19 April 2018, Writing - part x468, Developing Skills, more Favorite Protagonists
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, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing). If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.
In moving to mechanics, you have to start with something. The something I recommend is the protagonist. As I noted for you, the protagonist owns the telic flaw and the telic flaw is the catalyst for the plot. The resolution of the telic flaw is the plot of the novel, so obviously, the best place to start any novel is with the protagonist. I hate to do this because I usually end up writing a new novel—let’s develop a character.
Let’s look at another of my favorite protagonists who is in no normal way an everyman—Menolly from Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Menolly is exceptionally musically skilled. She is the musician of her age, but not allowed to be a bard or guild musician because she is a girl. The reality isn’t quite as bad as Menolly’s experience because she lives in a ridged and hidebound part of her planet.
In any case, Menolly is an amazing musician, yet she appeals very strongly to readers. How can this be? Menolly is an almost perfect romantic character. She is introspective and skilled. She fits all the other characteristics of a classic romantic character—and she is very appealing as a character.
Here is why Menolly (and most romantic characters) are still very appealing to readers. Almost every reader is swayed by the thought of intellectual, musical, and to a lesser degree athletic or weapons skills. Every reader imagines themselves an intellectual. Many are, but imagining intellectualism goes directly along with reading. Even readers who are not at all intellectual imagine they are, just because they read. This is why intellectual and introspective characters broadly appeal to readers.
Musical skills are also a catchall attribute of readers. Most readers are also musically trained or enjoy music. They imagine they might be really musically skilled if they worked hard enough at it. Most are musical. Almost all know music well enough for it to appeal individually and collectively. You can see this appeal in societies that train their children universally in music. The Japanese love musically themed fiction, and they universally train their children in musical skills.
Music appeals to readers because most of them understand it and desire to be skilled musicians.
What about athletic and weapons skills? Deep down every human wants to imagine that they can compete equally with everyone else. They want to imagine that with the right amount of effort, they too can be an athlete. This isn’t true, and the number whose dreams are shattered because of their lack of skills is legion. In any case, this is similar to musical skills. The average reader believes with the proper work and study, they could achieve greatness. Characters who can and do achieve appeal directly to readers.
Athleticism generally appeals to readers, but not as strongly as intellectualism or musical skills. The reason should be obvious, most readers traded reading (intellect) for athletics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t interested or eager to read about intellectual athletic characters. Just realize, you won’t get very far with a non-intellectual athletic protagonist. The dumb sports character will not float many strong novels. Neither will the non-intellectual warrior. An intellectual warrior is a powerful character. Most readers imagine that intellect will overcome most difficulties. Novels whose protagonist are intellectual and then develop necessary skills to succeed are very popular.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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