21 May 2018, Writing – part x415, Developing Skills, Characters
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 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.
Novels are always about the plot revelation—this is what I call the first revealed secret in a novel. Novels are always about the revelation of the “secret” of the plot. The plot is a secret that is revealed in the novel.
What most writers and few readers recognize is that the plot is always the revelation of the protagonist. You can think about it this way: the telic flaw of the novel is the telic flaw of the protagonist. The novel is resolved by the resolution of the telic flaw. This automatically should tell you the revelation of the protagonist is the resolution of the novel.
To make this simpler, if you imagine what makes a novel interesting and worth reading—it is always (hopefully) the revelation of the protagonist. People rarely say, I loved the plot or the climax of the novel was wonderful. If they like a novel they usually say, I loved the characters or I loved the main character or if they are literary, I loved the protagonist. When people describe their favorite novels, they usually talk about the characters or the protagonist.
Here is a contemporary example: Flavia de Luca. There are two redeeming characteristics of the Flavia de Luca novels, the protagonist and the use of language by the author. Flavia de Luca is an unexpected protagonist for an adult novel. She is a ten year old child who has obvious psychological issues mixed with a super genius knowledge of chemistry. The plots of the novels are weak and unexciting as well as unremarkable, but the character of the protagonist and the characters surrounding her are interesting and exciting. The reader wants to know more and more about them—the revelation of them. As I noted, the most notable characteristic of the novels is the protagonist. The readers really don’t give a wit for the plot, although each new plot is a feature of the revelation of the protagonist and her world.
This example should convey the point directly to you, but I can give you more. Look at Harry Potty. The novel plots are somewhat interesting, but what drives them are the characters and the revelation of their lives and secrets. The characters are compelling while the plots are pretty stale. I’m sure you can think of examples as well. In general, you will discover great novels always have great protagonists and usually great supporting characters. The plot, although a key part of the novel, pales in comparison to the characters that enact it. In really great novels, the protagonist and the plot come together in a focused perfection that drives each. I give you for example, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger as examples of very well constructed plots and protagonist. The plots are memorable because of the protagonist and the protagonist is memorable because of the plot.
If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and I would add, great protagonist’s helpers.
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