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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Writing - part xx376 Writing a Novel, the Plot of A Christmas Carol

 13 October 2020, Writing - part xx376 Writing a Novel, the Plot of A Christmas Carol


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. 


I’ve worked through creativity and the protagonist.  The ultimate point is that if you properly develop your protagonist, you have created your novel.  This moves us on to plots and initial scenes.  As I noted, if you have a protagonist, you have a novel.  The reason is that a protagonist comes with a telic flaw, and a telic flaw provides a plot and theme.  If you have a protagonist, that gives you a telic flaw, a plot, and a theme.  I will also argue this gives you an initial scene as well. 


So, we worked extensively on the protagonist.  I gave you many examples great, bad, and average.  Most of these were from classics, but I also used my own novels and protagonists as examples.  Here’s my plan.


1.     The protagonist comes with a telic flaw – the telic flaw isn’t necessarily a flaw in the protagonist, but rather a flaw in the world of the protagonist that only the Romantic protagonist can resolve.

2.     The telic flaw determines the plot.

3.     The telic flaw determines the theme.

4.     The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.

5.     The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.

6.     Plot examples from great classic plots.

7.     Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.

8.     Plot examples from my novels.

9.     Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.

10.  Writer’s block as a problem of continuing the plot.


Every great or good protagonist comes with their own telic flaw.  I showed how this worked with my own writing and novels.  Let’s go over it in terms of the plot.


This is all about the telic flaw.  Every protagonist and every novel must come with a telic flaw.  They are the same telic flaw.  That telic flaw can be external, internal or both.


We found that a self-discovery telic flaw or a personal success telic flaw can potentially take a generic plot.  We should be able to get an idea for the plot purely from the protagonist, telic flaw and setting.  All of these are interlaced and bring us our plot.


For a great plot, the resolution of the telic flaw has to be a surprise to the protagonist and to the reader.  This is both the measure and the goal.  As I noted before, for a great plot, the author needs to make the telic flaw resolution appear to be impossible, but then it happens.  There is much more to this.  Here’s the list of plots I’ve looked at already:


1.     Redemption

2.     Detective or mystery

3.     Messiah

4.     End of the World

5.     War

6.     Anti-war

7.     Revenge or vengeance

8.     Revelation

9.     Zero to hero


Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots. 


This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.


1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.  

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens


11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot


21 Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame


31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens 

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne


41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Till We Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D'Arthur - Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand


51 What Katy Did - Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim - Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer


61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett

65 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville


71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker - Mary Mapes Dodge

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray


80 The Black Arrow - Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot - Isaac Asimov


91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner


111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a marvelous and almost unique novel.  It has a protagonist whose antagonists are seeking his redemption.  This is almost the exact opposite of any other novel.  It is a beautiful development of a redemption plot and theme. 


Although blood will out is very strong in A Christmas Carol, it isn’t overwhelming.  Dickens presented a novel that reduces blood will out so he could put together the idea of the impoverished as real British people.  His blood will out is coming out in numerous scenes, but Dickens keeps it in check to allow his characters to interact and support one another.  At best we see the “good” master.  At worst we see the presumption of the underclass as crass and uneducated.  This is especially true about those who Dickens pictures as the true lower class even below the educated and valiant Cratchet.  Let’s look at the plots surrounding the plotline.


First of all, this is an external and internal redemption plot.  That is the plotline and the overall plot of the novel.  I’ve given it away all at once.  This is one thing that makes this very short and simple novel so powerful—its redemption plots.  There is both a physical redemption because we are led to believe that Scrooge will die if he doesn’t change as well as his eternal soul will be forever condemned to wander the earth if he doesn’t change.  Internal and external redemption.


There are no real mystery plots.  There are secrets.  The reason given by Marley is vengeance on Scrooge, but what a wonderful vengeance.  This is a revelation plot—we learn more and more about all the characters but especially about Scrooge.  There are touches of romance, but only in the past.  There is an achievement plot, but that is overshadowed by the redemption plot.  We have an article plot with the watch, a travel plot with the time and space travel for Scrooge’s redemption, a discovery plot for Scrooge, a touch of blood will out, there is a psychological plot, a horror plot, a money plot, a children plot, I’ll say a magic plot, but it is really miracles.


One great question, is this an allegory?  I’m not sure how to answer that.  It is and it isn’t.  I find this true of all strong redemption plots—they appear to be helpful allegories, but then they don’t follow the criteria for an allegory.  Perhaps we should list them as parallel plots, but that doesn’t fit well either.  In any case, a strong and beautiful redemption plot.      


Here’s the list of plots.  I’m going to amend the list as we noted. 

1.     Redemption – 9i, 5e, 12ei, 8, 1ie  

2.     Detective or mystery – 39

3.     Messiah – 5

4.     End of the World - 1

5.     War – 15

6.     Anti-war - 1

7.     Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 2e, 29, 1

8.     Revelation –1e, 43, 1

9.     Zero to hero – 15

10.  Romance –1ie, 31

11.  Achievement – 11e, 18ei, 2i, 27, 1

12.  Article – 1e, 29, 1

13.  Travel –1e, 39, 1

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 20

15.  Progress of technology – 3

16.  Discovery – 2ie, 34, 1

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 18

18.  Miscommunication – 4

19.  Love triangle – 12

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 28

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 6

22.  Blood will out or fate – 21, 1i, 1e, 1

23.  Psychological –1i, 33, 1

24.  Horror – 11, 1

25.  Magic – 5, 1

26.  Mistaken identity – 10

27.  Money – 2e, 20, 1

28.  Spoiled child – 4

29.  Children – 15, 1

30.  Historical – 12

31.  Legal – 5

32.  Adultery – 14

33.  Illness – 1e, 12

34.  School – 9

35.  Self-discovery – 2i, 8

36.  Guilt or Crime – 20

37.  Anti-hero – 5

38.  Immorality – 3i, 5

39.  Proselytizing – 4

40.  Satire – 6

41.  Reason – 6, 1ie

42.  Escape – 1ie, 12

43.  Knowledge – 12

44.  Camaraderie – 10

45.  Parallel – 2

46.  Allegory – 9

47.  Curse – 3

48.  Insanity – 5

49.  Fantasy world – 3

50.  Mentor – 6

51.  Prison – 1

52.  Secrets – 6, 1


Scrooge is the protagonist of A Christmas Carol.  His telic flaw is the miserly condition of his soul which is also affecting his mind and body.  The point of the plotline of the novel is to redeem Scrooge both body and soul.  Dickens achieves this with antagonists who are helping Scrooge.  What a perfect setup. 


For this reason alone, A Christmas Carol is a novel of great example.  I’d like to write one similar to it in substance, not in protagonist or in achievement, but having a negative protagonist and positive antagonists.  This is a very unique idea in novels.  The fact the story is so powerful and spiritually energizing for people shows how great the idea is.  As I noted, I’d like to write a novel like this.  I wrote something close with my novel Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.  In any case, read and devour the ideas, plots, and theme of A Christmas Carol.  It can only help you as a writer.  


In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     


Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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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