11 August 2020, Writing – part xx228 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Khione
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 withhttp://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.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
- 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 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.
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:
- 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: 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.
- Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
- Action point in the plot
- Buildup to an exciting scene
- 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.
- Read novels.
- Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
- Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
- Make the catharsis.
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.
So, modern characters must look like the reader’s impression of the protagonist. This is an interesting problem as culture and society change as does the impression of the readers.
Here is the list of characteristics for great protagonists (this is based on the concept of a Romantic protagonist):
- Hero, independent, and individualistic – characters who truly risk their lives for others.
- From the common ilk – as opposed to the nobility and wealth.
- Educated – both seeking education and study and loving to read and learn.
- Focus on the inner world of the protagonist – the mind and motivation of the protagonist.
- Celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination – the expression of the mind of the protagonist.
- Rejection of industrialization and social convention – from urban to rural.
- Idealization of woman, children, and rural life.
- Inclusion of supernatural or mythological elements.
- Inclusion of historical elements.
- Frequent use of personification.
- Emphasis on individual experience of the sublime.
- Discovery and skills—the protagonist finds his or her special skills and abilities and uses them to resolve the telic flaw.
- The readers agree with the mind (thoughts and decisions) of the protagonist
I added the last statement, but really this last statement is a direct reflection of 4, 11, and 12.
My ultimate point is that first I develop a great protagonist and the plot and theme of the novel I want to write comes directly out of that protagonist. Every great protagonist comes with his or her own telic flaw.
The other day, I gave you an example of Azure Rose from my novel, Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. I showed how she was a Romantic protagonist and how she herself resulted in a plot and theme for the novel. In other words, I didn’t develop a plot or a theme first, I developed a great protagonist and found the telic flaw, plot, and theme from her revelation. Azure Rose came with a plot and a theme. I’ve done this before and at the risk of repeating myself, I’ll do this a couple of more times or more. Here is a list of my completed novels and protagonists:
A Season of Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox III), published, Shawn du Locke
The Fox’s Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox II), published, Devon Rathenberg
The End of Honor (Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox I), published, John-Mark
Antebellum, not published, Heather Sybil Roberts
Aegypt, published, Paul Bolong
Centurion, published, Centurion Abenadar
Athelstan Cying, not published, Den Protania
Twilight Lamb, not published, Den Protania
Regia Anglorum, not published, Nikita Protania
The Second Mission, published, Alan Fisher
Sister of Light, not published, Leora Bolang
Hestia: Enchantment of the Hearth, not published, Angela Matheson
Sister of Darkness, not published, Leora Bolang
Shadow of Darkness, not published, Lumière Bolang
Shadow of Light, not published, Lumière Bolang
Children of Light and Darkness, not published, Kathrin McClellan
Warrior of Light, not published, David Long
Shadowed Vale, not published, Nikita Protania
Warrior of Darkness, not published, Klava Calloway
Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden, not published, Byron Macintyre
Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon, not published, Aksinya
Khione: Enchantment and the Fox, not published, Khione
Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire, not published, George Mardling
Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer, not published, Lilly
Escape from Freedom, not published, Scott Phillips
Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, not published, Essie
Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse, not published, Shiggy
Deirdre: Enchantment and the School, not published, Deirdre Calloway
Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, not published, Azure Rose
Khione: Enchantment and the Fox, is currently not published. The protagonist is Khione. In this novel, the protagonist, Khione and the protagonist’s helper, Pearce Wimund are connected by the hip. This novel is similar is some ways to Lilly. Khione is another excellent example of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme.
Khione is a demi-goddess. She left Greece and Athens specifically in reaction to the events in another of my novels, Hestia: Enchantment of the Hearth. Hestia was my first enchantment novel. In this novel, the demi-gods and demi-goddesses were given back their earth stuff which metaphorically and literally contains their soul. Khione and another demi-goddess left Greece for Boston in the USA following the events of Hestia.
Khione is a pathos developing character. She was the child of a rape in the ancient world. Her mother was Khione, the goddess of snow and her father was the uncatchable fox whom Zeus made to torment Thebes. Khione is a human looking demi-god who looks and lives in some ways like a fox. She comes to the attention of a couple of graduate students. One who is studying her, and Pearce Wimund who wants to help her.
When Pearce and his friend find Khione, they accidentally cause her to be hit by a bus. Pearce takes her back to his apartment. There, she becomes the feral being she is, and it is up to Pearce to help her learn to become more human. She also poses a problem to him in terms of life and her experience of life.
Let’s look at Khione as a protagonist. First, she is not a hero. She is very independent and individualistic. She is like a fox. She constantly reminds Pearce and others that she is not a pack animal, like a dog. Part of the development and revelation of Khione is her becoming more like a good human being. Khione is not really from the common ilk—she is a demi-god after all. She has no wealth or nobility. She is the opposite. She is completely uneducated in a modern sense. She can read in Greek and write in Greek, but she doesn’t think much of it. The novel is set at Boston University and a focus is on Khione’s education by Pearce.
The inner world of the protagonist is the entire main part of the novel. The change and revelation of Khione is the entire novel. Khione is, at the beginning, like an animal. Pearce’s job is to convince her to change from an animal to being like a human being.
The celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination should be obvious in Khione—she is a demi-goddess of nature and a product of imagination. The concept of urban to rural is a basic characteristic of Khione. In addition, the idealization of women, children, and nature (rural life) is embedded in Khione. She represents all three of these as an abused demi-goddess from nature.
Having a demi-goddess should indicate exactly the supernatural and the mythological. There are also historical elements in the use of Boston University as a setting. Discovery of skills is inherent in the novel—this is a discovery and development novel about Khione. Finally, the individual experience of the sublime is exactly what Khione is about.
The novel, Khione, should really be called the redemption of Khione. Khione needs to discover what it means to be human. Her problem should be obvious—she imagines that she is like an animal when she is a thinking being and no animal at all. The telic flaw is this problem. Khione is a human who thinks she is worth nothing. She was abused, the child of rape, a sex slave, and a feral being. Pearce teaches her that she has worth, and that’s the plot. The theme is also based on this—that is the what makes someone human.
I hope you can see that the entire plot, telic flaw, and theme came out of the development of this character. This is exactly what I mean when I write that the plot, theme, and telic flaw comes directly out of the protagonist.
Ultimately, the point is that we need to keep our readers content and pleased with our characters while presenting the revelation of the protagonist and 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.
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