3 January 2019, Writing - part x727, Writing a Novel, Fleshing Out Characters, The Tenth 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 the Christmas scene from Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This is a turning point in the novel.
They went to school, and although Aksinya didn’t progress well, Natalya began to speak reasonably fluent German.
When the coupe met them the next Friday, Freifrau Bockmann was in it. Before they set off for Grossbock, she inspected the dresses and jewelry Natalya had chosen for the party and nodded her approval.
When they arrived at the Freiherr’s estate, the decorations were already in place. The front of the house, the foyer, and the ballroom were wonderfully adorned for the Advent Ball. Seasonal decorations more akin to Christmas instead of Advent filled the hall. A couple of large Christmas trees loaded with candles and decorations sat next to the great fireplaces. Freifrau Bockmann led Aksinya and Natalya through the rooms and showed everything to them. It took a while. Aksinya was grateful to finally sit down to dinner. Afterward, she and Natalya went to bed.
In the morning, everything in the house was about preparation for the event that evening. By noon all the Freiherr’s servants were dressed in their archaic festal livery. The maids and women servants were adorned in dresses and aprons from a style over a century old. Everything seemed to match the overall festive décor. In the afternoon, Natalya dressed Aksinya in a wonderful maroon dress with gold piping and lace. The gold was real and the dress was ancient satin. Natalya brushed it for hours to make it shine. The bodice was tight and fit Aksinya well. The dress was petticoated and whaleboned. Still, it was from an age younger than the livery Freiherr Bockmann loved so much, but older than the current fashion of the time.
Natalya wore a dress that had been Aksinya’s sister’s. It was white and red with a little more modern flair, but still appeared as though it would be appropriate in the court of an emperor.
When Aksinya stepped down the stairs into the ballroom, everyone stopped to watch. Freifrau Bockmann gave an audible gasp. She and the Freiherr ran up the stairs to greet her. The Freiherr went to one knee on the landing. Freifrau Bockmann curtsied and took Aksinya’s hand, “Dear Countess, you are ravishing.” She looked Aksinya up and down then took a surreptitious glance at Natalya that quickly returned to Aksinya, “You are so beautiful.”
Aksinya cocked her head, “Lady Natalya is very skilled.” Her voice sunk to a whisper, “She even made my hair look pleasant.”
“Pleasant, it is wonderful. She is incredibly artful. You are so elegant and make our simple home seem like an aristocratic court.”
Aksinya smiled, but the corners of her lips didn’t follow.
Freiherr Bockmann took Aksinya by the arm and led her to one of the great fireplaces. A wood fire roared within it. He sat Aksinya in a chair that faced the ballroom. Natalya stood at Aksinya’s side. At first, the Freifrau and Freiherr sat and conversed with Aksinya about the people she would meet that evening and the weather. When the guests began to arrive, they stood beside Aksinya and greeted each one. The guests were announced by the house steward and directed to the Freifrau and Freiherr. Freifrau Bockmann introduced each guest to Aksinya. She did so formally and with gravity and used Aksinya’s full name, Countess Aksinya Andreiovna Golitsyna. She then introduced the Lady Natalya.
Aksinya’s memory was excellent, but after the first fifty couples, she lost track entirely. Then the young single men arrived followed by the Catholic churches’ leaders in the city. Among this group, Aksinya remembered only the Cardinal of Wien and the Abbot of Sacré Coeur. The Cardinal was a pinch faced older man with an Italian accent. His secretary, Herr Schwab followed him everywhere. The Abbot was jollier and a little younger with a great smile and a provincial tone to his German. They both seemed pleasant men.
When all the guests had been received, Aksinya was left enthroned in her seat at the fireplace. Natalya brought her a glass of wine and a plate of food. Most of the guests stood a polite distance away from Aksinya as though they were afraid to approach the Countess although they had been introduced. Eventually, the Abbot stepped up beside Aksinya. He bowed, “Dear Countess, I understand you are attending Sacré Coeur.”
“Yes Father Abbot, my lady-in-waiting and I are both attending.”
“That is what I heard from the Reverend Mother. Your progress…”
“Is less than expected.”
“Yes, I’d heard that too. Is our curriculum not to your liking?”
“Not at all. Lady Natalya is learning German. The language is new to her. I must ensure she gains this skill before I can focus on my studies.”
“Oh, I see.”
“I thought I made this clear to the Reverend Mother.”
“The Reverend Mother is entirely complementary toward you. She has not said a negative word concerning you at all. I have other sources. My job is to keep an eye on the school and the convent. You are one of our most important students, so I keep an eye out for you too.”
“Thank you, Father Abbot.”
“The pleasure is all mine. I hope Sacré Coeur can be like a family to you. We do wish you to feel comfortable... and to succeed.”
“I shall apply myself as well as I can. My lady-in-waiting is very bright and is nearly ready to advance in her basic language knowledge. I think in the next semester, I will be able to focus on my other work.”
“I will hold you to that.”
“Please don’t. The needs of my servant and friend are much more important to me than my own progress.”
The Abbot took a sharp breath.
“You needn’t be so surprised. This is what my father taught me. He oversaw a very large estate in
thousands under his care. The needs of
the people are necessary to maintain their dignity and your honor.”
The Abbot bowed, “Even so, you are very wise, Countess.”
Aksinya’s smile slipped, “Not so wise as cautious, but thank you.”
The Cardinal and his secretary came up beside the Abbot, who moved to the side, “Good evening, Father Abbot.”
The Abbot bowed and made a slight genuflect, “Your Eminence.”
Aksinya nodded and Natalya curtsied. The Cardinal bowed deeply to Aksinya, “Countess, we are very happy to have you within our spiritual care, but we do understand that you are Orthodox and not Catholic.”
“Have you had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the Orthodox community in Wien?”
Aksinya tilted her head, “We have attended the Ecclesia where Father Makar presides.”
The Cardinal smiled, “I would like to win you over to our church, but I promise, I will not attempt that. You must take the time to become familiar with the Orthodox community. You will be very helpful to them especially with all the refugees coming across the Russian boarder at this time. I will speak to the Archpriest Makar about you. He is a good friend of mine and may not realize how close your residence is to the Ecclesia.”
“I didn’t realize Father Makar was an Archpriest. Thank you, Your Eminence.”
“That is my pleasure, Countess. I hope the Father Abbot explained how important you are to us.”
“He mentioned generally, but he didn’t say anything about my importance.”
“But you are, dear lady. The people today look for help following this disastrous war. The revolution and now civil war in
only made things worse. The people need
a strong aristocracy and church to help led them in these times. Our own aristocracy is weak in numbers and
control. The Russian nobility, on the
other hand, is very well established.
Although it is a loss to Russia,
we hope to strengthen our own nation with more expatriates like you. We pray you can integrate yourself into our
society and culture in a very positive way.”
“My Uncle and Aunt are of a similar mind. I hope I can live up to your expectations as well.”
“Yes, please keep up your studies for their sake. I think your uncle would like to see you as the jewel in the crown of our city some day. He is very proud of you.”
“Thank you. My Aunt and Uncle have been to me like the mother and father I lost in
Russia. I am indebted to them.”
The Cardinal glanced from the sides of his eyes, “You are a very pleasant noblewoman. I can see that you will go far.” He smiled, “I will gladly help you all I can. You may contact my secretary, Herr Schwab.” He pointed at the layman beside him, “If you have any needs.”
“Again, thank you, Your Eminence.”
He bowed. The Abbot bowed. They both bowed their way back to the floor of the ballroom.
Aksinya leaned against the arm of her chair. She put her hand under her chin and gave every indication that she was bored. She was bored. The crowd seemed to move a little further from her. Slowly the party wound down. No one else approached her or her lady-in-waiting. The crowd cleared out a little and Aksinya noted some late arrivals who had not been introduced to her. They didn’t approach her either. They were mostly young men without a female companion or women with an older male escort. Aksinya felt a little piqued that they had not greeted her.
After a while, Aksinya glanced at Natalya, “Lady Natalya, please get me another glass of wine.”
“Would you like something to eat?”
“No, just wine. The very sweet wine Uncle opened just for me. Ask him to open another bottle… or two.”
Natalya smiled then frowned and hurried off.
Almost immediately a young man moved from the ballroom floor and stepped directly up to Aksinya. He dropped to his left knee and bowed his head. He was dressed in finery. Not as fine as the clothing Aksinya wore, but very formal and slightly out of fashion. Aksinya’s Uncle would have approved. His frockcoat was charcoal and his pants were cream colored. His shirt was also cream and everything was pressed to perfection.
Aksinya straightened her back. She couldn’t see anything of his face only the top of his blond head. She wondered if, with such a display, he mocked her. The young man didn’t stand. He lifted his face to hers and reached for her hand. Aksinya was too slow to keep him from taking it. His face was gentle and pleasant. It matched his voice which was almost melodic. Aksinya might have described it as like a snake in a more pointed moment, but it was sweet and calm. His eyes were blue and met hers without apology. He glanced at her hand and then at her face again and smiled, “You are truly the one, Countess.”
Aksinya took a deep breath, “The one…?”
His smile broadened, “I have met you twice, but we have not been introduced. Please don’t think me forward if I introduce myself. I am Ernst Franz von Taaffe. My father is the Graf von Taaffe. So, you see, we are of nearly equal rank.”
Aksinya tried to pull her hand from his, “Why should that matter to me?”
“Because, first, I am infatuated with you. I warn you, I will do anything to have you. Second, I know exactly what you are…”
Aksinya pursed her lips and yanked her hand back. The man would not let it go. “Where did you meet me?” She hissed.
“Outside the Golden Adler Gasthaus.”
Aksinya’s free hand stole to her face, “You were one of the rapists?”
The furrows in Ernst’s smooth brow deepened, “Dear Countess, surely you don’t count me with that sort. Search your memories. You stared directly at me. You spoke to me. I carried your sweet body back into your house and placed you in your bed. Your blood ruined one of my good suits, but I purposely haven’t thrown it out.”
Aksinya’s eyes widened, “You were that man.”
Ernst’s lips drooped, “Yes, that man…”
Aksinya’s eyes filled with fear. She tried again to pull her hand from his grasp, “Why were you there? What did you see?”
Ernst grinned, “I was there because your courtier, Anatov Aznabaev told me you would be there.”
Aksinya shook her head, “Wait, Anatov Aznabaev.” She whispered a sentence of Latin words under her breath, “Say that name again.”
Ernst repeated, “Anatov Aznabaev.”
And clearly to Aksinya’s ears came, “Asmodeus.” She puffed out her cheeks, “Scheize.”
“Countess! I was led to believe you were a completely refined woman.”
“I don’t care.” She stared at the man, “What do you know?”
“That you are a most wondrous sorceress. I saw everything. You made a great enchantment without any protection. Such power, unbelievable power…” He noted the look on Aksinya’s face, “Don’t worry, Countess. Your secret is safe with me, but only if you do as I wish.”
“Who would believe you?”
He brought his face close to hers, “I have your book.”
Aksinya gasped and trembled, “You must give it back.”
“No, no, no, Countess. That is not how the game is played.”
“What do you want from me?”
“Anatov Aznabaev, told me you were a special person. He told me I would find everything I desired with you. He is right. I myself have tried for years to study sorcery. I have been, as yet, unsuccessful.”
“Your body doesn’t seem unduly marked.”
“The scars are well hidden by my clothing. It has not touched my face or hands much.” He pulled her hand toward his face and turned it over. He gently stroked the many scars that marked Aksinya’s fingers, “A successful sorcerer, so says my books, has a multitude of knife scars on their hands. They are from the constant use of blood as a sacrifice.” He turned his face toward hers again, “The smell of the use is strong on you now. You can’t hide it from me. Although, I can’t accomplish any of it, I know its smell. I know its feel. I know its marks.” He kissed the scars on her fingers.
Aksinya finally was able to pull her hand from his, “I asked you what you want?”
“I would like to learn from you, but first I must win your affection.”
“What makes you believe it can be won?”
“You courtier, Anatov Aznabaev told me that you long to find love and someone to share your life. I offer myself. You are exactly the woman I wish to love.”
“My courtier is mistaken. I do not need love or anything else…”
“But you need your book.”
“I have memorized it already.”
“Zut! I know you still desire that book.”
Aksinya raised her chin, “How would you know that?”
“Anatov Aznabaev told me.”
Aksinya snarled, “Anatov Aznabaev, Anatov Aznabaev… do you believe everything my servant tells you?”
“In this case, yes. But I have another temptation.”
Aksinya stared at him. An angry scowl set her features.
He didn’t seem to notice Aksinya’s very dangerous appearance, “I have another book that your courtier told me you would desire. It is one you have not seen before.”
Aksinya trembled, “Which book is it?”
“It is the book of Heka…”
“That is ancient Egyptian. It isn’t effective.”
“The Heka I have is Greek. It isn’t death sorcery of the Egyptians but the practice of light. I know you are interested.”
Aksinya took a breath, “If it is a Greek Heka…”
“It is a Greek Heka.”
“What about my book. You stole it.”
“Those are strong words, Countess. You dropped it in the street. I picked it up for you. Who’s to say who such a book belongs to?”
“It is mine, and you know it.”
“I also know that you are a marvelous sorceress, and I wish to entertain you.”
“I will not accommodate any lewd behavior.”
“Lewd behavior? Countess, you mistake my intention. I wish to woo you. I do not wish to seduce you.”
“How can I trust your intentions?”
“I have your book,” he laughed.
“And you blackmail me with it?”
“I only want to take you to dine and to a play, the ballet, or to a concert. Surely that is not lewd.”
“I will bring my lady-in-waiting as a chaperone.”
“You may bring your guardian nun as well.”
Aksinya sat back, “Pardon me then. I did not understand your intentions.”
“My intentions are pure, but I would like to know much, much more about this enchanting sorceress who came to Wien. The moment your courtier described you, I had to meet you.”
Aksinya stared suspiciously at him, “Just where did you meet my courtier?”
A puzzled look crossed Ernst von Taaffe’s features, “I don’t entirely remember, Countess, but wherever and whenever it was, I am thankful for it because that meeting led me to you.”
“You don’t think me plain, diminutive, and unwomanly.”
Ernest von Taaffe bowed his head, “On the contrary, I find you mysterious, powerful, and exciting.” He glanced up, “I will contact you at your house. Please make an evening open for me next week.”
Aksinya sighed, “I will entertain you when you visit. Please return my book.”
Ernst rose, “Not until you attend a dinner and an evening event with me. Then I will discuss the return of your book. It is late or I would ask you to dance. Countess,” he bowed deeply and wandered back to the ballroom floor.
Aksinya slumped in her seat. When Natalya finally returned, Aksinya drank the whole glass of wine and sent Natalya back for more.
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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