29 March 2018, Writing - part x447, Developing Skills, Developing Antagonists
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 then 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.
We know that every novel must have an antagonist. The antagonist can be an idea or concept as well as a human being. Many modern novels use this type of antagonist. If you look through successful modern writing, you will see this example of the antagonist as an idea or an institution. I pointed out George Orwell’s 1984. You can also see this in the Hungry Games. However, in both 1984 and the Hungry Games, the authors put a face on the antagonist concept with a character who represented the focus of the idea or institution.
This is a common means that authors from the early development of the novel used. For example, the antagonist was a government official or a company official, but the focus of the antagonist was the government or the company. This type of antagonist was typical and a pattern for much of the literature transitioning from the Victorian Realism into the Romantic Era.
In Victorian Realism, the antagonist wasn’t necessarily the company or the government at all—it was the bad person at the helm. In Romanticism, the government or the company was suddenly the problem and the evil person at the head simply an allegory or figurehead for the antagonist revealed in the institution.
Now, let’s think about this logically. An institution is only the culmination of the people in it. Thus, through logic, the institution can’t be the true antagonist. However, an idea that is the basis of an institution can be evil. For example, communism or fascism are evil ideas that can be represented in a government, therefore, the members (true believers) of the government might be viewed as evil and antagonists in their own right.
That is another point in modern literature—the antagonist is an idea or an institution therefore all the members are mini-antagonists. We see this in the early Star Bores where the Empire is evil just because it is the Empire and all the beings in the Empire deserve death just because they work for the Empire. Fun for a fantasy space movie that is intended to captivate with CGI, but not much to write a good novel with.
Back to basics. Orwell and the writer of the Hungry games put a singular face on the idea of the evil government. For Orwell, it was the inquisitor/investigator of his protagonist. For the Hungry Games, it was the president of the nation. This is a wise approach. In each case, the idea and the government (institution) was evil and the author set them out to the evil, but the author also put a singular face on the concept represented by the institution. In writing your novels, this is the model I would use.
There are pitfalls for any approach that doesn’t use a single person for the antagonist. In general, the modern problem is it leads to an “end of the world” theme and either an absurd comedy or a true tragedy. Orwell provided us rightly with a tragedy. The Hungry Games made a semi-tragedy from a comedy with an “end of the world” theme. Luckily the “end of the world” theme was caused by the protagonist. In any case, I’ll get on my high horse again about this.
A really bad example of the “end of the world” theme is seen in the multiple young adult (YA) novels and movies that saturate the market today. If your antagonist is a single person, you can’t have an “end of the world” theme. When the antagonist is an idea and the idea is an institution and the institution is a dystopian or even a normative world-wide organization, you can have an “end of the world” theme. Since the only end of the world was supposed to be Noah and the flood and the future apocalypse, the world hasn’t ended or come close to ending. The closest the world might have come is the Cold War, and even that would not necessarily have ended the world.
In any case, be cautions with concepts and ideas as your antagonist. Put a face on the antagonist. I recommend not setting up an “end of the world” scenario in the first place—that prevents the “end of the world” theme in the first place. If you haven’t guessed, I think it is a terrible and overused theme.
I wanted to write about the positive antagonist—I will next.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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