Writing – part xx431 Writing a Novel, Rejection Plots

2 March 2021, Writing – part xx431 Writing a Novel, Rejection Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

We evaluated the “overall” plot types.  It’s time to look at more specific plot types.  The first is the quality plot.  Here’s the list from the classics.

Quality (q)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the quality plot:

Quality(q) – These are plots based on a personal or character quality.

Rejection plots usually are rejected love plots.  These are as common as romance plots especially in Victorian Era novels.  The calling card for the Victorian Era and earlier is “blood will out.”  What this means is that the Victorians and earlier in British society were a strongly class based.  Their class was originally based on nobility and an inherited aristocracy.  That slowly changed in the Victorian Era and just before to a class based on money.  The wealthy and the noble had their own special class based on birth and wealth.  In this class based society, as long as the members of the lower classes kept to themselves and stayed out of the sight of the wealthy and noble, the world was perfect.  What you actually had was a stratified society in the wealthy and the noble classes.  In other words, the knights couldn’t interact with the barons and the barons couldn’t interact with the counts and so on.  In the same way, those who were wealthy due to banking or medicine or the church were considered in their own little class groups, and they each considered themselves in a class above those who earned their money through commerce, sales, farming, or any other hard working field. 

Class was everything in this society and you read novel after novel where the star crossed lovers either rejected their chosen love because they were in a lower class even if they were much wealthier.  In one novel. The daughter of a failed banker rejected the proposal of a wealthy clothier.  The clothier was barely considered capable of enough manners to enter the banker’s home in spite of the fact the clothier had graduated from Oxford.  Class was a cancer on the Victorian culture and society.  The small sparks of rebellion a the time were just that tiny sparks, and not any fires.

We see the rejected love and rejection plot all over the place.  It’s actually pretty distressing.  However, that doesn’t mean this plot doesn’t have legs.  The rejection and rejected love plot is used all the time in the Orient not usually based on stratified class but based on other factors such as poverty, incompatibility, manners, occupation, and all.  You might ask what’s the difference?

The difference is that the Victorians were a purely stratified society where most Oriental cultures do have some class structures but not completely to the same degree.  Let me try to explain.  I have an American friend who married a Japanese woman.  Her family is made up of farmers in Japan.  The husband had to promise to come to Japan and run the farm after the death of the woman’s father.  Many Japanese men would never make such a promise, not just because of class but because of lifestyle.  In a Japanese novel or manga, this would be a delicious circumstance.  The woman or the man might initially reject love and marriage because the man must run the farm.  This is pretty typical of the Oriental class rejection circumstance.  It gets even more interesting. 

One common theme in Oriental literature is the medicine or doctor family and the child who doesn’t want to follow in the parent’s footsteps.  This is so common, it is almost cliché.  This is a rejection theme, and one that would work well in western writing.  The rejection plot doesn’t have to be just love—it can be almost anything.

I don’t think I’ve written a rejection plot—oh, yes I have.  My Ancient Light novels include a few with rejected love themes.  The rejection is based not in class but in danger or risk.  There is also one based in immorality.  The novels with these plots are very entertaining.  I hope to get them accepted and published in the future. 

The rejection plot is a great plot to use in the modern era.  It can be set up in many different ways.  I recommend considering it as a supporting plot.  It is mainly a supporting plot in the classics.  Dump the class separation, but even in classless societies, there can be class considerations and rejection just as the Oriental examples show.   

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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Writing – part xx430 Writing a Novel, Adultery Plots as a Quality

1 March 2021, Writing – part xx430 Writing a Novel, Adultery Plots as a Quality

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

We evaluated the “overall” plot types.  It’s time to look at more specific plot types.  The first is the quality plot.  Here’s the list from the classics.

Quality (q)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the quality plot:

Quality(q) – These are plots based on a personal or character quality.

Is adultery an achievement or a quality?  I’m not into adultery plots.  I find them personally repugnant and the novels that incorporate them to be uninteresting.  The problem is what you have to do with these plots.

No matter whether it is achievement or quality, you really have only two choices with an adultery plot.  First, you can try to justify the protagonist in their adultery.  This is like trying to justify murder or any other crime.  Authors do it all the time.  Murder might have some degree of justification such as manslaughter or killing in self-defense, but then it isn’t murder anymore.  Adultery, on the other hand, is usually an active and mutually agreed sin and moral failing.  It takes two to tango, as they say. 

The second is the Anna Karenina method.  In this you acknowledge the protagonist’s moral failings and just make it part of the novel.  This makes your protagonist a vile person.  My heroes aren’t adulterers.  At least not admitted ones.  Let’s look at this in more depth.

Justifying the actions of your protagonist is always a great plan—I’m just not into justifying immorality and especially this type of immorality.  I will note that for many crimes and especially questionable crimes, the justification trail can be a great way to go.  Take a look at We the Living.  The protagonist engages in a sexual relationship to gain favor, position, and deflect attention in the Soviet state.  This is a completely moral justification because it reduces evil and protects the protagonist and others.  If you can justify an amoral action or actions in this way, go for it. 

In fact, I’ll be candid.  If you have developed this type of situation and justification, you might have an excellent plot and novel on your hands.  I’m not for justifying evil, but I write a lot about intelligence operations.  These can be by their nature immoral from one standpoint.  From the Rabbinic view I gave, they might not be at all.  The Rabbinic view is that if an action adds sin or evil into the world, it is immoral or sinful.  Thus it is moral to bear false witness to protect life.  Under certain circumstances, it could be moral to commit adultery to protect life.  It is definitely moral to kill in self-defense or to protect life.  These are very difficult moral circumstances and the types of moral arguments and ideas that produce entertaining plots and novels. 

I can state very clearly, I like the approach of We the Living to this very difficult concept of human morality.  I don’t like the Anna Karenina approach.  One shows a human being trying to overcome immorality and forced into it.  The other shows a disregard for morality and a disdain for human decency.       

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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Writing – part xx429 Writing a Novel, Reason Plots

28 February 2021, Writing – part xx429 Writing a Novel, Reason Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

We evaluated the “overall” plot types.  It’s time to look at more specific plot types.  The first is the quality plot.  Here’s the list from the classics.

Quality (q)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the quality plot:

Quality(q) – These are plots based on a personal or character quality.

I forgot to cover the reason plot and because this is one of the best possible plots to use I think I should do a go-back and cover it.  The reason plot is basically using reasoning to resolve either the telic flaw or any other problem in the storyline. 

Basically, this means the resolution of a mystery, a secret, or a discovery.  The reason plot is using logic and reason to determine a resolution or a solution.  It is like Sherlock Holms using inductive and deductive reasoning. This what makes it so easy and so difficult.

This is difficult only from the standpoint of the end result—it’s easy from the standpoint of the writer.  The writer creates the setting and the environment of the development of the problem and the solution.  What this means is that a writer, like Arthur Doyle, can produce a perfectly impossible looking problem with a beautiful reasoned solution. 

Here’s what we do as writers. We develop an impossible problem but at the same time create a perfectly reasoned solution.  The reason we can do this is because we as writers control every part of the situation and the solution.  I’m not writing about a deus ex machina (a god machine), I’m writing about creating a solution where none appears to exist. 

This is the point of creating an impossible appearing problem—for example, the crime in a sealed room.  The author controls everything.  When the author creates a problem such as the crime in a sealed room, the author should have already resolved the problem before even writing the first word.  For example, in my novel Azure Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.  I have a mystery where a murder occurs in a sealed room.  The murder appears to be committed by a vampire.   The body was in a locked room.  There appears to be fang marks on his neck.  There was fog in the room.  There’s more, but the point is my protagonist resolves the problem.  I had already planned the reasoned resolution of the crime and that’s what my protagonist applies.  This is how you provide a reasoned resolution to your plots. 

The reasoned plot or reason plot is a nearly perfect way to develop a wonderful Romantic plotted novel.  With a little planning, these can be easily developed.

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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Writing – part xx428 Writing a Novel, Quality Plots

27 February 2021, Writing – part xx428 Writing a Novel, Quality Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

We evaluated the “overall” plot types.  It’s time to look at more specific plot types.  The first is the quality plot.  Here’s the list from the classics.

Quality (q)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the quality plot:

Quality(q) – These are plots based on a personal or character quality.

The first quality plot is messiah.  I’m not in favor of writing messiah plots, but these have become popular in the modern era.  I think they might peter out in the future.  We might as well look at them.

One of the first novels with a messiah plot was Dune.  The messiah was secular and religious, but the religion was secular.  Most messiahs save souls, but science fiction messiahs and magic messiahs have saved lives and protected people.

The messiah plot comes from the superhero plot.  There are no classics with superhero plots and few with messiah plots.  A messiah who doesn’t save souls is a superhero.  A superhero is a kind of god as is a messiah.  This is the ultimate problem with the messiah plot—we are not writing about human beings anymore.  Whether your messiah is a superhero or a saver of souls, they are gods.  I am not really interested in people’s opinions about gods, but gods have become the modern currency in movies and comic books, not to mention Young Adult writing. 

The god you are likely most familiar with is Harry Potty.  Yes, Harry Potty and his friends are like gods and goddesses.  Hate to break it to you, but powers like theirs, hidden in plain sight, abilities outside of human capability defines a god not a human.  This was the entire purpose of the breeding program in Dune to produce the messiah.  We aren’t exactly sure what the Dune messiah is supposed to do, but run the universe and the church are two of note.

There is a way to write about a messiah protagonist or character without moving into the absurd.  Now, I do think Dune is a worthwhile classic and novel.  It provides one means, an epic and once a century means of producing a piece of literature—that’s why it is a classic.  Harry Potty, for all its sales, is just a superhero tome.  I’ve written a novel with a messiah plot.  It’s called Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.

Essie is a parallel construction plotted novel.  In it, Essie, the Aos Si is presented as a godlike being who is the messiah for the Fae.  She isn’t a human messiah at all.  I think this is one means to develop a messiah and stay outside of the superhero or the human god sphere.  That’s not to say I don’t like to write about gods and goddesses in my novels—I’m just careful to separate them from the idea of a messiah.  In fact, as C.S. Lewis notes, the moment you bring the supernatural into a novel, you have touched the “God” box.  I’m extrapolating from his writing. 

C.S. Lewis notes that the moment an author brings up the supernatural, they are bringing up God.  Whether they realize it or not, you can’t have the supernatural without God.  This is what the author of Harry Potty really seems to miss—the powers of the magic users, where do they come from?  The obviously aren’t part of our world.  They are not internal to the structure of the universe.  They must either come from within the universe (natural) or from outside the physical universe (supernatural).  If they come from outside the physical universe, they must come from a god or gods.  C.S. Lewis would ask the author, where is any discussion of God or gods in Harry Potty?  There is none, but we have supernatural powers and a messiah.  What am I supposed to get from that?    

The messiah plot is a very specialized plot.  I don’t recommend using it, but it does have a place in writing.  Based on the popularity of Harry Potty a very lucrative place.

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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Writing – part xx427 Writing a Novel, Secrets Plots

26 February 2021, Writing – part xx427 Writing a Novel, Secrets Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change. 

Change is what it is all about.  You can turn each of the achievement plots into a change plot.  This means they each can be a redemption plot.  What this means is it’s all about the protagonist?  We need a protagonist who needs to change.  I recommend and the classics recommend you need a zero.  The best protagonist is one who starts at a zero point. 

Secret based plots are where it’s at.  Just look at them discovery, mystery, and secrets are statistically found in almost every classic.  The reason they aren’t in every classic is we saw a progression of development in the novel.  That development happened to include secrets. 

The real mystery novel didn’t get to us until The Moonstone although secrets and discovery predated that.  I think that the entire idea of revelation in a journalistic style is what hampered the development of mysteries in the first place.  If you are trying to reveal it all in the life of the protagonist, there isn’t much room for mystery or secrets.  However, as we have discovered in modern literature, secrets are everything. 

I’ve written about this before, and it is a subject worth writing about again.  There are three types of secrets.  Secrets held from all—readers and characters.  These are mysteries.  Mysteries are great.  There are secrets the protagonist holds but no one else.  These are secrets.  They are meant to be revealed.  There are secrets ready to be discovered.  These are happenstance and called discoveries.  The best secrets are those of the protagonist and slowly meted out to the reader, others, and the world.  Not to say mysteries aren’t great, but a mystery is both a plot and a genre.  A secret is just a plot.  You can use secrets everywhere—I do.

Thus, our protagonist starts with a wonderful secret.  Another character perhaps the protagonist’s helper gains knowledge of this secret—along with the reader.  Thus we have a secret held close by another character and the reader.  This bonds the protagonist, the other character and the reader in a closed pact.  This is a beautiful way of building suspension of disbelief.  It may be the most powerful method of writing any novel.

In my novels Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer and Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, the protagonists, Lilly and Azure Rose have wonderful secrets.  These secrets are slowly discovered by their protagonist’s helpers.  They are still secret from the world, but the readers, protagonists, and protagonist’s helpers share them.  These secrets and the potential revelation of them drive the novel.  I should write, they drive the entertainment and expectation in the novel.  The readers know how the protagonist will likely act to protect their secrets. 

I especially like the secrets of Azure Rose.  They are defining secrets that affect many people in Britain, the British government, and ultimately their lives.  This isn’t an “end of the world” novel, but a novel about secrets outside of the normal human view.  These secrets are shared by a slowly growing group as Azure and her protagonist’s helper are required to get more and more help.  This expanding role of secrets makes them powerful.

At first they are known by only a few.  As each new character and the reader are drawn into the closed group, there is an expectation of action, information, and excitement.  You can also tell that a big reveal can significantly affect the entertainment in a novel.  I used this powerfully in Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon where in the Ecclesiastical court Aksinya is revealed to be a Romanov Princess much to the chagrin of her accusers.  She still loses. 

Secrets are the most powerful tools the author has these are creative elements and setting elements.   They are also or should be plot elements.  Use them extensively.

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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Writing – part xx426 Writing a Novel, Crime and Guilt Plots

25 February 2021, Writing – part xx426 Writing a Novel, Crime and Guilt Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change. 

Change is what it is all about.  You can turn each of the achievement plots into a change plot.  This means they each can be a redemption plot.  What this means is it’s all about the protagonist?  We need a protagonist who needs to change.  I recommend and the classics recommend you need a zero.  The best protagonist is one who starts at a zero point. 

I’m not a fan of crime or guilt plots, but I think there is a lot of possibility in this type of plot.  The adultery plot is based in an immorality.  Likewise, the crime of guilt plot is based in an immorality.  In most cases, the reader doesn’t want to like an immoral or unethical protagonist.  With adultery, a woman and adultery isn’t viewed the same as a man in adultery.  In fact, you find a bunch of classics where the woman protagonist is an adulterer, but zero where a man is.  You have the same problem with crime and guilt.

Most of the time, the crime or guilt protagonist looks like Crime and Punishment.  Most readers hate this protagonist.  What is there to like?  He is a thieving murderer.  He lies, murders, steals, and is an all-around nasty person.  No one likes him.  This is not the model for a positive guilt and crime plot.  Now a great crime and guilt plot is found in Les Miserables.  This is a wonderful novel about a criminal who is redeemed.  In Les Miserables we are introduced to a haunted man and a compassionate priest.  The conversion and redemption of Jean is not quick or immediate.  It takes time and effort, but when he is redeemed, we have a nearly perfect Romantic protagonist.  This is the correct mold for this type of novel.

Take your protagonist and either start him or her at a criminal zero.  I’d suggest not making him or her a professional criminal or a habitual criminal.  He or she should be an intentional criminal but one who doubts or questions his or her criminality.  Then have them commit a crime, not murder or rape (although I did use a character in this manner), theft or cheating might be better.  The crime needs to be able to be forgiven or paid back.  Murder and rape can’t be paid back.  Have the mentor or redeemer know and find the crime and deny the crime.  This opens the door for redemption—at least it did in Les Miserables

Here is an example.  How about the protagonist assaults and robs a person because he is hungry.  The robber was captured by the police with the assaulted person’s wallet. When confronted the robber is about to confess, but the one who was beaten and robbed claims they fell in the street, and the robber picked up their wallet.  The assaulted hands a large bill to the robber.  This leads to other redeeming circumstances.  In the end the robber pays back the one he assaulted five times.  The end is that the robber has changed and helps others to change.  This is basically very similar to the plots in Les Miserables.

So, I think the crime and guilt plot can be a very good one to use, but the author needs to use it cautiously.

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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Writing – part xx425 Writing a Novel, Adultery Plots

24 February 2021, Writing – part xx425 Writing a Novel, Adultery Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change. 

Change is what it is all about.  You can turn each of the achievement plots into a change plot.  This means they each can be a redemption plot.  What this means is it’s all about the protagonist?  We need a protagonist who needs to change.  I recommend and the classics recommend you need a zero.  The best protagonist is one who starts at a zero point. 

Adultery isn’t my favorite plot type.  In fact, I haven’t written an adultery plot in any of my novels—not that I can remember.  It’s not that I only write moral plots with no bad people, but I do have a significant problem with adultery.  Adultery, next to murder, may be the most personal and horrific sin humans can contemplate and enact.  Murder can be completely cold blooded, and in the modern era can be completely impersonal.  Adultery, on the other hand, is always personal and close.

I don’t like adultery as a plot for this reason, but this reason makes it the most personal of all the crime and guilt plots.  The problem in the modern era is that adultery has lost its luster as a crime and as a sin.  In fact, in the minds of some, adultery is no sin at all.  Many of the greatest emotional and life changing events of the Victorian Era are like nothing in the modern era.  This is too bad.  I do like that “blood will out” is basically dead except for in history, but I think it is a terrible thing that sexual sins have become like nothing.  In addition, action movies are turning murder and mayhem into nothing.  This is a travesty. 

You can still use adultery in this era, and you can still use guilt, crime, and sin.  To use them effectively, you need to set the circumstances such that they are crimes and sins of consequence.  The best example of how to accomplish this can be found in Rebecca.  The psychological circumstances and the world of the protagonist in Rebecca transcend the novel and the times.  I don’t mean for you to try to write a novel where the protagonist is nameless and the focus of an attempt to be like a dead person.  Rather, I mean for you to set the circumstances of the crime or sin such that your readers accept it as you wish it to be.  If this sounds difficult, this is why I don’t like to write about crimes and about adultery.  I’d rather have a great mystery or secret with discovery and some romance.  I’d rather not have an anti-hero with adultery, crime, and all the trappings—not from my protagonist.

It is pretty easy to write from the protagonist’s standpoint about adultery and crime.  That puts a face on it.  On the other hand, as we saw in many of the classics, the protagonist committed the adultery.  Usually there was no redemption or correction.  I would like to see that.  The protagonist as an adulterer or a criminal who seeks and achieves redemption.  That would be a wonderful novel.  We saw in the classics that this is not a plot set in that entire list.  This is a plot set with greater difficulty than we might imagine.  The set upon protagonist against whom crimes have been committed or the protagonist fighting crime is one thing.  The protagonist enwrapped in crime and who repents is something else entirely.  Perhaps you can think of an example in the classic—I’d like to, but I’m not sure there is one.  We can look at this in more detail, next.        

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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Writing – part xx424 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Romance

23 February 2021, Writing – part xx424 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Romance

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change. 

Change is what it is all about.  You can turn each of the achievement plots into a change plot.  This means they each can be a redemption plot.  What this means is it’s all about the protagonist?  We need a protagonist who needs to change.  I recommend and the classics recommend you need a zero.  The best protagonist is one who starts at a zero point. 

What about the romance plot?  Can you have romance and redemption—you bettcha.  Remember, redemption means the protagonist must change to achieve the telic flaw resolution.  Now, I love the romance plot as a subplot or a parallel plot.  This is how I write novels.  I’m not really a “romance” writer as much as a writer who happens to include romance in my novels.  As I’ve written, romance should be some part of every modern novel written for adults. 

Romance is a large part of the classics.  It is an even larger part of most popular novels.  As I noted, if the protagonist must change to achieve the romance resolution, then that can result in redemption.  Generally, the romance plot can only support a physical or external redemption.  The internal redemption is a little more problematic.  However, it is very possible to have a protagonist make an internal change to achieve romance.  Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a really entertaining couple of novels called The Mucker and The Return of the Mucker.  The mucker was a violent man who learned to be a good human for love and romance.  It is a very entertaining novel and a neat idea.  The mucker must make an internal change to win his love. 

I have written novels along this line too.  As I noted, I like the romance to be part of the novel, but not the focus of the novel.  In other words, the telic flaw is never that the protagonist needs a man or a woman.  This is kind of a problem in modern literature.

In Victorian Era novels, it is not unusual for the woman or the man to require a spouse for many social and cultural reasons.  In many cases, romance and marriage is a survival function and not just a choice.  Today, it is possible to have the need for romance and marriage in the modern world.  You can see this in Oriental literature as opposed to Western literature.  I think the idea of necessary romance and marriage is a neat idea that can produce a very powerful novel, but as I noted, I like to have other telic flaws where romance and marriage might be a part of the solution rather than the only solution.

In my novels Warrior of Darkness and Warrior of Light, romance is not necessarily required for the telic flaw resolution of the novel, but romance is wrapped deeply in the plot.  The telic flaw for Warrior of Light is the rescue of Sveta and Klava’s parents.  The telic flaw of Warrior of Darkness is the rescue of Klava’s lover, Niul.  In Warrior of Light Sveta is in love with Daniel Long.  Love, sex, and marriage won’t help with the rescue, but romance certainly gets in her way while Daniel provides protection and support.  On the other hand, in Warrior of Darkness, Niul is the reason for most of Klava’s problems.  Still romance won’t resolve Klava’s problems.  Klava’s problems are due to Niul, but the resolution isn’t romance, it’s rescue for him too. 

As I wrote, I love novels where romance is a plot and part of the whole, but not the whole.  As you can see, the reason isn’t romance, but the protection of people or others.  The focus of the novel is protection and rescue, but romance is a beautiful part of it.  The other side of romance is adultery.  Perhaps we should look at this next.   

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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Writing – part xx423 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Change

22 February 2021, Writing – part xx423 Writing a Novel, Protagonist Change

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change. 

Change is what it is all about.  You can turn each of the achievement plots into a change plot.  This means they each can be a redemption plot.  What this means is it’s all about the protagonist.  We need a protagonist who needs to change.  I recommend and the classics recommend you need a zero.  The best protagonist is one who starts at a zero point. 

What will be the zero point of our protagonist?  Perhaps he or she will be a young person who lives in an abusive household and sleeps in a closet under the stairs.  Perhaps it could be a young person whose father dies leaving him or her penniless in a foreign boarding school.  Perhaps it could be the step daughter who is sent to a home for girls where she is starved and barely clothed.  Perhaps it could be a young person who is preparing for war and goes to boot camp.  Perhaps it could be a young person who is an orphan in the poor house.  All of these come from classics, can you guess who they are?

We need a zero state.  Either start your protagonist at zero or bring them to zero.  Then there is change.  You might say, well, I intend to change my protagonist from zero to hero—that’s the change.  Really, we have many more options than this, just look at the achievement plots we can use.

We see the mystery or detective plot as one of the most used achievement plots.  The mystery or detective plot doesn’t lend itself directly to the idea of change in the protagonist.  The resolution of the mystery or a crime does relate to change, but not necessarily to the change of the protagonist.  The change is in the world of the novel, but not necessarily in the protagonist.  However, the change in the protagonist might aid or allow the mystery or the crime to be solved. 

For example, the protagonist might need to study how to be a detective, or the protagonist might need to join the police force or go through the police academy.  The revenge or vengeance plot requires that someone else change to resolve the telic flaw.  It might also require the protagonist make a change depending on the protagonist and the point of the vengeance.

In Jack Vance’s Star King novels, the protagonist lost everything except his Uncle (zero) and was trained (changed) to be able to take a universe sized vengeance against the criminals who destroyed his family and community.  The vengeance achievement plot is a very popular plot and well worth contemplating for any novel.  I have included this type of plot in some of my novels.  It can be a very powerful plot.  The vengeance plot lends itself well to redemption and to resolution of a telic flaw.  For example, Batman became the caped crusader to revenge his parents.  He changed to the Batman for the purpose of that revenge.  The revenge provided a means of redemption for him.  Then there is the romance plot. 

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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Writing – part xx422 Writing a Novel, Redemption Plots

21 February 2021, Writing – part xx422 Writing a Novel, Redemption Plots

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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Blue%2BRose%2BCover%2Bproposal.jpg


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:

  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.

  1. Meeting between the protagonist and the antagonist or the protagonist’s helper
  2. Action point in the plot
  3. Buildup to an exciting scene
  4. 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.

  1. Read novels.
  2. Fill your mind with good stuff—basically the stuff you want to write about.
  3. Figure out what will build ideas in your mind and what will kill ideas in your mind.
  4. Study.
  5. Teach.
  6. Make the catharsis.
  7. Write.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. The telic flaw determines the plot.
  3. The telic flaw determines the theme.
  4. The telic flaw and the protagonist determines the initial scene.
  5. The protagonist and the telic flaw determines the initial setting.
  6. Plot examples from great classic plots.
  7. Plot examples from mediocre classic plots.
  8. Plot examples from my novels.
  9. Creativity and the telic flaw and plots.
  10. 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.

Here is the list of classics that everyone should read.  What I want to do is evaluate this list for the plots.

This is the plan.  Let’s look at each novel and try to pull out the plot types, the telic flaw, and the theme of the novel. The ultimate point is we can glean plot ideas and types to add to our list.  Part of this evaluation, we can try to identify the zero and the hero of the protagonist.  All this might help us define plots and perhaps help us to develop plots for our own novels.  This is kind of like looking at art as an artist and figuring out what makes a picture successful.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Dandelion Wine – Ray Bradbury – Best modern novel in English.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible – Most important book to understand Western culture.

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 We The Living – Ayn Rand

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Dune – Frank Herbert

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – better to see as plays

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 The Cadwal Chronicles – Jack Vance

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Green Pearl Novels – Jack Vance

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 Starship Troopers – Robert Heinlein

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma -Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

37 The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu

38 The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

39 The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 Dracula – Bram Stoker

43 Til We All Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

44 Le Morte D’Arthur – Thomas Malory

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

51 What Katy Did – Sarah Chauncey Woolsey under her pen name Susan Coolidge

52 A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett

53 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

56 Kim – Rudyard Kipling

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 Beowulf – Unknown

60 The Odyssey – Homer

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins

64 The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Robinson Caruso – Daniel Defoe

69 The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes

73 Heidi – Johanna Spyri

74 Hans Brinker – Mary Mapes Dodge

75Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Inferno – Dante

77 The Big Sky Country – Arlo Guthrie

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 The Black Arrow – Robert Louis Stevenson

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

83 The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

84 The Miser – George Elliot

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemmingway

87 Tarzan – Edger Rice Burroughs

88 The Death of Socrates – Plato

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 Huckleberry Fin – Mark Twain

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

96 Matilda – Roald Dahl

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 The Canterbury Tales – Geoffrey Chaucer

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

101 The Once and Future King – T.H. White

102 The Deerslayer – James Fenimore Cooper

103 The Black Book of Communism – Various

104 Ben Hur – Lew Wallace

105 The Robe – Lloyd C. Douglas

106 The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

107 The Histories – Herodotus

108 Lives – Plutarch

109 The Call of the Wild – Jack London

110 Stand on Zanzibar – John Brunner

111 The Shockwave Rider – John Brunner

112 The Aeneid – Virgil

This is what I did.  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. 


Here’s the list of plots from the 112 classics in literature. 

1.      Redemption – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%  

2.      Detective or mystery – 56, 1e – 51%

3.      Messiah – 10 – 9%

4.      End of the World – 3 – 3%

5.      War – 20 – 18%

6.      Anti-war –2 – 2%

7.      Revenge or vengeance –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46%

8.      Revelation –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

9.      Zero to hero – 29 – 26%

10.  Romance –1ie, 41 – 37%

11.  Achievement – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

12.  Article – 1e, 46 – 42%

13.  Travel –1e, 62 – 56%

14.  Coming of age –1ei, 25 – 23%

15.  Progress of technology – 6 – 5%

16.  Discovery – 3ie, 57 – 54%

17.  Rejected love (rejection) – 1ei, 21 – 20%

18.  Miscommunication – 8 – 7%

19.  Love triangle – 14 – 12%

20.  Betrayal – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43%

21.  Totalitarian – 1e, 8 – 8%

22.  Blood will out or fate –1i, 1e, 26 – 25%

23.  Psychological –1i, 45 – 41%

24.  Horror – 15 – 13%

25.  Magic – 8 – 7%

26.  Mistaken identity – 18 – 16%

27.  Money – 2e, 26 – 25%

28.  Spoiled child – 7 – 6%

29.  Children – 24 – 21%

30.  Historical – 19 – 17%

31.  Legal – 5 – 4%

32.  Adultery – 18 – 16%

33.  Illness – 1e, 19 – 18%

34.  School – 11 – 10%

35.  Self-discovery – 3i, 12 – 13%

36.  Guilt or Crime – 32 – 29%

37.  Anti-hero – 6 – 5%

38.  Immorality – 3i, 8 – 10%

39.  Proselytizing – 4 – 4%

40.  Satire – 10 – 9%

41.  Reason – 10, 1ie – 10%

42.  Escape – 1ie, 23 – 21%

43.  Knowledge or Skill – 26 – 23%

44.  Camaraderie – 19 – 17%

45.  Parallel – 4 – 4%

46.  Allegory – 10 – 9%

47.  Curse – 4 – 4%

48.  Insanity – 8 – 7%

49.  Fantasy world – 5 – 4%

50.  Mentor – 12 – 11%

51.  Prison – 2 – 2%

52.  Secrets – 21 – 19%

We have a list of all the major plots from this list of classics in literature.  The question is what can we do with it?  This is the first step in evaluating our results.  I took a percentage of the results based on the number of classics. 

Modern writing is all about the Romantic—both Romantic protagonists and Romantic plots.  This is where we are going and this is the focus of modern entertaining literature. 

In the end, we can see there are just a few baseline plots that are characteristics of most classics.  These are the revelation, achievement, and redemption plots.  When I write these are baseline, I mean that they are overall plots that might also have a different plotline or other plots directly supporting them.  Here’s what I mean exactly about each of these plots:

Redemption:  the protagonist must make an internal or external change to resolve the telic flaw. This is the major style of most great modern plots.

Revelation:  the novel reveals portions of the life, experiences, and ideas of the protagonist in a cohesive and serial fashion from the initial scene to the climax and telic flaw resolution.

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I evaluated the list of plots 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.

All of the plots we looked at fall into one of these five.  Let’s do that:

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49%

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60%

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73%

Achievement (a)

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%

Quality (q)

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%

Setting (s)

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%

Item (i)

1.     Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42%

We defined the overall types of plots.  Almost every novel falls under the redemption, revelation, and/or achievement plots.  A novel can contain all three of these overall plots.  I’ve also stated that all comedy plots can be called zero to hero.  This is still true.  I could have placed zero to hero as an overall plot, but I left it under the achievement overall plot.  What’s interesting is that in our evaluation of the classics, only 26% of their plots included a specific zero to hero plot.  Part of the reason is the movement of literature from the Victorian to the Romantic. 

With this, let’s look at the achievement plots.  Notice that the redemption and revelation overall plots don’t really have other identified subplots.  This really isn’t true.  In actuality, there are numerous subplots or plots that can be identified as revelation or redemption, but they aren’t as strongly identifiable as the achievement plot.  We’ll look at the both the redemption and the revelation plot again.  Let’s move to achievement.

Achievement (a)

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%

I’ll repeat my definition of the achievement plot:

Achievement:  the novel is characterized by a goal that the protagonist must achieve to resolve the telic flaw. 

I’m all into redemption plots.  These are plots where the protagonist must change to achieve the goals of the plot, and specifically to resolve the telic fault of the novel (that’s the goal of the plot).  What makes redemption plots so powerful is their entertainment value, but you might ask, what makes them so entertaining?  This is an important question because it relates indirectly to all plots.  If we can figure out what makes one plot more entertaining than another, then we can determine what we should be aiming for as authors.  Let’s look at the redemption plot in terms of the achievement plot.

Perhaps the best way to start is to look back at what the reader wants.  I won’t go through all the proofs and definitions again about readers, but just as a review.  Readers believe they are intellectuals.  They love to read.  They love to study at least that which is entertaining to them.  They believe that intellectualism, reading, and study will solve any problem.  I’m taking the ideas of readers to the core, so don’t castigate me.  I know this is only a broad characterization, but I think if you look at it, this is really true.  Readers don’t represent so much the real world as the world of reading and literature.  What appeals the best is to stick with this world.  Don’t knock it, this is a much better and more logical world than that of screenplays and movies—there nothing is really logical or rational.

The characteristics of readers is why the Romantic protagonist who has unexpected and unappreciated skills is such a powerful character.  Readers all want to believe that their unexpected and unappreciated skills could also save the world or at least resolve the next telic flaw.  When a protagonist discovers his or her unexpected and or unappreciated skill, molds and shapes it, then uses it to resolve the telic flaw, this is the greatest type of adventure and therefore the greatest type of plot.  Notice, this kind of plot requires change.

The zero to hero, self-discovery, and coming of age plots all require the protagonist to discover his or her unexpected and unappreciated skill, develop it, and then use it.  The outcome in every case is powerful for the reader.  Readers want to make the journey of self-discovery through novels.  They want to find themselves in coming of age.  And, they really really really want to become a hero—at least one who reads books. 

This concept of change and the protagonist is a great place to start with any novel.  The achievement plots exist to provide this wrapping so the protagonist can achieve the telic flaw resolution as a result of their change.  Let’s see how we can use this idea.

In the end, we can figure out what makes a work have a great plot, and apply this to our writing.     

Let’s start with the idea of an internal and external telic flaw.  Then let’s provide it a wrapper.  The wrapper is 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.    

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

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