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Friday, June 5, 2020

Writing - part xx246 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Heather Sybil Roberts

5 June 2020, Writing - part xx246 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Heather Sybil Roberts

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

Antebellum is currently not yet published.  The protagonist of this novel is Heather Sybil Roberts.  Heather Sybil Roberts 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. 

Heather Sybil Roberts was specifically crafted for the plot of Antebellum.  Although this was one of my early novels, the protagonist was pretty much developed for the novel and before the plot.  She is really representative of the way I write novels now.  Let’s look at her specificatlly.

Heather Sybil Roberts is a classically developed pathos character.  She starts at zero.  She is a poor child just graduated from high school in her poor town in Louisiana.  She is very intelligent, diligent, and is working six jobs at once to earn enough to go to college.  Her father is opposed to women going to college, and her brother flunked out and used up all her family’s college funds in the process.  Heather Sybil Roberts is driven to succeed and driven to achieve.  There is much more.

The novel Antebellum is set in 1965 and centers around a missing plantation house.  The Bellefleur was once owned by Heather Sybil Roberts’ family as was much of the property in that area of the county.  In the novel, Bellefleur calls and attracts Heather Sybil Roberts to show her scenes of the past in 1865 when the house was lost during the civil war.  When I write lost, I mean lost.  One day Bellefleur was there and after a battle in the area and the house, it was gone.  There was a great mystery about the house and the Roberts family.  Heather Sybil Roberts while working her many jobs, tries to solve this mystery.  In addition to losing the house, a person named Sybil Heather Roberts was also lost.  That is another part of the mystery.  Let’s look at Heather Sybil Roberts as a Romantic protagonist:

Heather Sybil Roberts is a hero, but she is discovering just how great a hero she is.  She is definitely individualistic and independent.  She comes from the common ilk, but her family was once wealthy and prosperous.  It isn’t any more.  She is dirt poor and determined to do something about that.  She is educated and well read.  A large part of the novel is about her fight to secure more education and success in life. 

This novel is all about the inner world of the protagonist.  The entire point of the novel is the internal and external conflicts Heather Sybil Roberts must confront from her family’s current state to her family’s past.  The celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination is set deeply in the novel.  It’s about the rural South in the 1960s.  You can’t have the rural South without a rejection of industrialization and social convention.  In addition, Heather Sybil Roberts’ friends are Jewish and blacks.  She is the idealization of an open and modern Southern woman.  That’s where the idealization of woman, children, and rural life comes in.  The novel is a contrast of the past and the present.

The inclusion of a mysterious and disappearing house, scenes, and people brings in supernatural elements, and the inclusion of historical elements are a major portion of the novel.  The individual experience of the sublime in the novel comes from Heather Sybil Roberts’ reconciliation as she is forced to recognize her family’s past and to confront demons from that past.  This forces the reader to likewise confront those same ideas.  It is an entertaining mystery and ghost novel while touching on many difficult real life issues for the people of the time.

Heather Sybil Roberts may be my most Romantic protagonist.  She fits every characteristic nearly perfectly.  I see her as an ideal pathos and Romantic protagonist.  I like her character and the character of the novel.  It reflects much of my early life and childhood experience in the South.  Now to the telic flaw, plot, and theme.

The telic flaw should be obvious from Heather Sybil Roberts.  She is seeking to earn enough money to go to college and to gain her father’s acceptance that she will go to college.  As the novel unfolds, the other part of the telic flaw becomes obvious, she must resolve the mystery of the house, Bellefleur.  This is really the plot.  The mystery of Bellefleur is the entire portion of the plot.  Heather Sybil Roberts must resolve this to also resolve her education problem.  The theme is about human endurance and strength especially in poverty.  I hope this novel is published soon.  I think it would be entertaining to a large number of people interested in the South and the Civil War.

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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