21 July 2018, Writing – part x476, Developing Skills, more Intimate Conversation, Favorite Protagonists
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.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
- 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:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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 29: 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 30: 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 scene development outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Today: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and then writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing). If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.
In moving to mechanics, you have to start with something. The something I recommend is the protagonist. As I noted for you, the protagonist owns the telic flaw and the telic flaw is the catalyst for the plot. The resolution of the telic flaw is the plot of the novel, so obviously, the best place to start any novel is with the protagonist. I hate to do this because I usually end up writing a new novel—let’s develop a character.
How do we make a character real? I’m in favor of using protagonist’s helpers whenever they fit in a novel, but you don’t have to go that far. You can also have an intimate who is not a protagonist’s helper.
I will warn you, more often than not, you might find a protagonist’s intimate becomes a protagonist’s helper. In any case, to develop an intimate conversation, you must bring the characters into close proximity. You must provide them the opportunity to gain some type of close relationship. You must give them the opportunity for close conversation. So, who can we make such an intimate?
A friend works well. A business companion, a student, a teacher, a trainer, a religious leader, a boss, an officer—you get the idea. I’ve used religious leaders very often in the past. A pastor or priest can make very effective confessors. That’s the point after all. If the character isn’t a protagonist’s helper, a priest is perfect. You literally have a confessor in place. Here is an example from my novel Warrior of Darkness:
“Of course you do.” Scáth knew the routine: first the number saved, then counting the links, confession, then the number who died, then counting those links.
She helped Klava to her feet. Klava leaned heavily on her. They made their way through the streets to Saint Anthony’s Catholic church at Willowfield Avenue and Willowfield Crescent.
They rang the night bell and went inside—it was very late. Scáth put Klava inside the confessional. She pounded on the priest’s side until she heard a complaint. Scáth had to make sure he was awake. Klava had confessed too many times to a sleeping priest. Klava would do it over and over again until she received the absolution, so it didn’t do if the priest was not awake.
“Beloved in Christ how can I help you?”
Klava started almost automatically, “Father forgive me, for I have sinned.”
“Tonight Father, I murdered by my actions two men.”
Outside the confessional, Scáth heard a chuckle. The Father continued, “It is you again. You confess to all this killing. Are you certain your sin is not lying?”
Klava only responded, “Father, I murdered, by my immediate and intentional actions two men tonight. I am ashamed. Please forgive me.” The only emotion in her voice was sadness.
The priest chuckled again, “How many times did I tell you to toll your rosary the last time, child?”
“You told me to do it one hundred times for each person whom I had murdered.”
“Very well, I place the same condition on you this time. One hundred times for each death.”
“Thank you Father.”
“In that case, I am free to offer you the absolution. God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Thank you, Father.”
Scáth opened the door to the confessional and dragged Klava out of it. She put Klava’s arm around her and half carried her from the church. They slowly made their way to Klava’s flat on Lismore. Already under her breath, Klava recited the rosary. She didn’t need to toll the beads that Scáth knew encircled her neck. Klava had done it so many times it was completely automatic to her. Scáth knew the priest didn’t believe Klava. Klava didn’t know or didn’t care about that. She just longed to hear the words of the absolution.
Here, in this example, I use a priest as a confessor and confidante. I doesn’t matter that the priest doesn’t believe Klava. It doesn’t matter that the priest isn’t fully engaged in the conversation. It doesn’t matter that the conversation is based in a type of form, a confession. What matters is that the protagonist tells her thoughts to another. This is perfect showing, and that’s the point.
As authors we want to show and not tell. This type of conversation gives you that capability.
There is another method you can use to show the mind of the protagonist. It is loosely, the soliloquy. I write, loosely, because we have limited means as authors to provide this type of interaction in a novel, but there are ways.
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