Writing – part xx533 Writing a Novel, Turning the Telic Flaw into Plots, Romance

12 June 2021, Writing – part xx533 Writing a Novel, Turning the Telic Flaw into Plots, 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%

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.       

If we have a protagonist, we have a telic flaw.  In fact, we should have an internal and an external telic flaw.  We want to take the telic flaw and turn it into an overall plot and plots. 

In looking at the classics and most specifically, the plots in the classics, it became obvious that every novel contains more than one plot.  In fact, all novels contain many plots that support the telic flaw resolution.  This was unexpected for me.  I just presumed that each novel just had a plot, but evaluation of plots in a novel showed us this just wasn’t true.  What is true is there should be only one telic flaw in a novel and the various plots all work together to resolve the telic flaw.  We also saw that there can be an internal and external telic flaw.  These are usually resolved in the same climax.

I showed and charted the various plots we find in the first Harry Potty novel.  These are listed below.  All of these plot types and plots result in the resolution of the telic flaw of the first Harry Potty novel.

In Harry Potty you have these plots:  

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% – yeap, Harry is a messiah.

2.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% – yeap, Longshanks gets betrayed and that turns the success of Griffindor.

3.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% – yeap, Harry was born to be the messiah.

4.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7% – yeap, it’s all about magic.

5.     Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% – yeap, with his friends.

6.     Curse (q) – 4 – 4% – yeap, the mark and his power over Voldermort.

7.     Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% – kinda, you get this more in the other novels, but Harry has his mentors throughout.

Setting (s)

1.     War (s) – 20 – 18% – yeap, Voldermort is at war with the rest of the wizard world.

2.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% – yeap, some travel to Hogswart and around.

3.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13% – kinda, it’s low grade, but supposed to excite.

4.     Children (s) – 24 – 21% – obviously

5.     School (s) – 11 – 10% – duh

6.     Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% – yeap, with the real world.  This is a reflected worldview.

7.     Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% – yeap, there ain’t no real magic out there.

Item (i)

Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% – yeap, the broom, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror

Here’s the question for us as authors.  If we have a protagonist with his or her telic flaw (the telic flaw of the novel) can we plot shop to help write and improve our novel?  You’d think the answer should be a resounding yes.  The actual answer is a resounding meh.  Most of the time, the protagonist and the setting determines large portions of the plots.  This is really important to understand.  Let’s continue from romance.

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

So, if you want to use the romance plot, and I recommend you do, just get your couple together in some fashion to share more than the weather.  I suggest a protagonist’s helper with long and intimate conversations about how to resolve the telic flaw.  This is what I provide in my writing.  Here is an example from Azure Rose: Enchantment and the Detective:

Azure headed down the hallway doors opened onto parlors, offices, and other rooms.  She led him back to the right.  There lay similar places for entertainment and entertaining.  They returned to the central staircase.  She stopped, “Upstairs are bedrooms and parlors.  There are many others in the wings.  Originally, more than one branch of the family could live in respectable seclusion.  Now, there is only me and my father.  As you know already, he has his own accommodations.”

Lachlann sat at the head of the stairs that led down to the ballroom.  He grasped Azure’s hand and pulled her down beside him.  She sat listlessly, but not too close.

Lachlann asked, “How can we get it back into your hands?”

She leaned back, “I told you my plans.”

“How well are they working?”

She turned her head away, “I’ve saved perhaps a half million pounds.  With proper investing, I suspect I have about twenty years to go.”

“Do you have proper investing or advice?”

“No.  Not a wit.  I have not yet achieved majority in the eyes of the Crown.”

“You said you are nineteen.  Majority is legally eighteen.”

Azure still didn’t look at him, “I hold vast wealth according to the Crown.  That wealth was won in ways not common in knowledge or acceptance.  Plus, not a pence in taxes was paid on it.  If I brought it to a bank, I would be immediately be accused of theft or worse.  The state would confiscate it as property in relation to the Wishart estate–property that should have been turned over by my father after his trial.  In addition, your mother described my accumulation of wealth from the Fae as despicable.  In reality, I was simply taking my due as allowed by the Book of the Fae.”  She put her chin on her hands still without looking at him, “I have started some savings from my work with Scotland Yard, but that is nothing compared to my activities as the Keeper of the Book.”

“What form is most of this wealth?”

“You saw some of it already with the selkies.  I typically receive jewels and ancient gold and silver.  There is also Fae glamour… I used some today,” she laughed.  “If I were to try to sell the gold, silver, or jewels, the officials would ask: where did this come from?  And what am I to say?  The Fae gave it to me.  If I told them I found it–they would ask, where?  Either question would be impossible for me to answer.  If I said on some property–they would claim that it belonged to the owner of that property.  Worse, if I claimed I found it on my estate, they would demand it for the Crown.”

“You are in a pickle.”

“I thought about melting it down, but that would destroy history, and how could I explain that amount of gold and silver bullion.  The jewels are worse.”

“They are worth much more as they are and not simply as gold and silver.”

“You see my problem?”

“Yes.  I do understand the problem.  What about selling it outside of the country?”

Azure sighed, “You obviously don’t know British laws governing antiquities.  I don’t wish to go to jail.  Plus, moving that amount of money into the country is problematic.”

Lachlann sat up, “So let me get this straight.  You have tremendous riches for a lady of nineteen, but those riches are not usable by you.  How do you feed yourself and keep up appearances?”

Azure let out a bitter laugh, “Because of my work for the Crown, I am allowed to expend funds from the exchequer.  They are relatively liberal, but still well controlled—those funds can only be used to directly support my work for the Crown.  I hold a scholarship to Wycombe Abbey.  The Headmistress helps me make ends meet.  She gave me a golfing scholarship and allowed me some funds as the student body president.  Otherwise, I’m slightly destitute.  Sorry to break it to you—you thought I was a woman of means.  I’m just a poor girl who makes spending money by betting on golf.”

Lachlann assumed a position similar to hers, “The only people who might understand your dilemma are my mother and father and the Queen.”

“Your mother finds me despicable.”

“What about the Queen?”

“I have not been presented, and who would present the daughter of a disgraced noble.”

“You surely have connections.  How else do you have contact with the Crown?”

“I follow a precedence that the Keepers of the Book have followed for generations.  My contacts in government are directly through the House of Lords and the Exchequer.  I provide my reports to the Queen’s executive secretary.  They are signed by the Leader of the House of Lords, and my funds are approved by the Head of the Exchequer.  I provide a monthly summary of my actions on behalf of the Fae and my accounts to the Queen through her secretary.  Otherwise, my contacts are through the royal stewards.”

“What if you provided an accounting of your remuneration from the Fae in your accounts and requested exchange or reimbursement from the Crown?”

Azure still didn’t look at him.  Her neck flushed, “To be frank, I’m afraid the Queen would be of the same opinion as your mother—she would think I am despicable.  She might take away my rank and title, then where would I be?”

“In my estimation, the Queen is your only hope, and you should simply be honest with her.  She surely can’t have any complaints about your handling of the office of Lord Chancellor of the Book.”

Azure hung her head, “I have heard none.  If she was displeased, she would certainly say something.”

“I’m sure she would.  Can’t you request an audience?  That is a right of the nobility.  I would escort you.”

Azure stood, “Perhaps I shall ask for an audience, but it will have to be after the beginning of the year.  This is the season for the Queen to make her official visits and foreign tours.”

Lachlann grasped her hand, “You are just equivocating.  The Queen doesn’t travel much outside of England now and her visits certainly don’t take that much of her time.”

Azure’s lip and cheek trembled, “I’m not ready for that type of confrontation with her at the moment.  I haven’t even been presented.”

Lachlann didn’t let go of her hand.  He stood, “For a woman of so many identities, you are strangely ambivalent about this simple matter.  The first is that ladies have not been presented to the queen since 1958.  I know because my sisters and mother speak about it on occasion—they still feel slighted in some way.”

Azure tried to pull her hand out of his, but he didn’t let go, “I am not ambivalent. I’m not.”  She stopped, “Are you calling me a liar?”

“Then make an appointment for presentation and for an audience.  The audience is a right even if this presentation thing is beyond my understanding.”

Her lip continued to tremble, “I have no standing with her.”

“You are the Lord Chancellor of the Book.  Surely she will listen to you.”

Azure looked down and squeezed her eyes shut, “I am so afraid of what she might say to me or do to me.”

“The Lady Azure Rose Wishart that I love is no coward.  She is strong and intelligent.”

Azure ripped her hand from his, “Then perhaps you have fallen in love with the wrong lady, because I am afraid to lose my position and title.  I feel like I have so little hope in achieving my goals.  Sometimes I feel like everyone and everything stands against me in this world.”

Lachlann put his arms around her and pulled her close, “I want to stand with you Azure.”

She pushed against him, “Unhand me.”

“I shall not.  I shall be with you and hold on to you no matter the circumstances.”

She suddenly relaxed in his arms, “You will abandon me the moment I relent to your charms.”  She buried her face in his coat.

Lachlann held her closer.

Azure’s choked voice came from his breast, “Don’t move.  Don’t look at me.”

Lachlann started to say something.  She reached up her hand and pressed her fingers against his lips, “Don’t say a word.”

He held her for a long time.  Her shoulders shook and then she slowly stopped trembling.  She pushed him away and kept her head down.  She moved her hands to scrub her face under her eyes.

Lachlann handed her his handkerchief, “I shall not abandon you.”

She took his handkerchief and daubed her eye, “That is to be seen.  Take me home.”

“I shall not.  We shall dine together, and then I shall take you home.”

Azure still held her face down.  She pushed him, but not very hard, “I can’t go out in public looking or dressed like this.  You must take me home so I can change.”

This is romance.  Lachlann and Azure are in a growing romance relationship.  I write romance as opposed to romantic to ensure we don’t mix up the two.  Azure Rose: Enchantment and the Detective is indeed a romantic novel with a romantic protagonist and romantic plot.  Lachlann and Azure are in a romance relationship.

This isn’t about sex, but about intimacy.  If you notice, Azure isn’t fully in love with Lachlann, but she is being persuaded by him.  The means of displaying their growing intimacy is thorough their dialog.  The dialog is all about how to resolve Azure’s telic flaw.  Her telic flaw happens to be that her estate was taken by the Crown, and she wants it back.  This is her goal in the novel and what motivates her every action. 

Notice, that Lachlann makes this his goal as well.  This is how romance and intimacy works.  It’s all about the people and their relationship.  With this example, we can move on in Harry Potty.

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 xx532 Writing a Novel, still Turning the Telic Flaw into Plots

11 June 2021, Writing – part xx532 Writing a Novel, still Turning the Telic Flaw into 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%

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.       

If we have a protagonist, we have a telic flaw.  In fact, we should have an internal and an external telic flaw.  We want to take the telic flaw and turn it into an overall plot and plots. 

In looking at the classics and most specifically, the plots in the classics, it became obvious that every novel contains more than one plot.  In fact, all novels contain many plots that support the telic flaw resolution.  This was unexpected for me.  I just presumed that each novel just had a plot, but evaluation of plots in a novel showed us this just wasn’t true.  What is true is there should be only one telic flaw in a novel and the various plots all work together to resolve the telic flaw.  We also saw that there can be an internal and external telic flaw.  These are usually resolved in the same climax.

I showed and charted the various plots we find in the first Harry Potty novel.  These are listed below.  All of these plot types and plots result in the resolution of the telic flaw of the first Harry Potty novel.

In Harry Potty you have these plots:  

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% – yeap, Harry is a messiah.

2.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% – yeap, Longshanks gets betrayed and that turns the success of Griffindor.

3.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% – yeap, Harry was born to be the messiah.

4.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7% – yeap, it’s all about magic.

5.     Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% – yeap, with his friends.

6.     Curse (q) – 4 – 4% – yeap, the mark and his power over Voldermort.

7.     Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% – kinda, you get this more in the other novels, but Harry has his mentors throughout.

Setting (s)

1.     War (s) – 20 – 18% – yeap, Voldermort is at war with the rest of the wizard world.

2.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% – yeap, some travel to Hogswart and around.

3.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13% – kinda, it’s low grade, but supposed to excite.

4.     Children (s) – 24 – 21% – obviously

5.     School (s) – 11 – 10% – duh

6.     Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% – yeap, with the real world.  This is a reflected worldview.

7.     Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% – yeap, there ain’t no real magic out there.

Item (i)

Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% – yeap, the broom, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror

Here’s the question for us as authors.  If we have a protagonist with his or her telic flaw (the telic flaw of the novel) can we plot shop to help write and improve our novel?  You’d think the answer should be a resounding yes.  The actual answer is a resounding meh.  Most of the time, the protagonist and the setting determines large portions of the plots.  This is really important to understand.  Let’s continue from romance.

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Romance is really romance that is the relationship between two people concerning romantic love.  There is a real choice with romance as a plot.  I’ve recommended that every author include a romance plot in every novel written for adults and young adults.  We do have a problem with Harry.  Harry is a kid and not an adult of young adult—his audience is.  Although Harry is a kid’s novel, the readers are kids, adults, and young adults.  What this means is that the author should include romance in the novel.  In the first novel, there isn’t much, but these are kids, so don’t expect much.  As the novels progress and the age of the kids progress, the romance progresses.  Notice however, the romance in Harry Potty is about as robust as in many Victorian novels.  There is literally no intimacy between any of the characters in Harry Potty.  I don’t mean snogging—I mean real human intimacy and trust.  The difference between the “friend” relationship and the romance relationship is the degree of intimacy.  I already wrote not sexual intimacy, although romance can include sexual intimacy.  Only in the perversion of the modern world could the idea of friends with benefits be considered in any way moral or ethical.  Sex and intimacy are depths of human love and emotions, and it’s not all about sex.

This is ultimately the problem with modern romance.  Romance is about human intimacy.  It is about two people willing not just to give their lives for one another, both literally and figuratively, but two people willing to completely share their lives with each other.  The degree is the intimacy.  In the past authors and readers understood this. 

My problem with Harry Potty is the same with many modern novels, there is no real intimacy between the characters.  For example, we know Ron and Hermione are an item, but we never ever get the impression they have conversations beyond “good morning,” and “good night.”  Perhaps they study together or work together.  There are no indications they do.  If they studied, worked, and played together, they could be friends, but not lovers.  Lovers share their lives and the intimate details of their lives.  The same is true for Harry and Ginny.  We are supposed to believe and be entertained by their romance—but there is literally zero romance.  They are friends, but not intimate friends.  Perhaps they snog and perhaps they have sex, but they never share their lives or their desires with each other.  Or the author never shows us this part of their lives.

Here’s the point.  Romance in a novel is all about intimacy.  The characters trust each other enough to share their lives.  This is a special kind of trust and relationship.  That’s why it has been so important in human existence.  The next step in intimacy is marriage and children.  This means the commitment of a lifetime with and for another person.  That’s romance and that’s what our readers are expecting.  Is this important?

This is the most important point about romance.  What do your readers expect?  Pretty much no matter what you write, at least half and more of your readers are women.  This is just the way readers work out.  Many man are readers, but many more women are readers.  Half of humanity are women.  More than half of readers are women.  This is just the way the world is.

Almost all your women readers are steeped in the Victorian classics.  They read them when they were children and still love them.  Just look what happens when a Pride and Prejudice movie comes out or a Sense and Sensibility.  You can’t hold them back.  Even those who didn’t read the novel, love the novel.  The imagery in these very non-Romance novels is the intimacy of romance off the stage.  Every woman who loves these novels loves them because of the presumed intimacy of romance.  This is what they expect, and as your readers, this is what they expect.

Therefore, if you want romance, you must provide the depths of sexless intimacy.  All you have to really do is have the romance characters get together privately and discuss the problems they must resolve.  All Rowling needed to do was to have Harry and Ginny get together to support and encourage each other as their relationship developed.  Harry was more often with Ron than Ginny.  Sure friendship is great, but most friends are not in romance or intimate. 

So, if you want to use the romance plot, and I recommend you do, just get your couple together in some fashion to share more than the weather.  I suggest a protagonist’s helper with long and intimate conversations about how to resolve the telic flaw.  This is what I provide in my writing.  Perhaps I should give an example from Azure Rose: Enchantment and the Detective, 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 xx531 Writing a Novel, more Turning the Telic Flaw into Plots

10 June 2021, Writing – part xx531 Writing a Novel, more Turning the Telic Flaw into 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%

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.       

If we have a protagonist, we have a telic flaw.  In fact, we should have an internal and an external telic flaw.  We want to take the telic flaw and turn it into an overall plot and plots. 

In looking at the classics and most specifically, the plots in the classics, it became obvious that every novel contains more than one plot.  In fact, all novels contain many plots that support the telic flaw resolution.  This was unexpected for me.  I just presumed that each novel just had a plot, but evaluation of plots in a novel showed us this just wasn’t true.  What is true is there should be only one telic flaw in a novel and the various plots all work together to resolve the telic flaw.  We also saw that there can be an internal and external telic flaw.  These are usually resolved in the same climax.

I showed and charted the various plots we find in the first Harry Potty novel.  These are listed below.  All of these plot types and plots result in the resolution of the telic flaw of the first Harry Potty novel.

In Harry Potty you have these plots:  

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% – yeap, Harry is a messiah.

2.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% – yeap, Longshanks gets betrayed and that turns the success of Griffindor.

3.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% – yeap, Harry was born to be the messiah.

4.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7% – yeap, it’s all about magic.

5.     Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% – yeap, with his friends.

6.     Curse (q) – 4 – 4% – yeap, the mark and his power over Voldermort.

7.     Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% – kinda, you get this more in the other novels, but Harry has his mentors throughout.

Setting (s)

1.     War (s) – 20 – 18% – yeap, Voldermort is at war with the rest of the wizard world.

2.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% – yeap, some travel to Hogswart and around.

3.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13% – kinda, it’s low grade, but supposed to excite.

4.     Children (s) – 24 – 21% – obviously

5.     School (s) – 11 – 10% – duh

6.     Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% – yeap, with the real world.  This is a reflected worldview.

7.     Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% – yeap, there ain’t no real magic out there.

Item (i)

Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% – yeap, the broom, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror

Here’s the question for us as authors.  If we have a protagonist with his or her telic flaw (the telic flaw of the novel) can we plot shop to help write and improve our novel?  You’d think the answer should be a resounding yes.  The actual answer is a resounding meh.  Most of the time, the protagonist and the setting determines large portions of the plots.  This is really important to understand.  Let’s start at the top.

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

These are plots you should include in every modern novel.  These are indicators of a Romantic approach and protagonist, plus they are just entertaining.  Harry Potty at its basis is a coming-of-age novel.  This means the protagonist must change to achieve the telic flaw.  Thus, just by Harry being a child, we have a potential redemption plot.  This doesn’t mean the author couldn’t screw it up, but even the slowest author should be able to eke some redemption out of a coming-of-age plot and plot setup.  

Unless you are daft, you can’t miss the revelation plot either.  Part of the entire power in Rowling’s entire setting is the revelation of the setting.  She has an entire fantasy world parallel to the real one.  There is just no way you can give up this opportunity. 

Then there is the classic achievement plot.  I wouldn’t even start a novel without some degree of achievement in the telic flaw or the plot.  If you notice, the achievement plot is a direct reflection of the telic flaw while the redemption plot comes from the protagonist characteristics and the revelation comes out of the protagonist and the setting.  That’s pretty nifty for novel writing, but not so great if we are plot picking.  Let’s look at the second group.

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Now, we are getting into some choices.  Some are more obvious than others.  The first is detective or mystery.  In this case, we are mostly thinking of mysteries.  I’d almost say this is evident from the setting and the protagonist.  How in the world can you reveal a wizarding world without mysteries?  I’m sure you could, but I wouldn’t write a modern novel without mysteries and secrets.  Secrets is another plot type.  I’d almost say both plot types (secrets and mysteries) come out of the setting and the protagonist.  With a plain old kid, you might have to work to produce some mysteries or secrets, but with a magic kid whose parents were wacked by the antagonist, you can’t leave out either. 

Revenge or vengeance plots might leave us some latitude for choosing except Harry’s parent were wacked by the antagonist.  You can’t ever forget this.  In this case, again, the protagonist determines the required plots—just like the telic flaw.  I guess you could have reverse vengeance if Harry joined with the antagonist, but that would not be a comedy and Harry could not resolve the telic flaw. 

The zero to hero plot is a big must have.  You could leave this plot off, but that would also turn the novel into a tragedy, and it wouldn’t be entertaining.  If you think a million kids who want Harry to succeed would be happy with a non-hero, you are fooling yourself.  They might take matters into their own hands and you with it.  I’ve written many times before about the basic zero to hero plot.  It is the plot of the comedy.  You discard it or ignore it at your peril. 

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 xx530 Writing a Novel, Turning the Telic Flaw into Plots

9 June 2021, Writing – part xx530 Writing a Novel, Turning the Telic Flaw into 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%

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.       

If we have a protagonist, we have a telic flaw.  In fact, we should have an internal and an external telic flaw.  We want to take the telic flaw and turn it into an overall plot and plots. 

If we learned one thing in looking at the classics is that there is never just one plot in a novel.  This kind of startled me.  I’ve been thinking forever that there is just one plot in a novel.  Even writing novels didn’t really shoot home the actual truth that every novel includes multiple plots.  The sage author develops these multiple plots to resolve the telic flaw of the novel.

Now, I do know this for a fact.  There is only one internal and one external telic flaw.  These telic flaws are interrelated.  They must be interrelated.  Multiple plots resolve the telic flaw.  Let me see if I can give you a good and simple example of this.

Let’s look at Harry Potty.  This isn’t the most erudite example, but most people are familiar with him and his novels.  The telic flaw in the first novel is that Harry Potty must defeat Voldermort.  This is the external telic flaw in every Harry Potty novel.  Funny how the antagonist keeps coming back all the time.  So, the external telic flaw is that Harry Potty must defeat Voldermort.  The plot is how he accomplishes this.  Before we get to that, perhaps we should bring up the internal telic flaw.

In the first novel, the internal telic flaw is pretty weak, but there is one.  Harry Potty must learn to be a good sorcerer or magician or whatever he is.  This is a change plot and therefore a classical redemption plot.  The internal telic flaw is pretty weak, but Harry must achieve the learn to accomplish magic and so forth to resolve the external telic flaw.  We know that Harry really isn’t that great of a magician/sorcerer/whatever, but he can fly a broom and catch the filch or whatever.

What are the multiple plots?  In Harry Potty you have:  

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% – yeap, Harry is a messiah.

2.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% – yeap, Longshanks gets betrayed and that turns the success of Griffindor.

3.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% – yeap, Harry was born to be the messiah.

4.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7% – yeap, it’s all about magic.

5.     Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% – yeap, with his friends.

6.     Curse (q) – 4 – 4% – yeap, the mark and his power over Voldermort.

7.     Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% – kinda, you get this more in the other novels, but Harry has his mentors throughout.

Setting (s)

1.     War (s) – 20 – 18% – yeap, Voldermort is at war with the rest of the wizard world.

2.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% – yeap, some travel to Hogswart and around.

3.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13% – kinda, it’s low grade, but supposed to excite.

4.     Children (s) – 24 – 21% – obviously

5.     School (s) – 11 – 10% – duh

6.     Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% – yeap, with the real world.  This is a reflected worldview.

7.     Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% – yeap, there ain’t no real magic out there.

Item (i)

Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% – yeap, the broom, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror

Here’s the question for us as authors.  If we have a protagonist with his or her telic flaw (the telic flaw of the novel) can we plot shop to help write and improve our novel?  You’d think the answer should be a resounding yes.

I do want to point out some interesting connections between the plots and the protagonist (as well as settings).

Look at Harry Potty as a protagonist.  Whether Harry is that well developed a protagonist or not, I’ll leave to you.  I suspect most writers and informed readers would say not at all—that’s the reason we get all the worthless teenaged angst in the later novels.  That’s trying to layer some degree of character development on a protagonist with little to begin with.

Really, Harry doesn’t like study.  He doesn’t like books.  He doesn’t have any real insights about anything.  He’s supposed to be friendly, but he’s ultimately a jock who looks like a geek.  Does anyone else have a problem with this kind of character development? 

I mean, really, how far can you get with a protagonist who is a geek and doesn’t like books or study? I’ve warned you about this before. I see this kind of protagonist as a suicide protagonist.  Most lifelong readers just aren’t into jocks who look like geeks.  The only thing Harry really has going for him is the magic and fate.  These apparently are enough to create character development where little exists—they also define the plots.

Whoa, the protagonist defines the plots to this degree?  The answer is yes.  Just as the protagonist defines the telic flaw, likewise, many of the plots come directly out of the protagonist and the setting.  For example, take a look at magic as a characteristic of the protagonist and the setting.

Unlike many novels in the past, the author of Harry Potty has made a setting filled with magic and magicians. In the past, the magic and the magicians were few and far between.  This author normalized magic in the setting, and that drive many of the plots.  It gives you a magic plot for example.  In addition, Harry is a messiah—that generates a messiah plot.  He’s a kid in the first novel (and all the others really)—that gives you a children’s plot. 

If you look carefully, many if not all of the plots come directly out of the protagonist and the telic flaw.  There is still recourse to the plan I mentioned.  In other words, choosing plots.  However, even the choosing plots part gets a little iffy if you consider the need to develop a Romantic plot and Romantic protagonist.  Harry isn’t the greatest Romantic protagonist. He’s not bad.  The plot is pretty Romantic.  It could be better, but it does use reason, discovery, and skill to resolve, and it does appear impossible until the climax, where it becomes inevitable.  There is much more to this.   

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 xx529 Writing a Novel, Telic Flaw and Plots

8 June 2021, Writing – part xx529 Writing a Novel, Telic Flaw and 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%

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.       

If we have a protagonist, we have a telic flaw.  In fact, we should have an internal and an external telic flaw.  We want to take the telic flaw and turn it into an overall plot and plots. 

If we learned one thing in looking at the classics is that there is never just one plot in a novel.  This kind of startled me.  I’ve been thinking forever that there is just one plot in a novel.  Even writing novels didn’t really shoot home the actual truth that every novel includes multiple plots.  The sage author develops these multiple plots to resolve the telic flaw of the novel.

Now, I do know this for a fact.  There is only one internal and one external telic flaw.  These telic flaws are interrelated.  They must be interrelated.  Multiple plots resolve the telic flaw.  Let me see if I can give you a good and simple example of this.

Let’s look at Harry Potty.  This isn’t the most erudite example, but most people are familiar with him and his novels.  The telic flaw in the first novel is that Harry Potty must defeat Voldermort.  This is the external telic flaw in every Harry Potty novel.  Funny how the antagonist keeps coming back all the time.  So, the external telic flaw is that Harry Potty must defeat Voldermort.  The plot is how he accomplishes this.  Before we get to that, perhaps we should bring up the internal telic flaw.

In the first novel, the internal telic flaw is pretty weak, but there is one.  Harry Potty must learn to be a good sorcerer or magician or whatever he is.  This is a change plot and therefore a classical redemption plot.  The internal telic flaw is pretty weak, but Harry must achieve the learn to accomplish magic and so forth to resolve the external telic flaw.  We know that Harry really isn’t that great of a magician/sorcerer/whatever, but he can fly a broom and catch the filch or whatever.

What are the multiple plots?  In Harry Potty you have:  

Overall (o)

1.     Redemption (o) – 17i, 7e, 23ei, 8 – 49% – yeap, Harry must change and learn about wizarding or something.

2.     Revelation (o) –2e, 64, 1i – 60% – yeap, the whole wizarding world

3.     Achievement (o) – 16e, 19ei, 4i, 43 – 73% – yeap, Harry must defeat Voldermort.

Achievement (a)

1.     Detective or mystery (a) – 56, 1e – 51% – yeap, Harry has to solve some mysteries

2.     Revenge or vengeance (a) –3ie, 3e, 45 – 46% – yeap, presumed since Voldermort murdered Harry’s parents

3.     Zero to hero (a) – 29 – 26% – yeap, Harry is a hero from supposed zero (not a very good one)

4.     Romance (a) –1ie, 41 – 37% – yeap, very slight.

5.     Coming of age (a) –1ei, 25 – 23% – yeap, presumed.

6.     Discovery (a) – 3ie, 57 – 54% – yeap, all about magic.

7.     Self-discovery (a) – 3i, 12 – 13% – yeap, coming of age is self-discovery

8.     Reason (a) – 10, 1ie – 10% – yeap, the end climax is based in the use of magic, chess thinking, riding a broom, and figuring out what the philosopher’s stone can do.

9.     Knowledge or Skill (a) – 26 – 23% – yeap, that’s magic.

10.  Secrets (a) – 21 – 19% – yeap, everybody has a secret in the wizard world

Quality (q)

1.     Messiah (q) – 10 – 9% – yeap, Harry is a messiah.

2.     Betrayal (q) – 1i, 1ie, 46 – 43% – yeap, Longshanks gets betrayed and that turns the success of Griffindor.

3.     Blood will out or fate (q) –1i, 1e, 26 – 25% – yeap, Harry was born to be the messiah.

4.     Magic (q) – 8 – 7% – yeap, it’s all about magic.

5.     Camaraderie (q) – 19 – 17% – yeap, with his friends.

6.     Curse (q) – 4 – 4% – yeap, the mark and his power over Voldermort.

7.     Mentor (q) – 12 – 11% – kinda, you get this more in the other novels, but Harry has his mentors throughout.

Setting (s)

1.     War (s) – 20 – 18% – yeap, Voldermort is at war with the rest of the wizard world.

2.     Travel (s) –1e, 62 – 56% – yeap, some travel to Hogswart and around.

3.     Horror (s) – 15 – 13% – kinda, it’s low grade, but supposed to excite.

4.     Children (s) – 24 – 21% – obviously

5.     School (s) – 11 – 10% – duh

6.     Parallel (s) – 4 – 4% – yeap, with the real world.  This is a reflected worldview.

7.     Fantasy world (s) – 5 – 4% – yeap, there ain’t no real magic out there.

Item (i)

Article (i) – 1e, 46 – 42% – yeap, the broom, the philosopher’s stone, the mirror

Okay, I listed for you all the plots we identified and all the plots that go into Harry Potty, the first novel.  I can write there is one internal and one external telic flaw that the author must resolve in this novel.  There are multiple plots involved. 

Now, many of these plots come out of the protagonist and the setting.  They fit naturally into the framework the author has presented for the novel—that is the protagonist and the initial setting. 

The author could have gone through our list and chosen plots to interject into the novel.  Some of these plots might seem slightly foreign to the protagonist and the telic flaw.  I can assure you they are not.  Can an author walk down the list of plots and chose which ones to include and which not to include. Probably not, but an author who needs some plot turnover or a little more excitement sure can.  Let’s look at this a little deeper.

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 xx528 Writing a Novel, Final After the Big Reveal

7 June 2021, Writing – part xx528 Writing a Novel, Final After the Big Reveal

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%

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

Not every writer gets writer’s block.  I never get writer’s block.  I get tired of writing.  I sometimes want to change up my writing (write something different). I never run out of something to write.  How could that be?  Doesn’t everyone get writer’s block?  Only in the movies, and I would say only non-professional writers.

Here’s some ideas to help you prevent writer’s block.

1.     Nothing anyone writes the first time on paper (or ether) is worth reading, publishing, or anything else.

2.     You gotta write to learn to write well.

3.     If you don’t like it, dump it.

4.     If you are in over your head, just stop and regroup.

5.     These are all helpful ideas for getting your stuff together, but why don’t professionals have the problem of writer’s block?

Writing paragraphs may be the most powerful way to train up your writing skills.  None of the paragraphs I wrote as a seventh grader are worth reading now, but they sure helped me learn to write.  We are writing about training.

Every paragraph looks like this:

1.     Topic sentence

2.     Body based on the topic

3.     Conclusion and transition

Every paragraph looks like this except dialog paragraphs.  These are special paragraphs that are designed through the speaker rather than coherent outline. 

You must include tone and body language in the dialog, or the conversation will go awry for the reader.  There is more to dialog to make it sound correct to the reader.

I’m repeating in synopsis all my previous advice on writing dialog, but dialog is very important and most beginning (and some experienced) writers seem to have problems with it. 

So, we saw that dialog follows normal human conversational order, lets the dialog flow, uses contractions, doesn’t use direct address, expresses tone, body language, tags, and action in the dialog.  These are the most straight forward and best way to correct most dialog.  Then you need to study and practice.

Dialog doesn’t always drive to the “big talk.”  Or, perhaps I should let you decide how much of this is “big talk.”  What I want to show you as an example is sideways talk and secrets.  I am still in my novel Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.  This novel is filled with secrets and revelations.  This is a true protagonist revelation novel wrapped in a redemption plot.  I’m not sure how much of this I will show you, but for now, we will see the arrival and visit of Seasairdh and Claire.

Essie slept the day through.  She didn’t wake until the sun finally departed the guest parlor.  After the sun left the spot Essie finally migrated to, she sat up and yawned.  At Essie’s waking, Mrs. Lyons declared it was time for dinner.  They all walked to the Royal George to eat and then returned to the cottage.

Claire, for all her rest, could barely keep her eyes open.  Seasaìdh helped her bathe and go to bed. 

Mrs. Lyons made a late tea and served it in the front parlor.  Essie sipped her milk with a drop of tea.

Seasaìdh asked, “Well, Essie will you tell us what happened when you went to retrieve Claire?”

Essie shook her head.

Seasaìdh continued, “Just a little bit.  I saw you change into a wildcat.”

Essie smiled but didn’t look at her, “Perhaps that was your imagination.”

Seasaìdh sat back in astonishment.

Essie sipped her milk, “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t tell your sister what you saw.”

Seasaìdh sipped her tea.  Her mouth became suddenly too dry, “I will not tell her, but my sister has her ways of knowing things.”

Essie yawned, “I realize this, but if you don’t tell her directly, perhaps all will come right.”

Seasaìdh fiddled with her teaspoon, “I’m not certain if anything will be right…not now.”

Essie sighed, “I have set myself in opposition to your sister.  This is true, but I don’t desire any confrontation.  She has her place, the mantle of the land, and I have mine.”

Mrs. Lyons asked, “And just what is your place?”

Essie looked over her teacup, but not at anyone in particular, “I rule over certain courts in this land.  I reasserted my place over the Tylwyth Teg.  This was my right and responsibility.”

Seasaìdh choked, “Over the Welsh fae?”

Essie nodded.

Seasaìdh cleared her throat, “Over a fae court…that’s something.”

Mrs. Lyons spoke from her wingback chair, “I would also appreciate if you would keep this quiet Seasaìdh.”

Seasaìdh sat straight, “I will not say anything, but Claire may not be so accommodating.”

Mrs. Lyons put down her teacup, “Claire experienced a dream.  A wonderful dream, but a child’s dream.”

Seasaìdh sighed, “I will try my best, but don’t be surprised if Kathrin shows up on your doorstep.  She has been especially dedicated since she accepted her place.  I suspect the fae will tell her if no one else does.”

Essie grinned, “They will say nothing unless pressed.  They do not like to be ruled by such as me.”

Seasaìdh scratched her head, “Why not?”

“Because I am slow, and I am ugly.  They wish to be ruled by the intelligent and the poised.  They see me as an eyesore and an intruder, but the Dagda formed me for this purpose.”

Mrs. Lyons started, “I don’t think you are ugly or slow.”

“But I am.  What greater punishment could the Dagda propose than to place a creature such as I am over beings both proud and wild?  You would need a creature with little pride and as rough as the wilds they call their own.”

Seasaìdh pondered, “And you are such a creature?”

Essie drank the rest of her tea, “I am.”  She stretched, “I’m tired, and I wish to bathe.  Although I really don’t like water much, I’ve become accustomed to it.”

Mrs. Lyons stood, “Do you need help?”

Essie stood, “No, but thank you for everything Aunt Tilly.”

She left them and went to her room.  They heard the water in the bath begin to run.

Seasaìdh sighed, “What am I going to do?”

Mrs. Lyons picked up her teacup, “Perhaps nothing.  I will continue to guide Essie.  She is a wonderful being whatever and whoever she is.”

Seasaìdh nodded.  They both finished their tea, picked up the tea things, and went to bed.

Here I am giving a taste of the information the reader now has to Mrs. Lyons and Seasaidh.  What is exquisite about this kind of scene is that the readers know all.  Essie knows all, but she only reveals certain portions to the characters.

The readers know exactly what happened.  They might not know the why, but they know the what.  Essie gives a taste of the why, and this scene expresses it.  Then there is the real worldview.  Essie say it here:

Seasaìdh continued, “Just a little bit.  I saw you change into a wildcat.”

Essie smiled but didn’t look at her, “Perhaps that was your imagination.”

This is the real worldview and all our readers know it.  The reflected worldview is that the forests and Britain is filled with Fae beings.  If you see one, perhaps it is just your imagination.  Who else but one of these creatures might tell you this.  This is a great secret in the real world.  It is a secret and a mystery, but we ignore it in the real world—it is our imaginations.  The beauty of this statement and revelation should be evident.  Then Essie asks Seasaidh and Mrs. Lyons to keep her secrets.

The words secret and mystery don’t appear anywhere in the dialog, but they are there none-the-less.  Essie has secrets.  The readers have seen these secrets.  She wants the others to keep these secrets.  Essie knows Mrs. Lyons will keep her secrets.  She trusts Mrs. Lyons.  Seasaidh will also keep Essie’s secrets, but what the readers and Mrs. Lyons don’t know but Essie and Seasaidh know is that few things can be kept from Kathrin.  Perhaps a little about Kathrin is necessary.

Kathrin is Ceridwen.  She is the perfect girl, mother, grandmother.  She is like the most perfect mother in the world.  Haven’t you been surprised by what your mother could figure out just by looking at your and speaking to you?  The perfect mother knows exactly what is in your heart—or what is bothering you.  Seasaidh knows this. 

In my other novels about Kathrin, she can get the secrets out of someone simply by touching them.  This is one of her powers.  This is what Seasaidh is afraid of.  We shall perhaps see how this plays out in the novel. 

The big deal for this scene is to reveal just a little more about Essie from her own words.  The reader saw this.  This scene/sequel just reinforces this truth.  As I noted, readers love this kind of thing.  Not repetition, but explanation.  Good secrets have legs.  They never lack in the telling and he revealing.      

We will see how these play out.  This is what brings entertainment to a novel—mysteries and secrets.        

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 xx527 Writing a Novel, Still After the Big Reveal

6 June 2021, Writing – part xx527 Writing a Novel, Still After the Big Reveal

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%

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

Not every writer gets writer’s block.  I never get writer’s block.  I get tired of writing.  I sometimes want to change up my writing (write something different). I never run out of something to write.  How could that be?  Doesn’t everyone get writer’s block?  Only in the movies, and I would say only non-professional writers.

Here’s some ideas to help you prevent writer’s block.

1.     Nothing anyone writes the first time on paper (or ether) is worth reading, publishing, or anything else.

2.     You gotta write to learn to write well.

3.     If you don’t like it, dump it.

4.     If you are in over your head, just stop and regroup.

5.     These are all helpful ideas for getting your stuff together, but why don’t professionals have the problem of writer’s block?

Writing paragraphs may be the most powerful way to train up your writing skills.  None of the paragraphs I wrote as a seventh grader are worth reading now, but they sure helped me learn to write.  We are writing about training.

Every paragraph looks like this:

1.     Topic sentence

2.     Body based on the topic

3.     Conclusion and transition

Every paragraph looks like this except dialog paragraphs.  These are special paragraphs that are designed through the speaker rather than coherent outline. 

You must include tone and body language in the dialog, or the conversation will go awry for the reader.  There is more to dialog to make it sound correct to the reader.

I’m repeating in synopsis all my previous advice on writing dialog, but dialog is very important and most beginning (and some experienced) writers seem to have problems with it. 

So, we saw that dialog follows normal human conversational order, lets the dialog flow, uses contractions, doesn’t use direct address, expresses tone, body language, tags, and action in the dialog.  These are the most straight forward and best way to correct most dialog.  Then you need to study and practice.

Dialog doesn’t always drive to the “big talk.”  Or, perhaps I should let you decide how much of this is “big talk.”  What I want to show you as an example is sideways talk and secrets.  I am still in my novel Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.  This novel is filled with secrets and revelations.  This is a true protagonist revelation novel wrapped in a redemption plot.  I’m not sure how much of this I will show you, but for now, we will see the arrival and visit of Seasairdh and Claire.

When they finished, they all returned to the guest parlor.  Seasaìdh asked, “So what happened?”

Essie didn’t say anything.  She curled up on the rug in the middle of the floor.  In the wan early sunlight that blinked through the windows, she went to sleep.

Claire looked at her with unbelieving eyes, “Why is it morning?  I woke in the garden.  Did I sleep there?”

Mrs. Lyons and Seasaìdh didn’t know what to say.  Finally, Seasaìdh stated, “It’s Tuesday, Claire.”

Claire stared at her, “But I fell asleep on Sunday.”

The bell rang.  Mrs. Lyons stood, “I wasn’t expecting guests this early.”  She went to the front door.  She returned with Father and Mrs. Maddison. 

Mrs. Maddison glanced around the room at her eyes settled on Essie still asleep, “We missed Essie at her Monday lessons and came to see if everything was all right.”

Mrs. Lyons pointed to the chairs in the room, “Please sit down.  Would you like tea?”

The Father and Mrs. Maddison weren’t sure what to do.  They sat, and Mrs. Lyons went for the tea things.

Seasaìdh shrugged, “Essie is tired today.  We were all busy yesterday.”

Mrs. Lyons came in with the rest of the tea from breakfast.  As she poured, she remarked, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you.  We had a little…um…a little excitement yesterday, but all is well today.”  She didn’t explain any further.

They shared tea, but didn’t elucidate any further.  Mrs. Lyons saw them out with, “We’ll see you tomorrow.  I’m sorry we missed Essie’s lessons yesterday and today.”

Father Maddison returned, “Why don’t you let Essie spend the rest of the week with your friends.  We’ll pick back up next week.”

Mrs. Lyons held the door, “That’s a splendid idea.  Thank you for understanding.”

They walked to their automobile, and Mrs. Lyons closed the door.

When she returned to the guest parlor, Claire was speaking to Seasaìdh, “What happened?  Why did I lose an entire day?”

Seasaìdh asked, “What do you remember?”

Claire closed her eyes, “Essie had gone for tea.  We had been reading our book.  I felt sleepy and laid down on the stone.  I felt so comfortable there in the sunlight.  I dreamed that I was with the most beautiful people I had ever seen.  Their hair looked like the sunlight and their faces as pale as Essie’s.  They spoke a strange language.  The women wore nearly invisible gowns and the men old fashioned clothing.  They didn’t speak to me at all.”

Seasaìdh sounded breathless, “Did you see a black wildcat?”

“No, nothing like that.  I dreamed of a girl who looked like Essie, and who wore a gown like theirs.  Her hair was black and in long braids.  All the golden haired people bowed down to her.”

Seasaìdh glanced at Mrs. Lyons, “Well, Aunt Tilly.  It looks like the trouble may begin soon.”

Claire sat up, “Trouble?”

Mrs. Lyons sucked in her cheeks, “Perhaps no trouble.  Claire, you just slept a long time and experienced a wonderful dream.”

Claire’s face turned petulant, “It felt so real…  Why was Essie naked in the garden?  That was not polite at all.”

Mrs. Lyons took her hands, “Essie is learning.  She came to retrieve you from the garden.”

“Did I sleep there the entire time?   A whole day and night?”

Seasaìdh became evasive, “Perhaps you had a fae dream?”

“A fae dream,” Claire’s nose wrinkled up, “I don’t believe in such things.  Do you?”

Seasaìdh twisted up her lips, “I do know there are things we don’t fully understand in the world.  It is just like the Dagda.  I dunna fully understand, but I do know Him.”

Claire wondered aloud, “Strange things happen around Essie.”

Mrs. Lyons nodded, “Yes.  Strange but wonderful things.  When she wakes, why don’t you read to her again?”

Claire looked toward the garden, “In the garden?  Will I sleep and have dreams again?”

Mrs. Lyons smiled, “Perhaps you will, but I think Essie has taken care of these things on her own and I doubt it will happen again.”

Claire still looked longingly at the garden, “She said she had seen the fae…”

Mrs. Lyons picked up her book, “Perhaps you did too.”

Scenes and scenes and here is a great example of a scene closing.  This is what one of my author friends calls a sequel.  In this scene, we see very little explanation, but a completion of the scene.  In a true sequel, the protagonist reflects on his or her activities and plans the next step in the progress toward the current or overall goal of the novel. 

I’m really not into scenes and sequels used in this manner, but still it is a reasonable way to look at them.  In the case of this scene closure, the protagonist, Essie is asleep on the floor. The dialog is all to h benefit of the other characters and the entertainment of the readers. 

Our readers know what has gone on. Claire has no idea.  She has been asleep in a fae dream.  Mrs. Lyons and Seasaidh have no idea.  Only Essie (and the readers) know, and she isn’t telling. 

The point of this closure is to end the sequence of the scenes and more toward closure for this section of the novel.  There is still a bit more to this—that is the end of this sequence of scenes about Seasaidh and Claire.  I’ll show you the final part so you can see how this is ultimately closed.  My point from the beginning was to show how dialog is used to drive revelation and secrets.  I think I achieved my goal. 

In the end, the scene outline is a critical part of each piece of this example.  I should have brought this out with each transition and the movement to each scene. What I do want to point out is the kicker at the end of this scene, and I’ll mention the output of the scene.

First, the kicker for the scene is this:

Claire looked toward the garden, “In the garden?  Will I sleep and have dreams again?”

Mrs. Lyons smiled, “Perhaps you will, but I think Essie has taken care of these things on her own and I doubt it will happen again.”

Claire still looked longingly at the garden, “She said she had seen the fae…”

       Mrs. Lyons picked up her book, “Perhaps you did too.”

I, as the author, am characterizing this scene and the entire sequence of scenes with these simple statements.  What did Claire see and experience?  What did the readers see and experience?  Was it real or only illusion? 

I was real because the author wrote it down and described it all, but we know it was all imagination.  These are simply words on a page.  The readers turn them into pictures in their mind.  The author just provides the imagination and the words.  Was it all a dream?  The next scene might tell us more.  At this point, we see the output is that Claire is not sure, but it must have been a dream.  This is like many experiences we have in our dreams. Sometimes, we even ask ourselves—was that real or only a dream.

This is what I really love about secrets and mysteries in novels.  In this case, the reader has been shown an entirely different world than the first blush of Mrs. Lyons’ house and the village of Lyonshall.  There is something secret and unknown lurking in Mrs. Lyons’ garden and in the village.  The reader knows this.  Mrs. Lyons has an inkling.  Seasaidh is familiar with such things.  Claire is unbelieving even though she is a child. 

I really love this kind of uncertainty mixed with writing certainty.  It is real because it was imagined and written, but it really isn’t real at all—or is it?  “Perhaps you did, too.”

We will see how these play out.  This is what brings entertainment to a novel—mysteries and secrets. 

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 xx526 Writing a Novel, Then After the Big Reveal

5 June 2021, Writing – part xx526 Writing a Novel, Then After the Big Reveal

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%

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

Not every writer gets writer’s block.  I never get writer’s block.  I get tired of writing.  I sometimes want to change up my writing (write something different). I never run out of something to write.  How could that be?  Doesn’t everyone get writer’s block?  Only in the movies, and I would say only non-professional writers.

Here’s some ideas to help you prevent writer’s block.

1.     Nothing anyone writes the first time on paper (or ether) is worth reading, publishing, or anything else.

2.     You gotta write to learn to write well.

3.     If you don’t like it, dump it.

4.     If you are in over your head, just stop and regroup.

5.     These are all helpful ideas for getting your stuff together, but why don’t professionals have the problem of writer’s block?

Writing paragraphs may be the most powerful way to train up your writing skills.  None of the paragraphs I wrote as a seventh grader are worth reading now, but they sure helped me learn to write.  We are writing about training.

Every paragraph looks like this:

1.     Topic sentence

2.     Body based on the topic

3.     Conclusion and transition

Every paragraph looks like this except dialog paragraphs.  These are special paragraphs that are designed through the speaker rather than coherent outline. 

You must include tone and body language in the dialog, or the conversation will go awry for the reader.  There is more to dialog to make it sound correct to the reader.

I’m repeating in synopsis all my previous advice on writing dialog, but dialog is very important and most beginning (and some experienced) writers seem to have problems with it. 

So, we saw that dialog follows normal human conversational order, lets the dialog flow, uses contractions, doesn’t use direct address, expresses tone, body language, tags, and action in the dialog.  These are the most straight forward and best way to correct most dialog.  Then you need to study and practice.

Dialog doesn’t always drive to the “big talk.”  Or, perhaps I should let you decide how much of this is “big talk.”  What I want to show you as an example is sideways talk and secrets.  I am still in my novel Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.  This novel is filled with secrets and revelations.  This is a true protagonist revelation novel wrapped in a redemption plot.  I’m not sure how much of this I will show you, but for now, we will see the arrival and visit of Seasairdh and Claire.

Pryderi led Essie to a knoll near the lake.  It was the highest place in the vale.  The grass looked the greenest.  Cigfa and Rhiannon placed translucent cloaks on the ground.  Manawyadan and Pryderi brought platters of meat, a chalice of milk, and a woven plate of cheese to her.  They sat below her and served her.  The male fae who held the sleeping Claire sat behind Essie.  As the sun rose, Essie dined with them.  When the banquet ended, Essie began to sing again.  She sang another ancient song of the Tylwyth Teg.  Sighs rose around her.  Cigfa and Rhiannon lay on the ground their eyes closed, and their pointed ears pitched toward her. 

At the end of the song, Essie put out her hands, “I will speak a blessing on you my subjects of the Tylwyth Teg.  I will also grant any who wish a blessing from my hands—a blessing from the Dagda.”

Cigfa and Rhiannon’s eyes glistened.  With halting movements, they slowly came to their knees.  Cigfa stepped forward first, “I beg a pardon from you, Your Grace.”  She whispered to Essie so only her ears could hear.  Essie placed her hand on Cigfa’s golden hair.  Cifga grimaced, but bore the touch.  A bright light blossomed under Essie’s hand.  Cifga smiled and curtsied, then backed away.  Rhiannon came next and after her Manawyadan.  Essie heard their petitions, touched the tops of their heads, and they bowed or curtsied and backed away from her.  They all came then.  All of the Tylwyth Teg.  Finally as the sun came to near its zenith, Pryderi fab Pwyll came on his knees to her.  His whispered request was simple, “Your Grace, to lead the Tylwyth Teg properly and honorably.”

Essie granted his request and whispered back, “You did not lead them well before, Pryderi fab Pwyll, but the first shall be last and the last first.”  She smiled at him, and Pryderi fab Pwyll smiled back, but not directly in her eyes, “Yes, Your Grace.”

Essie stood, “I must return to my current abode.  You will attend, will you not?”

Pryderi fab Pwyll bowed deeply.

While he bowed, Essie took the crown from her head and placed it back on Pryderi’s.  She put out her arms.  Cigfa and Rhiannon moved to either side and untied and unbraided her hair.  They untied and grasped her gown.  Essie called out, “Bring the child back to the place you found her.  I will follow and I will watch, both to guard and to guide.  I will not embarrass you on your return, but I will be with you.  I will return when you need me and for the great festivals.  Watch for me.”

The Tylwyth Teg all bowed or curtsied.  Essie spoke the words under her breath, and her form changed from maiden to wildcat almost immediately.  Cigfa and Rhiannon still held the gown, while Essie moved like lightning across the open space and back into the forest.  She only waited a moment to see that they followed her instructions.  She knew they did not like to move during the day, but they began their trek and she paralleled them back through the day and then the night, as a procession carried Claire again to the garden next to Mrs. Lyons’ cottage.

They arrived just as the sun began to rise above the trees.  The fae who carried Claire laid her carefully on the stone at the center of the garden.  The rest of the fae fell back out of the garden.  Essie stood invisible in the shadows.  Only Pryderi remained.  Pryderi fab Pwyll bowed, “Your Grace, we await your return.”  He backed out of the garden, and Essie, a black wildcat moved forward to stand on four paws near the stone.  She changed in an instant and stood naked in the brightening light.  She removed the book from around her neck and the branch from her hair.

Claire sat up and yawned.  She rubbed her eyes then stared at Essie, “Dear Lord, Essie you’re starkers.  Put on something right away.”

Essie laughed.  Then she put out her hand.  Claire tentatively took it.  Essie led her out of the garden to the guest parlor.  Mrs. Lyons and Seasaìdh had not moved.  They snoozed on the chairs in the guest parlor.  When the door opened, they both sat up immediately.  Seasaìdh rubbed her eyes.  Mrs. Lyons leapt to her feet.  She went first to Essie and put her arms around her.  Her voice cracked, “You brought her back.”

Essie stood straight, but she fell into Mrs. Lyons’ arms, “I took my proper place again.”

Mrs. Lyons then gathered Claire in her arms.  Claire wasn’t sure what to do or say.  She stood uncomfortably next to the naked Essie and a little uncomfortable in Aunt Tilly’s embrace.  Seasaìdh laughed, “You are both back and fit as fiddles.  I think it’s time for breakfast.”

Essie’s stomach growled.

Seasaìdh brought Essie her dress and helped her put it back on.

Claire sounded disdainful, “She should really wear underclothing.”

Mrs. Lyons placated, “We are getting there.  There is no need to rush these things.”

Essie asked, “What is underclothing?”

Claire just stared. 

Mrs. Lyons clucked, “We shall discuss that later.  Essie, put away your things, and we shall make breakfast.”

Essie returned her book and the branch to the locked drawer in her room.  They went to the kitchen, and Mrs. Lyons and Essie cooked eggs and ham.  Essie licked the butter off her bread.

Now we know about Essie.  We don’t know all, but we know enough.  The readers are now in on the secret about just who Essie is.  Essie is the Aos Si. We now know a little more about the Aos Si. 

I’m not trying to make any kind of theological point about Essie.  The Aos Si applies to the Fae and not to humans.  The Aos Si is a creature who acts as an intermediary for the Fae and the Dagda.  Yes, there are some intentional parallels with Christianity and Christ.  Essie the Aos Si is not the Christ to the Fae.  Essie is the image of the actions of Christ to the Fae.  She is their sacrament and example of Christ to the Fae.  So, what does this have to do with the reader?

The first point for the reader is entertainment.  I hope the revelation about Essie is first of all entertaining.  Second, the revelation of Essie says something about the love of God and mercy of God.  One of my goals in my Enchantment novels is to present a being or a group of beings from a reflected worldview and show how they might find redemption.  Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si is obviously an enchantment novel.  It’s all about the redemption of the Fae.

In my other Enchantment novels, I look at the potential redemption of a vampire, a Greek goddess, a demihuman, a Celtic goddess, a sorceress who called a demon, and here the Fae.  The point of each of these novels is entertainment, but there is a human feature to each of them that answers an important human question.  If these creatures can be redeemed, why can’t I be redeemed?  To me this is a detail of entertainment.  As an author, I want to offer more to my readers than the immediate and ephemeral.  I want the entertainment to stick with them for a while. 

If I can provide my readers a source of thinking and ideas, then that is entertainment that well exceeds the life of the novel.  Further, I’d like to provide a complex and entertaining enough plot and theme that the reader will want to read and reread the novel.  This is what I hope the revelation of Essie does for my readers.  Essie is more about entertainment with ideas than entertainment without any purpose.  This is ultimately what I think great authors give to their readers—entertainment with some purpose in human understanding and knowledge attached.         

We will see how these play out.  This is what brings entertainment to a novel—mysteries and secrets.        

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 xx525 Writing a Novel, Still the Big Reveal

4 June 2021, Writing – part xx525 Writing a Novel, Still the Big Reveal

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%

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

Not every writer gets writer’s block.  I never get writer’s block.  I get tired of writing.  I sometimes want to change up my writing (write something different). I never run out of something to write.  How could that be?  Doesn’t everyone get writer’s block?  Only in the movies, and I would say only non-professional writers.

Here’s some ideas to help you prevent writer’s block.

1.     Nothing anyone writes the first time on paper (or ether) is worth reading, publishing, or anything else.

2.     You gotta write to learn to write well.

3.     If you don’t like it, dump it.

4.     If you are in over your head, just stop and regroup.

5.     These are all helpful ideas for getting your stuff together, but why don’t professionals have the problem of writer’s block?

Writing paragraphs may be the most powerful way to train up your writing skills.  None of the paragraphs I wrote as a seventh grader are worth reading now, but they sure helped me learn to write.  We are writing about training.

Every paragraph looks like this:

1.     Topic sentence

2.     Body based on the topic

3.     Conclusion and transition

Every paragraph looks like this except dialog paragraphs.  These are special paragraphs that are designed through the speaker rather than coherent outline. 

You must include tone and body language in the dialog, or the conversation will go awry for the reader.  There is more to dialog to make it sound correct to the reader.

I’m repeating in synopsis all my previous advice on writing dialog, but dialog is very important and most beginning (and some experienced) writers seem to have problems with it. 

So, we saw that dialog follows normal human conversational order, lets the dialog flow, uses contractions, doesn’t use direct address, expresses tone, body language, tags, and action in the dialog.  These are the most straight forward and best way to correct most dialog.  Then you need to study and practice.

Dialog doesn’t always drive to the “big talk.”  Or, perhaps I should let you decide how much of this is “big talk.”  What I want to show you as an example is sideways talk and secrets.  I am still in my novel Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.  This novel is filled with secrets and revelations.  This is a true protagonist revelation novel wrapped in a redemption plot.  I’m not sure how much of this I will show you, but for now, we will see the arrival and visit of Seasairdh and Claire.

Essie turned around slowly twice more to make certain they all saw her.  She spoke the language of the fae.  It sounded a bit rusty on her tongue, but she knew it, and she spoke it very sternly, “Listen to me.  I am the Aos Si, and I have come for a reckoning.”  The sunlight suddenly blazed full on the center of the meadow.  A rush of morning breeze rustled in the tops of the trees.  A bright light seemed to settle at the top of Essie’s head—like a tongue of dancing flames.

No one spoke.

Essie cried out, “Are you afraid?  You should be.  You took a human who is under my care.  Bring her immediately to me.”

Still she heard not a sound.

Essie stepped to the closest repast and kicked over the woven platters there.  She knocked over their clay cups and broke them against each other.  She tore apart the platters.  She gathered the pieces and the fae food and kicked them into the center.  She began to squat above them on the center of the knoll.

Moans went up.  A voice rang out of the mist, “Stop.  Don’t desecrate this place any further.”

Essie stood, “I have barely begun to desecrate it.  I have not loosed my power at all.  You have not showed me the honor I deserve.”

The voice filled with anguish, “Must we?”

“I demand it.  I am the Aos Si, and I demand you honor me as you are required.”

A sudden cry went up.  Angry voices surrounded her.

Essie stood silently.  She remained completely at ease.  She sat in her hip.  She didn’t attempt to hide her nakedness.  Essie yawned, “You might as well show yourselves.  I can detect you all anyway.  I know where you are, and I know who you are.  Pryderi fab Pwyll of the Tylwyth Teg show yourself.”

“Nay.  This not fitting.  We may not look upon you while you are…you are…”

“While I am not clothed?  Then bring me my robes and give me my proper greeting.  Have you been so long without my guidance that you can’t even remember your manners?”

Pryderi called out, “Cigfa bring the robe.”

A woman’s voice rose over the din, “The robe, my lord?”

Pryderi snarled, “Yes, the robe.  Bring it now or we will not be rid of it.”

Another man’s voice called out, “I thought you said this would bring the White Lady on her head and not this creature on ours.”

Essie growled, “Do it now, or I will ruin your secret place for ages to come.  You know I can do it.”

“Aye, I know this.  I didn’t think you would come.”

“Yet I am here, and waiting very impatiently.”

A woman of dazzling beauty with long golden hair appeared behind Essie.  She held a simple robe of nearly translucent material.  It looked as if it had been woven of spider webs.  Essie held out her hands and Cigfa placed it on Essie’s arms and wrapped it around her body.  Cifga did everything she could to not come into contact with Essie’s flesh.

Cigfa stood back and admired the robe on Essie, “There, it is placed.”

Essie stood still, “You must bind my hair.”

Cigfa wrung her hands, “But it is in your hair.”

“You must bind my hair—that is the proper order and step.”

Cigfa curtsied slightly.  Then she raised her head, “I didn’t mean to give you an obeisance…”

Essie raised her hands, “But you did, and that is right.”

Cigfa called, “Rhiannon come.  You must assist me.”

A woman’s voice rose in protest, “But to touch it…”

Cigfa cried out, “It is our duty.  We are bound to it.  Come or there won’t be an end to this.”

Another golden haired woman appeared out of the mist.  She was dressed in a translucent gown similar to the one Essie now wore.  Essie’s gown appeared pure white.  Cigfa’s was rose, and Rhiannon’s blue.  Cigfa and Rhiannon each took a ribbon of white material the color of Essie’s gown.  They stood on either side of Essie and, careful not to touch the branch in her black hair, they braided and tied her hair into two long braids.  They both stepped back and stood at either side of Essie.  They both bowed their heads, then quickly raised them.  They both blushed.

Essie put out her hands, “The next.  You must crown and welcome me.”

A man stepped out of the morning sunlit mist.  A crown of leaves in a complex pattern covered his golden hair.  He wore ancient riding clothing similar to the robes of the women but of a more substantial weave.  He took the crown from his head and gingerly placed it on Essie’s.  He was tall enough and she short enough that he didn’t need to reach far.

When he placed the crown on her head, he backed and bowed—it fit precisely along the edges of the odd stick in Essie’s hair.  He let out a groan as if some force compelled him.  Another man, dressed similarly, stepped from the mist.  He held a ceramic chalice in his hands.  He stepped forward as Pryderi fab Pwyll stepped back.  He was also tall.  Essie didn’t bend her head or neck as the man placed the chalice to her lips.  She drank deeply, then took the chalice from his hands. 

Essie raised the chalice, “This is blessed and all may partake.”  She handed the chalice back to Manawyadan.  Manawyadan carefully took the chalice without touching Essie’s hands.

Essie began to sing.  The sun suddenly rested in her hair again.  Her song sounded similar to the music she played for Mrs. Lyons and Claire and Seasaìdh.  It sounded like the organ music she played for Mrs. Maddison and Father Maddison.  She sang the morning song of the Tylwyth Teg—a song as old as the Welshlands and as old as the fae.  From everywhere, the fae appeared.  All those who fled when Essie entered the secret fell of the Tylwyth Teg came to stand around her and listen to her song.  It echoed around them filled with power.  The birds and insects who had been completely silent began to sing it with her.  A white bird descended from the sky and sat on the crown in Essie’s hair.  The fae did not sing.  They listened with their faces bowed and their heads uncovered.  When she finished.  The white bird disappeared, and a panoply of sound and lights appeared above her head for a moment.  Essie smiled, “He is pleased.”

All the fae who could kneel, knelt at Essie’s feet.  They all placed their heads below hers.

Pryderi fab Pwyll turned his face away, “He is pleased.”

Essie demanded, “Now bring me the child of man whom you stole from me.”

Pryderi rose and snapped his fingers, “She is here.”

A fae with great shining golden hair carried Claire forward.

Essie didn’t look at them or Claire, “Has she been harmed?”

Pryderi raised his hands, “We dare not harm her.  She sleeps.  She is the granddaughter of the White Lady.”

“She is also under my protection.  I did not take any revenge on you Pryderi fab Pwyll or on the Tylwyth Teg.  I could have.”

“Yes, yes.  I realize this.  I…we just didn’t expect you to come here yourself.”

“Did you think I would let the White Lady take her revenge on you as well?  I am sufficient a power to rule over you.  Didn’t you know this?”

Pryderi looked shamefaced, “We do not need your rule in this time.  The White Lady is sufficient.”

“Is that why you caged me and held me?”

“The White Lady demanded that we give her fealty when she took her place…when she accepted the mantle of the land.”

Essie glared at him, “Then you should know.  I have taken my place again as the ruler of the fae courts, and I will demand an accounting from you if you do anything like this again.”

Pryderi grimaced, “Yes, my lady.”

Essie’s voice turned slightly dangerous, “Only a my lady.  You already knelt to me.  Where are your manners, Pryderi fab Pwyll?”

Pryderi stuttered, “Yes, Your Grace.”  He put out his hand, “Your Grace, you will only be able to rule us as long as the White Lady gives you leave.”

“I was formed to hold and protect all of you.  The Dagda formed me for this purpose.  Do you not understand this?”

“The world is different now, Your Grace.”

“I realize this, perhaps more than you do.  I know you hate me because you are all beautiful and intelligent, and I am slow and, in your eyes, ugly.  I am the forest and the vales.  I am the meadows and the hills.  I have found my place.  I am sworn to it.  It is best then that you know your place, Pryderi.”  She raised her voice, “Do you all hear me Tylwyth Teg.  I am your sovereign.  I rule you directly under the hand of the Dagda.”

Pryderi seemed taken aback.  All the fae called out, “Under the Dagda.”

“Yes under the Dagda.  Did you not see the Hagios Pneuma and hear the voices of the angels?  I will forgive you the past as long as you obey me in the future.”

Pryderi took a deep breath, “Then if the White Lady makes demands on us, what shall we answer?”

Essie nodded, no obeisance, “I answer only to the Dagda.  You will answer to me.  If the White Lady asks, this should be your answer.”

Pryderi didn’t look very comfortable, “Yes, Your Grace.”

“Now, I will dine with you and bless you.  Bring me my just repast and show me to my place.”

We still don’t know all—we are being shown.  Or, I should write, I am showing you in a revelation about Essie.  The showing in dialog, action, and description.  The point of my examples is to show you the setup for a great secret reveal and the reveal.

Of particular note is that all these secrets were already known by the current players.  Essie knew, and the Fae knew.  The readers did not know, and our characters, Mrs. Lyons, Claire, and Seasaidh still don’t know.  This current reveal was set up to show the readers about Essie.

You might say, it’s about time.  We are not quite at the middle of the novel.  We have reached about the end of the first half when the readers get the big reveal about Essie.  I’ll give you the rest of this reveal tomorrow, but there is much to this revelation.

Most importantly, from this point on, the readers know a great secret about Essie.  This great secret isn’t shared by our other characters.  You could say in the real world of the novel, the real world still doesn’t know anything really about Essie—the readers do.

This is powerful.  The secret is known by Essie, the Fae, and the readers, but not by anyone else.  Not even the White Lady, Kathrin, knows about Essie to this degree.  We see this information passed between Essie and the Fae. 

Further, as I promised, we saw to some degree who Essie is and her importance in the scheme of things in the worldview of the novel.  Here’s a quote from above:

“I realize this, perhaps more than you do.  I know you hate me because you are all beautiful and intelligent, and I am slow and, in your eyes, ugly.  I am the forest and the vales.  I am the meadows and the hills.  I have found my place.  I am sworn to it.  It is best then that you know your place, Pryderi.”  She raised her voice, “Do you all hear me Tylwyth Teg.  I am your sovereign.  I rule you directly under the hand of the Dagda.”

This is why all the imagery around Essie.  The image of the Holy Spirit and of communion.  The imagery of Essie as lower than the Fae who were once angels, but who is their sovereign.  In this way, Essie becomes a kind of figure standing for the Fae (angels punished by God, the Dagda) as a savior to them.  She is not intended to be their savior as much as to represent the savior to them.  We shall see over and over how this is true for her.  Essie represents the savior to the Fae, not in being, but in her actions.  In this way, Essie becomes an allegory for the savior of humans.

Look at it this way.  There really are no Fae.  There really is no Aos Si.  These beings represent an allegory of the Dagda, the God in the lives of humans.  If you don’t like allegory, it is a parallel, and an intentional one.  This isn’t something I’m trying to make known, but a representation of the real world shown through the ideas of a reflected worldview.  And the ultimate point is to be entertaining.  This is entertaining to me.  It’s exactly what I look for in a novel and a storyline.  Plus, it is filled with secrets and revelation.

We will see how these play out.  This is what brings entertainment to a novel—mysteries and secrets.        

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 xx524 Writing a Novel, the Big Reveal

3 June 2021, Writing – part xx524 Writing a Novel, the Big Reveal

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%

Starting with the protagonist makes novel writing about as easy as it is possible to make novel writing.  As I wrote, if we start with the protagonist, I can’t guarantee you the next bestseller, but I can assure you it will solve four problems common to novelists:

1.     What is the plot?

2.     Why is my novel so short?

3.     Why is my novel so simplistic and uncomplicated in terms of plot and theme?

4.     Why do I get writer’s block when I want to write?

Not every writer gets writer’s block.  I never get writer’s block.  I get tired of writing.  I sometimes want to change up my writing (write something different). I never run out of something to write.  How could that be?  Doesn’t everyone get writer’s block?  Only in the movies, and I would say only non-professional writers.

Here’s some ideas to help you prevent writer’s block.

1.     Nothing anyone writes the first time on paper (or ether) is worth reading, publishing, or anything else.

2.     You gotta write to learn to write well.

3.     If you don’t like it, dump it.

4.     If you are in over your head, just stop and regroup.

5.     These are all helpful ideas for getting your stuff together, but why don’t professionals have the problem of writer’s block?

Writing paragraphs may be the most powerful way to train up your writing skills.  None of the paragraphs I wrote as a seventh grader are worth reading now, but they sure helped me learn to write.  We are writing about training.

Every paragraph looks like this:

1.     Topic sentence

2.     Body based on the topic

3.     Conclusion and transition

Every paragraph looks like this except dialog paragraphs.  These are special paragraphs that are designed through the speaker rather than coherent outline. 

You must include tone and body language in the dialog, or the conversation will go awry for the reader.  There is more to dialog to make it sound correct to the reader.

I’m repeating in synopsis all my previous advice on writing dialog, but dialog is very important and most beginning (and some experienced) writers seem to have problems with it. 

So, we saw that dialog follows normal human conversational order, lets the dialog flow, uses contractions, doesn’t use direct address, expresses tone, body language, tags, and action in the dialog.  These are the most straight forward and best way to correct most dialog.  Then you need to study and practice.

Dialog doesn’t always drive to the “big talk.”  Or, perhaps I should let you decide how much of this is “big talk.”  What I want to show you as an example is sideways talk and secrets.  I am still in my novel Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si.  This novel is filled with secrets and revelations.  This is a true protagonist revelation novel wrapped in a redemption plot.  I’m not sure how much of this I will show you, but for now, we will see the arrival and visit of Seasairdh and Claire.

Essie moved like lightning.  She had not been free like this for a long time.  She had been reading her book and studying it—she was still very slow with the words.  She knew them once before, but she had somehow forgotten them.  The pictures and the words were very instructive.  She saw how it was supposed to go around her neck, and she knew the talisman branch went into her hair.  They both felt warm and correct in their places.  She knew their power filled her, although she wasn’t certain how to use them to their full potential.  They rested properly against her body and gave strength to her.  She felt stronger than she had in a long time.  She knew their power, though she didn’t know how to fully use them—yet.

The forest paths appeared like open roads to her.  She moved in them as if she were made to them.  She moved faster than any of the fae.  She moved with a certainty.  They couldn’t mask their scent, nor the scent of Claire from her.  She didn’t follow their path exactly—she paralleled it.  She also started to slow on purpose.  She didn’t want to catch them too quickly.  She might be able to overcome them in the forest or glades, but that wasn’t her plan.  She wanted to bring great fear to them.  Her intention was to threaten and punish, and she didn’t want any accidental or intentional injury to come to Claire.  The fae could do both to a human girl.  They would try their best to keep Claire safe—she was the White Lady’s granddaughter after all.  But the fae believed they could pass any injury off as Essie’s fault.  She realized that too.

For some reason, Essie fully understood the fae.  She wasn’t certain why, but she knew their hearts and minds.  Perhaps the fae had kept her too long in their company, and she learned too much from them.  Or perhaps she just knew everything about them.  She didn’t know.  Even in her wildcat shape, she understood them.  When she stood naked, either as a human or as a wildcat, she felt as if the entire world belonged to her.  She felt like Eve in the garden with the responsibility of the Dagda resting squarely on her shoulders—on hers and no one else’s.  As if the Dagda formed her for this purpose alone.

She ran at an easier pace now.  It was a pace intended to bring her to that place directly after the fae arrived.  She planned to give them time to feel safe, and to feel they arrived free from pursuit.  She knew they didn’t expect her to chase after them.  She knew they could not detect her.  She knew their plans before they made them.  She shouldn’t have left Claire in the garden alone.  Mrs. Lyons wore a cross and had a presence in the world.  Claire did not.  Claire was only a child.  She would be beguiled by them.  Still, now Essie must watch everyone whom she befriended.  After she finished with the fae, she hoped, they would likely not give her any other problems.

Essie ran through the night.  She followed her prey into the darkness and into the hills and slight mountains of the Welshlands.  The fae intentionally kept well away from the ancient places of humans and the White Lady’s power.  They kept to the secret bowers of their kind and the secret places of their kind.  Essie moved her course to the left and the right.  She stayed out of their places and their sight and smell.  Although none of them should be able to smell her or detect her, she didn’t want any incidents.  She couldn’t become wholly invisible, but she could blend with the land wherever she wished.  She became one with the land, and the land was hers.  Every place of the fae was hers.  She knew it.  She felt it.

In her wildcat form, she didn’t tire and she didn’t hunger.  She knew the moment she turned back, earthly weariness would return to her.  She began to pace herself a little more, and she hunted.  She felt little desire to hunt while she remained in her current form, but she wanted strength when she arrived at her destination.

The sun began to rise, and Essie knew she came close to the place.  She felt the presence of the fae everywhere.  They had set guards and wards all around their abode.  She circumvented them all.  She snuck through them as if she flited, the shadow of a shadow.  Finally, she ran over a rise and saw the forest and the ground fall back into a wide meadow.  The meadow lay filled with grass and the places of the fae.  It backed to a deep dark lake the color of the bluest sky.  No groundwater flowed out of the lake or into the lake.  The trees here stood ancient and cultivated for centuries.  None were as old she or the fae.

The sun just topped the trees, and the banquet to celebrate the morning light and the beginning day lay out on the deep green grass.  Grass and fern covered knolls rose at convenient spots just high enough to provide a place to sit.  The Welsh fae, the Tylwyth Teg, lived in the open forest and the meadows.  They didn’t like anything over their heads.  They relished the open air and the open skies.  Many diverse creatures sat awaiting the blaze of the sun on the meadow and the coming of their king and queen to begin the day.  Essie could see them.  Some looked like humans, beautiful and fair with golden locks and pale petite faces.  Some appeared like humans mixed with animals: cefftk dwr and cwn annwn.  Others appeared hideous and still others like small humans with wings.  All together, all celebrating the rising sun and the new day.

Essie didn’t slow her run now.  She rushed down a forest game trail and burst out of the trees near the center of the open meadow.  She ran toward the center and creatures scattered shrieking.  Some rose into the air on bright wings.  Some jumped out of her way.  Others ran to the side and back into the forest.  Many disappeared into the morning mist rising from the lake.  A great angry and forlorn cry rose up. 

Essie, the Aos Si stood in the center of the meadow for a long moment.  She began to pace around the center until she had beaten down the grass.  She stood still and turned.  One moment, she appeared as a black wildcat—the next, she stood in the middle, a naked black-haired woman-child.  A great cry went up all around her, but she couldn’t tell if that was because of her nakedness or because they recognized her.

Suddenly we see through the point of view (PoV) of Essie, and I also do some telling.  Yes, there is mostly showing, but there is some telling to let you into the mind of Essie, the Aos Si.  I give myself this latitude because Essie is an animal, and animals can’t speak, plus I want you to know more about the mind of Essie.  This is a turning point in the novel and a learning point about Essie.  Still you don’t know much.

The telling is showing.  In other words, I didn’t tell you about Essie’s characteristics as much as I showed you her mind and the characteristics were there.  Here’s an example:

For some reason, Essie fully understood the fae.  She wasn’t certain why, but she knew their hearts and minds.  Perhaps the fae had kept her too long in their company, and she learned too much from them.  Or perhaps she just knew everything about them.  She didn’t know.  Even in her wildcat shape, she understood them.  When she stood naked, either as a human or as a wildcat, she felt as if the entire world belonged to her.  She felt like Eve in the garden with the responsibility of the Dagda resting squarely on her shoulders—on hers and no one else’s.  As if the Dagda formed her for this purpose alone.

Notice, I don’t use identity here at all.  I don’t write, Essie was this or she was that. I tell you how she feels.  I tell you what she thinks she understands.  Essie is the Aos Si, and I don’t even tell you what that is exactly.  Yes, I am still keeping secrets. 

The point here is for the reader to think about what Essie feels, says, and does.  Here is nearly one hundred percent action narrative mixed with insights into Essie’s mind and thoughts.

The forest paths appeared like open roads to her.  She moved in them as if she were made to them.  She moved faster than any of the fae.  She moved with a certainty.  They couldn’t mask their scent, nor the scent of Claire from her.  She didn’t follow their path exactly—she paralleled it.  She also started to slow on purpose.  She didn’t want to catch them too quickly.  She might be able to overcome them in the forest or glades, but that wasn’t her plan.  She wanted to bring great fear to them.  Her intention was to threaten and punish, and she didn’t want any accidental or intentional injury to come to Claire.  The fae could do both to a human girl.  They would try their best to keep Claire safe—she was the White Lady’s granddaughter after all.  But the fae believed they could pass any injury off as Essie’s fault.  She realized that too.

We see action, but interlaced is the action from the PoV of Essie the great black cat.  She is seeking her prey and until the end, we aren’t exactly certain what or who that prey is.  Then we arrive at the destination, and Essie begins to take action.  Perhaps we shall see who Essie really is.

We will see how these play out.  This is what brings entertainment to a novel—mysteries and secrets.        

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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