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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Writing - part x764, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Pathos and Foreshadowing

9 February 2019, Writing - part x764, Writing a Novel, Protagonist in the Initial Scene, Pathos and Foreshadowing

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?

The perfect circumstance of any reveal or pathos building scene is a slow burn and a realization of the circumstance—you’d like the reader to be in absolute anticipation of the event before it happens and completely aware at the reveal.  This is the most powerful buildup.  The Chekov’s gun is another part of this foreshadowing.      

I looked at foreshadowing and the development of pathos.  We are seeking a slow burn and realization for the user that is a sudden recognition by the protagonist.  Part of this slow burn for the reader is the network of foreshadowing the author puts in place to build up to the reveal.  Let’s call the protagonist reveal a recognition.  The same circumstance for the reader is a reveal that the author controls.  The reveal for the protagonist is a recognition.  The foreshadowing is the primary means of developing the revelation specifically for the reader.  The protagonist might gain information via the foreshadowing, but generally, this is for the reader.  In addition, the author uses not just foreshadowing but also Chekov’s Guns.

Chekov’s Guns are setting elements that are turned into creative elements by the actions of the characters.  Setting elements are elements placed in the setting by the author.  These setting elements become creative elements through the use of them by the protagonist or other characters.  Creative elements are Chekov’s Guns.  In fact, setting elements are Chekov’s Guns.

Chekov wrote, “If the author introduces a gun in the first scene, someone must be shot with it in the third.”  This is a paraphrase, but pretty close.  Chekov was making a joke and introducing a concept in a play.  His point is that an author does not introduce any setting element that he or she does not intend to use.  Now, a play is different than a novel.  In a novel, you might have various setting elements that never become creative elements, but usually, the author will and must turn unusual setting elements into creative elements.

This is what Chekov meant.  When the author introduces an unusual, interesting, working, or other setting element, we expect the author to turn it into a creative element.  This is a Chekov’s Gun.  So, if I bring a Tutsi African Mask in as a setting element, the reader should expect me to use that element—it becomes a creative element through use and should affect the plot.  If I have a protagonist handle a weapon in a scene, the author has turned that weapon into a creative element and must use it in the plot and novel.  These are Chekov’s Guns.

The moment I turn an object into a creative element, the readers should expect me to use it in the novel and to affect the plot of the novel.  This is a foreshadowing in an object.  Notice, the moment the author brings it into the novel (setting element) the reader has an expectation.  When the protagonist or other character touches it, it becomes a creative element, and the reader really expects it to foreshadow something.  That something might be obvious or it might be not so obvious, but the reader is expecting the author to use it in some wonderful way.  That is the point of a Chekov’s Gun.  The moment I bring a gun into the plot, the readers expect it to be used.  It may not be used to murder or kill.  It might be used in defense or as a paperweight.  However, if it becomes a paperweight, your readers will be disappointed.  They will think, “Why bring a gun into the plot if it isn’t going to be used as a gun?”  Bring in a stone or a brick or a snow-globe.  Even these create excitement.  I can use any of these as a weapon—only a gun can fire a bullet.  Just noting the importance an item brings to the plot.  In all your writing, note the power of the Chekov’s Gun and foreshadowing.  They are in many ways the same.    

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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