27 February 2018, Writing - part x417, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, Everyman
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 is 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.
The Everyman Protagonist is specifically designed and written to appeal to the average person. I liked Ray’s description so much, I quoted it for you.“In literature, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual that the audience or reader easily identifies with. Also, the everyman hero has no outstanding abilities or attributes. An everyman hero is thrown into extraordinary circumstances where they must act with heroic qualities. Moreover, they have sound moral judgment and show selflessness in the face of adversity.
Many protagonists in realistic fiction are considered everyman heroes.”
I don’t like or use Everyman Protagonists. They are antithetical to my style of writing, and in my opinion, they make poor entertainment characters. You might ask, how can that be when they are intended to appeal to a broad scope of humanity. Let me delve into the details and we will see some of the problems with Everyman Protagonists.
In the defense of the Everyman Protagonist, I have an author friend who really likes to write novels with these types of characters. His reasoning is the appeal to his specific audience. This is great, but also part of the problem of the Everyman. The appeal of the Everyman can’t really be to Everyman—it is to an audience defined by the Everyman character. For example, if my Everyman character is a woman or foreign or young or, you get the point. An Everyman character can’t every really be Everyman. It will always be defined within a scope of its own definition. The first real problem with the Everyman is readily evident: because the Everyman is intended to represent every person in the reading audience, the author intentionally gives the most generic description possible. The point is to appeal to the greatest audience and so the target audience identifies with the character. The problem is that I can only go so far with this. If the character is a Boy Scout, I immediately restricted my audience to boys and perhaps Boy Scouts. If I further describe the Boy Scout as tall or blond or black or in any other way, I have restricted my Everyman to a unique audience. This is why the author intentionally gives an ambiguous description. And here is the ultimate problem with the Everyman.
Some author, recognizing this problem with the Everyman, intentionally restrict the description to not even give you the name, sex, age, or any other descriptor or description of the protagonist. I personally can’t stand this type of writing. It completely goes against my desires as a reader and a writer. I want strongly described, well rounded, complex, and unambiguous characters. In fact, the most powerful characters in literature are strongly demarcated and described. The physical description is the most powerful part of the beginning of a complex and well-developed character. Let’s just call it a well-defined character. Well-defined and Everyman can’t go together. I applaud the attempt and the purpose, but I don’t think the Everyman appeals to a broad enough audience, and I think this type of character forces the author to compromise on some of the most powerful tools in writing—description.
Let me give an example. My author friend mentioned a strong loss of the suspension of disbelief while reading an otherwise entertaining novel. The problem was that with an Everyman Protagonist, the author mentioned the problem the protagonist was having with a bra—the reader was a male and the reminder that the protagonist was female jarred him out of the suspension of disbelief. The loss of the suspension of disbelief is a critical fail for an author.
In general, my problem with Everyman is that this type of character limits description and restricts the target audience. Ultimately, this leads to less complex and well-developed and defined protagonists. Plus, think of it this way. Do you really really really love seeing yourself in literature? I think most readers want to see, not themselves, but rather an idealized view of their potential selves. In this, the reader gets figuratively into the head of the protagonist and sees the world through the eyes of the protagonist—they become the protagonist, the protagonist doesn’t become them. The expression of identification is from the reader into the protagonist, so it does little good trying to make the protagonist look like the reader when the reader so desperately wants the protagonist to be something greater and bigger than they could every be, and yet exactly what they would like to be. This a somewhat of a paradox. Almost the direct opposite of the Everyman is the Superhero Protagonist.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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