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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Writing - part xx490 Writing a Novel, Romantic Plot and Inevitable Climax

 4 February 2021, Writing - part xx490 Writing a Novel, Romantic Plot and Inevitable Climax

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. 

 

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:

 

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

 

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 Eliot

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

 

This is what I did.  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. 

 

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

 

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

 

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

 

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

 

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.

 

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

 

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%

 

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

 

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

 

Why is my novel so short?  If you start with a plot or writing to a plotline, I can assure you your novel will be too short.  The secret to writing what I term complete novels is writing to the revelation of the protagonist.  Most specifically, writing the revelation of the protagonist. 

 

This telic flaw is what is resolved in the climax of the novel.  Notice, in the outline, although the telic flaw isn’t stated explicitly, you can add it to the outline like this:

 

1.     The initial scene (introduction of the protagonist and the telic flaw)

2.     The rising action scenes (development of the resolution of the telic flaw through the revelation of the protagonist)

3.     The climax scene (resolution of the telic flaw)

4.     The falling action scene(s) (wrap up of the telic flaw)

5.     The dénouement scene(s) (closure of the telic flaw)

 

Part of the strength of development in a protagonist (telic flaw) developed novel, especially in the modern era, is a strong Romantic plot.  The romantic plot usually comes out of the development of the protagonist, and almost always assures a novel of the proper proportions.  Now we need to write about a Romantic plot.

 

The Romantic plot meets these criteria:

1.     The author must write the novel such that the telic flaw appears that it cannot be resolved.

2.     The protagonist must be developed and revealed such that they appear as if it is impossible for them to overcome the telic flaw

3.     The author must write the plot such that it appears that it can’t ever end in any positive fashion.

 

In the end, the protagonist must resolve the impossible resolution of the telic flaw in a way that, following the climax seems inevitable.  The question you might be asking is just how do we do this?

 

I’ve written over and over, in the perfect climax, the reader’s expectation of the climax should move from some degree of hopelessness toward hopefulness.  This doesn’t mean the resolution looks any less impossible--the protagonist just becomes more capable.  This is the revelation of the protagonist. 

 

The revelation of the protagonist is the writing in the rising action where the protagonist moves from zero to not zero.  The rising action may also be where the protagonist moves from something to zero then from zero to not zero.  This is a very important idea.  In a well written and entertaining novel, the protagonist always goes to some degree of zero state, the revelation is all about the discovery and training of skills and abilities.  Most specifically skills and abilities that will be used in the resolution of the climax. 

 

You can see this pretty well in Harry Potty.  Harry starts as an orphan living under the stairs and abused by his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin.  That’s a pretty big zero.  He has no real skills or abilities only this nagging and secret affinity for strange things happening around him.  He discovers he has some magical capability and the secret about his parents and is then accepted into Hogwarts. 

 

The discovery of special skills and then the training and revelation of the training and learning about those skills all play through the rising action.  Both foreshadowing and the event of the rising action build on each other.  They seem disparate in some cases until the climax.  For example, why does Harry need to have Quiddich seeker skills? We find in the climax that he uses these skills directly to catch the flying key—he is the only one who can do this.  If you note, the author wanted to convey this idea, but we really don’t get as strong a message as this really should be—this is a problem with this novel.  Likewise, why does Harry need the secret of the magic mirror?  We also learn in the climax why. 

 

This doesn’t just apply to the protagonist.  Why does Ron need to cultivate his Wizard Chess skills and why does Hermione need to cultivate her spell skills?  Again, these are used in the telic flaw resolution.  As an aside, these are a dilution of the power possible in the classic Romantic plot resolution.  You usually don’t want the supporting characters to be so similar to the protagonist.  In any case, the author properly provides the resolution that only Harry can accomplish, albeit in a very confused and confrontational let down.  You don’t normally give your protagonist a huge victory only to have it taken back in the climax. 

 

The climax is supposed to provide the unexpected and yet inevitable resolution of the telic flaw.  In the case of Harry Potty, this is the revelation of the antagonist, V-guy on the head of the professor, along with the defeat of the professor.  Yes, we don’t expect the defeat of the V-guy, that’s a whole series away. What we do expect is a relatively clean victory through the unique skills of Harry.  Notice what happens in the climax.  The messiah, godlike boy who could not be killed by the V-guy’s magic succumbs, not to a spell or anything foreshadowed by the rising action at all.  The V-guy somehow outside of the power and magic and world of the novel pulls an attack on Harry. Talk about an illogical end, but no one ever said Harry Potty is a great work.  I use it as an example because many are familiar with it, it is simplistic, and it does have these problems.

 

This is how the author develops the proper resolution.  It comes through the revelation of the protagonist and his or her skills developed in the rising action.  As I wrote, in the climax, the reader should think, right after it happens, I knew it with a rush of joy and excitement.  To see how this works in a nearly perfect novel we can look at Dragonsong, and to a lesser degree Dragonsinger.  We’ll look at these next.      

       

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 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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