5 April 2012, Development - Distant Antagonist
Introduction: I realized that I need to introduce this blog a little. I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. The working title was Daemon, and this was my 21st novel. Over the last year, 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.
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 website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
The steps in making and using a character in a novel are as follows:
1. Development of the character (history, description, personality, etc.)
2. Revelation of the character (within the novel, show don't tell)
a. Description of the character - introduction
b. Voice of the character
c. Continuing revelation by showing
In a classical plot (and in most of my novels) you have a protagonist, an antagonist, and a protagonist's helper. If you develop these three characters for a novel, the plot will naturally fall out of the development of the characters.
Without much trying, as you write, you will fall into the classical form of novel writing--that's why it's a classic form. In this case classic means that it is the basic form humans find entertaining. There are other forms from other cultures, but none of them are quite as satisfying (or sellable) as this form. Therefore, you will have one protagonist. One at a time is about all any plot can handle. I have read novels that attempt to have more than one protagonist--they fail miserably.
Likewise, you will have one antagonist at a time. Note, for protagonist and antagonist I mentioned "at a time." I don't suggest you do this, but it is possible to have more than one protagonist at different times in a novel. These kinds of plots are generally experimental, and they don't usually work well. An example is a novel where the protagonist varies by each chapter. That is you have two protagonists, a man and a woman for instance, and you present the plot from each view point varying by chapter. Trying to attempt this type of writing with two antagonists is more difficult.
I wrote about the immediate antagonist, but you can also have a distant antagonist. In my Aegypt novels, I present an antagonist who is not seen at all in Sister of Light, and who finally shows up (in the flesh, so to speak) in Sister of Darkness (both of these novels are on contract with my publisher). The antagonist isn't immediate in the first novel, but her presence is felt throughout. She is the bugaboo that motivates the novel, and the actions against the protagonist. This is a great example of a distant antagonist.
You do well to keep such details as the protagonist and antagonist very simple. That doesn't mean the plot, theme, or characters need to be simple, but that you have one each and that's all. When you find more than one protagonist or antagonist in your writing, it's time to think about writing another novel. You literally have begun a new plot when your protagonist or antagonist change.
I'll write about an implied antagonist, and I'll write more about characters and plot tomorrow.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.