18 April 2019, Writing – part x747, Writing a Novel, The Theme Statement
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 atwww.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 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 titleBlue 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 30thnovel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working titleDetective. 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.
The purpose of the theme statement is not really to begin a novel. The purpose of a theme statement is to begin the process of novel development, the novel idea, and the marketing materials. We are both looking at the immediate—writing the novel, and the future—marketing the novel.
I write a theme statement for every novel. It’s usually not my first step, but it is a step that assures me of the vector of the novel.
In the beginning, I used a question for my theme statement. You can see examples of these “theme questions” on my website for my early novels—look in the secrets pages. A question is one way to try to encapsulate the theme of a novel, but I found this to be both too limiting and too broad. At that time, I wrote my novels from the plot up. In other words, I developed the entire plot in my mind and wrote to the plot. I found that this is too limiting a way to write for me.
If you look at my early and published novels, Centurion, Aegypt, The Second Mission, and The Chronicles of the dragon and the Fox, you will see they all have distinct questions as theme statements. I also wrote them, at least I planned to write them, as a whole plot that I wrote to. This ended up causing me continual problems. Mostly it caused what many call writer’s block. Since I couldn’t move forward without the next piece of the plot, and my plots, although complete in my mind, were not complete in the sense of a fully developed novel—I knew where I wanted to go, I just didn’t know how to get there, and not even a “theme question” could help me out.
About my eighth novel, I discovered a better way to write novels—at least better for me. It might not work for everyone. I write novels focused on the initial scene and writing to a telic flaw. What this means is that I develop a protagonist. The protagonist must have a telic flaw. The telic flaw is not a flaw in the protagonist. The telic flaw is a flaw in the world of the protagonist. To be very precise, the telic flaw is the problem the protagonist must resolve to resolve the novel. At this point, there is no plot, but there is a known problem that must be resolved. In classical terms, we call this problem the telic flaw of the novel—it is also the telic flaw of the protagonist.
I want to reiterate, the telic flaw is not necessarily a flaw in the protagonist. This is just the term the Greeks and specifically Aristotle gave to the problem resolved by the plot. Aristotle realized that the problem of the novel is directly the problem of the protagonist. This ties the protagonist directly to the plot and the novel. In other words, this protagonist and this protagonist alone is the only protagonist in the world who has this problem and can solve it. This may seem odd to you depending on how you understand novels, but I assure you this is true for all adult works. I’ll go further. All novels are a revelation of the protagonist. Novels are not a revelation of a plot—the plot just happens to be about the revelation of the protagonist and the telic flaw is the problem of the protagonist that must be resolved by the plot. The theme statement encapsulates all of this in a tidy and broad form. We’ll look at that next.
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