23 March 2020, Writing - part xx172 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Lord Darcy
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 Lord Darcy.
Lord Darcy is a magical Sherlock Holms. Lord Darcy come from a reflected and created worldview. In the worldview created by the author, Richard the Lionheart was not killed and lived to rule. For some reason, this led to a change in history where magic rather than science became the basis for Western Civilization. The upshot is that magic is the basis for a modern society set in a seeming Victorian Era. The apparent time period is the 1960s, but a King is on the throne and Poland is the empire ruling the continent. The opposing nations are locked in a magical cold war. All this is interesting, but what about the character.
Lord Darcy is presented as a common man by birth. Whether he is or not, the point similar to Anthony Villiers. The author is reducing the apparent birth level and nobility of the protagonist to bring him to a common man level. Like the science fiction worldview of Anthony Villiers, this works well for Lord Darcy as well.
Lord Darcy is an analogue to Sherlock Holms. The impression of Sherlock Holms is that he is of high enough birth to be a welcome protagonist to the average reader of the time and a low enough birth to be acceptable as a Romantic protagonist. In the modern era, the birth of the protagonist seems to be less important than the wealth. Lord Darcy is your average middle to upper middle class person. Well enough connected to be able to operate in the intellectual and political strata of the culture of the novel.
This point, well enough connected to operate in the intellectual and political strata is very important for a Romantic protagonist. It is very important for the reader. Readers may or may not be well connected at all. Readers may or may not be intellectual. Readers may or may not be well educated or well read. The point for the author is that readers almost as a group and whole imagine they are or could be important, well connected, intellectual, educated, and well read.
Look at Lord Darcy, he is important, well connected, intellectual, educated, and well read. His skills and abilities all come from his study and intellectualism and not his birth. This is the image of the Romantic protagonist especially in the magical worldview of the author. Further, Lord Darcy isn’t magical at all. He understanding magic and the rules of magic well. His sidekick, a Scottish sorcerer both provides magic support and information. Sean, the sorcerer is likewise an intellectual and a magician (sorcerer).
Every reader would love to be able to use magic. In fact, I think the author of Lord Darcy likely made a mistake by having him be non-magical. Lord Darcy would be a stronger protagonist by being magical. In any case, in addition to the very reader endearing characteristics I already wrote about, the other great attraction to the reader is Lord Darcy’s use of reasoning and logic. This is the Sherlock Holms effect.
The appeal of Sherlock Holms is that he is a similar common man. As long as Sherlock Holms remains the common man investigating crimes and mysteries with logic and reasoning, he is a very powerful and engaging character. The more he becomes a wealthy, drug addled and addicted, and normal person, the less attractive he is. Lord Darcy doesn’t fall into the self-destroying failures of Sherlock Holms. This is what makes Lord Darcy especially attractive and entertaining to readers.
So let me point out the most important lesson and point about Lord Darcy. Where Anthony Villiers is attractive because of his humor and irreverent rebellion, Lord Darcy is attractive because of his logic and reasoning. You might take this to heart in looking at your writing. Readers are attracted to great Romantic characters with certain characteristics like those I’ve mentioned. They also like Romantic characters who are rakish and rational. The use of logic and reasoning skills are a strongly positive characteristic. These are models of powerful Romantic protagonists.
Next, Horatio Hornblower, the man of the hour on the seas.
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:
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