2 February 2019, Writing - part x757, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Unique
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.
You won’t get any more unique than magic, and the greatest magic user of his age—kind of. Harry Potty is the consummate unique skills, powers, and learning—except he isn’t. He is actually unique in survival and average in about everything else. Here is a great trick in Harry that I don’t advise you use, but you could. Harry is almost the least special magic user in the magical world. His spells work, like everyone else’s, but he isn’t unique (in magic), powers (except his survival), or in learning (he’s like of a dunce). He is skilled in Quidditch… and that’s about it. He isn’t really the best in the world, but he’s pretty good—especially when everyone else has been training for years, and he just does it. If I don’t sound very happy with Harry as a character and a protagonist—you got it. I think the author unintentionally made Harry a poor protagonist—on the other hand Harry Potty is a bestseller. What can you say? If we observe the characteristics of Harry and mimic the good parts, we can write novels that might be bestsellers.
The point about unique skills, powers, or learning is that these are characteristics of great romantic characters. Although the romantic character is a common person, their unique capabilities make them individuals of the highest human level. They aren’t gods or messiahs, but they have skills which they discover and apply themselves to make as powerful as possible. Those skills and abilities are then used to resolve the telic flaw.
To be clear, the unique skills of the protagonist might not look so unique in comparison to others, but the drive and individualism of the protagonist should set them apart. For example, one of the best romantic characters in modern literature is Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers. Johnny is a consummate common person. He isn’t a great scholar. He doesn’t have any special skills. The best he can apply for in the government service is as a Starship Trooper. This is like a space marine. We see Johnny learn the skills of the soldier. He does his best. At some point, he realizes that he has leadership skills. He begins to train and work on these skills. The skills were brought out by his environment and challenges. The power of the novel is that Johnny finds his drive to perfect his skills as an officer and a leader. His skill is leadership and great leadership—so great that he helps end the current space war and resolve the novel’s telic flaw.
This is the kind of skills, powers, and learning we want to design into great protagonists. I’ll give some more examples next.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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