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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Writing - part x617, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Pathos and Entertaining Characters

15 September 2018, Writing - part x617, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Pathos and 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  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

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to
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
Cover Proposal
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
6.      Entertaining
7.      POV

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:
1.      Characters
2.      Plot
3.      Setting
4.      Topics
5.      Writing
6.      Use of figures of speech (vocabulary and language).

How to develop entertaining protagonists?  The ancient Greeks were the first to analyze what makes a great protagonist.  The answer Aristotle gave for tragedy was pity and fear.  Pity and fear are the feelings the reader experiences for the protagonist and not what the protagonist necessarily feels.  Without getting too deep in the weeds, we can define this pity and fear as pathos or pathos developing. 

Pathos, in Greek, means emotions.  In English, we get pathos, pathetic, and pity from it.  When I use the term pathos, I mean in the Greek sense.  We are talking about the emotions the reader feels for the problems and predicaments of the protagonist.  This is the most important point about creating an entertaining protagonist.  The protagonist must create pathos or proper emotional feelings in the reader to be properly entertaining.

A character can also produce incorrect or improper emotions in the reader—the Greeks called this Bathos.  For example, when the reader is supposed to feel sadness, they instead feel like laughing.  You see this all the time in movies—an incredibly tense and emotional scene creates laughter instead of tension.  This is bathos and writers must do everything to prevent bathos.

For now, let’s explore how to make a pathos developing character.  Protagonists can either start as pathos building or become pathos building.  I recommend starting there—that makes the writing and the problem much easier.  The basic idea is this—to have an entertaining character we need to start with a pathos building character.  This is precisely how I develop my protagonists and protagonist’s helpers.  So, let’s start with pathos developing.

This really isn’t the way you should think about this, but imagine the most pathetic character you can.  Pathetic, in English, usually isn’t good, but if we start with the pathetic, we can get to pathos.  In my imagination pathetic is innocent, impoverished, appearing helpless, gentle, kind, overborn, and all.  You can think of many words to describe this type of character and emotion.  Notice I put in appearing helpless.  Appearance is everything.  In general, the pathetic we are looking for is the pathetic of position and social standing rather than the pathetic of incapable.

For now, let’s throw out the idea of incapable and replace that with unfortunate circumstance.  Poverty, lack of training, hungry, weak, needing protection, and needing help all apply to the idea of pathos building.  You immediately feel sorry for this type of character unless the problems were the fault of the character.  From a description focus, the perfect pathos building character would be: in poverty, in need of training or education to get out of poverty, hungry, in a lower social class, needing help, needing protection.  What kind of character can we design?

The perfect pathos building character is just this, I listed them: in poverty, in need of training or education, hungry, in a lower social class, needing help, and needing protection.  You actually can pick and choose from this list.  The perfect pathos building character would have all these characteristics, but a person from a higher social class who is now in poverty and etc. is a very strongly pathos building character. 

Let me give you a quick example.  Azure Rose Wishart, the protagonist from my latest novel, Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, is a strongly pathos building character.  She is from a noble British family, but her father embezzled funds from the Crown and is in prison.  Azure lost her estate, her money, her only family and was fostered out.  She needs help and she needs protection.  If you knew Azure, you know, she can fight and defend herself, but fighting and defending aren’t the same as succeeding and accomplishing.  Those are positive characteristics.  I also want to point out that men and boys can be made into pathos building characters, but women and girls make much better pathos building characters.  This has to do with the fact that girls and women are generally weaker and smaller than men.  Every culture sees the need to protect girls and women.  Don’t ask me to correct his issue, just use it in developing your characters.  Note, that you can easily develop a pathos developing man or boy, but there is a risk here.  This is why I like to develop my pathos building protagonist or protagonist’s helper as a woman or girl.  I then swap the protagonist or protagonist’s helper as a boy or man and this provides the other touch of pathos building--romance.   

There are also the positive characteristics we haven’t written about yet.      

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, 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

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