2 January 2019, Writing - part x726, Writing a Novel, Fleshing Out Characters, The Ninth Day of Christmas
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: 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.
You must have a protagonist and an antagonist. You may have a protagonist’s helper. Then there are other characters. Let’s talk about characters in general and then specifically.
I’ve been writing about choosing and developing protagonists who are interesting and entertaining to your readers. Readers like characters who they can intellectually identify with. These are the characters who appeal to them. If there is no intellectual connection, there is usually no connection. We saw this by the many characters whom readers can’t share any or many characteristics, but the characters still appeal.
For the Christmas Season, I guess I’m giving you scenes from my novels. Merry and Happy Christmas. Hope you enjoy. This is a Christmas scene from Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. I don’t think I’ve ever given this to you.
Deirdre and Chris MacLeod continued to dance until the orchestra took their first break. Just as Chris predicted, Mr. MacLeod stepped deliberately to where Deirdre and Chris stood. Kathrin Calloway and Mrs. MacLeod followed close behind him. He gave a slight bow, “Ms. Calloway, I freely admit, I asked you to our Christmas revelry with ulterior motives.”
Deirdre’s eyes widened. Older men had never bowed to her, and she wasn’t sure how to take ulterior motives.
Mr. MacLeod continued, “I understand you are a professional musician. Your mother assured me concerning your usual contract rates. I would like to hire you to sing some Christmas songs at our fete. I understand you have a wonderful program already prepared. In fact, I gave the music to our orchestra yesterday and they assured me they could play to your very exacting standards.”
Deirdre began to respond, but Mr. MacLeod raised his finger, “The second reason I asked you here is to test your metal, so to speak. Chris has had so many wonderful things to say about you, I must say, I was unconvinced. Until I heard you sing the Messiah, I would have said he was exaggerating. As a matter of fact, at this point, I wonder exactly what you see in my son.”
Chris cried out, “Father.”
“Oh, sorry. I’m joking. A bit of British humor there, and I’m Scottish. I’m very proud of my son, but he is still fifteen and still not entirely used to the potential limelight of a woman of your caliber and upbringing. Please sing for us. That in itself would be very pleasant.”
Deirdre cleared her throat to respond. Her mind was moving as fast as usual. She smiled very pleasantly, “Mr. MacLeod, could I offer a Christmas medley as a gift to your family?”
Mrs. Calloway cut her off with a firm gesture, “One moment. I wish to speak to Deirdre privately.”
Mr. MacLeod stepped to the side. Chris reluctantly moved with him.
Deirdre clenched her fists. She squinted and raised her lip, “What is it mother?”
Mrs. Calloway came very close and put her arms around Deirdre. She whispered, “Luna told me I should slap you every time you do that. This time I shan’t.”
“You know what that means, don’t you dear?”
“It means you are treating me like an adult.”
“Excellent. Now, here is what you must consider. Your costs at school have been rather high this semester.”
“That’s because I have been taking care of my friends.”
“I understand that too. Luna told me—well, she did after our little meeting with the Queen. I wondered how such a frugal girl could rack up such high expenses.”
“Are they really that high?”
“No, but I wish to place some adult pressure on you. So far, you have had most everything you could ever want or need. As I said, you are a frugal girl, but an adult must consider the costs of friendship and life.”
Deirdre choked, “You want me to give up on Sorcha—you’ll take care of her needs, won’t you?”
“My sweet Deirdre, I want you to face the consequences of your actions. They are wonderful, but they are yours alone. I love that you have taken care of Sorcha and Elaina.”
“Luna narked on me.”
“Yes she did, and I’m very proud. However…”
Deirdre steeled herself.
“However, I would like you to pick up the tab for your friends. You may take care of them as much as you desire, but with your funds. A little singing at your normal rates will go a long way this semester. In fact, the pay you received from Father Malloy will further bolster that your little fund.”
“I was going to give it all back to Father Malloy for the widow’s and orphan’s relief fund.”
“Sorcha and Eliana both are missing parents—they are orphans. Which one do you wish to support, those unseen or your friends.”
Deirdre smiled, “Mother, perhaps I never listened quite as well as I should to you, but you are forcing me to sing…”
“I’m not forcing you to do anything. I’m simply pointing out realities to you and giving you a choice.”
“I see. You must not let Sorcha or Elaina know.”
“Never. This is our private understanding. Plus, my sweet, you want independence. I can’t give you any greater independence.” She started to pull back, but then hugged Deirdre closer, “One more thing. I like this Chris MacLeod very much. He is a gentleman and has a wonderful future.” She did pull back and stared in Deirdre’s eyes with a half-smile, “Don’t take that to be a license or permission. Do you understand me?”
“Your ball, in your court.”
Deirdre sighed, but she didn’t mean much by it. She stepped toward Mr. MacLeod with Mrs. Calloway at her side. She nodded to the gentleman, “Mr. MacLeod, I accept your terms. My standard fees. I do wish to warn you—the press is here and that might cause undo attention to your family and mine.”
Mr. MacLeod tried not to smile too broadly, “Your mother explained everything to me. I accept your conditions and understand the circumstances.”
Deirdre shrugged, “When would you like me to sing?”
“Do you need any preparation?”
“I need to speak to the conductor and the orchestra.”
“Very well. They are on their break.” He glanced at his watch, “They should be returning in a couple of minutes.” He sounded almost military, “You may brief them as you desire. I shall announce you, myself.” He began to turn, then swiveled back to her, “One thing. Do you need a mic or other equipment?”
“My mother likely told you, I don’t need a mic for this room or this size of an orchestra. I was the only singer not miced during the Messiah performance.”
Mr. MacLeod’s eyes widened, “My word. I didn’t realize.”
Chris returned to Deirdre’s side. He followed her as she made her way to the orchestra’s seating. She waited beside the conductor’s stand.
Chris came close, “You don’t need to accede to my father’s whims. Especially if it will cause you problems our upset you.”
She pressed his hand, “Don’t worry. I won’t hold anything against you. Plus, I am asserting my independence, and it’s wonderful.”
Chris looked oddly at her.
The conductor came first followed slowly by the rest of the musicians. He gave a terse bow to Deirdre as though she was a slight nuisance, “You are Ms. Calloway? I understand you will be singing with us.”
That was the last look of impertinence he gave her. Deirdre began conversing about the music with him. The score was relatively simple, the music was not. Deirdre moved quickly through it explaining exactly what she wanted. When she finished, the man looked her over again to check that he was speaking to a fifteen year old. He even said it loudly enough for the front row of the orchestra to hear it, “Ms. Calloway, I understand you are a student at Wycombe.”
The concertmeister heard it and waved the conductor over, “Michael, this girl is D. Don’t you recognize her?”
The conductor glanced back at Deirdre, “You don’t mean that girl.”
“Yes, exactly, she’s that girl. She sang three seasons with the London Philharmonic.”
“She does know her music.”
“You better tell the rest of the musicians. She could upstage all of us, and she probably will.”
The conductor got a strange look on his face. He returned to his stand and went back over Deirdre’s instructions with her. Then he turned to the orchestra and explained it to them. He started with, “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we will be playing for D. I think many of you will recognize her name. She looks young but is a professional classical singer who has sung with many orchestras. These are her specific instructions.” He went through Deirdre’s requirements for the score. The moment he said her name, almost every musician took out their pencils to take down his remarks. Those who didn’t immediately were frantically elbowed by their neighbors.
When the concertmeister stood to tune them, he remarked, “D is one of the most exacting performers I have ever worked with. You will be expected to follow exactly as she has specified.”
The members of the orchestra licked their lips and nodded.
When the conductor didn’t say anything, the concertmeister continued to Deirdre, “Ms. D, do you have any specific instructions for us?”
Deirdre raised her chin, “I do. I can handle your volume at fortissimo, but you must follow my instructions for the softer parts especially the brass and the flutes. I noticed your pianissimo was particularly loud. I need the contrast especially in those softer phrases. If you will listen to me, we will provide an excellent performance together.” She curtsied to them.
The concertmaiester glared at the brass and the flautists, “I noticed that myself. Now, ladies and gentleman if you will…” He nodded to the oboist. She provided a concert “A,” and they tuned to the note.
Deirdre stepped in front of the conductor. Mr. MacLeod was waiting for her signal. She waved to him.
Mr. MacLeod held a hand mic, “Ladies and gentlemen.” The guests slowly quieted. When he had their attention, he continued, “Ladies and gentlemen. Ms. Deirdre Calloway, one of my special guests this evening has consented to provide us a Christmas concert of song. She is better known in the performance community as the singer D. I am happy and proud to announce that she has acquiesced to entertain us tonight.”
The beginning of a gentle applause started. The applause grew as people began to whisper about just who D was. The press moved from the back of the room near the entrance where they could record the incoming attendees to where they could see Deirdre and hear her.
Deirdre’s voice suddenly filled the ballroom. Everyone was astounded. She held nothing in her hands and she obviously didn’t wear any sound equipment. The entire room became immediately quiet. Deirdre raise her hands, “Since this is a Christmas medley, please join me for the songs you know. With the backing of this wonderful group of musicians, I will attempt to present to you the spirit of Christmas.” She nodded to the conductor. Then she hit the first note of the Coventry Carol before the orchestra and held it for a moment. Her voice was clear and pure. The orchestra began a note behind her. Her tone and pitch was exact. At first a few scattered voices began to sing with her, but those quieted almost immediately. Her voice sounded so delightful and with such warmth no one could continue. They had to hear her. They felt compelled to listen with their ears and with their hearts. The members of the orchestra were dumbfounded. They had never heard such power before, unmiced, and right in front of them. They became lost in the music themselves. It was as if she transported them to a new place. Even the most jaundiced and experienced felt that she was guiding them. They watched the conductor, but they listened to her clear sweet voice as it ranged the octaves. She sang deep, but strongly and high but exact. She sang with no fancy warbling or inarticulate movements in her pitch. She played with the music and the score turning the melody into waves of beautiful sound punctuated with exact words. Her phrasing was so perfect the wind instruments wondered if they could keep up. She held notes long beyond their own control without a reduction of loudness or tone.
Deirdre didn’t give her audience or orchestra time for applause or breath. She moved to the Carol of the Bells. It sounded as though she made the words ring like bells themselves. And from bells moved to Ding Dong Merrily on High. The room listened, fascinated, entranced by her voice. The orchestra faded into almost oblivion as her voice rose above them like a bird lifting a pitch exactly and precisely in the driving rhythm of the piece. She sang the First Noel in English, then in French. She raised her pitch an octave and the concertmeister swore he could feel her voice echoing in his strings. Her, What Child is This brought many to tears. She sang them all—all their favorites like they had never heard them before. The journalists scribbled in quick moments, but put their pens down to absorb her every word and musical note. Deirdre finished with Lo a Rose Now Blooming, perhaps the most difficult song in rhythm and timbre. She held the last note beyond the orchestra. She held it long and clear and solid until the only sound in the enormous ballroom was hers. Then she allowed it to slowly die.
No one moved. No one said a word. Then the applause erupted. It went on and on. Deirdre quietly curtsied. She took the hand of the conductor and raised it up. He was slightly shell-shocked. She released his hand and motioned to the orchestra, as a single organism, every one of them rose. They bowed and curtsied. She curtsied to them. The concertmeister began to call, “Bravo, bravo.” The rest of the orchestra took it up.
Someone from the crowd called, “Encore.” And many others copied the request. The concertmeister glanced at the conductor, until he finally regained his composure. The conductor raised his hands. The guests quieted slowly. His voice wasn’t as strong or as grand as Deirdre’s he pronounced belatedly, “I’m not sure we can follow that up with anything. I too would like to hear Ms. D. sing again, but I would like to hear her voice without any accompaniment to take any attention from it.”
The concertmeister nodded sagely and sat. The orchestra sat.
Deirdre nodded. She began to sing alone this time, Oh Come Oh Come Emanuel. When she finished, the applause filled the ballroom again. This time the conductor came and took her hand. He bowed to her. She curtsied to the crowd.
Mr. MacLeod took the mic again, “Thank you Ms. Deirdre Calloway for a beautiful performance.” As almost an afterthought he added, “And to our wonderful orchestra.”
Chris came over and took Deirdre’s hand he led her to the side of the room and handed her a drink. He couldn’t find anything to say to her. He just stared at her with a large smile and glistening eyes. Until Deirdre punched him. It wasn’t a very hard punch, “Don’t get all squishy on me. I’ll beat you at pistols this next season.”
“That you shall. That you shall.”
Then her well-wishers and the press descended on her.
Deirdre didn’t have a chance to speak to the MacLeods that night. She barely had another opportunity to speak to Chris. She returned home reasonably happy, but she didn’t get the kiss she wanted and thought she deserved.
This is a fun novel that I hope is published soon.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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