28 February 2018, Writing - part x418, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, Superhero
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but the publisher has delayed all their fiction output due to the economy. I'll keep you informed. 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 website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to 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 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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 29: 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 30: 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 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: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation. If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and I would say, great protagonist’s helpers.
What are the characteristic of an entertaining protagonist? Below is a list of six types of protagonists developed by Rebecca Ray. This is one of the most comprehensive and best list I’ve seen:
- Classical Hero – Romantic Protagonist
- Everyman Hero – Everyman Protagonist
- Superhero – Superhero Protagonist
- Tragic Hero – Tragic Protagonist
- Epic Hero – Epic Protagonist
- Anti Hero – Anti-Hero Protagonist
The romantic hero is the classical hero—we’ll look at that one last. Let’s evaluate the others for entertainment effect. In the case of each of these heroes, they must match the plot and theme of the novel you are (intend) to write, but let me go one further. If the protagonist determines the novel, then by developing a romantic protagonist, you will be automatically designing a novel based in a romantic theme and plot. This might sound like a stretch, but it isn’t much. The character of the protagonist develops the novel.
Believe it or not, but the superhero protagonist is one of the most common today. I’m going to quote Ray again. I think this is a good definition and simple:
“Superheroes can start out as classical heroes or even everyman heroes and be given a power that makes them 'superhuman'. They can also be born with a ‘superhuman’ power.”
We can immediately tell some superhero protagonists: Spiderman, Superman, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, and the list keeps on going. How about: Harry Potty—he was born with not only magical capability, but also he was the messiah of his magical community and survived the magical attack no other person every could. Harry Potty is a Superhero protagonist. Any others? The sparkly vampires are a Superhero protagonist. They start as usual people and are given superpowers through the bite of a vampire or the bite of a werewolf. Are there more—yeah too many to count. The Riordan demi-gods and demi-goddesses are all superheroes. The flying kids are all superheroes. We are up to our ears in Superhero Protagonists.
Some might argue that I write about superhero protagonists. My protagonists or protagonist’s helpers are usually born as gods or the children of gods or enchanted creatures. What I do is different with them that I think transforms them into Classical or Romantic protagonists. I limit their powers significantly, and I make them human through vulnerabilities and their personalities. A Romantic protagonist is usually a protagonist who has a skill to a level outside the normal human sphere—that is one important characteristic. I just make my protagonist’s skills more akin to enchantment.
I don’t like superhero protagonists. The first reason is that it almost always leads to “end of the world” themes and plots. I can’t stand these types of plots. They are overblown and produce god-like characters if they don’t start with god-like characters. I want characters who are real and human first and who have special skills second. I want themes and plots that deal with real human problems and human issues. Unless you count Noah, the world hasn’t been destroyed and Noah couldn’t do anything about it but save some people and the animals.
Let’s be very clear about this—movies can be measured by the number of explosions, rounds fired, and the saving of the world. It’s a passing theme—I hope. Novels written in this fashion might sell for a while, but the world hasn’t ever been destroyed (except Noah) and is not near destruction (unless you mean nukes)—they never mean nukes. Nukes are old school. In any case, end of the world themes are right out in my ideas on writing. I want to read and write about special people who confront real problems and succeed against them. The problems might be supernatural or more conventional, but they shouldn’t be ones that will destroy the world.
The second problem with Superhero protagonists is akin to the first—they are superheroes. They might have some made up vulnerability—like kryptonite, but the reality is they are invulnerable. My protagonists are never invulnerable. Think of Superman and Harry Potty—they can’t be killed. They are the super-beings of their age. They are god-like but without the godhood.
If you are going to introduce God or an invulnerable god into your novels make them either like God, perfect, or if an invulnerable god, make them the antagonist. The difference is the god can be defeated. What I’m saying is that there is God and there is god. The God is our human ideal of perfection. A god might be invulnerable, but must be defeatable.
In any case, I don’t like superhero protagonists, and I don’t like end of the world themes. Then, there is the tragic protagonist.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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