17 March 2020, Writing - part xx166 Writing a Novel, Trust and Decisions
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.
I’ve been presenting the means to develop protagonists and characters your readers will enjoy—precisely those that will entertain your readers. Mainly, the ideas I’ve proposed are these: seeking knowledge, readers, decisions the reader would make, pathos building, and overall, entertaining.
The reader must trust the protagonist. This goes hand in hand with the protagonist must make decisions the reader will agree with. I think these two rules, trust and agreeable decisions, are really rules. If you don’t follow these two little rules, you will create a problem between your protagonist and readers. How important is this?
Do you remember, hold your readers in the suspension of disbelief. The easiest way to kick reader out of the suspension of disbelief is to irritate the readers through the protagonist. I really haven’t written much about this. Usually, for the suspension of disbelief, we write about mechanics. The protagonist’s actions and decisions are not mechanics, these are fundamental functions of the plot. Specifically, the revelation of the protagonist is the plot. The actions and decisions of the protagonist are absolutely portions of the plot and the revelation of the protagonist.
I mentioned yesterday that the actions of the protagonist might not represent the decisions of the protagonist. This is an important point because the protagonist in many cases is prevented or does not prevail in achieving his or her plans or decisions. The author must make this clear to the readers to prevent any problems with the suspension of disbelief or other breach from the protagonist.
Let’s just conclude that a breach of any kind between the protagonist and the reader is a suspension of disbelief. This will make evaluation and correction easier. Therefore, if we conclude that any breach between the protagonist and the reader is a negative, we can move forward. I hope you agree, and I hope this is clear.
This is a pretty big point and perhaps needs some degree of clarification. Let’s propose the opposite, the reader is entertained by the protagonist. I’ve written how to do this, but perhaps I haven’t written enough. Let’s assume that the reader is entertained by the protagonist—this is the purpose of any novel or fiction writing, so this should do. Now, the question is what would cause the reader to then not be entertained by the protagonist.
If the reader became angry, upset, irritated, contemptable of, disconnected from, unconnected from, unempathetic, unhappy with, and distrustful of the protagonist, this would cause primarily, a breach in the suspension of disbelief, and secondarily, an unentertaining experience. The author doesn’t need to pander to the reader, but the author must provide an entertaining character to the readers. Can you see the reader can’t be entertained if the protagonist angers, upsets, or irritates them? I didn’t list the rest because I think anger, upsets, or irritates is enough.
As an author, you can use other characters to anger, irritate, or upset the reader, just not the protagonist. Try to imagine this as a reader. I can tell you, the moment the protagonist angers, irritates, or upsets me, I dump the novel. I read for entertainment, anger, irritation, and upset are the opposite of reasons I read. On the other hand, if the protagonist whom I have come to enjoy is angered, upset, or irritated, I am angered, irritated, or upset in a reflection of their response, I am not upset with them. This is the point. We want empathy and pathos in our readers, but we don’t want to lose them.
The protagonist is like your friend. Anger, upset, and irritation against your friend might lead to the end of the friendship. On the other hand, other’s anger against your friend, might make you angry, upset, and irritable, but not toward your friend. These emotions are positive for developing connections. As an author, you want to bind your readers to your protagonist, this might not lead to entertainment, but it can’t help. Rejection will just end any hope of entertainment. This I can assure you.
If we agree, any breech between the protagonist and the reader is not desirable, we can move forward.
The point is that we need to keep our readers content and pleased with our characters while presenting the revelation of the protagonist and 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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