6 February 2019, Writing - part x761, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Pathos Situation
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
Pathos…what is pathos, and why do we need it? Pathos may be the most important characteristic of any protagonist. I’ve written before, almost every comedy novel can be characterized as zero to hero, and every tragedy novel as hero to zero. This is not too great a generalization. We should probably dig deeper into this.
Therefore, our protagonist will need to either start as a zero or be brought to the zero state. This zero state induces pathos. How do we use pathos?
Second, to use pathos, we need to place our pathetic protagonist into a pathos developing situation.
Once you have placed your protagonist into a pathos state, you need to use that state. Dwelling on pathos produces melodrama, but I’m not opposed at all to melodrama. I think authors need to work hard to develop an emotional response in their readers—if that is considered melodrama, then so be it. This was the goal of all Greek literature, and I am happy to emulate the great parts of Greek literature.
So, as we use a pathos developing character, the author needs to keep in mind circumstances that can be used to take advantage of the pathos. The most basic means is what I call creative elements. The protagonist brings numerous setting elements along with them. Setting elements are descriptive characteristics of the character. For example, what does their appearance look like, and how are they described. There are other concepts that are not setting elements, but are concepts that can be used in the plot and to develop pathos situations. To be clear, setting elements are those elements that you can describe physically. Character elements are those elements that can’t be described physically but can be used and shown through actions in a scene.
I’ll explain. I can describe that a character looks thin, perhaps too thin, but you don’t know if they are hungry. The only way I can show you they are hungry is to show you or have them tell you. For example, if I have a character who is digging through a dumpster for breakfast, you might conclude they are hungry. If you ask them, “Are you hungry?” They might say, “No, I’m just dumpster diving.” On the other hand, they might respond, “I’m starving. I haven’t had anything since yesterday.” Based on this, we can conclude the character is hungry. This is how we use description and actions. By the way, the descriptions are setting elements. Once I have the character interact with a setting element, it becomes a creative element. Again, the setting and creative elements are things you can describe. These are elements you can use in a scene. In addition, you can have character elements that can be used in the tension and release of the scene. The character elements are used to turn a scene into a pathos situation.
As an example, in the case of A Little Princess, Sara Crew is hungry (character element), wet (setting element), tired (character element), finds a shilling (setting element), goes to a bakery (setting element), sees a girl (setting element), askes the girl if she is hungry (action), girl says she is starving (character element), goes into the shop (action), buys buns from the shopkeep (buys is an action, the bun are setting elements), takes the buns to the girl and gives her five of six (action). You can see the setting and character elements are used to develop pathos. The means should be through showing. The situations of the pathos come out of the setting elements and character elements. The author simply uses action to put these elements into play.
Let’s think of general situations that we could use to build pathos.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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