13 September 2018, Writing - part x615, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Entertaining Characters
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I'll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. 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 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: 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 cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
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 30: 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 31: TBD
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: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
1. Reasonably written in standard English
2. No glaring logical fallacies
3. Reasoned worldview
4. Creative and interesting topic
5. A Plot
Everything is about entertainment. The purpose for all published novels is entertainment. Other than this is the only point of fiction literature, one of the main reasons is that entertainment can fill a lot of holes as well as result in the suspension of disbelief.
The factors that do lend themselves to entertaining are these:
6. Use of figures of speech (vocabulary and language).
Characters and specifically the protagonist are the main means to achieve entertaining writing. You can ruin every other area, except writing, and still have an entertaining product with an entertaining protagonist. The reason for this is the protagonist almost completely defines the novel.
Remember, a novel is the revelation of the protagonist. The telic flaw of the novel (the problem resolved in the plot and climax) belongs to the protagonist. The topic and settings are connected directly to the protagonist. I argue that the protagonist is so important to the novel and the entertainment in the novel, that this one factor easily overwhelms everything else. An entertaining character can completely electrify a novel. Here’s some examples.
Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luca. Just the name of this character screams entertainment, beyond that. I’m not impressed with Bradley’s plots. His topics are interesting and well researched. The settings are not bad. His writing is wonderful, but Flavia, oh Flavia. Who could not love a ten year old chemical genius who solves murders? I’ll give you that Bradley writes like a modern Shakespeare, but his character of Flavia de Luca makes his novels sing.
Jack Vance’s Keith Gersen from the Demon Princes novels. Here is an unforgettable character. Many of Jack Vance’s characters are unforgettable. They are common without being common at all. They are powerfully romantic with strong imaginations fettered by setting and self-control. They are real people who get caught up in circumstances beyond their control but then who use intellect to power out of them.
Anna MacCaffrey’s characters are bold and entertaining, but she has a tendency to ruin them in her serial novels. Menolly is just such a character. Here is a bold and entertaining character who faces the world fraught with prejudice and intentional malice, but who through independence and strength of mind succeeds beyond everyone’s expectations.
I’d like to throw my characters into the mix because that’s what I strive to achieve in my writing. I develop powerfully entertaining characters based on a similar mold to these authors. I develop characters to appeal to readers. I don’t use stereotypes or set characteristics, but I do use the romantic template appropriate to the novel itself.
This romantic template is the way to produce entertaining characters and specifically entertaining protagonists. I’ll show you the basic template and then apply some advice to help you build even better characters—entertaining protagonists.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic