26 October 2021, Writing – part xx668 Writing a Novel, Plots and My Novels, more on The Second Mission
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:
- 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.
For Novel 32: Shiggy Tash finds a lost girl in the isolated Scottish safe house her organization gives her for her latest assignment: Rose Craigie has nothing, is alone, and needs someone or something to rescue and acknowledge her as a human being.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- The telic flaw determines the plot.
- The telic flaw determines the theme.
- The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
- The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
- Plot examples from great classic plots.
- Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
- Plot examples from my novels.
- Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
- 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.
I evaluated the plots from the list of 112 classics 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.
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.
1. Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%
2. Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%
3. Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%
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%
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%
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%
1. Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%
Here is a list of my novels:
|1*||SF||A Season of Honor (Honor III)||1986||P 08|
|2*||SF||The Fox’s Honor (Honor II)||1989||P 08|
|3||SF||The End of Honor (Honor I)||1995||P 08|
|8 15||SF||Twilight Lamb||2007||A|
|9 16||SF||Regia Anglorum||2007||A|
|10*||SF||The Second Mission*||1996||P 03|
|12||F||Sister of Light||1997||C|
|14||F||Hestia: Enchantment of the Hearth||2006||*|
|17||F||Sister of Darkness||2008||C|
|18||F||Shadow of Darkness||2008||A|
|19||F||Shadow of Light||2008||A|
|20||F||Children of Light and Darkness||2008||A|
|21||F||Warrior of Light||2009||A|
|23 23||SF||Shadowed Vale||2009||A|
|24 24||SF||Ddraig Goch||2009||W|
|25||F||Warrior of Darkness||2009||*|
|26||F||Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden||2010||*|
|27||F||Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon||2010||A|
|28||F||Khione: Enchantment and the Fox||2011||*|
|29||F||Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire||2013||*|
|30||F||Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer||2014||*|
|31||SF||Escape from Freedom||2014||*|
|32||F||Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si||2015||*|
|33||F||Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse||2016||*|
|35||F||Deirdre: Enchantment and the School||2016||*|
|36||F||Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective||2018||*|
|37||F||Cassandra: Enchantment and the Warriors||2018||*|
|38||F||Rose: Enchantment and the Flower||2021||*|
The Second Mission is my first published novel. It was partner published with Xulon and is still available in paper and hardback.
I really wanted to explore a question important to me and to many people about history and historical writing. That is the validity of the words recorded in history. In Centurion, I let my readers live alongside the people from history, but in The Second Mission, I wanted to bring a modern person back into history to experience it and explore a question for me. I also assumed that future societies and cultures would want an answer to this very important question. That question was simply how well we could trust ancient literature?
If you could go beck in time, you could compare the words of the speakers and the words that were recorded. Since I had accomplished this with Christ in Centurion, I wanted to do this also with Socrates and the Socratic dialogs. First, I had to learns to translate some ancient Greek. Second, I had to study for a long time. Third, I had to make my own translations of the Socratic dialogs and some plays from the period. The result was The Second Mission.
Here is some of the information on the novel:
The Second Mission is a unique and revolutionary historical novel. Novelist, L. D. Alford, implants not just history but literature into his newest book about the last days of Socrates. The Second Mission is an engrossing novel that takes the unprecedented step of enveloping the reader in the time, culture, literature, and politics of ancient Greece. It uses a C. H. Lewis-like style to pull the reader into the real history of the era in a manner unlike any novel written before.
The Second Mission explores time through the eyes of humankind’s second mission into the past. In the year 399 B.C. the city-state of Athens was the hub of a new political system. It was a cultural axis for art, poetry, and law. It was the heart of the science of philosophy—and philosophers. And the death of Socrates was the pivotal moment that drew the second mission.
The Second Mission reveals the unintentional journey of a modern man, Alan Fisher, into time. He is an accidental and unwilling participant in humankind’s second greatest adventure. Sophia, the actual time agent, became his reluctant guide. She had trained ten years to become Sophia, a Greek woman of 399 B.C. The second mission was her mission, and she did not want to share it with anyone. Now she was responsible for her mission as well as the survival of the interloper, Alan. They were linked together for better or worse in the second most important mission of mankind. For one year of history, 400 to 399 B.C., in the city-state of Athens in the place now called Greece, neither Alan nor Sophia could return to their own times.
Alan discovered the purpose of the second mission was observation and verification—to record the words and death of Socrates. This was the second most important historical research to future generations. Although Sophia would share little information about the future with Alan, he discovered the purpose of the first mission, and that information changed his life forever.
Alan Fisher, marooned in time, turned into Sophia’s greatest hope for success and, because of the first mission, Sophia became Alan’s greatest hope of spiritual deliverance. The first mission changed Sophia’s world, and the second mission would also change the future of mankind.
L. D. Alford draws the reader into the world of Socrates’ Athens in the year 399 B.C. In this world, the ancient eclipses the modern and world of the Athenian philosophers becomes real—real to the characters of the novel and real to the reader.
For the Student
The Second Mission distinctively brings to life Socrates, Plato, and the School of Hellas. It is an electrifying adventure story that provides a stimulating method to introduce and place into context the Socratic dialogues: Euthyphro, Cratylus, Crito, Phaedo, and The Apology of Socrates. Students will find the renditions of these works fresh and exciting. Everyone will find the ideas, transplanted and accentuated by modern dialogue, inspiring and resonating.
This is a really fun and entertaining novel that allows the reader to observe the Family Trader culture from the view of a child newly experiencing it. This allowed me to provide a great showing of a really different technological environment and setting.
The Second Mission uses time travel to bring the reader into the world of Socrates. You can get an entertaining and enlightening worldview while reading the Socratic Dialogs in their context in history.
Let’s evaluate the plots.
1. Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% Oh yeah, The Second Mission is a different type of redemption novel. Sophia and Alan Fisher are trapped in time, and they both need redemption in time. This isn’t as much a spiritual redemption as a physical redemption.
2. Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% The revelation is the history and times of Socrates as well as the mission of Sophia.
3. Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% The achievement is to observe and record the life and death of Socrates. It’s a one year trip.
1. Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% There really aren’t many mysteries here except the question of returning from time. Even that is somewhat fixed because it is supposed to be inevitable although the previous time traveler didn’t make it back alive. The mysteries are for the reader if they didn’t know the history already. That make it really fun.
2. Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% Not really.
3. Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% There is a slight zero to hero with Alan who is able to deliver by the end of the novel.
4. Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% There is a touch of romance between Alan and Sophia.
5. Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% Nope.
6. Progress of technology (a) – 6 – 5% Really the opposite.
7. Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% Each day in the world of Socrates is a day of discovery.
8. Money (a) – 2e, 26 – 25% There is some motivation and plot about money.
9. Spoiled child (a) – 7 – 6% Nope.
10. Legal (a) – 5 – 4% There is some strong legal plot about what is legitimate and allowed in ancient societies.
11. Adultery (qa) – 18 – 16% Sophia faces rape and attack simply based on her position, so yes.
12. Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% For Alan, the ancient world is all new and filled with things he must discover about the world and himself.
13. Guilt or Crime (a) – 32 – 29% A taste with Sophia taking the place of the dead Sophia and the problems with ancient societies.
14. Proselytizing (a) – 4 – 4% Nope.
15. Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% Yes, the changes and affects of the imposition of Sophia and Alan cause problems in time and place.
16. Escape (a) – 1ie, 23 – 21% Yes, Sophia and Alan need to escape time.
17. Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% Knowledge and skills are a primary focus of the novel. Sophia has many, and Alan must learn many new skills.
18. Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% The great secret is just who Sophia and Alan are. Only they can know.
1. Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% Nope.
2. Adultery (qa) – 18 – 16% Nope.
3. Rejected love (rejection) (q) – 1ei, 21 – 20% Yes, this is a side plot where Sophia must reject a suiter and face abuse for it.
4. Miscommunication (q) – 8 – 7% Not really.
5. Love triangle (q) – 14 – 12% Nope.
6. Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% Yes, the betrayal of Socrates by his city state.
7. Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% Nope.
8. Psychological (q) –1i, 45 – 41% This is a psychological novel on many levels. The entire time and history plot is a very strong psychological one.
9. Magic (q) – 8 – 7% Nope.
10. Mistaken identity (q) – 18 – 16% Yes, with Sophia and Alan.
11. Illness (q) – 1e, 19 – 18% Yes, Alan and Sophia are injured or become ill.
12. Anti-hero (q) – 6 – 5% Nope.
13. Immorality (q) – 3i, 8 – 10% To a degree. The Athenian society seduces Alan to a degree.
14. Satire (q) – 10 – 9% Not really.
15. Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% Yes, Forced between Sophia and Alan.
16. Curse (q) – 4 – 4% Nope.
17. Insanity (q) – 8 – 7% Nope.
18. Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% Yes, Alan has Sophia as his mentor.
1. End of the World (s) – 3 – 3% Nope.
2. War (s) – 20 – 18% In the past.
3. Anti-war (s) –2 – 2% Nope.
4. Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% Yes, time travel.
5. Totalitarian (s) – 1e, 8 – 8% Nope.
6. Horror (s) – 15 – 13% Not really.
7. Children (s) – 24 – 21% Small if at all.
8. Historical (s) – 19 – 17% Yes, this is the main point of the novel.
9. School (s) – 11 – 10% Not really.
10. Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% Nope.
11. Allegory (s) – 10 – 9% Nope.
12. Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% Nope.
13. Prison (s) – 2 – 2% Yes, Alan and Sophia are imprisoned in the world of Athens 399 BC.
1. Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% Not really.
The Second Mission was my first published novel, and it was partner published with Xulon. I’m not sure I would do that again. The main reason I did it was that I was recommended to take one of my good and completed novels that would likely not get published and partner publish with that kind of press. The reason I wouldn’t likely do it again, is that my regular publisher was interested in the novel. I still think it would be hard to get published by a regular press the reason is its very unusual contents.
In addition to the fictional story, which is very entertaining, The Second Mission includes modern translations of the five final Socratic dialogs and a couple of Greek plays from the time. I did the translations, and I think I did a much better job at getting the content and meaning form the Greek as well as putting the dialogs in context of the times and place. This makes the novel both very interesting historically and from an entertainment point of view.
A couple of universities wanted to use the novel as an initial teaching guide and textbook for their beginning philosophy classes. I thought that would be a perfect use for the novel. This way new students could get the last Socratic Dialogs in context and an entertaining wrapper. Plus, the professor could just point to the historical times related in the novel to show the students what the world of Socrates was like.
In any case, the novel has languished for a while. It’s available for purchase. I recommend it to my classes, although I haven’t taught a philosophy class based on it yet. That’s what I should do, teach a philosophy and Greek history class and make it the text book—ha ha. That’s what most professors do.
The Second Mission is a really fun and entertaining read. It also includes the Socratic Dialogs, but in format you will find very entertaining. Instead of like a regular book of the Socratic Dialogs, these are integrated seamlessly into the novel. In other words, as the dialog happens, I just made it into a normal modern dialog. I didn’t hurt the historicity or meaning of the dialogs, I just made them modern. This is the best way to read them.
With The Second Mission, you get a full on fun novel with a full on translation of the Socratic Dialogs plus a couple of plays.
Would I write another novel like The Second Mission? Probably not, but then again, if I get this kind of idea and inspiration, I will.
Next we’ll look at Sister of Light.
In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot and theme, and apply this to our writing.
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.
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic