12 May 2020, Writing - part xx222 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Deirdre
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.
Here is the list of characteristics for great protagonists (this is based on the concept of a Romantic protagonist):
1. Hero, independent, and individualistic – characters who truly risk their lives for others.
2. From the common ilk – as opposed to the nobility and wealth.
3. Educated – both seeking education and study and loving to read and learn.
4. Focus on the inner world of the protagonist – the mind and motivation of the protagonist.
5. Celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination – the expression of the mind of the protagonist.
6. Rejection of industrialization and social convention – from urban to rural.
7. Idealization of woman, children, and rural life.
8. Inclusion of supernatural or mythological elements.
9. Inclusion of historical elements.
10. Frequent use of personification.
11. Emphasis on individual experience of the sublime.
12. Discovery and skills—the protagonist finds his or her special skills and abilities and uses them to resolve the telic flaw.
13. The readers agree with the mind (thoughts and decisions) of the protagonist
I added the last statement, but really this last statement is a direct reflection of 4, 11, and 12.
My ultimate point is that first I develop a great protagonist and the plot and theme of the novel I want to write comes directly out of that protagonist. Every great protagonist comes with his or her own telic flaw.
Yesterday, I gave you an example of Azure Rose from my novel, Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. I showed how she was a Romantic protagonist and how she herself resulted in a plot and theme for the novel. In other words, I didn’t develop a plot or a theme first, I developed a great protagonist and found the telic flaw, plot, and theme from her revelation. Azure Rose came with a plot and a theme. I’ve done this before and at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll do this a couple of more times or more. Here is a list of my completed novels and protagonists:
A Season of Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox III), published, Shawn du Locke
The Fox’s Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox II), published, Devon Rathenberg
The End of Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox I), published, John-Mark
Antebellum, not published, Heather Sybil Roberts
Aegypt, published, Paul Bolong
Centurion, published, Centurion Abenadar
Athelstan Cying, not published, Den Protania
Twilight Lamb, not published, Den Protania
Regia Anglorum, not published, Nikita Protania
The Second Mission, published, Alan Fisher
Sister of Light, not published, Leora Bolang
Hestia: Enchantment of the Hearth, not published, Angela Matheson
Sister of Darkness, not published, Leora Bolang
Shadow of Darkness, not published, Lumière Bolang
Shadow of Light, not published, Lumière Bolang
Children of Light and Darkness, not published, Kathrin McClellan
Warrior of Light, not published, David Long
Shadowed Vale, not published, Nikita Protania
Warrior of Darkness, not published, Klava Calloway
Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden, not published, Byron Macintyre
Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon, not published, Aksinya
Khione: Enchantment and the Fox, not published, Pearce Wimund
Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire, not published, George Mardling
Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer, not published, Dane Vale
Escape from Freedom, not published, Scott Phillips
Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, not published, Essie
Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse, not published, Shiggy
Deirdre: Enchantment and the School, not published, Deirdre Calloway
Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, not published, Azure Rose
Deirdre: Enchantment and the School, is currently not published. The protagonist is Deirdre Calloway, and the protagonist’s helper is Sorcha Aingealag Mac an Uidhir. Let’s look at Deirdre and see how the development of the protagonist resulted in a telic flaw, a plot, and a theme.
Deirdre doesn’t start as a hero, but she is nearly completely independent and individualistic. Deirdre’s ultimate problem is that she is skilled in ways her family isn’t. This takes about half the novel to reveal, but since I am telling and not showing, I will give you the short version. Deirdre is professionally talented in music, dance, and arts. She comes from a family that works in British intelligence and that prides itself on language skills. That’s not to say that Deirdre doesn’t have great language skills, but her family is made up of socially connected people who know exactly the right ways to approach people and get along. Deirdre is almost the opposite. We learn why in the course of the novel, but ultimately because Deirdre excelled at singing, dance, and the arts, her family members encouraged it in unexpected ways—some might say cruel methods. This made Deirdre almost an outcast in her own family. She became a professional classical singer while young and was headed for success, but her independent personality, and her self-inflicted, family ostracism, and cruelty from others led her to violence. She was the diva D known for a violent temper when she confronted artists of lesser quality and accomplishment. In addition, her violence affected other people. Because of the way her siblings treated her, Deirdre thought the way to a person’s heart was through beating them. Thus, Deirdre was expelled from her last school and is now attending a girl’s boarding school separate from her siblings and their activities.
Thus at the beginning of the novel, we see Deirdre starting her first day at Wycombe Abbey boarding school for girls. She knows no one, and no one knows her. Deirdre is from the common ilk. Her family has interesting connections, but those are not noble in the normal sense, and they live their lives in some degree of apparent normality. The novel is all about education. Now, Deirdre is a girl who loves to study certain subjects but is not great at science and math. She excels in the arts and languages. She likes to read for fun. The novel, you can see is all about the mind of the protagonist, but shown and not told. How can a novel about art and violence because of art not be filled with nature, beauty, and imagination? Forget the rejection of industrialization, but generally focus on art and beauty with movement from urban to rural fits that criteria. The idealization of women, children (girls at a boarding school), and rural life are obvious. Now a little deeper.
All my characters and novels are known for supernatural or mythical elements. Deirdre comes from the family I developed for my Aegypt novels. Her mother is Ceridwen, the great goddess of the Gaelic and Celtic peoples. Deirdre is familiar with the Fae, gods and goddesses, and the supernatural in Britain. Further, Sorcha, the protagonist’s helper, is the offspring of a human and an Unseelie Fairy, Nightshade. Sorcha is the basis for the novel itself. She is a girl hiding in plain sight to gain an education. Before she meets Deirdre, Sorcha has been secretly attending Wycombe Abbey by using Fae Glamour, to hide herself. The historical elements are just those of the time. The novel is set in real time in the 1990s. The Fae and supernatural elements represent the personification, and the point of the novel is the redemption of Deirdre’s issues of violence and rejection of her purpose. The focus of the novel isn’t discovery of Deirdre’s skills, but rather refinement and reevaluation of them. Does the reader agree with the decisions of the protagonist—that’s to be seen, but I do. Now to the telic flaw, plot, and theme.
The telic flaw is Deirdre and to an extent Sorcha. Remember, I told you Deirdre was prone to violence, but so is Sorcha. Sorcha is a child of the streets, abused, orphaned, and outcast. Deirdre is a trained child of violence. They both are in need of redemption. Deirdre to reconcile her life, skills, and violence. Sorcha to gain her place and success. Thus we see the telic flaw of the novel is this reconciliation. This also fits beautifully the Romantic plot concepts. The plot flows out of the telic flaw.
Thus, at the beginning, Deirdre sees through the supernatural glamour that hides the real Sorcha and is provoked to violence by Sorcha. Sorcha, a child of the streets has never met someone who could best her. Deirdre comes from a house of trained professionals in the business of controlled violence, and she is highly skilled. The plot flows out of this meeting and both of their needs. This is also the theme of the novel—the reconciliation of Deirdre and Sorcha to resolve their issues, but ultimately the issues of Deirdre’s skills and family problems. There is much more to this novel, that’s the reason I wrote an over 100,000 word novel about Deirdre and Sorcha.
In any case, I hope you can see that the entire plot, telic flaw, and theme came out of the development of these characters and specifically Deirdre. This is exactly what I mean when I write that the plot, theme, and telic flaw comes directly out of the protagonist.
Ultimately, 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