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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Writing - part xx245 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Paul Bolang

4 June 2020, Writing - part xx245 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Paul Bolang

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  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

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
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
Cover Proposal
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.
4.     Study.
5.     Teach. 
6.     Make the catharsis. 
7.     Write.

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 Bolang
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

Aegypt is currently published.  Unfortunately, my regular publisher went out of business.  The novel is available, but indirectly.  The protagonist of this novel is Paul Bolang.  Paul Bolang is a good example of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme.  Paul Bolang is one of my early protagonists, and he was crafted with the novel. 

Paul Bolang was specifically crafted for the plot of Aegypt.  The plot was developed along with the protagonist instead of the protagonist developing the plot, telic flaw, and theme.  I’ll still start with the protagonist. 

Paul Bolang is a lieutenant in the French Foreign Legion.  He was studying languages and archeology in the French Academy when he was conscripted into the French military to fight in World War 1.  Paul Bolang came from a military family, but he wasn’t interested in a military profession until he went to war.  Paul Bolang’s experience at war gave him a taste for command and leadership.  After the war, he joined the French Foreign Legion and went to Tunisia assigned as the vice commander of Fort Saint. 

Though a military leader, Paul Bolang was still interested in archeology and Egyptology.  On the same plateau as Fort Saint was a foundation and Paul explored it.  He requested a party of archeologists that eventually came.  Paul Bolang is a very complicated man and character.  The plot, telic flaw, and the theme come in some ways from who he is.  Let’s look at him as a Romantic protagonist.

Paul Bolang is a definite hero.  He is a hero’s hero.  His background and current work acclaim that he is a hero.  His zero point is more akin to his intellectualism and family which he gave up to pursue his military ambitions.  He is independent and individualistic—perhaps too independent and individualistic.  Paul is definitely from the common ilk although his father was a military courtier, more interested in promotion than the military as a profession.  Paul Bolang is educated both from the street and from the academy.  He learned his language skills from his father’s assignments in the Middle East.  He attended the French Academy in Paris for his archeological training.  He is still a great reader and writer.  This drives him to seek experts to investigate the foundation in front of Fort Saint. 

Paul Bolang is fully a Romantic protagonist.  He is a brooding intellectual whose inner world is all about understanding the world even at the risk of himself.  The mind and motivation of the protagonist is the entire plot of the novel.  This is almost entirely a psychological novel along the    lines of Aksinya.  In Aksinya, the reader can question the reflected world the protagonist imagines—is it real or not?  In Aegypt, the question is this: are Paul Bolang’s view and conclusions correct or simply his imagination?  

The protagonist and the novel is definitely a celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination. The expression of the mind of the protagonist is the entire novel as I mentioned above.  Paul Bolang definitely represents the rejection of industrialization and social convention.  He moves out of Paris to Tunisia and from urban to rural.  Further, we get the idealization of woman, not so much children, but of rural life from the novel and Paul Bolang.

The inclusion of supernatural and mythological elements is a primary point of the novel.  Paul Bolang discovers a tomb, actually three tombs.  A general tomb filled with stacked mummies, the tomb of a being called the Goddess of Darkness, and the tomb of a being called the Goddess of Light.  When the archeologists enter the tombs, an odd sequence of events that appear to be an enchantment seemingly causes the mummies to begin to return to life.  I wrote this novel well before the movie, the Mummy and was shopping it around.  It’s funny the Mummy contained many of the elements of my novel.  In any case, Aegypt is filled with historical elements.  The novel is set in 1926.

The emphasis on individual experience of the sublime comes in the spiritual and intellectual education of Paul Bolang.  We see him at the beginning as an incomplete human steeped in warfare.  I will mention this about the novel.  I’ve kind of presumed this last point in all my protagonists: that the readers agree with the mind (thoughts and decisions) of my protagonists.  I know this is true about all my protagonists.  This is especially true about Paul Bolang by comparison with the archeologists investigating the tomb.  The archeologists constantly make the wrong decisions.  By contrast, Paul Bolang makes decisions the readers agree with.  He is constantly picking up the pieces, the problems that others cause.  I think this is the characteristic of an awesome protagonist.

The telic flaw should be evident—it is the investigation of the foundation which is found to be a tomb.  This drives the plot of the novel.  The plot is this investigation.  The theme is a bit more complex.  I mentioned that it is about completing the whole of Paul Bolang.  The missing component in Paul Bolang’s life is the spiritual.  When he is confronted, just as the archeologists are confronted with the truly supernatural in two goddesses, Paul Bolang accepts them without explanation.  To him as a military man, they must be real.  The archeologist, on the other hand, can’t accept the truth before their eyes.  Thus, the novel is a type of revelation of the spiritual within the confines of the world.     

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.    
More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, 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

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