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Friday, November 8, 2019

Writing - part xx036 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Unassuming

8 November 2019, Writing - part xx036 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Unassuming

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

About using pathos developing characteristics, the most important is that the circumstance can’t be the fault of the character or protagonist.  Self-inflicted problems can be wonderful plot and creative elements, but they don’t engender pathos.  They don’t produce bathos either.  Their resolution can develop pathos or at least the opposite of pity and fear—happiness and relief. 

The second most important characteristic is that the protagonist or character takes everything in stride.  They don’t make a big deal about their circumstances.  I call this characteristic, unassuming.

In Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer, Lilly is homeless and lives in a cardboard structure on top of a dorm.  She doesn’t want anyone to know that’s where she lives for many reasons.  The fact that she doesn’t really see living in a cardboard box as special or unusual builds on the idea of pathos.  This is all about her background, but additionally about her resilience.  Romantic characters overcome their difficulties by conquering them or in some cases accepting them.  The power in the characters is what they are willing to accept and how they accept it.

One of the recurring themes in my writing is the person who knows how to line under adversity.  I make it a theme and a kind of joke in much of my writing.  I have a character who learned to live on the streets to survive and her sister who learned to live on the streets as part of her training as a spy.  Lilly learned to live out on the streets to escape her mother and to accomplish what she wanted in life.  All three of these characters are prepped for rescue.  Just like Sara Crew was driven down to the point of hunger, abuse, and neglect, pathos building characters are not just brought low mentally but physically and in life.  Remember all themes are ultimately zero to hero.  The means of getting a character to zero or hero varies.  The use of pathos is just a tool to building this ultimate theme.

Thus, getting to hero is the usual plot of every modern novel.  Typically, in Victorian Era novels, the character is recognized and brought out of their zero state.  In Oliver Twist, Oliver is brought out of poverty and the streets.  Sara Crew is found to be the missing daughter of Captain Crew and rescued by his friend.  Romantic novels are different, but don’t neglect the classic protagonist’s helper or other character who aids the protagonist.

In a Romantic theme or plot, we expect the protagonist to learn to use their special and specific skills to achieve their hero status while resolving the telic flaw.  In Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer, Lilly is aided by Dane.  Lilly doesn’t have any reason to change her ways or her life until she meets Dane. 

Dane is a classic protagonist’s helper.  He doesn’t resolve the telic flaw, but he aids Lilly in achieving her skills and that leads to the resolution of the telic flaw.  For example, Lilly begins the novel as a homeless, hungry, dirty, smelly, but genius student.  She has no reason to clean up or get off the street, until she meets Dane.  Dane is the first person to stick up for her and to help her.  He’s the only person who’s shown her any friendly attention.  Lilly has all kinds of official attention, but not friendly attention.  Because of Dane, she begins to act like a regular person instead of a homeless one.  The idea of a mentor or protagonist’s helper acting in the best interest of the protagonist is a very classic idea.  I incorporate protagonist’s helpers in most of my novels. 

Additionally, the protagonist’s helper is a comparison or sounding board to the protagonist, drawing attention to their state.  In fact, the real difference between a protagonist’s helper and simply a character who interacts positively with the protagonist—Becky, the maid of all work in A Little Princess for example, who is Sara Crew’s friend and helper.  Sara Crew by comparison points to the pathos developing character of Becky and not the other way around.  Sara Crew helps Becky and not necessarily the other way around.  I’ll point out that A Little Princess is not a novel for a protagonist’s helper—it is too important that Sara be truly abandoned to build her pathos and the pathos of the novel.  On the other hand, my novel, Lilly is completely designed around a protagonist’s helper who aids Lilly in finding the normal and achieving her success which result in the resolution of the telic flaw.

Let me reiterate, the unassuming character of the pathos developing protagonist is an important element in the background of this type of protagonist, and a powerful means of reflecting this is by comparison to the protagonist’s helper, if you have one.       

The other characteristics of a pathos developing character are equally important.

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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