20 March 2020, Writing - part xx169 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Sara Crew
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.
If we agree, any breech between the protagonist and the reader is not desirable, we can move forward.
Most of the novels I have read that I really enjoyed I not only liked the protagonist, I loved the protagonist. I can throw out examples:
1. Johnny Rico from Starship Troopers
2. Sara Crew from A Little Princess
3. Menolly from Dragonsong and Dragonsinger
4. Anthony Villiers from New Celebrations
5. Lord Darcy from Randall Garett’s novels
6. Hornblower from the C.S. Forester novels
7. Keith Gersen from Jack Vance’s Demon Princes
8. Adam Reith from Jack Vance’s Tschai
9. Glawen Clattuc from Jack Vance’s The Cadwal Chronicles
10. Flavia DeLuca from Alan Bradley’s novels
11. Douglas Spaulding from Dandelion Wine
These characters are fun, entertaining, enjoyable, and likable. I want to evaluate what makes them such good characters. Let’s move on to Sara Crew.
Sara Crew is not a Romantic protagonist. She is not wholly a Victorian protagonist. She does share some of the characteristics of both, but for our purposes, she is more of a Victorian protagonist than anything.
First, Sara Crew starts as an upper middle class child. Her mother is French and dead. Her father is a British officer in India. We find Sara being bundled off to a British School in London for finishing. This is typical and common. Her father can’t take care of her on his own and he has obviously been wisely advised to send his daughter to Britain for education and for the healthier environment. In fact, Sara’s mother died from some disease that mercifully didn’t kill Sara. So off to London she goes, and then her father dies. Hero to zero.
Sara is just on the edge of the common man idea. She is upper middle class, so middle class, but she is pictured by the author as above her peers in both birth, education, and personality (character). Her character is the point. Although Sara literally has the manners, accomplishment, and birth right (not of a princess, but of upper class society) like a princess, she is approachable and accommodating to the other children, the teachers, other adults, and the servants. From the standpoint of the Victorian Era, she is a perfect child and person. She displays her nobility with gentleness and kindness. This doesn’t play as strongly for the Romantic crowd, but it does appeal. I’ll get to that.
The other part of Sara’s personality is that she is a bookaholic and a person of great imaginitaion. Her storytelling abilities and imagination were excited and encouraged by her Indian Anya. In addition Sara is well educated, by her mother, and speaks English, French, and Hindi, although you get the impression that she might know more Indian and definitely more European languages. For readers she is exactly the type of character they love. She is the educated book lover who can effortlessly communicate with others across social and cultural boundaries. In this sense she is the perfectly educated person… and she is continually seeking more education. Even when a zero, Sara Crew is found studying on her own in the freezing school room. Even when she isn’t afforded any educational opportunities, she is continually seeking education and books. From this standpoint, Sara Crew is the perfect protagonist for almost any reader. Remember, I wrote many times before, readers love readers and those who love learning. This is Sara Crew and this is what appeals so well to modern readers. But there is more.
Readers want to believe that education and reading turn people into princesses, not literally of course, but readers have an intrinsic belief in education and reading as a solution for all human problems. Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle shared similar thoughts. In isn’t true. Perhaps a fully educated person can be a prince or a princess in their morals, ethics, thoughts, actions, and character, but as we have discovered in the modern era, many educated and semi-educated people are no better than trolls living under a bridge—their education and reading didn’t make them better people, it just made them educated bores. However, this doesn’t mean that readers don’t hold to this misplaced belief in education and reading.
Sara Crew in the Victorian mind acts like a princess because of her birth and upbringing. Sara Crew in the Romantic mind acts like a princess because of her education and reading. Some destination but different paths. In any case, the readers love Sara Crew for her education, reading, manners, and character no matter where it originates.
Sara never compromises her standing, actions, or character. We do get a wonderful scene where she breaks down privately. The toll of her life as a zero brings her to the very bottom emotionally, mentally, and physically. She breaks privately, but not publically. The same child who is crushed beneath her mental and physical load, still takes the time to encourage and help many other children who are much better off and those less well off than she. This is pathos in a perfect degree.
Thus we see a protagonist that readers love. She is a breakaway Victorian character—a Victorian character that Romantics can love. She is literally an archetype of this type of pathos building character.
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.
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