4 January 2019, Writing - part x728, Writing a Novel, Fleshing Out Characters, The Eleventh 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 Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire. Heidi is Valeska, a vampire.
At 1900 on Friday, 12 December George and Heidi stood in front of the Lyons House. Two rather new looking stone lions sat at either side of the very large oak door. The house the door fronted looked large and beautiful. Its facing was stone and brick in the emperor style. It appeared very old. George wore a suit and an inexpensive Christmas tie. Heidi wore a very frilly white dress with red and green panels on the skirt and the top. She wore a jaunty beret made of the same white lace, red, and green material as the dress. It was a warm enough evening that they didn’t require their coats. The ground was wet, but the rain stopped earlier in the afternoon.
A young looking butler opened the door to them, “Good evening. I’m Harold, the butler. May I announce you?”
George proffered his invitation, “George Mardling and my niece Heidi Mardling.”
The butler smiled, “The receiving line just ended. Please follow me.”
They stepped through the door, and the butler closed it after them. Harold stepped ahead of them. Heidi whispered to George, “Did you time our arrival to intentionally miss the receiving line?”
George grinned behind his hand, “I don’t have to give up all my trade secrets to you, do I?”
The butler led them down the hallway off the foyer. It opened into a classical large ballroom with twin staircases at the back. Dark and ancient wood paneled the interior. The rugs were Turkish and slightly ragged. Heidi cocked her head, “A very wealthy and old family.”
George smiled back, “Perhaps.”
The room was not crowded with people, but at least fifteen couples stood in the space. Buffet tables filled with food and drink were stationed under the stairs. A quartet at the left side played Christmas music intermixed with classics. Harold, the butler, led Heidi and George toward a handsome middle-aged couple at the side. The man was medium height and shorter than George. His hair was light brown and his features were fine but nondescript. He possessed a very pleasant face with a few wrinkles--most seemed to grace his eyes and lips as though he was used to smiling.
The woman looked slight, petite and exquisitely beautiful. Her skin was the color of cappuccino. Her hair was black, long, and silky. Her eyes seemed more appropriate on an Egyptian tomb painting and were large and brown and exotic. She possessed an almost timeless appearance, but slight wrinkles marked her eyes and lips in almost the same measure as the man—as though they had known many of the same joys and sorrows.
The butler stepped to the side, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Long, may I present Mr. George Mardling and his niece Ms. Heidi Mardling.”
Mrs. Long immediately stepped forward and put her hand out to Heidi. She maintained a very bright smile on her face. She took Heidi’s hand in hers and her eyes went wide. Heidi instantly released Mrs. Long’s hand. Mrs. Long became breathless. She stammered a little, “Good evening. I’m Sveta Long.”
Heidi made a deep curtsy, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Long for inviting us to your party.”
Sveta reached out to Heidi again. Heidi stepped back, but Sveta connected with Heidi’s shoulder. Sveta froze, and her head came up. She frowned and stammered again, “You’re very welcome. Make yourself comfortable in our home,” but her face clearly said exactly the opposite.
Heidi glanced in Sveta’s eyes, then quickly turned her head away, “What I really need is a glass of sweet wine.”
Sveta looked as if she was about to say something, but she lowered her head and stepped back.
Daniel’s lips twitched, “I’m not sure what is going on, exactly.” He grabbed George’s hand and shook it, “Good to see you back in England, George.”
George forced a smile, “I’m glad to be back. I’m looking for a new assignment as soon as possible.”
Daniel clapped George on the shoulder, “I really hoped to keep you here in London for a while. I have some new recruits and training for you to supervise.”
George grimaced, “Sounds long term. I guess we’ll make do.”
“Heidi and I.”
Daniel frowned and put his head back, “Don’t tell me you are sharing your flat with this young woman.”
Heidi blinked, “I am happy to have a place to stay while I’m visiting in London.”
Sveta stepped forward, “No, you should stay here. As I understand, the single flats the organization is assigning now are barely suitable for one—I can’t imagine a young woman having to put up with such close quarters…”
Heidi glared at Sveta, “I would feel completely out of place anywhere else.”
Sveta glared back, “I insist.”
“I equally insist and respectfully decline—Mr. Mardling is my guardian in London. It would be unthinkable for me to stay anywhere else.”
Sveta narrowed her eyes at Heidi and Heidi squinted back at Sveta.
Daniel stepped between them, “Sveta, dear, I’m certain I can assign George a larger flat.”
Sveta let out her breath. She visibly calmed, “Yes… I’m sure we can work things out. Are you certain, Heidi, you don’t want to spend your time here until we can get George a larger place.”
Heidi didn’t back down. She made a slicing motion with her hand, “I will not.”
Sveta forced a smile, “Very well. But, I do think you are a bit young to drink wine.”
At that moment, a maid carrying a platter of filled wine glasses walked by. Heidi gracefully plucked a glass off the platter. She downed the whole glass in a swallow and turned Sveta a deep frown, “I do not like dry white wines. Do you have something more acceptable to my palate?”
Sveta’s eyes bulged. She took a step toward Heidi and appeared like she was about to leap. Heidi crouched slightly.
Daniel grasped Sveta’s arm, and she came to herself.
George raised his hands, “Heidi is much older than she looks. We just came from Poland where there are no age limits for drinking alcohol. She usually has a glass or two every evening.”
Sveta narrowed her eyes again, “I see. Heidi,” she almost spat the name, “You may drink as much as you desire in my house. Harold, please bring up a sweet German Riesling for Ms. Mardling.”
Heidi raised her head high, “An auslese, if you have it.”
Harold, the butler, bowed, “Yes, ma’am.”
Heidi glanced at Sveta from the sides of her eyes, “Thank you again for your hospitality.”
Daniel pulled Sveta back a step. Heidi grasped George by the hand and led him toward the buffet tables.
When they moved out of earshot, George leaned over and whispered, “What was that all about?”
Heidi didn’t look at him, “I think she realizes what I am.”
“What? Are you kidding?”
“I am completely serious. I think she would have attacked me right there if she could. I am in serious danger here—in this house—and in this city.”
George turned and glanced back. Daniel and Sveta engaged in a heated conversation. Sveta did not look at them. She pointed back toward them.
Heidi moved to the buffet and picked up a plate.
George whispered, “Why did you have to antagonize her so much. She is my boss’ wife, shouldn’t you try to gain her as an ally?”
Heidi glared at him, “She antagonized me first. Does a wolf try to ally itself with the hunter? Or the sheep with the wolf? Right now, I wish to eat her food. It surely isn’t poisoned—not if she fed it to her friends. I also wish to remain in the crowd where she can’t find me alone. When we return to your apartment, I will go on foot.”
George caught her arm, “You sound like you have been through this before.”
“Never before, but I have not lived this long without learning some degree of caution.”
“I find that hard to believe—you were not living very well when I discovered you.”
Heidi raised her voice, “Your life-blood was eking out of your body when I found you.”
George whispered forcefully, “Sveta is my boss’ wife. She runs an office in the organization. You need to mollify her and not antagonize her.”
Heidi stared at him, “You choose her over me?” Her eye twitched.
“I didn’t choose her at all. I just want to keep my job. Where do you think this clothing comes from?”
Heidi threw down her plate, “If that’s the way it is, you may have it back right now.” She began to unbutton her dress.
George grabbed her hands, “Stop that. I didn’t mean it that way.” He continued lamely, “I need this work.”
She stopped, “I understand. I’m just not happy about it.”
George buttoned her dress, “Everyone is staring.”
She lowered her head, “I’m sorry, Mr. Mardling.” She kept her head down and glanced up at him with her eyes alone.
“Pick up your plate. You’re lucky it didn’t break.”
She knelt very primly. Harold came up behind her and slipped the plate out of her hands. He placed a glass of wine in it, “I’ll get you a new plate. This one is soiled.”
“Thank you,” she mumbled. She took a sip of the wine, and her face brightened.
Harold came beside her, “What may I select for you from the buffet.”
Heidi answered very sweetly, “Some of the partridge, a bit of cheese, bread, and pudding.”
Harold carried the plate for her. Already the attention began to draw away from her and from George. A few watched her as an apparent fifteen year old sipped on a glass of wine. When the glass became empty, Harold replaced it with a full one.
Heidi found a seat at the back of the room. She sat quietly with a very attentive look. No one approached her. George didn’t let Heidi out of his sight. He took a plate of food and a mug of dark beer and sulked.
A few people greeted George. Tim and his wife came by. They spoke of trivialities. As the evening progressed, George tried to keep count of the number of glasses Heidi downed. He lost track, but he thought she only drank three. He thought about leaving early.
Daniel Long sauntered over. Sveta wasn’t in view. Daniel took a quick glance at Heidi then addressed George, “George, do you know what set off your niece?”
“Not a clue,” George lied.
“Sveta was also very agitated, but she wouldn’t tell me what was going on. Sveta thought that she was acting unsocial. She’s trying to make it up to you both.”
“I’m afraid my niece is drinking herself to oblivion.”
“Sorry about that…”
“I didn’t handle it well at all. She was narked at me too.”
Daniel stepped closer, “George, are you certain you don’t know why they leapt at each other’s throats?”
Daniel shook his head and took a sip of his drink, “I’ve come to trust Sveta’s intuition about our business and many other things…”
“I can understand that.”
“I know this isn’t the best time to discuss things, George. Perhaps you can come visit me on Monday.”
George grimaced, “Yes. I’ll come by.”
“Maybe we can discuss getting a larger flat for you and…what was her name, Heidi.”
Daniel nodded apologetically, “Glad you could come to the party. It’s not been as pleasant for you as I’d like—sorry about that.”
“It’s all right.”
Daniel moved on to the next couple.
When George turned around to check on Heidi, she was gone.
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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