8 June 2020, Writing - part xx249 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Shawn du Locke
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
A Season of Honor is currently published, but my regular publisher went out of business. A Season of Honor is the third 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 A Season of Honor is Shawn du Locke. Let’s see how good an example Shawn du Locke is of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme. Shawn du Locke is one of my early protagonists, and he was crafted with the novel.
Shawn du Locke is the first protagonist of my first completed novel. The novel itself went through many changes and much editing before it was finally published. Shawn du Locke is really the same person, but not the same character as John-Mark. Ten year have elapsed since John-Mark was banished, his inheritance and lands taken as a result of the dictates of the Imperial Concessions from The End of Honor. If you remember, John-Mark was a prince, a great leader, and a hero.
Shawn du Locke is a baron with no lands. He has spent his exile with Devon and Tamar Rathenberg on their planet. He still supports Devon Rathenberg and the Houses with him as the rightful Emperor, but he has been forced to lose rank, leadership, and position under the current Emperor Perodus. Then the worst happens. Shawn du Locke is compelled to escort the daughter of Count Acier, Lady Elina Acier, to the Capital planet of Arienth for an arranged marriage. The problem is that Elina Acier looks and acts much like Shawn du Locke’s beloved Lyral Neuterra—the woman who would have been his bride. I think you can see, the circumstances, rather than the protagonist himself determine the telic flaw and plot of this novel. Let’s look at Shawn du Locke as a Romantic protagonist.
Shawn du Locke is a hero’s hero. He is also independent and individualistic. He is in some ways too independent and individualistic. He is not from the common ilk although he is driven to zero by banishment, exile, and loss of position. Shawn du Locke is educated, but education isn’t a real focus of the novel, although it is a side theme.
This is in some ways a psychological novel. Shawn du Locke’s problems all come out of his perception of the world as does Lady Elina Acier’s reactions to him. Shawn du Locke is obsessed with the fact that his actions led to the death of Lyral, his fiancée. This was not his fault at all, but Shawn du Locke believes he should and could have done more to protect her from his brother the current Emperor Perodus. Shawn du Locke is placed in the position of protecting Lady Elina Acier in the same way. This time he intends to protect her—this has become his obsession. This is absolutely a focus on the inner world of the protagonist – the mind and motivations of the protagonist.
Since this is science fiction, the celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination come from the appreciation of the flora and fauna of other planets. There is plenty of that. There is no rejection of industrialization, but social convention must be rejected for Shawn du Locke to achieve his goals. The big question in the novel is the degree and actions Shawn du Locke will take to disregard his honor to protect Lady Elina—and her reaction to that.
With Lady Elina and to a degree Lyral Neuterra as the focus of the protagonist, the idealization of woman, but not necessarily children or rural life is at the forefront. There is no inclusion of supernatural or mythological elements nor historical elements unless you count those incident from the other novels in the series.
Like most science fiction, the emphasis on the individual experience of the sublime is physical. Shawn du Locke must discover how to legitimately love, protect, and save Lady Elina Acier, the woman he has come to love. You can see how this is a spiritual and mental fight—is Shawn du Locke in love with Lady Elina or with the ghost of Lyral Neuterra.
I’ll mention that a huge portion of the novel is about the agreement of the readers with the mind (thoughts and decisions) and actions of the protagonist. These actions both revealed and unrevealed until the climax of the novel are a very important part of the novel. Shawn du Locke discovers in the history of the Empire the means to take control of the situation and to shape the events to meet his desires. Now to the telic flaw, plot, and the theme.
The telic flaw is pretty obvious from the protagonist—this is to gain the love of the Lady Elina. This is a love novel, and that is part of the theme. The plot is how to bring the Lady Elina from Acier to Arienth without her being assassinated, and how to retain her safety while confronting the twisted and vengeful Emperor Perodus. The theme is about love and honor. This is the question I wrote the novel to answer.
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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