8 March 2020, Writing - part xx157 Writing a Novel, Perfect Protagonist
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.
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.
If this sounds like a plot, it kinda is. All plots are basically zero to hero. Actually, all successful plots that are comedies are zero to hero. If you didn’t know this, here is your template for success—actually, here is your template for writing any novel. To be comprehensive, tragedy plots are hero to zero.
You don’t need to think too hard about this, but you can. All plots have the basic form of the protagonist starting in some state, going or starting at zero, and then becoming some degree of success. This is true of all novels. Let’s look at a couple.
How about the very first novel in English, Robinson Caruso. The protagonist in Robinson Caruso is shipwrecked. He loses his goods, his ship, and his livelihood, and is stuck on an island somewhere in the world. This is a zero, a big zero. Robinson Caruso is shipwrecked. He spends the next few years living and exploring his island. He meets a friend, escapes cannibals, and is eventually rescued from his island. He has great spiritual and personal changes due to his survival on the island. In the end, he becomes successful again, and shares his story.
How about Pride and Prejudice? In Pride and Prejudice, the protagonist, Elizabeth, is pretty much at a low already. She is number two child in a family of girls, all of whom need to marry well to take the burden from their parents and the costs of keeping a household of girls. Although she starts at a low, the author drives her lower from a social standpoint. Elizabeth misunderstands the character and intentions of Mr. Darcy, and Mr. Darcy misunderstands the character and intentions of Elizabeth. The novel intricately describes the social descent of Elizabeth’s family as Elizabeth’s foolish sisters make increasing social problems for family and friends. Her journey is only brought upward toward hero when she begins to change in her opinions and actually begins to reconcile herself to Mr. Darcy. Eventually, the misunderstandings are resolved and the protagonist has changed her heart to the point that she marries Mr. Darcy. Zero to hero.
Why not look at A Christmas Carol? Scrooge is a wealthy man, but spiritually he is a zero. Just to be sure, Dickens shows us dramatically with the visit of a ghost just how spiritually deficient Scrooge is. The entire book is the spiritual journey of Scrooge from a zero spiritually aware man to an upright and generous man. In the end, he becomes a hero who also redeems others.
All three of these examples are redemptive themes. Robinson Caruso is redeemed from his island. Elizabeth is redeemed from her pride and prejudice. Scrooge is redeemed from his ungodly life. These are all different types of redemption. All three of these novels are like every novel ever written, they take the protagonist from zero to hero. If you notice, the zeros are different and the heroes are different. What I mean by this is that the zero the authors present for their protagonists are much different in each of these novels. We can still see exactly what the author is getting at. Also, the heroes aren’t the same types of heroes. That is, the hero state of the protagonist is indeed a positive state, but they are specifically tailored to the character, society, and culture. This is exactly the point, and it is my point.
Here’s the conclusions and my recommendations. You can see how every novel takes the protagonist from a lower state (zero) to a higher state (hero). That lower state can be wealth, success, spirit, socially, culturally, and all. The higher state is a change in the protagonist to correct the position of low wealth, success, spirit, social life, and culture. All of these are redemptive themes. We aren’t necessarily describing a spiritual redemption, but it can be, just like Scrooge. Each protagonist in the examples was redeemed in a different way. Their end state was an improvement over their beginning or lowest state.
This is how you want to develop a plot and a protagonist. Let’s look at this. These are the kinds of characters we should 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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