13 March 2020, Writing - part xx162 Writing a Novel, What the Reader Desires
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.
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 me remind you. Menolly is the protagonist of Anna McCafrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. These are two wonderfully short novels that depict an excellent plot development and climax. They both have great initial scenes as well, but I haven’t evaluated them for the initial scene before.
The best part of these two novels, it that they are very entertaining, a quick read, and depict excellently a linear plot line that leads to a perfect telic resolution. This is why I use and recommend these books as examples. If everyone could write their novels as cleanly and well executed as these, the world would be a wonderful place.
In any case, Menolly does make a poor decision especially based on her character. She is depicted as a strong but reticent girl. She has no reason to bow to anyone, but she is a great self-depreciating character. Where she goes partially astray is the scene where she must bring her pan pipes to Master Jeret to evaluate. She doesn’t want to enter the holder’s cottage because the girls and the holder lady are arguing about her and depreciating her. The Menolly who punches a holder’s son in the face should be willing to stand up for herself, but the author presents us with a decision tree many of us might disagree with for Menolly. We want Menolly to burst in on the girls and get her pipes—it is her right and her place. The author gives Menolly a different decision. Menolly decides not to confront the girls. Her fire lizards band together to get her pipes and bring them to her. This becomes a wonderful setup by the author.
The idea that Menolly’s fire lizards can bring things to her builds her esteem as a fire lizard owner and trainer, builds her esteem as a character with the noble class, and builds her estieem generally as a harper (musician). The point is simply, the author by baking in this poor decision produces a powerful stepping off point for the novel Dragonsinger.
If you have such a circumstance or situation, use it in a similar fashion. I have a nearly similar circumstance in my novel, Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon. In this novel, the protagonist in a fury beats her lady-in-waiting Natalya to what she thinks is death. She beats her because Natalya seduced her fiancé. This is deep stuff, and I’m not sure whether the reader would applaud or disagree with Aksinya’s actions. The result of her actions is seen in the rest of the novel. Generally, because Aksinya thinks she murdered her lady-in-waiting, she confesses, escapes to the church, and becomes involved directly with the man who will eventually marry her and free her from the demon.
That’s just the point. There are possible points where the writer might intentionally have the protagonist make an unhappy or uncharacteristic decision for the purpose of developing the novel. This must be made such that the ramifications reach to the very ends of the plot and the theme. Like Menolly, the end results must lead to the resolution of the telic flaw or at least the expression of the climax of the novel. In the case of Aksinya, it is a critical turning point in the novel. For Menolly, it isn’t a turning point, but it directly points to some very important ideas in the plot.
This is what makes such odd decisions worthwhile, but use them cautiously. Perhaps we should look at more of what readers really want in a protagonist and a novel.
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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