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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Writing - part x762, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Pathos Situations

7 February 2019, Writing - part x762, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Pathos Situations

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  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

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to
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
Cover Proposal
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
7.      Introspective
8.     Leader
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?

What are pathos building situations?  To prevent milking or melodrama, as some writers call it, the attention to the pathos condition must always be downplayed.  If you show and don’t tell, this usually is sufficient to prevent too much sopping, that is trolling for emotions.  Perhaps we should look at this a little.

Pathos development is not the same as trolling for emotional response in either the readers or the characters.  In the first place, the emotions of the characters are pretty much meaningless in developing pathos—when we write pathos, we mean the proper emotional response from the readers.  And never forget this—all fictional writing is an intent to sway the emotions of the readers.  This is the entire point of all fictional writing.  If you succeed you are a capable writer.  If not, you just aren’t.  Writing is about touching the emotions of the readers.  To achieve this however is a trip of self-discovery for the reader.  It doesn’t do for the author to tell the reader, so and so is sad.  Don’t tell, show.  Thus, the self-discovery is that the reader observes the incidents and appearance of the characters and comes to the proper conclusion about the emotions and his or her own emotional response.  This idea of self-discover is what prevents any novel from becoming a sob story or trolling for emotion.  So what works?

In the case of the hot cross bun example from A Little Princess, Sara Crew’s hunger, poverty, abuse, and situation is compared with someone with much greater problems than she.  This is a comparison situation.  We are not led to feel sorry for the urchin girl.  We and the protagonist see the irony of the differences between the two.  This is reflected in the response of the third person in the scene, the shopkeeper.  You can run comparison scenes like this between all kinds of pathos and in all kinds of situations.  The point is to not tell any of it—just show it.  The reader can figure out the irony and the circumstances from the descriptions, conversation, and actions.

Irony is the word of the day in consideration of pathos—this is why the Greeks loved irony and satire so much.  Irony is pathos as in non-humorous, and satire is humorous pathos.  In modern writing we use other methods to develop humor, but to the Greeks satire was their humor and irony the less humorous pathos development.  We saw comparison, but based on the fact that pathos development is emotion based, loss is a powerful tool in its development. 

Comparison also plays in loss.  You don’t see it directly in the Sara Crew example, but the unmentioned comparison between where Sara started to where she is and the further comparison between Sara and the urchin child provide this indirectly.  In any case, loss of wealth, love, friendship, health, skills, power, position, and all provides the basis for the pathos.  To prevent banality, the loss should be not the fault of the protagonist or character.  Thus in my novel Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, Azure has lost her estate and wealth due to her father’s crime, and she is attempting to regain her lost estate, but not necessarily her lost fortune.  The loss provides the impetus for her actions through the entire novel.  Loss is an important factor in developing pathos toward sadness, but there is also joy.

As you can imagine, gain provides humor or uplift as a potential emotion and not just satire.  Gain of position, wealth, love, goals, achievements, and all.  I’ve seen these used to wonderful pathos development and especially understated pathos development in many novels.  Perhaps the best use can be found in Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anna McCaffrey.  The unstated power of these novels is the growing joy for the protagonist.  I think these novels are perfect examples of how to build pathos from both loss and gain.  The understated and unstated become the greatness for the pathos development.  The first novel is especially good at the development of the sudden realization in the characters and the slow realization of the reader.  That is another point worth considering in pathos development—the sudden revelation of the protagonist and the informed development of the understanding of the reader.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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