1 June 2020, Writing - part xx242 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Den Protania
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, Daniel 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, Khione
Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire, not published, George Mardling
Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer, not published, Lilly
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
Twilight Lamb and Athelstan Cying are currently not published. The protagonist of these novels is Den Protania. Den Protania is a pretty good example of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme. Although Den Protania is one of my early protagonists, he was crafted before the novel.
Den Protania was developed from an idea and a question. This was one of my early novels when I was first learning how to write novels. I had this wonderful idea. What would happen if a person didn’t die and their soul was roaming around some area ready to take over a person? Actually, it didn’t start with that. I imagined an initial scene where a large Free Trader space ship encountered an ancient spaceship that contained an aware being. That being was the soul who would eventually become Den Protania.
This is getting complicated—all novels and novel ideas should be complicated, or why write a 100,000 word novel to show the revelation of the protagonist. In any case, the being on the derelict ship is the soul of an ancient psionic master. He was a hero in his own times the period of the Human Galactic Empire from my Dragon and Fox novels, and captured by the enemy. He was tortured with a number of other psionic individuals who escaped and stole the derelict ship which is called the Athelstan Cying. Everyone except this one soul has been long gone from the universe. The Free Trader spaceship, Twilight Lamb discovers the Athelstan Cying lost in open space and approaches it to salvage it. The Twilight Lamb uses a modern phase shift drive while the Athelstan Cying used an ancient single shift drive. Many ancient spaceships were lost due to drive accidents. The Athelstan Cying was lost while attempting to escape their enemies and the crew died unable to shift through hyperspace or reach a planet with its remaining fuel.
The Twilight Lamb intercepts the Athelstan Cying to salvage the ship, but the Athelstan Cying has been left with its defensive systems active and enough power to destroy the Twilight Lamb. I should mention, the Twilight Lamb is a ship filled with hundreds of Free Trader families. The being on the ship does everything in his power to stop the defensive systems from firing—he succeeds. Meanwhile, a shuttle crew from the Twilight Lamb, is poised to enter the Athelstan Cying. That crew includes Den Protania. Den is the captain’s son and a failure in this Free Trader family. He has a problem with taking responsibility for his actions and with working to achieve. This is the basis of the Free Trader system. He has tried two other apprenticeships and is failing in Shuttle. Den Protania is one of the Free Traders who enters the Athelstan Cying. Instead of following orders, he goes on his own to the aft portion of the ship. There, he opens a sealed cabin door and is expelled into space. He is caught on a sharp piece of the ship and is dying. The being tries to save Den and gets caught up in his body. Thus, the being on the Athelstan Cying accidentally finds himself trapped in the body of Den Protania. Of course there is more—this is just the initial scene.
With this background, we have a very experienced psionic master providing the mind and soul of Den Protania. No one should figure anything out except the Free Traders have psi aware individuals on the crew. The character of Den Protania who is an entirely new and self-aware person is trapped in the body of a never do well who once was Den Protania. That’s the basics of the protagonist. How about looking at Den Protania as a Romantic protagonist.
The new Den Protania and the ancient psionic master is a hero—the old Den is a wimp and a coward. This is a source of tension in the novel. Den and his antecedent are both independent and individualistic. Den, the Captain’s son is not from the common ilk, he’s the Captain’s son and neither is the being who takes over his body. This doesn’t matter so much since Den is at zero and therefore the new being of Den is at zero. They are at zero due to the debt incurred by Den Protania for training and for the problems he’s caused the Free Trader family. The new Den is educated, the old Den isn’t educated enough. Education is a main focus of the novel.
This novel can’t exist apart from the inner world of the protagonist. This novel is all about the mind and existence of the protagonist. The celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination is a little more difficult in a science fiction novel, but nature, beauty, and imagination are major part of the concepts in this novel for the same reason as Nikita. The ships hold closely to their small part of nature they provide for their families. This novel and the protagonist isn’t much abought the idealization of woman, children, and rural life. It’s more along the lines of the equalization of women children and the idealization of the technological. It’s science fiction.
The only historical elements come out of my other novels, so no real connection there. If you imagine psi to be supernatural then those elements exist. The psi is in all of my later science fiction novels. Now to the individual experience of the sublime. This novel is all about physical, mental, and spiritual redemption. What else can you say about a protagonist who is about to be kicked off his Free Trader ship being able to suddenly, with great effort, change the course of history for this one person Den Protania and make him successful as a human and as a Free Trader. The redemption of Den Protania comes from his physical existence, his mental goodness, and his spiritual acceptance. This novel is indeed about the discovery of skills and new capabilities. So, what about the telic flaw, the plot, and the theme.
Well, the theme is all there, it’s about success snatched from the fingers of great failure in a very odd and powerful manner. The telic flaw isn’t as obvious. The original Den Protania has hurt many people. The new Den Protania has the opportunity to help many people and to redeem the name of Den Protania. This encapsulates the plot—how to recover the reputation and life of Den Protania. Forgive the overcomplicated description, but I’m not sure how else I could explain it. This novel started as a question and an idea not as much a protagonist. It still show how a protagonist can define the telic flaw, the plot, and the theme.
I hope you can see that the entire plot, telic flaw, and theme came out of the development of this character. 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:
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