25 March 2020, Writing - part xx174 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Keith Gersen
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. Horatio 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 Keith Gersen.
Keith Gersen may be one of the greatest examples of true superheroes in literature. Where most superheroes are gods, goddesses, or magical messiahs, Keith Gersen is a common man who is turned into a tool of vengeance.
Keith Gersen’s family was taken as slaves or killed in the raid of their colony by the five Demon Princes. Keith’s uncle took the young boy in hand and trained him to be an entirely capable instrument of his revenge against the Demon Princes. Keith’s entire life was taken up in study and training. Do you see that? Keith was a common person, a boy whose family was murdered by the Demon Princes. He fills all the key characteristics of the Romantic protagonist and the desires of readers: studious, a reader, skilled, from the common ilk of humanity. In addition, he is a pathos generating character: orphan, parents and kinsmen killed, isolated, alone, sophisticated, but inexperienced.
Keith Gersen is the perfect Romantic protagonist. What is there not to like?
The rest comes out in the five Demon Prince novels. The Demon Princes are not aligned anymore as a group of pirates anymore, but they are still alive and committing egregious crimes in the universe. It is Keith Gersen’s job to find them and destroy them. His uncle, as I already wrote trained him for this exact job. When his uncle dies, we find Keith on his first opportunity to confront one of the Demon Princes. This is the first novel, The Star King. I won’t go through each of the five novels, but take my word for it, although occasionally, Keith fails to accomplish his initial goals, he does take down each of the Demon Princes through his power rationalism, skills, and abilities.
This not only makes Keith Gersen a wonderful Romantic character, but the underdog beating a powerful and dangerous enemy endears him to every reader. Keith Gersen isn’t an unthinking assassin or an unfeeling mercenary. He is a man with great skills who is struggling with his own work and desires. The novels are compelling and powerful. They are settings for the perfect jewel that is Keith Gersen. In addition, the personality of Keith Gersen is like every reader. Every reader wishes to be like Keith. They would not want to live his life or take his risks, they want to live, not vicariously, but to experience every success and failure that Keith faces. He is like them in his thinking and his mind. The reader cheers his successes and feels his problems. This is that mental connection we want with our readers. This is the suspension of disbelief that we want to hold our readers in.
This suspension of disbelief is really a mental game in terms of the reader. The reader has a desire not to be like the protagonist, but as I wrote before, to think like the protagonist. This thinking like the protagonist is a function of the suspension of disbelief. Keith Gersen is literally a character that almost every reader wants to get into the mind of. The author makes this easy and in addition, Keith Gersen is a mentally based character. In other words, he is a character who thinks and whose thoughts appeal to the reader. He is a thinking character. If you remember, this is exactly the form of a Romantic protagonist. Further, the author, Jack Vance, shows us the mind of the protagonist and doesn’t tell us the mind of the protagonist.
I can’t imagine a more effective and entertaining protagonist. I recommend the novels and the protagonist.
Next, another Jack Vance protagonist Adam Reith.
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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