15 August 2020, Writing – part xx232 Writing a Novel, Protagonists Plots and Theme Nikita Protania
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
Shadowed Vale, is currently not published. The protagonist is Nikita Protania. Shadowed is the forth novel in the Ghost Ship Chronicle novels. Nikita Protania is another excellent example of how a protagonist defines the telic flaw, plot, and theme.
Shadowed Vale is the continuing saga of the Protiana Family of the Family Trading Vessels. The Family Traders are a confederation of space traders who live on spaceships and ply the universe for trade. That is the setting. The protagonist is even more interesting.
Nikita Protania is one of my best pathos developing characters and a protagonist. She is introduced in Regia Anglorum. I should mention that each of the novels is named after a space ship. The space ship of the name is the primary setting and the primary ship family and Family Trader Unit in that novel. Thus Shadowed Vale is the space ship of greatest importance in the novel Shadowed Vale. Nikita Protania was discovered as a homeless and feral child on her home planet by Den and Natana Protania. They adopted Nikita and gave her their last name. Dean and Natana are the command pair of the Regia Anglorum, thus the name of the previous novel.
In Shadowed Vale, the life and education of Nikita Protania continue. Nikita Protania is a synthesist. Her specialty is putting disparate pieces of information together to form conclusions and a cohesive whole. She is also a telepath. The Family Traders have a long history of telepathy in certain branches of their family. Den and Natana are very powerful telepaths as is Nikita Protania. Usually the telepaths in the Family Traders are used to help those coping with mental issues like psychiatrists in our society. Den, Natana, and Nikita Protania have taken telepathy to a new level.
Nikita Protania has been using her skills to help her friends, and she has one special friend, Alex. Alex and Nikita have an interesting relationship. Alex is in love with Nikita. He would do almost anything for her. Nikita due to her background and childhood is wary of men, sex, and human expressions of love. She has her own problems caused by the environment she lived in. In spite of that Nikita and Alex collaborate on building and inventing telepathic computer equipment for the Human Galactic Federation and the Family Traders. Their devices and information have become lucrative. This is where the telic flaw begins. Alex and Nikita work together and collaborate in education and training in telepathic computer inventions and are asked to hold an educational conference for a week on one of the planets on their ship’s trade route. At the same time, an criminal organization that uses and works with telepathic inventions both wants to kidnap Alex and Nikita and has been taking Family Trader ships captive for the purpose of disrupting the balance of political power in the Human Galactic Federation. That’s the basics, but I think you can see the telic flaw.
Alex and Nikita along with Nikita’s younger sister are kidnapped at the end of Alexa and Nikita’s conference. The telic flaw is that Nikita and Alex must work together intimately to resolve their kidnap problem and also to find the captured Family Trader Ships with their crews. The ultimate telic flaw is Nikita’s issues with men and her fit in the Family Traders. The plot revolves around the problem of finding the Family Trader Space Ships and becoming unkidnapped. The theme is really about love and companionship, but in science fiction themes are just that themes, the importance is the plot and the telic flaw resolution.
Let’s look at Nikita Protania as a Romantic Protagonist. Nikita Protania is no kidding an independent, individualistic, hero of the highest caliber. The novel previous to this sets her in this place, but she is a real hero’s hero. Nikita Protania isn’t from the common ilk, but she is a zero when found and builds to hero or to the level she was supposed to be in the first place. Unlike a Victorian protagonist, Nikita Protania has to work hard to achieve. This goes to the discovery of skills and this novel is definitely a skills discovery, development, and enhancement novel.
Alex and Nikita Protania are both very educated and their education plays strongly in the novel. There is both education and the experience of education on the Family Trader Ships. The inner world of the protagonist is a very important part of the novel. Nikita Protania’s issues are the major telic flaw problem and the resolution basically leads to her success. This is a very exciting adventure novel.
The rest is just not very pertinent to science fiction. You can have the idealization of nature in science fiction, Ray Bradbury does it all the time, but in this hard science fiction, there is no real need. There are some urban to rural and celebration of nature events in the novel, but it’s not a characteristic of the protagonist. The idealization of women and children is obvious in the novel, but there are no supernatural or mythological elements. Unless you count telepathy as supernatural. There are no historical elements except science fiction ones from my other science fiction novels. Finally, the emphasis on individual experience of the sublime. I think this is a very important element in any modern novel. It’s really lacking in some, but the idea of the protagonist finding his or her place in society and in his or her universe needs to be the focus of all modern literature. This place can be from occupation and skills based to mental and health based. It can be spiritually and redemptive based. For Nikita Protania it is redemptive as in finding and accepting love and acceptance as well as spiritual in finding her place in her society and ship.
There is the telic flaw, plot, and the theme in a single character. Nikita Protania defines the novel which she was written for. This is the second novel where she appears as the protagonist. In both her role is similar while the telic flaw resolution and the plots are significantly different. We will look at this when we get to the next Nikita Protania novel.
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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