6 June 2020, Writing - part xx247 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme John-Mark
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 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
The End of Honor is currently published, but my regular publisher went out of business. The End of Honor is the first novel in the Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox novels. This is what my publisher called them. The Dragon and the Fox are tactical nicknames of the protagonists. The protagonist of The End of Honor is John-Mark. Let’s see how good an example John-Mark is of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme. John-Mark is one of my early protagonists, and he was crafted with the novel.
John-Mark is a prince searching for a princess. This is a large part of the beginning of the novel. John-Mark is the second in line of succession to the Human Galactic Empire. His older brother Perod-Mark has only daughters, but Perod-Mark has been a negligent man and leader. John-Mark’s father is weak. John-Mark wants to cause an alliance that will unite the houses of the Human Galactic Empire in a stronger way. Unfortunately, Perod-Mark sees John-Mark’s actions as threatening and murders his father, the Emperor Markus before John-Mark can marry and make his plans come to fruition. At the same time, Perod-Mark has the Princess Lyral, John-Mark’s fiancée executed. This precipitates a galactic war. Let’s look at John-Mark as a Romantic protagonist:
John-Mark is a hero’s hero. He is a man proven in combat and with the people. He is individualistic and independent, but still a leader connected to the people. He is pictured as a perfect leader—a man of honor. This is why I called these books my honor series. John-Mark is not from the common ilk. He is a prince and an inheritor of leadership and planets. He is driven to zero with the loss of his love, Lyral.
John-Mark is educated, but education isn’t so much a focus of the novel. The inner world of the protagonist is a major factor in this novel and with this protagonist. His reactions to the events caused by his brother and galactic war put a great toll on him.
The novel isn’t really much if any celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination. There is some of this at the beginning, but the novel quickly transitions to space and space warfare which is pretty much the antithesis of nature, beauty, but not imagination. Perhaps we can say there is great imagination in the tactical and strategic solutions of John-Mark. Again, it is difficult to have a rejection of industrialization, but not so much social convention. There is indeed an idealization of woman, but not so much children or rural life.
The End of Honor is science fiction. There are no supernatural or mythological elements, and except for the universe of my creation, there are no historical elements. Like most science fiction novels, the individual experience of the sublime is though physical means. John-Mark rediscovers honor in a field where honor has been ruined.
I’ll mention about agreement with the mind (thoughts and decisions) of the protagonist as a function of the tactical and strategic thinking of John-Mark. This is the core of the novel that is John-Mark determines unique and unexpected ways to defeat greater foes. The End of Honor is all about strategy and tactics applied by John-Mark to defeat his enemies. Now to the telic flaw, plot, and theme.
The telic flaw is relatively simple, but with a very difficult execution. John-Mark must defeat his brother while holding the Human Galactic Empire together. He is not about insurrection or civil war. John-Mark is about bringing the empire back together as one and protecting the people of the empire. This is the telic flaw. The plot revolves around this. John-Mark must defeat the forces of his brother while holding together the banned houses and making it possible for the empire to succeed. This is the honorable path and the correct path. It is a difficult path. The theme should be obvious—a man who to hold to honor must put away his own desires, honor, and position. John-Mark is willing to give all for the success and cohesion of the empire.
You might be able to get this novel. It’s a fun read and entertaining. It’s also filled with the unexpected.
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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