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Monday, December 2, 2019

Writing - part xx060 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Secrets and Tension

2 December 2019, Writing - part xx060 Writing a Novel, Characters and Pathos, Secrets and Tension

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 pathos and secrets.

Secrets are the building blocks of novels.  This is true of all novels.  First, all novels are a revelation of the protagonist.  This is the basic feature of all novels.  A revelation presumes there is a secret to be revealed, and this is so.  The protagonist is an unknown until revealed in the novel.  Thus all novels are a revelation of the secrets of the protagonist.  This is also true of the plot.

How do you develop secrets which you plan to reveal in a novel?  In the first place, you really need to think about revelation, secrets, and when you intend to reveal them in the novel.  The revelation of secrets is to readers, individuals, groups, or universal.

Secrets are powerful.  Secrets can drive a novel in amazing ways.  The trick is to find the secrets and use them in ways that produce entertainment and tension.

I’m using the revelation that the protagonist is homeless as an example of a secret in a novel.  What I looked at first is the revelation of this secret to the reader.  I additionally, used the example of the revelation of this secret to another character as the means of revealing to the reader.  The point is that in modern writing, we show and don’t tell.  The author can show the fact that the protagonist is homeless.  For example with a scene where we see the protagonist on the street.  The writer can also tell use the protagonist is homeless—don’t do this.  This is telling and not acceptable in modern writing.  This is a narrative technique.  The means I mentioned was for the author to have the protagonist’s helper observe the fact the protagonist is homeless.  This reveals the secret to the reader and the protagonist’s helper.  As I noted before, you have revelation to the reader, individuals, groups, or universal.  With the secret revealed to the reader and to another character, now we have an automatic tension development.

Tension development is exactly what we are writing about.  Secrets produce tension.  If is secret is unknown, there is no tension.  Once the secret is reveled to one person (or the reader), tension development has begun.  As I wrote, until the secret is revealed to someone, there is no tension development at all—no one knows the secret.  Once the secret is out, the author now manages the secret revelation.  Management of the revelation of the secrets is really what secrets and tension is all about.  The point is who to revel the secret to next.  Close and closer is best and builds pathos.

Close and closer builds tension.  For example, if we just universally bring out “the protagonist is homeless,” that might give a shot of tension, but then everyone knows and the tension is dead.  This isn’t entirely true.  “The protagonist is homeless to the university doesn’t mean it is in general knowledge.  Published in the papers doesn’t necessarily mean everyone knows.  Close and closer is a good plan.  For example, the protagonist’s helper reveals this secret to his parents.  This causes tension in a scene.  The parents accidentally reveal the secret to the protagonist’s helper’s sister—this causes tension.  The sister confronts the protagonist’s helper with the knowledge and finds that the protagonist is living with her brother—more tension.  Each transaction of the secret builds tension.  Each revelation builds tension.  Each revelation has its own repercussions.  This is the next important point—repercussions.

Let’s continues to look at the secret as a plot element, creative element, and Chekov’s Gun—and repercussions.

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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