7 March 2020, Writing - part xx156 Writing a Novel, Journeys of Change
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 www.ancientlight.com. 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 http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
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 http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
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.
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
Ideas. We need ideas. Ideas allow us to figure out the protagonist and the telic flaw. Ideas don’t come fully armed from the mind of Zeus. We need to cultivate ideas.
1. Read novels.
2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
6. Make the catharsis.
The development of ideas is based on study and research, but it is also based on creativity. Creativity is the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect). Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.
If we have filled our mind with all kinds of information and ideas, we are ready to become creative. Creativity means the extrapolation of older ideas to form new ones or to present old ideas in a new form. Literally, we are seeing the world in a new way, or actually, we are seeing some part of the world in a new way. Let’s look at an example.
The writer must create like an artist with the manipulation of writing (language) in the world through hard work to present something that is not natural, common, or previously existing in the world, and adds beauty to the world and humanity.
Pathos is the name of the game. The bully with a gun isn’t a good protagonist. The intellectual girl with a gun is. The real world isn’t fair and many times isn’t just. In novels, the world can be fair and just, and true justice can be meted out to the evil while the good are rewarded. If this seems like the basis for a plot it is.
So, modern characters must look like the reader’s impression of the protagonist. This is an interesting problem as culture and society change as does the impression of the readers.
I wrote that our protagonists need to look like the readers impression of the protagonist. However, I’ve been showing you what modern (and past) readers want in a protagonist. This is exactly the point I want to leave with you. I’m still going on about the plots that great protagonists invoke. As I’ve noted, I start with a great protagonist and the novel writes itself. A great protagonist brings his or her own telic flaw, plot, and resolution. That doesn’t mean the author doesn’t have to work hard to develop a telic flaw for the novel, write a great plot, and produce the telic flaw resolution. What it means is that the details of the protagonist defines all these things. Primarily, the question is where the protagonist goes to zero, and where they end at hero.
The start is largely immaterial. You can have a little princess like Sara Crew in A Little Princess. She starts as a wealthy but motherless child with an officer for a father. She is driven to zero when her father dies and loses his fortune. This is the start I mention above. Where the protagonist begins their journey isn’t nearly as important as the journey from zero to hero. That’s the journey I mean. That is the plot that almost every novel matches. So zero to hero is the journey of the plot.
More than that, what does this journey look like? I do love Sara Crew’s journey from zero to hero, but she really isn’t a good example for a modern writer. Sara Crew has no need to improve anything. She is a Victorian protagonist, born to her wealth and position. It is her journey from zero to hero, but she isn’t the mechanism, she is simply the protagonist on the journey. A Romantic protagonist is actively driving the journey.
In the journey of a great modern protagonist, a Romantic protagonist, the protagonist is driving the journey. The protagonist needs to change to complete the journey. The protagonist’s change is the conduit that results in the telic flaw resolution. I’ll go back to my favorite example, Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers.
Johnny Rico doesn’t know what he wants to do. He joins the military due to the Interstellar Bug War. In the military as he transitions from a zero to a starship trooper. In this journey, Johnny has to reevaluate his education, his thoughts, his philosophy of life, his strength and determination, his courage, and his beliefs. In every step on this transition, Johnny is the one who is actively making these changes in his own life. Johnny’s success is directly caused by his own actions and work. This isn’t to say Johnny doesn’t have help through the novel, but the help he receives is all due to his actions and courage. This is a typical journey for the modern protagonist. There is no waiting around for rescue. In fact, Johnny Rico has wealth, position, and potential employment. His journey isn’t one for wealth, success, or ease of life. He chooses to become the best officer and leader he can for his troops and for his nation and world. Johnny’s journey is a journey of learning, character, and spirit—from a zero in terms of strength of mind and heart to a true hero. Johnny Rico’s journey is a true journey from zero to hero. This is exactly what readers are looking for.
So take your protagonist. Take them to zero. Then plan how they will become a hero. If you include their change in heart, mind, spirit, and body, then you likely will have a protagonist readers will love.
So just what kinds of characters should we be developing?
As we look for creative ideas, and I believe creative ideas begin with creative characters, we should look at just what excites and interests us. How can we project what we like and enjoy into a great character.
Let’s look at the other suggestions and see how we can use them to develop entertaining writing.
The beginning of creativity is study and effort. We can use this to extrapolate to creativity. In addition, we need to look at recording ideas and working with ideas.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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