nikulainen’s prodigal brother, comes from nowhere to rescue Laurila and divert the assassins from Sarianna and her children.

Everything flowed from that scene. Why and how did Armas come to be in the woods near his brother’s kingdom? Why were the assassins after him? How did Laurila come to live with them? How would the family react to Armas’ return? Would he or could he find happiness with Laurila. And what danger stalked the errant Prince that could yet destroy them all?

I suppose I like to begin with where the drama lies with the characters. Everything else, including the love scenes flow from that.

A quick note about the use of Finnish in the character names and places. I didn’t italicize because that always annoyed me. I know it’s perfectly valid, but it somehow makes the words less part of the fabric of the story if I keep pointing out that they are unusual words. I wanted them to become part of the lexicon of language in the novel, so I treated them as I did English words.

1 comment:

Caffey said...

Hi DL, Cathie here (TBRAnxiety) I have gotten THE GIFT OF SURRENDER in ebook (wanted the print of both but have to wait on that :( but it was so great to read this even before I start this book shortly, because I got a glimpse (no spoilers) of Sarianna and Nikulainen (I love the names!) and too the unique way you write your stories from the middle or somewhere where there's a scene that's so meaningful to the story.
Now i'm really looking forward to the next book released next month. I have to check your site out for where! Thanks for sharing this! Beautiful to read.