26 March 2020, Writing - part xx175 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Examples: Adam Reith
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.
Adam Reith is a profoundly interesting character in our examples. Johnny, Sara, Anthony, Darcy, Horatio, and Keith are all book lovers and readers. Johnny less than the others, but when reading is necessary, and he must study, he reads. Books are available. Menolly is a special case. She lives in a society with few books, but in terms of education and her equivalent of books, songs and music, she is the epitome. Adam Reith on the other hand comes to a word without human books and books rarely come up in the novel at all. What makes Adam Reith such an endearing character?
If you notice, I put three of Jack Vance’s protagonists on my list. Jack Vance has a strong voice as an author and produces memorable and likable characters. When I write likable, I specifically mean they think like the reader, and as I wrote yesterday and before, the reader can get into the mind of the protagonist and feel comfortable there.
Adam Reith is a scout marooned on an alien world shared by five alien races. From the beginning, we see him revealed as a classic Romantic character, well trained, skilled, educated, resourceful, and a survivor. In spite of the other scouts’ and officers’ training, only Adam Reith survives the attack and crash of the ship. He uses his skills to scout and investigate the lands and people. He is eventually captured by a band of humans.
I could go into great detail on the created worldviews of Jack Vance. He may be the most culturally aware and greatest author in developing human and alien cultures. Especially human cultures. He seems to possess a real knack at designing realistic human cultures that never existed. In every novel, it is the job of the protagonist to try to understand and work with these cultures. Adam Reith is no exception.
As Vance reveals the protagonist, Adam Reith, to us, we see a man, quiet, trained, skilled, unassuming, but determined first to survive and second to escape the world he is marooned on. This forms the overall plot line for the five novels that make up the series.
Most specifically, what makes Adam Reith appealing to the reader is how he first investigates and attempts to understand the new cultures he is thrust into, and then how he is able to use his skills to overcome them. For example, in the first group that captures him, strength, physical prowess, and élan are major characteristics that control the society. Adam Reith is challenged and defeats the leader of the clan using his skills and the understanding he has gleaned from observing them. He turns down the leadership of the clan and gains a follower, but by both using and opposing their cultural norms, he incites their approbation.
The point of this example, is that Vance shows us the powerful and unique skills of the protagonist all based in his previous education and knowledge, but presents them as pure extensions of the protagonist’s rationality. The reader is one with the character in mind as well as decision. The reader accepts and cheers the decisions Adam Reith makes and the author keeps this train of problems and rational resolutions going from scene to scene, adventure to adventure, culture to culture, meeting to meeting, person to person. Adam Reith makes his journey across this strange and alien world using his wits in rational and creative ways that readers love. This makes the character endearing.
As a further point, the readers find this endearing because the author either appeals to the basic rational understanding of the readers, or he makes the solutions necessarily rational appearing because of the circumstance. In either case, the actions and especially the rational of the protagonist make sense to the reader such that the reader must express, “I’d do exactly the same thing in that circumstance—if I had thought of it.”
I think I’ve written about this before especially in context to the climax and telic flaw resolution, but it is a worthwhile concept, if an author can do it, through any scene or in any novel. The author has the time and the ability to produce very complex and detailed resolutions, while the reader is ensnared by the time compression of the novel. In other words, the author might take days or weeks to figure out exactly how to compose and write a scene, while the reader lives it in real time. Vance obviously takes his time in developing and resolving scenes and circumstances in very unique and powerful ways. The result for the reader is like moving from rational resolution to rational resolution scene to scene and event to event. This is how great novels are written and constructed, orchestrated, if you like. This is an entirely different subject than purely the protagonist, and I might cover it in the future.
In any case, Adam Reith is an appealing protagonist because of the way the author develops the use of his mind to solve problems. I recommend reading this set of novels or at least the first to gain an understanding of this very complex and powerful means to design and use the protagonist. You also see some of this in Keith Gersen from the Demon Princes novels, but it is unmistakable in Adam Reith.
Next, the final Jack Vance protagonist, Glawen Clattuc.
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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