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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Writing - part xx040 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, More Mini Tragedy

12 November 2019, Writing - part xx040 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, More Mini Tragedy

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

The antagonist or less positively, the circumstances of the setting, produces suffering and misfortune in the protagonist and this results in pity and fear in the reader.  This is the formula for the development of pathos in any fictional work.

So, take a look again at my list of characteristics that build pathos.  Now take any possible suffering and misfortune you can imagine and add that to the list.  All I need to do to develop appropriate pathos in my reader is to take some suffering and misfortune and develop a scene such that the antagonist or the circumstances of the setting and plot results in that suffering and misfortune.  This is how you can and should develop any novel.  

Now, I will warn you, too much pathos is called melodrama.  Melodrama is characterized by exaggeration, overemotional, and overly dramatic situations.  Melodrama is illustrated by the villain tying a beautiful maiden on a railroad who is than rescued by a handsome hero.  You might wonder why such a scene was once considered melodrama, and why it isn’t melodrama at all today.

The reason is that at the time, no civilized person could ever imagine that a reasonable villain could or would ever tie anyone on a railway line for the purpose of being cut apart by a train.  The very idea was considered completely outside of the sphere of any human being.  Perhaps the insane might consider such an action, but at the time, the insane were isolated from society and not spoken about at all.

Today, the movies give use much more melodrama than a villain tying a woman on a railroad track.  Today, this example would be considered no irony or melodrama at all—it would be normative or at least a joke, but a horrible joke, and some villain would definitely do it.  It is a cliché that has been overcome by too many clichés.  Today, we need a little different measure or mark of melodrama. 

Then what does melodrama look like today?  First of all, I don’t think you can have too much pathos in any fiction.  If you notice, the definition of melodrama is exaggeration, overemotional, and overly dramatic.  This is not pathos.  This is bathos.  There are specific means to accidentally or intentionally produce bathos. 

Notice, pathos is the correct emotional response to circumstances, while bathos is the incorrect emotional response to circumstances.  If I am using exaggeration, overemotional, or the overly dramatic, then I am seeking a response that is incorrect to the emotion in the scene.  If I am accomplishing this on purpose, it is an irony or satire.  If it is unintentional, it is pure bathos.

The question then is what actually causes bathos and when is any writing an exaggeration, overemotional, or overly dramatic?

Sometimes inexperienced authors can’t tell when their response or the response of their characters are incorrect for the circumstances.  This is the most common means of exaggeration.  For example, some characters might overreact to all kinds of things.  That’s great.  Many characters are like this, but one character is one thing—if all your characters accept the exaggeration or react to the exaggeration, that’s likely melodrama.  You see it all the time.  In my own personal life, I personally don’t get excited unless something will hurt people or damage equipment.  Everything else is an exaggeration.  You see exaggeration in children, but not in adults.  Children can go off in all kinds of irrational ways, and that produces some degree of entertainment in a kid’s book.  Adults should know better.

Overemotional relates to the author drawing attention to emotions.  Many times these are inappropriate.  The greatest power of pathos is when it has little or no character emotion attached.  The emotions of the characters are not important in developing pathos, the emotions of the readers is. 

Overdramatic is hard to do, but perhaps it is possible.  The worst problem in most cases of melodrama is not any of these, but rather deus ex machina.    

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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