14 March 2018, Writing - part x432, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, Melancholy
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.
The classical protagonist is also a romantic protagonist. The reason for this is that the current style and philosophy for art and literature is romantic. I assert that we are still in the age of romanticism in art and literature. Here is a list of the romantic ideas boiled down as characteristics for a protagonist (or other character):
1. Picturesque – strong imagery describing settings, characters, and objects. Unique, defining, skilled, see individualism.
2. Primitivism - nature is nobler than society. Being away from society is better. Concept of a simpler social ideal (as compared to Victorianism, for example).
3. Sentimentalism – expresses strong emotion (pathos).
4. Supernatural - interest in mystic and mythical things, events, beings.
5. Nature - the love and inclusion of nature.
6. Nationalism - arts are about heritage, myth, folklore, and customs
7. Melancholy - unhappiness, sufferings, horrifying, and unloving feelings (pathos).
8. Individualism – self-made, self-motivated, internal, driven, weak with teams. Leader not a follower.
If you look at the above list of romantic characteristics (characteristics of romanticism), you will see most every modern character. The question is how do we create romantic characters? I gave a partial example yesterday of Lady Wishart. I could go through all my protagonists and show you how they conform to the romantic ideal. This might or might be useful—I’m contemplating just this action.
In general, I’d like to be able to show you how I develop a romantic character in such a way that allows you to develop a romantic character. This work has taken me years, and it is a very difficult concept to bring into easy focus. The reason is that every protagonist is tied directly to a plot—the telic flaw of the plot and the protagonist. Thus, it is very difficult to design a protagonist without a telic flaw and therefore a plot or at least a plot idea.
First, we saw how a protagonist should be picturesque (unique and skilled). Second, I introduced sentimentalism (pathos) to bring the character to zero and to give a telic flaw. Third the plot and or character might reflect the supernatural. Fourth, characters and literature in the modern era generally reflect nature and primitivism. Fifth, nationalism as understood as heritage, myth, folklore, and customs is a focus of romantic plots and characters.
The melancholy Dane—that’s Hamlet. Melancholic protagonists are perhaps the most prolific in literature. Even those who aren’t fully melancholic fall into melancholy. Some observers have said this represents the deep nature of depression in the authors—I think this is completely incorrect. Melancholy is one of the main means an author has to indicate thinking. This is especially true when showing and not telling. For example, Hamlet must be a showing character—he is in a play. In a play, I can’t really give you the internal ruminations of the protagonist without the protagonist actually saying something. What is the character going to do? Stand at the edge of the stage and think his internal thoughts to the audience?
When showing (as opposed to telling) the author must somehow have the character sharing his thoughts to himself or to her friends. I like to have my protagonists share their thoughts to others or to the protagonist’s helper. When you do this, the protagonist must take a stance of deep thinking or deep thought. The image is melancholic. As an author you can’t get away from this.
Even if you are telling (don’t tell), the internal ruminations in your novel will appear to be melancholic. Look at Hamlet. He isn’t doing handstands. He is speaking to his friends and advisors concerning deep subjects like his father’s death and mother’s remarriage. These are profound and horrific events and require profound and horrific thoughts. You can’t help but have any character described as melancholic the moment they become serious.
For example, let’s say I have a very upbeat character—one of those constantly cheery types. The moment this character turns serious and begins to pour out her heart to a friend, she is melancholic. You can’t keep a cheery face on a serious discussion—or, at least, the literary impression is you can’t.
Try this. Write a deep discussion and write it in a cheery fashion—if it doesn’t turn melancholic, your subject is not very deep. Try it with the protagonist talking about the loss of his family or father or mother or friend. Or how about this—write it with the protagonist commiserating about not achieving some important goal in their life or the plot.
Do you see what is going on? Profound and deep naturally appears and is melancholic. In reality, for romantic characters, you aren’t intentionally building melancholic characters, you are developing thoughtful characters. The view is that thinking characters are melancholic, and in the romantic ideal, a romantic character is a thoughtful character.
There we are—romantic characters are introspective and thoughtful. Make your protagonists introspective and thoughtful, but don’t tell, only show. Your protagonists will have bouts of melancholy, but the reality is that you simply have a romantic character.
Now, I should remark again that romantic literature is introspective, and repeat that romantic characters are likewise introspective. Do I really need to prove this to you? Take a look at almost all modern literature. If it is a first person novel, you will be overwhelmed by the introspection. If it is a third person novel, hopefully it is contained with showing, but who knows. I can’t pick up any serious modern novel that has way too much introspection—that’s just the way of romanticism.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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