11 July 2020, Writing - part xx282 Writing a Novel, Plots and Experience
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 we have filled our mind with all kinds of information and ideas, we are ready to become creative. Creativity means the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. Literally, we are seeing the world in a new way, or actually, we are seeing some part of the world in a new way.
I’ve worked through creativity and the protagonist. The ultimate point is that if you properly develop your protagonist, you have created your novel. This moves us on to plots and initial scenes. As I noted, if you have a protagonist, you have a novel. The reason is that a protagonist comes with a telic flaw, and a telic flaw provides a plot and theme. If you have a protagonist, that gives you a telic flaw, a plot, and a theme. I will also argue this gives you an initial scene as well.
So, we worked extensively on the protagonist. I gave you many examples great, bad, and average. Most of these were from classics, but I also used my own novels and protagonists as examples. Here’s my plan.
1. The protagonist comes with a telic flaw – the telic flaw isn’t necessarily a flaw in the protagonist, but rather a flaw in the world of the protagonist that only the Romantic protagonist can resolve.
2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
8. Plot examples from my novels.
9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
10. Writer’s block as a problem of continuing the plot.
Every great or good protagonist comes with their own telic flaw. I showed how this worked with my own writing and novels. Let’s go over it in terms of the plot.
This is all about the telic flaw. Every protagonist and every novel must come with a telic flaw. They are the same telic flaw. That telic flaw can be external, internal or both.
We found that a self-discovery telic flaw or a personal success telic flaw can potentially take a generic plot. We should be able to get an idea for the plot purely from the protagonist, telic flaw and setting. All of these are interlaced and bring us our plot.
If you can disconnect the telic flaw from your plot, to some degree, you can select your plot, however, whatever plot you choose, you must understand what you are writing about. Thus, we need to choose a plot that is based on our event horizon and what we understand.
Here is a serious and significant problem in much of literature. Writers should usually never think about writing a plot about something they don’t understand. Thus, in the example of the logistic based plot I gave yesterday, I would never attempt to write such a plot unless I understood logistic operations. This doesn’t necessarily limit our plots so much as it focuses our writing.
Look at your life skills and experience and use that as a basis to develop a plot. Many subjects are general enough to develop an adequate plot, but an adequate plot isn’t the goal. What we really need is something that is special and unique.
Now, I’m of the opinion that most people possess special experiences and skills that they can use for writing and to turn into special and unique plots. I’m sure there are really boring people who have no skills or experience worth writing about, but I’m sure they are rare. Here’s what I’ve seen in my experience. Many people I’ve met assert that their life and experiences aren’t very exciting at all, but I think this is partially a problem of perception. For example, many pilots I know tell me exactly this—their experiences in aviation are worth writing about. On the other hand, I’ve had multiple life experiences in flying that I’ve written about. I see much or my flying experience as a stepping off place for writing about spaceships, flight operations, military operations, test operations, space operations, space education, warfare operations (especially flying), military flight operations, military flight history, civil flight operations, civil flight history, and all. Now, I do have experience in all of these fields except in space operations. Space operations are easy to study and are all based on flight and specifically military flight operations. This experience alone allows me to write all kinds of plots from science fiction to military to warfare to training. There are millions of combinations and permutations from just this experience, but this isn’t all of my experience. You can add to this military training, civil training, schooling, graduate schooling, post graduate schooling, higher education operations, technical writing, technical papers, symposiums, intelligence, intelligence operations, and all. These provide all kinds of potential plots. What is your skillset?
Make an appraisal of your skills and experiences. Take a look at the telic flaw of your protagonist. Or just look at your skills and experiences. What could you write a plot about? If you work in a bank, you could write all kinds of stuff about economics, banking, and finance. If you are a teacher, you could write about teaching, education, schools, becoming a teacher, students, teaching certain types of students, educational developments, and all. If you are a sales person, you could write about sales, stores, store economics, store finance, style, encountering people, and all. If you have no skills or experiences at all, you need to get some. You can always write about your personal experiences. This is usually a bad idea, but some youthful writers have gotten away with this type and style of writing. It isn’t my favorite kind of writing and most of it is vain and silly, but there is hope. I’d rather you build your skills while writing. Then there is study.
Study is very worthwhile in developing skill and experience sets, but it does have limitations. Some people, like Tom Clancy were about to turn skills, study, and experience into great bestsellers. I use study extensively for plots and for details in my writing. But, there are limitations to study. Perhaps we can look at this in detail.
In any case, lest start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw. Then let’s provide it a wrapper. The wrapper is the plot.
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:
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic