31 January 2019, Writing - part x755, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene
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: Deirdre and Sorcha are redirected to French finishing school where they discover difficult mysteries, people, and events.
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: Why don’t we go back to the basics and just writing a novel? I can tell you what I do, and show you how I go about putting a novel together. We can start with developing an idea then move into the details of the writing.
To start a novel, I picture an initial scene. I may start from a protagonist or just launch into mental development of an initial scene. I get the idea for an initial scene from all kinds of sources. To help get the creative juices flowing, let’s look at the initial scene.
1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
2. Action point in the plot
3. Buildup to an exciting scene
4. Indirect introduction of the protagonist
The protagonist is the novel and the initial scene. If you look at the four basic types of initial scenes, you see the reflection of the protagonist in each one. If you noticed my examples yesterday, I expressed the scene idea, but none were completely independent of the protagonist. Indeed, in most cases, I get an idea with a protagonist. The protagonist is incomplete, but a sketch to begin with. You can start with a protagonist, but in my opinion, as we see above, the protagonist is never completely independent from the initial scene. As the ideas above imply, we can start with the characters, specifically the protagonist, antagonist or protagonist’s helper, and develop an initial scene.
If we start with a protagonist, we need some kind of guide. Here is a general guide for developing a modern protagonist. We’ll look at examples and explain the ideas.
1. Normal person (not wealthy, noble, or privileged)
2. Loves to read
3. Loves to learn
4. Unique skill(s), power(s) and/or learning
5. Pathos (poor, homeless, abused, friendless, ill)
6. Individualistic and independent
9. Naturally good
10. Rejection of the urban
11. Rejection of the modern
12. Appeal to the imagination
So, if we apply this list to a well-known protagonist, we should be able to see how it might work. I’ll use our best common model, Harry Potty.
Although Harry is a magical person, he begins and is portrayed as a common kid. His family, we are led to believe is not necessarily wealthy. He comes from humble surroundings. He is the opposite of privileged. All this is actually completely untrue, but that doesn’t take away from the point at all. Through all the Harry Potty novels, are there actually seven of them, we find Harry always portrayed as part of the common ilk. We discover that his family is well respected, from a long line of famous witches and warlocks—isn’t that nobility. He is very wealthy—must have been the insurance payments. He is absolutely privileged as the messiah child who did not die. He is famous without any action at all, which is kind of the definition of privileged. The author very astutely places the very noble Harry on a writing plane that makes him constantly appear to be normal and common when in reality he isn’t at all.
Let’s look at the idea of nobility in Harry Potty. The noble families as portrayed as snobbish, evil, and bigoted. They are the supporters of the bad guy and work evil magic. Even though Harry qualifies as one of these nobles, he and his similarly situated friends are shown to be not noble—in the sense of the novel. This is very interesting. The Victorian Ideal was the noble. The Romantic Ideal is the common man. Harry Potty depicts a relatively common Romantic theme, the common protagonist and the noble antagonist. What is a little surprising is the animosity and hypocrisy from both sides—Harry isn’t really common at all and the nobles are not noble at all.
In our writing, we should strive for Romantic characters. Nobles are not generally an accepted protagonist idea in today’s world—not unless you pull them down to the common. For example, in my novel Blue Rose Enchantment and the Detective, my protagonist comes from a noble background. She has all the responsibility of her noble office, but she has lost her standing and estate. She is not respected for her noble rank because of her father and his crimes. This is a method used to bring the noble down to the common.
You can see this at work in Harry Potty. Although noble, in the sense of birth, birthright, and position in society, the author presents Harry in a situation and circumstance of poverty, insignificance, and meanness. This is a perfect method to present such a character. This is called bringing a protagonist to a zero state. In a perfect Romantic model, we expect the protagonist to then claw his or her way back to respectability and to being a hero. This, in itself, is the beginning of a plot. It is also the reflection of the novel’s telic flaw in the protagonist.
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