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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Writing - part xx170 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Menolly

21 March 2020, Writing - part xx170 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Menolly

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  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
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
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
Cover Proposal
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.
4.     Study.
5.     Teach. 
6.     Make the catharsis. 
7.     Write.

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 Menolly.

Menolly is the perfect representative of the Romantic protagonist.  She is the daughter of the holder of Half Circle Sea Hold, but like many novels, the author somewhat conceals the importance of her birth.  In any case, the life of a child of a sea holder might be similar to the life of the feudal noble’s son or daughter, but the portrayal is one of the common person or even harder than the common person.  The author provides an excellent description in showing us the hard work of the sea holder and his family.  For all intents and purpose, they are the common person in their society and culture, and their society and culture is somewhat different than ours, but based on a historical real worldview.

Yes, the world of Menolly is a colony on another planet.  The colony has reverted to the middle ages with trappings of future tech here and there.  Because the world of Menolly is stuck in the middle ages, it is classically patriarchal, guild and hold based, and is ruled by feudal nobility.  The created worldview concepts as I noted are the bits of future tech, and the dragons.  Menolly’s world is cursed by another planet that contains a deadly parasitic lifeform that during close passes showers her planet with threads, a lifeform that consumes all living matter.  The dragons burn this lifeform from the skies to protect the planet.  We learn from the novel that the initial colonists developed dragons form local lifeforms to fight thread.  The dragon riders are the highest nobility in the land, but a nobility that anyone who is sensitive mentally to the dragons can aspire to.  This dragon rider circumstance is the Romantic gateway for many of the other novels of Anna McCaffrey.

In any case, Menolly doesn’t aspire to be a dragon rider, she is a musician and a songwriter.  The problem is that in her medieval culture only men are musicians and songwriters.  This is the tension and the plot of the novel.  The girl Menolly has been trained to be a musician (a harper) and writes wonderful songs.  She was isolated at Half Circle Sea Hold and her sex is unknown although all the harpers of the planet are now looking for her because her songs are so valuable to the Master Harper. 

Enough of the back story.  What makes Menolly so endearing is that she is a musician and a song writer.  This transposes in our cultural thinking to reading and writing.  Readers love readers and learners, remember.  Menolly is a classic reader and learner, but there is more.  Readers also aspire musically.  They all love music and they either are musicians or they aspire to be musicians.  I’ve written before, the average reader presumes (incorrectly) that all you need is knowledge.  This is a simple human mistake fostered by an educational background.  We know that knowledge alone isn’t all you need—hard work and some skill or ability is also required.  But as I noted, the average educated person (and especially readers) presume they too could be a great musician if only they had the proper knowledge and worked hard.  They worked hard should be in small print.  Let’s just say the number or readers I know who are also musicians, aspired to be musicians, or desired to be musicians is huge.  In the case of Menolly or any musician protagonist, they are all in.  This is the immediate affiliation I write about with readers and learners—that’s why I mentioned it above in the same context.

Menolly as a musician and a songwriter appeals to the average reader within the first couple of sentences in the novel.  Then there is the abuse.  It isn’t a terrible abuse, but because Menolly is a girl in a Medieval society, her parents want her to give up her music to buckle down and become a hard worker (not music) and eventually a bride who can be married off for alliance purposes.  They don’t see the value of her skills.  At the same time, every harper on the planet is trying to find the greatest songwriter of their age--Menolly.

All of this is pathos building in the extreme.  I can’t outline the entire novel in its wonderful detail, but there is much more to it than that.  However, overall, what makes Menolly such a lovable character is her sensitivity and her skills.  She eventually is forced to renounce her hold and live holdless.  In the view of her society, this is the equivalent of suicide.  As I mentioned, Menolly is the perfect Romantic protagonist.  She is from the common person, highly skilled (to the point of unique), a rebel with a cause, pathos building in the extreme, back to nature, and I’ll add, rational and practical.  This is literally the type of person every reader aspires to be.  This is the focus of every really great protagonist, and especially every Romantic protagonist. 

I should also mention the big pathos and endearing aspect of Menolly in the novels, she impresses fire lizards.  It is an accident, but we are also led to believe that because of her sensitivity and personality, she was able to both impress and take care of nine fire lizards.  This is a science fiction pathos development, but how can the reader not love a protagonist who is this sensitive, powerful, and aspirational.  She is the epitome of her own culture and by reflection, becomes the epitome of what the reader imagines is success in the context of their worldview of the novel.  Menolly is perhaps one of the most endearing characters in modern literature.       

Next, Anthony Villiers, straight man in comic genius.

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.    
More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, 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

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