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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Writing - part xx069 Writing a Novel, Protagonist and Appearance

11 December 2019, Writing - part xx069 Writing a Novel, Protagonist and Appearance

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
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

Perhaps I should go back and look again at the initial scene—maybe, I’ll cover that again as part of looking at the rising action.  The reason is that I’m writing a rising action in a novel right now.

That gets us back to the protagonist—complexity makes the protagonist and the telic flaw one and the same. 

The novel is a revelation of the protagonist.  The telic flaw is connected directly to the protagonist.  The plot is the revelation of the telic flaw.  This connects the protagonist to the plot and the telic flaw.  The point is that to plan a novel, I simply need to plan the revelation of the protagonist.  To accomplish this, you need to develop a protagonist.

When I write you develop your protagonist, you write notes about:

1.     Name
2.     Background
3.     Education
4.     Appearance
5.     Work
6.     Wealth
7.     Skills
8.     Mind
9.     Likes
10.  Dislikes
11.  Opinions
12.  Honor
13.  Life
14.  Thoughts
15.  Telic flaw

I design a protagonist around the initial scene.  This is the way I write a novel.  This isn’t the only way to write a novel, but it is the way I have discovered to write well-conceived and powerful novels.  This goes back to the initial scene. 

Above, I gave you four options for developing the initial scene.  Yesterday, I told you to take two off.  Authors have used three and four, but they don’t produce the kinds of exciting initial scenes we want.  Here’s the list again.

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

Let’s plan to put one and two together.  Let’s also focus on the other characteristics of the initial scene.  Notice that first, the initial scene must include the protagonist.  This should be obvious, but let’s go down the list. 

Appearance of the protagonist is not too far down on my list.  To me, this is an extremely important attribute.  It should be an important attribute for any protagonist, character, and writer. 

Appearance is likely the most important attribute because it is the singular attribute of showing.  Let’s put it like this—picture the stage of the novel.  The first and only attribute of the protagonist and any character is appearance.  Now, clothing goes along with appearance, but appearance is the first and foremost.

Appearance isn’t the first and foremost in my development of the protagonist or character, but it is critical for showing.  I design the appearance of my characters based on their background.  For example, if my character is a Saxon maiden, that determines the appearance.  If my character is a black American boy, that determines the appearance.  If my character is a French girl, a Berber man, a French man, a British woman, a Chinese person, or a Fae creature from Scotland.  The appearance of your characters will not necessarily match their background, but they should.  What good does it do you to describe a man from Britain if he doesn’t look like a man from Britain?  Part of the point of developing the background first is to help determine the appearance of the character.  I think this is critical.

Not to mention stereotypes.  There is a reason stereotypes are stereotypes.  Plus, to be clear—if it is a characteristic of a culture, society, race or group, it really isn’t a stereotype.  For example, if you describe a person as black, pale, sallow, or other complexion, that isn’t a stereotype, it’s simply a description.  So, I write again—if you have a male British character, he should look like a male British character.  You can mix around the description however you like beyond that.  For example, the man could be a black British man.  So, if you have your background, how do we develop the appearance?

First, get a picture of a person who looks something like your character.  You might get four or five pictures that look similar to your imagined character.  The point is to look at the pictures and use them to help write your description of your character.  Like a portrait painter, build your picture in words of your character. 

Second, find the unusual.  I love the unusual.  I look for real humans who have the characteristics of appearance I want in my characters, then I mix them up.  For example, the pony faced girl in Hestia was based on a girl I saw.  I just copied her appearance in words.  The unusual can become perfect for characters.  Aksinya is described as plain and unremarkable.  I describe her, and make her plain and unremarkable, but she is obviously not that plain or unremarkable.  Aksinya’s view of her appearance comes from her mind.  She is painfully Russian, but what does that mean.  She isn’t as beautiful or endowed as her lady in waiting, but what does that mean too.  The point is to describe your character, and realize the description is what your readers will focus on and use to define your character, but also that the description is in the mind of the viewer, character, and characters.  The picture you provide gains power by repetition, reminding, and the details.  Don’t forget the unusual.

Third, use the details as tags and reminders.  This is how an author communicates and develops characters.  In the perfect dialog, the author provides a conversation where the character’s personalities and identification are obvious.  In the real world, for dialog, the writer provides tags, descriptors, and identification to help identify the speakers.  You can just call out a character’s name, but that is many times unnecessary and repetitious.  If you have a character with a mustache, you might write:

Bob spoke around his mustache, or

His mustache twitched, or

Whatever.  The point is that you can identify the character by the tags and descriptors.

Forth, remind us about the appearance every now and then.  I like to have other characters reflect and review about a character or protagonist.  There are other means.

The overall point is you must describe your character.  Let me repeat my advice.  Use 300 words for major characters, and use 100 words for minor characters.  Don’t fall into the idea of the universal character.  There is no such thing as a universal character.  Don’t fail to describe your characters early—the moment your introduce them.  If you don’t, the reader will make up his or her own impression.  This might ruin your novel.  A mixed description later will definitely mess up your reader’s acceptance of your protagonist or character.          

Appearance is very important and there is much more we could write about it, but let’s move on to work.

More tomorrow.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Writing - part xx068 Writing a Novel, Protagonist and Educating

10 December 2019, Writing - part xx068 Writing a Novel, Protagonist and Educating

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
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

Perhaps I should go back and look again at the initial scene—maybe, I’ll cover that again as part of looking at the rising action.  The reason is that I’m writing a rising action in a novel right now.

That gets us back to the protagonist—complexity makes the protagonist and the telic flaw one and the same. 

The novel is a revelation of the protagonist.  The telic flaw is connected directly to the protagonist.  The plot is the revelation of the telic flaw.  This connects the protagonist to the plot and the telic flaw.  The point is that to plan a novel, I simply need to plan the revelation of the protagonist.  To accomplish this, you need to develop a protagonist.

When I write you develop your protagonist, you write notes about:

1.     Name
2.     Background
3.     Education
4.     Appearance
5.     Work
6.     Wealth
7.     Skills
8.     Mind
9.     Likes
10.  Dislikes
11.  Opinions
12.  Honor
13.  Life
14.  Thoughts
15.  Telic flaw

I design a protagonist around the initial scene.  This is the way I write a novel.  This isn’t the only way to write a novel, but it is the way I have discovered to write well-conceived and powerful novels.  This goes back to the initial scene. 

Above, I gave you four options for developing the initial scene.  Yesterday, I told you to take two off.  Authors have used three and four, but they don’t produce the kinds of exciting initial scenes we want.  Here’s the list again.

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

Let’s plan to put one and two together.  Let’s also focus on the other characteristics of the initial scene.  Notice that first, the initial scene must include the protagonist.  This should be obvious, but let’s go down the list. 

We plan or design the education of the protagonist (and other characters).  For a very complex character, this might be an extensive vita.  For a simple character, this might be very little.  The next step is what will we do with the character and education? 

I like strongly romantic characters.  This usually means the protagonist discovers their skill and then trains in it.  You can take a completely trained and skilled romantic protagonist and go for it, but much of the entertainment of the romantic character is in the training.  Not my favorite example, but one that is familiar to almost everyone is Harry Potty.  Most of the entertainment in the novel is the education of Harry.  He really isn’t a great romantic character, but his travails and training are entertaining—likely the most entertaining part of the novels.  Then there are truly and fully romantic characters.

Jonny Rico from Starship Troopers is a fully romantic character.  He has no idea that he is a warrior or a leader.  His self-discovery and education gives him the skills and education that allows him to succeed as a protagonist and as an entertaining character.  Every reader cheers his discoveries and success.  This is the model for the romantic character.  You can design and develop characters using the fulcrum of education.  I do this all the time.

Many of my characters are set in an educational or training environment very few are not.  I’ll even point out that those who are not are still set in an environment where learning and education is critical to their survival.  For example, my published novel, The Second Mission, has a protagonist who is accidentally transported back in time with the second mission of humanity into time.  The protagonist has to learn how to survive in the environment of ancient Greece in 400 BC.  Without this information and skills, the protagonist will likely be found out and die.  A huge portion of the novel is based in this learning.  Another published novel is Centurion.

In Centurion, the protagonist is a young Roman citizen from the Gallail in the Levant.  He joins the legion and almost a quarter of the novel is his training and education to become first a Roman Legionnaire and then a centurion.  The entire novel isn’t about his training and education, but it is a critical aspect of the plot.  Then I set some novels in schools.

I have set novels in universities, boarding schools, and public schools.  Part of the power of the romantic characters is to find out their unique attributes and then watch them learn to use them.  In addition, as I’ve written before, most readers love the educational environment.  Most readers love this environment and love to see romantic characters succeed in training and education.

Perhaps I use the educational and training environment too much, but I don’t think so.  I find education and training as a powerful use of entertainment in almost any novel.  You should be able to see why I put education so high on my list.  Education might be the most worthwhile piece of the background of your protagonist.  Appearance might be next.    

Appearance defines characters more than many writers might imagine.

More tomorrow.

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