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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Writing - part xx585 Writing a Novel, Plots and Classics, Charles Dickens

 11 May 2021, Writing - part xx585 Writing a Novel, Plots and Classics, Charles Dickens

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



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. 

 

For Novel 32:  Shiggy Tash finds a lost girl in the isolated Scottish safe house her organization gives her for her latest assignment: Rose Craigie has nothing, is alone, and needs someone or something to rescue and acknowledge her as a human being.

 

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 is our list of 112 classics.  I told you this is a compilation of lists from various sources.  These are all true classics in most every genre of literature.  What I’m going to do now is look at the list and evaluate if they include a Romantic protagonist or a Romantic plot.  Second, I’m going to mark those that are true classic novels with an asterisk.

*10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*13 Dune – Frank Herbert –Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance –Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll – No Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis –Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*37 The Tale of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu  – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*38 The House of Seven Gables - Nathaniel Hawthorne – No Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*39 The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*42 Dracula – Bram Stoker – No Romantic protagonist and a Romantic plot.

44 Le Morte D'Arthur - Thomas Malory – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins – No Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*63 The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery –Romantic protagonist but no Romantic plot.

*48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott –Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

51 What Katy Did - Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*52 A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

53 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett – No Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*56 Kim - Rudyard Kipling – Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

64 The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas – Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

66 As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*69 The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and somewhat Romantic plot.

*70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*72 Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*74 Hans Brinker - Mary Mapes Dodge – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

75Ulysses - James Joyce – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie  – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

78 Germinal - Emile Zola – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*80 The Black Arrow - Robert Louis Stevenson – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*82 Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and no Romantic plot.

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and no Romantic plot.

*93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*95 Gulliver’s Travels - Jonathan Swift – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*96 Matilda – Roald Dahl – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White – Somewhat Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper – Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

*110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner –  Romantic protagonist and Romantic plot.

I evaluated the list of plots and categorized them according to the following scale:

 

Overall (o) – These are the three overall plots we defined above: redemption, achievement, and revelation.

 

Achievement (a) – There are plots that fall under the idea of the achievement plot. 

 

Quality (q) – These are plots based on a personal or character quality.

 

Setting (s) – These are plots based on a setting.

 

Item (i) – These are plots based on an item.

I looked at each novel and pulled out the plot types, the telic flaw, plotline, and the theme of the novel.  I didn’t make a list of the themes, but we identified the telic flaw as internal and external and by plot type.  This generally gives the plotline. 

 Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51%

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26%

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37%

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23%

6.     Progress of technology (a) – 6 – 5%

7.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54%

8.     Money (a) – 2e, 26 – 25%

9.     Spoiled child (a) – 7 – 6%

10.  Legal (a) – 5 – 4%

11.  Adultery (qa) – 18 – 16%

12.  Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13%

13.  Guilt or Crime (a) – 32 – 29%

14.  Proselytizing (a) – 4 – 4%

15.  Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10%

16.  Escape (a)  – 1ie, 23 – 21%

17.  Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23%

18.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19%

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9%

2.     Adultery (qa) – 18 – 16%

3.     Rejected love (rejection) (q) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

4.     Miscommunication (q) – 8 – 7%

5.     Love triangle (q) – 14 – 12%

6.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

7.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

8.     Psychological (q) –1i, 45 – 41%

9.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7%

10.  Mistaken identity (q) – 18 – 16%

11.  Illness (q) – 1e, 19 – 18%

12.  Anti-hero (q) – 6 – 5%

13.  Immorality (q) – 3i, 8 – 10%

14.  Satire (q) – 10 – 9%

15.  Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17%

16.  Curse (q) – 4 – 4%

17.  Insanity (q) – 8 – 7%

18.  Mentor (q) – 12 – 11%

Setting (s)

1.     End of the World (s) – 3 – 3%

2.     War (s) – 20 – 18%

3.     Anti-war (s) –2 – 2%

4.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56%

5.     Totalitarian (s) – 1e, 8 – 8%

6.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13%

7.     Children (s) – 24 – 21%

8.     Historical (s) – 19 – 17%

9.     School (s) – 11 – 10%

10.  Parallel (s) – 4 – 4%

11.  Allegory (s) – 10 – 9%

12.  Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4%

13.  Prison (s) – 2 – 2%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

I’d like to willow down the list of classics to some true entertaining classics.  We’ll then look at these in more details.

 

Let’s do a little comparison between these classic works and evaluate them.  Here is how we will evaluate them:

 

1.      Are they entertaining? 

2.      Would you read it again?

3.      How’s the protagonist?

4.      How’s the plot?

5.      How does it relate to actual human values and life?

6.      Did the author write in a way that makes this work truly unique?

7.      Is this work important to humanity and to the future?

 

Yes, the British Broadcasting Corporation did leave a bunch of Dickens’ novels in the classics pile.  You know, I have to agree with them on this.  We shall see why I agree with the BBC and with many other observers that Charles Dickens is a great writer, and that many of his novels are true classics.  Five of the six novels below are true classics and should be read by everyone.  There are many other Dickens’ novels.  You should read them all.

*10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

*81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – No Romantic protagonist or Romantic plot.

Why choose all these novels as classics?  And why particularly not include Bleak House?  I like Bleak House, but I think the others are in a separate category than Bleak House.  Specifically, Bleak House feels more like a less polished novel with too many characters and too many plots and subplots running around in it. 

 

Bleak House does deal with laws, inheritance, and lawyers, but I don’t find the subject or the treatment of the subject as strong as the other five novels on our list. 

 

Great Expectations deals with life and fortunes and reflects strongly the expectations of the middle class in professions and matrimony.  It is a novel for all times and for all.  It shows the expectations of an entire society and class of people as well as the end of those expectations.

 

David Copperfield like Great Expectations demonstrates the life of the middle and lower class as few novels of the period do.  It also gives us an insight into boys and men’s expectations of life.  Oliver Twist should likely be pulled off the classics list.  The only real reason I left it is that it may be the most well known and popular of all of Dickens’ novels.  It has less to do with the common life and more to do with the reflection of the poorer population. 

 

A Tale of Two Cities gives fantastic historical insight into the times and especially Paris during the French Revolution.  This is the great power in this work.

 

A Christmas Carol is a unique novel in literature and a great hallmark of Dickens’ genius.  It has a positive antagonist and uses this idea to redeem the protagonist. 

 

Let’s evaluate them according to the criteria.

 

1.      Are they entertaining? 

2.      Would you read it again?

3.      How many movies/plays are there of the novel?

4.      How’s the protagonist?

5.      How’s the plot?

6.      How does it relate to actual human values and life?

7.      Did the author write in a way that makes this work truly unique?

8.      Is this work important to humanity and to the future?

 

Yes, these novels are all entertaining.  The least entertaining is Bleak House, but they are all entertaining.

 

Yes, I’ve read most of these more than once.  I’ve read A Christmas Carol more times than I can count.  I should read it every Christmas. 

 

Adaptations of all of these has been made.  The fewest are of Bleak House, and perhaps the most is A Christmas Carol.  The problem with making movies for these novels is the complexity of the plots and subplots.  There are still quite a few.

 

The protagonists of these novel are not Romantic, but the novels are generally revelation novels of the protagonist.  Bleak House has the least strong protagonist.  I do like Esther from the novel, but Dickens had some problems conveying female protagonists. 

 

The plots of all of these novels are very strong.  The least strong is Bleak House

 

Human values and life apply to all of these novels.  Bleak House is the only one whose theme is about laws and lawyering as opposed to people and their lives. 

 

All of these novels have their own unique quality.  As I noted, the uniqueness of each, except Bleak House, has to do with the people and not specifically just their circumstances.  These others are people oriented to a greater degree than Bleak House

 

In term of the future.  Bleak House is about a circumstance and a problem specific to Britain in that time and place.  It is said that Dickens’ depictions of the issue led to legal reforms.  That’s good, but the other novels deal with human problems that are not just relegated to the times and the near future.  I think you will find the others point to human solutions to human problems that exist now and still need some resolution.

 

We’ll look at Louisa May Alcott next.

 

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

      

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 http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/
http://www.aegyptnovel.com/
http://www.centurionnovel.com
http://www.thesecondmission.com/
http://www.theendofhonor.com/
http://www.thefoxshonor.com
http://www.aseasonofhonor.com  

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