11 March 2020, Writing - part xx160 Writing a Novel, What does the Reader Desire?
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.
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.
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.
Another problem in writing the plot of the protagonist isn’t bad decisions, it is difficult decisions—these are an entirely different issue. Again, your protagonist should make the same decision your readers would. Another important point about decisions—the protagonist’s decisions must seem reasonable to the reader and many times the author is developing these decisions in the scenes such that the reader can’t help but agree with the protagonist’s decisions. This is another important point in decisions and what readers expect.
Part of the writer’s job is to make it seem that the protagonist’s every decision is rational and what the reader would choose to do under similar circumstances. The writer must provide an argument through showing that the reader agrees with.
Have you ever read a novel where the protagonist acts stupid, acts out of character, does something irrational (in your mind), displays unacceptable or uncharacteristic behavior, or just does something thoughtless? Doesn’t it make you cringe? Doesn’t it make you want to put the novel down and not read any further?
I can’t remember ever reading any of these circumstances in any novel from my youth or that is considered real literature. I have read many novels, especially Victorian ones, where the protagonist makes a decision that appears correct at the time, but in retrospect is not—Pride and Prejudice is a great example of this. However, I can’t help but remember Harry Potty’s betrayal of his friends and later neglect of them. Perhaps you were entertained by this. I was disgusted. I kept reading only because I needed to see how the novel worked out. If it had been novel one, I wouldn’t have read any further.
Not many protagonists have made bad decisions like Harry did. Most authors would be out of work if their protagonists acted this way. As I noted, cringing readers means you won’t be read. Cringing publishers means you won’t be published. Don’t make your readers cringe. I hate to write, keep your readers smiling. Actually, keep your readers under the spell of your protagonists.
The moment your protagonist acts stupid, acts out of character, does something irrational, displays unacceptable or uncharacteristic behavior, or does something thoughtless, your reader will suddenly drop out of the suspension of disbelief. As I noted, if you can “show” your readers how the protagonist’s actions were reasonable, you might have some chance. However, the showing must completely convince your readers. If it doesn’t, their smile will turn upside down, they will drop out of the suspension of disbelief, and they might dump your novel.
Part of the decision making process of the protagonist must be the same as the decision making process of the reader. The reader has the same or greater access to information as the protagonist. This is definitely the information provided by the author. Since we are showing, the reader will know almost exactly the same as the protagonist. It is possible, still, with scenes outside the knowledge of the protagonist for the reader. I have used this directly in some of my novels. I have presented information to the reader that the protagonist or other characters didn’t have. These are secrets which the writer can use to help make the protagonist’s decisions appear reasonable when the reader knows they are not.
This is what I’m writing about. The author turns the protagonist’s decisions into the rational. If the writer can’t do this, they likely will create a discontinuity between what the reader expects and what the protagonist does. This goes back to the entire point I have been making.
The reader doesn’t necessarily have to like, be like, or live through the protagonist, but the reader must agree with the decisions of the protagonist. The reasons for the protagonist’s actions must seem reasonable to the reader.
There are circumstances where the author might want to present the protagonist making bad decisions—this is the journey to zero, but I’m not sure it is a good idea.
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:
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic