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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Writing - part xx035 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Orphan

7 November 2019, Writing - part xx035 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Orphan

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.

Looking at the classic pathos developing scene from A Little Princess, the emotions of the characters are not very strong, but the reader is significantly affected by the circumstances and situation.  How can this be?  More specifically, what are the characteristics of a scene or of a characters that builds pathos?

A character is pathos building who through no fault of their own is:
1.     hungry
2.     sad
3.     abused
4.     an orphan
5.     penniless
6.     abandoned
7.     cold
8.     injured
9.     falsely convicted or accused
10.  desiring for information
11.  education
12.  to read
13.  a child
14.  a female
15.  beauty
16.  loss of a child
17.  general loss
18.  friendless
19.  alone
20.  afraid
21.  helpless
22.  isolated

Am I telling you that just by introducing a character as an orphan that will generate pathos?  You bet I am, and it does.  Further, from a classical standpoint, what is being developed is pity and fear.  Pity and fear is how Aristotle described the pathos in a tragedy.  Pity and fear works just as well for a comedy.  Let me remind you.  A tragedy is a work (novel, story, play, etc.) where the telic flaw overcomes the protagonist.  A comedy is a work where the telic flaw is overcome by the protagonist.  Pity and fear are the emotions created not in the protagonist or the characters but in the reader or observer.  Pity is the emotion created just by introducing the character and their characteristic such as an orphan.  Fear is the realization or expectation of what the characteristic can cause in the life of the character.  Pity applies more to the actual character or characteristic.  Fear applies to what the author does with it.

Back to the question and statement, just be introducing a character as an orphan, we generate pathos.  Yes you do.  Pity is the specific emotion caused by the character being an orphan.  Any characteristic that drives pity in the reader is pathos building.  Therefore, Sara Crew and the little homeless girl as both orphans—this singular characteristic makes them pathos developing because the reader automatically feels pity for them.  Let’s define this a little.

If I take an adult character and tell you they are an orphan, your reaction is much less.  If I tell you the adult lost their parents as a child, you might feel a little pity.  The age of the character definitely affects the degree of pity and pathos.  I can build both pity and pathos into fiction through these means—this is especially true when developing the background for your characters. 

Does that mean you should just make all your characters orphans?  Of course not.  I’m just providing a template for pathos.  If you are writing a story or novel about a young person and you want to develop the maximum pathos, you need to contemplate if the background of the character or the protagonist should include being an orphan.  You can easily see how it plays into the scene with Sara Crew and this is true through the entire novel.  Novels written in the Victorian and early Romantic periods are filled with orphans, not necessarily just for the pathos effect, but because this was a reality of their society.  Many children lost their parents due to illness and early death.  Many more parents lost their children due to illness. 

Loss of children is another pathos building circumstance, but not nearly the power of an orphan child.  You might ask how young, or just what is a child in literature?  I do this all the time.  I don’t write for young adults.  I write adult novels, but in some cases, I use youthful characters.  The reason is to evoke pity and fear.  The skilled author can project the youthfulness of characters in various ways.  Let me give you an example with Lilly. 

Lilly is my protagonist from Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer.  She is a math and computer genius who is going to college.  She is sixteen years old and not really a child.  However, by placing a sixteen year old in what is usually considered an adult and transitional background, like a university, that is free pity.  Everyone who has been of imagined college knows the feeling of that transition from controlled childhood to the freedom and responsibility of the university.  Many never recover from it and succeed.  By projecting Lilly into this setting, I produce a circumstance of childhood within the scope of the writing.  Further, Lilly has her own issues.  She is friendless, isolated, and alone.  This is the problems of a math and computer genius.  If you don’t get this, just look at all the jokes about the lack of social integration of engineers and scientists. 

Lilly is also an orphan in the sense that she has no idea who her father is, and her mother sort of abandoned her.  Her mother actually lost custody and Lilly was a foster child, but her mother keeps trying to regain custody so she can take advantage of Lilly’s scholarship money.  This gets complicated, but I developed the background of this character to be complicated—just like many in real life.  Perhaps the most important point is that Lilly takes everything in stride.  She isn’t emotional at all about the circumstances of her birth, life, and continued struggles—everyone else is.  This is worth pursuing.  I’ll explain more of this next.    

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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