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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Writing - part xx033 Writing a Novel, Elements of Pathos

5 November 2019, Writing - part xx033 Writing a Novel, Elements of Pathos

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 websites
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

Perhaps I should go back and look again at the initial scene—maybe, I’ll cover that again as part of looking at the rising action.  The reason is that I’m writing a rising action in a novel right now.

That gets us back to the protagonist—complexity makes the protagonist and the telic flaw one and the same. 

The novel is a revelation of the protagonist.  The telic flaw is connected directly to the protagonist.  The plot is the revelation of the telic flaw.  This connects the protagonist to the plot and the telic flaw.  The point is that to plan a novel, I simply need to plan the revelation of the protagonist.  To accomplish this, you need to develop a protagonist.

When I write you develop your protagonist, you write notes about:

1.     Name
2.     Background
3.     Education
4.     Appearance
5.     Work
6.     Wealth
7.     Skills
8.     Mind
10.  Dislikes
11.  Opinions
12.  Honor
13.  Life
14.  Thoughts
15.  Telic flaw

I design a protagonist around the initial scene.  This is the way I write a novel.  This isn’t the only way to write a novel, but it is the way I have discovered to write well-conceived and powerful novels.  This goes back to the initial scene. 

Above, I gave you four options for developing the initial scene.  Yesterday, I told you to take two off.  Authors have used three and four, but they don’t produce the kinds of exciting initial scenes we want.  Here’s the list again.

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

Let’s plan to put one and two together.  Let’s also focus on the other characteristics of the initial scene.  Notice that first, the initial scene must include the protagonist.  This should be obvious, but let’s go down the list.  I’m looking at background and pathos.

Just what is pathos and how do we develop it?  Pathos is any circumstance that leads to appropriate emotion in your reader.  There is an opposite to pathos—bathos.  Bathos is any circumstance that leads to inappropriate emotion in your reader.  Let’s look a little at bathos—this is what we don’t want.

We don’t indeed want bathos, but what is it exactly?  I’m certain you have experienced bathos during a movie or play.  When the circumstances of the scene causes the audience to laugh or feel uncomfortable when it is obvious the scene is supposed to be sad or not funny at all—that is bathos. 

I’ve rarely seen bathos in a professionally published novel because no publisher or editor would ever let such a thing through editing.  In fact, most publishers or editor would never consider a novel with bathos as a characteristic.  When do you see bathos?

There are two usual circumstances.  The most common is when the author is trying too hard.  They try to ring emotion out of the reader by evoking emotion in the protagonist or character.  I can tell you, the most powerful pathos building scenes in literature are those where the characters many times are showing no emotion at all—or little pathetic type emotion.  The second is when the author just writes something accidentally trivial or stupid especially when emotions are involved.  Usually, the second case are circumstances that in the real world would never evoke the kinds of emotions the author is trying to create.  The end of both is bathos.  What we want is pathos and not bathos.

Notice, that both pathos and bathos are the response of the readers and not the characters in the writing.  The response is that of the observer and not the actor.  This is critically important.  As I wrote, in many cases, the most pathos developing scenes are emotionless or nearly so for the actors (characters).  Let me give you my favorite example again.

In the novel A Little Princess, the protagonist Sara Crew is a powerfully pathos building character.  The greatest pathos building scene of many in the novel is a scene where Sara has lost everything and is an abused servant in her old school.  She is starving, cold, and send out late in the day without dinner, when she finds a sixpence in the mud.  She tries to find the owner and brings the sixpence into a bread shop.  There she buys six hot cross buns to eat.  Though starving, Sara gives five of her buns to a younger homeless girl on the steps of the shop.  The shop keeper sees Sara’s actions and unbeknown to Sara takes the homeless girl in.  This is a gross abbreviation of a scene which every reader and writer of English should be familiar with.

My point is that in this scene, there is very little emotion.  No one cries.  No one gets angry.  No one gets excited.  One girl stuffs her face—she is very happy.  She is taken in.  The protagonist gets a single roll and returns to the house hungry and cold.  The shop keep is perhaps the most touched, but shows little emotion.  The greatest emotion in this scene is the reflective emotion, the pathos, of the reader.  Unless you are a totally inhumane person, you can’t help feel deep emotion for Sara, the starving homeless child, and the happy actions of the shop keeper.  As I noted, the characters show little to no emotion, the reader does.  This is pathos.

This is pathos, and we can pick apart the reasons this little scene evokes so much of it.

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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