12 March 2020, Writing - part xx161 Writing a Novel, What does the Reader not 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.
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. However, 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.
If you remember the concept of pathos—in pathos we want the reader to experience emotions not necessarily reflected in the protagonist or characters. The reader feels the pathos. The reader also must feel the pathos or emotion in a positive fashion for the protagonist. I wrote that pathos occurs when the problems of the protagonist are undeserved—they are not caused by the protagonist. For example, if the protagonist is impoverished, they are not impoverished because they won’t work, squandered their inheritance, or ran away from their good parents. If it is the protagonist’s fault, there can’t be much pathos.
So, here you have a problem with bad protagonist decisions and the zero state of the protagonist. Let’s look back at Sara Crew from A Little Princess for an example. Sara Crew goes from a happy wealthy child to an impoverished orphan because her father squanders his wealth and dies. She bears no fault at all. She is along for the ride. Her father generates little pathos, perhaps a little, but in spite of Sara’s love and the gentle handling of the author, he is still a silly boy child who loses his fortune and dies. The example and point in this is that in bringing Sara to zero, it was none of her fault. No bad decisions loomed over her development. This makes readers happy.
How about another example. Menolly the song mistress from Dragonsong and Dragonsinger runs away from home. This is a deliberate act and decision. This is also a movement of the character toward zero. It is basically the last step to zero for the protagonist because the next scenes begin her ascent toward hero. What the author does is provide both incentive and reasons for Menolly running away. The author shows us in excruciating and beautiful detail how her parents punish and restrict her from making music. They allow her to do work that eventually results in injury and they allow the injury to heal poorly to prevent Menolly from playing. In Menolly’s world, running away from your hold is seen as the equivalent to banishment and death. The author presents such a compelling case that the reader can’t help but agree with Menolly’s decision to run away. This is what I presented yesterday—the author needs to show us why the protagonist made the decisions. The author is always looking to the reader for agreement. As I wrote, the reader needs to feel that the protagonist would make the same decisions as they. Or put in a different way, the protagonist’s decisions are the decisions the reader would make. The author carves this out in the writing, then there is the negative example and explaination.
Harry Potty becomes a highly dislikable character in the middle novels. The reason for this is obvious—he makes decisions the reader would never make. The rejects his friends and mistreats them. These are deliberate decisions that Harry makes and the author writes. They aren’t like Sara Crew’s unfortunate descent into zero. These are deliberate decisions that make us dislike the protagonist. It’s a ugly time for the writer and boring reading, but a great example for us in writing.
In regard to moving the protagonist to a zero state—I recommend that the actions of the protagonist should have no place in it. You can put the protagonist in a difficult situation. For example, the protagonist has a choice of placing investments into two risky ventures and choses the wrong one for the right reasons. Or perhaps the protagonist makes a choice of air transportation while their parents drive and the parents are killed in a car accident. (I threw that in because the opposite is usually true—the protagonist goes by ground and the flyers are killed. This is ironic since aviation is one million times safer than driving an automobile.) In any case, the decisions of your protagonist need to be reasoned and/or sculpted by the author to make sense.
I do have a negative example that is used well by the author from Menolly’s stories where the protagonist makes an unfortunate and uncharacteristic decision. Perhaps that will be insightful.
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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