18 May 2018, Writing - part x497, Developing Skills, Build a Protagonist, Elegant Creative Elements, Example
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.
I happen to have a list of great protagonist characteristics.
1. Skilled or becoming skilled—they are competent.
2. Even though these characters are unique and uniquely different, they feel like real people.
4. Pathos building.
5. Action oriented.
Here is a list of updated ideas from yesterday.
1. Isolated and protected
4. School girl
6. France or Britain
7. Deirdre and Sorcha
Here is my initial description:
The girl stared intently at them both. Her large eyes glared with intensity and some agitation. She looked like she wanted to say something, but she didn’t. Her face simply announced her severe displeasure and reproach. She looked young with gently pale cheeks only tinged slightly with rose, and the slight swell of youth in her face, but that was her only manifestation of lack of adulthood.
She was not very tall, but somehow, she looked imposing. Her face was thin like the rest of her, but her appearance wasn’t emaciated—it looked restrained and strong. In contrast to her black dress and black bonnet, her hair swept long pale and straight from the crown of her head to a single thick braid at her back. Her eyes were a piercing light blue that glanced haughtily under thin nearly invisible brows. Her nose was likewise striking and straight, but not so large to mar her features. It pointed to her lips and chin—the lips being a thin pale pink and her chin oddly pointed. All in all, her face was beautiful, but unforgettable—a face that was in no way plain, but left an impression of tightly controlled energy and chilly restraint.
Her name was Cassandra Lyons, but the nuns and teachers all called her Lady Glamis. She was some relation of the House and clan of Glamis a Scottish noble family.
In the list above, I noted characteristics that help build an entertaining character. What I’ll do is look at these characteristics in Cassandra Lyons. The fifth is action oriented.
Here is part of a scene. This scene is filled with Chekov’s guns—literally, but none are fired in the novel—at least, none of these guns. The point is the weapons as a creative element. They are used as a tie to the plot and theme, but they are also simple creative elements for entertainment purposes in the scene. Here we see a partial scene from my yet unpublished novel, Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire. In this scene, George Marding and Leila O'Dwyer are having a discussion about family and love.
Leila laughed, “That’s another question. I get to ask one first.” They arrived at the end of the portrait hallway and a large double door. Leila grasped the handle and opened the door. They entered into an enormous room filled with armor and weapons. It looked like a museum. Leila gestured at the room, “This is the Hastings collection of arms and armor. It goes back to the battle…”
Leila smiled, “Of course. I knew you would like this. All the boys and I were completely entranced. The girls, not so much. Here, little Leila learned how different she was from the other girls. I love this place. I love to study and draw these pieces. My family thought I would be an artist—I didn’t want to draw firearms, I wanted to design and make firearms. If we get the time, I’ll show you where I shot my first pistol, and where I made my first pistol. If they didn’t isolate me because of my mother and father, they did because I wasn’t a little girl like I was supposed to be. I wanted to create things, and they all tried to keep me from it.”
“Why keep you from it?”
“That is another question. I still haven’t asked my first one. Look around all you like. I could spend the entire holiday in this room.” Leila released George’s hand. She pulled herself up on an armor rack and sat on top. She slouched slightly and kicked out her legs, “Here is my question.”
George started to examine the weapons in the room, “Go ahead.”
“How do you know my Grandfather, Aleksandr Diakonov?”
George carefully studied a flintlock, “I really can’t tell you.”
Leila pouted, “You can’t ruin the game so soon.”
“It isn’t a game if it includes my work.”
“Yeah, I guessed that it was the work…the only other questions I have are ones I know you won’t answer. Plus, I get the feeling that you really don’t want to play my game.”
George moved on to another ancient weapon, “I’ll ask you another question while you think of one.”
Leila squinted her eyes and moved her head to one side then the other, “I guess...if it continues the game.”
George didn’t look at her, “What’s with you and Lindy Long.”
George glanced at her.
Leila kicked her feet harder, “Lindy runs the armory—you know that.”
“Didn’t, but I should. Wait, let me guess—she noticed you modified your firearms…”
“Yessss…” Leila strung out the word. She sniffed, “It really wasn’t her fault. I should have known she would report it. The moment Sveta heard, she told Daniel. Daniel dropped the boom.”
“Why do you continue to work for them—it doesn’t sound like you like it.”
“I don’t, but I’m really good at it.”
George made a sound. He didn’t dare turn around.
Leila kicked off her shoes, “I know you’re laughing at me. That’s okay. Everyone laughs at me. I am very good at what I do—I’m perhaps the only person in the world who can do it.”
“What is that?”
“That I can’t tell you.”
“It’s part of work?”
“Of course it is part of the work—it is my work. I don’t work with others—except Scáth, and she isn’t really that helpful.” Leila gave a deep sigh, “I know you don’t like me. I think you like me even less now.”
“Why? Because of what you told me about yourself?”
“Yes—I realize I’m a strange person. You are a normal one and a gentleman. I’ll tell you something else about me—it’s about my name.”
“My namesake was a horrible and evil goddess—a true Goddess of Darkness. She likely started the Second World War. She became the impetus for Stalin’s murder of millions. She influenced Mao in China. She tried to pervert my Grandmother. She tried to kill my Great-Grandmother and my Great-Grandfather. My Grandmother finally defeated her, but she bears many scars, internal and external, from her fight. I think my Grandmother hates me because of my name. I think they all hate me because of my name.”
George turned around.
Leila still sat on the rack. She kicked out her feet, “I know my family hates my name. That’s another reason my sister could stand the taunts, and I could not. They didn’t taunt her because of her name. She was named after my most famous Great-Grandmother, Leora Bolang. My sister was Miss Perfect, the new Goddess of Light. I am the Goddess of Darkness. They don’t just hate my name, they hate me because they know what I can do.”
George turned back to the cases, but he kept Leila in sight, “What can you do?”
Leila took out a pad and pencil. George didn’t realize she carried anything. She began to draw. George made a long investigation of the contents of the room. When George finished looking, Leila jumped down from her perch. Her pad and pencil had disappeared. She held on to George as she pulled back on her shoes. She grasped George’s hand and led him through the other rooms in the lower part of the house. By the time they returned to the front of the building, the sun already dropped below the horizon. Leila let go of his hand, “You should get Heidi. The festivities will start soon. I wouldn’t want her to miss them.”
The point I want to make about this little partial scene is the creative elements and their use in the scene and the novel. Guns are one of the larger themes in this novel—not the firing of them but the making of them. Leila wants to make guns. She is good at it. This is a plot and theme idea carried by the ideas in this armory scene.
There are a few other creative elements as well. Notice how the armory is a setting element that is turned into a creative element in the scene. The point is always to entertain. The smaller creative elements drive the scene. For example, the shoes and Leila’s sketching. The game they are playing—the question game. Each of these smaller creative elements lend reality and entertainment to the scene. Real people are the same. Things are going on in the real world—the author simply takes these real world realities and put them into the story. This makes the scenes seem real and, of course, adds to the entertainment. Entertainment is the point and the key.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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