Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 704, Character Interaction more Pathos Archetypes, Style Q and A

8 June 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 704, Character Interaction more Pathos Archetypes, Style Q and A

Announcement:  Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy.  You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com.  Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness.  I’ll keep you updated.

Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.

I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing 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.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.

All novels have five discrete parts:
1.  The initial scene (the beginning)
2.  The rising action
3.  The climax
4.  The falling action
5.  The dénouement

The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos SiEssie is my 26th novel.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’m editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader. I finished editing Children of Light and Darkness and am now writing on my 27th novel, working title Claire.

I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.

Scene development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. Release (climax of creative elements)

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.

  1. Conflict/tension between characters
  2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
  3. Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
  4. Evolving vs static character
  5. Language and style
  6. Verbal, gesture, action
  7. Words employed
  8. Sentence length
  9. Complexity
  10. Type of grammar
  11. Diction
  12. Field of reference or allusion
  13. Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
  14. Mannerism suggested by speech
  15. Style
  16. Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 15. 15.  Style

Woah—style is huge. I just spent more than six months defining style from almost every angle I could imagine. Here are the elements I found for an author’s style.

1.  Novel based style

a.  Writing focus
b.  Conversations
c.  Scene development
d.  Word use
e.  Foreshadowing
f.  Analogies
g.  Use of figures of speech
h.  Subthemes
i.  Character revelation
j.  Historicity
k.  Real world ties
l.  Punctuation
m.  Character interaction

2.  Scene based style

a  Time
b.  Setting
c.  Tension and release development
d.  Revelation
e.  Theme development
f.  POV

Quick digression: Back in the USA.

I like characters who generate pathos. I like my protagonists to be pathetic characters. Pathetic meaning generating emotions. In general, I do this by presenting female characters that are lovable but in circumstances that are difficult. For example, Dana-ana, my cursed goddess (literally). Dana-ana was cursed as a punishment. Her curse is to live in the modern world as a Saxon maiden. She is cursed to have to act in the modern world like a Saxon. If the problem with this isn’t obvious, let me explain. She can’t speak to anyone without foot washing/gifting/or salt. She can’t accept anything as a gift except under very specific circumstances. She was placed in the rural USA by the British as a foreign immigrant. She has no friends, no one to help her, and lives in a tar paper shack on the bayou. This is pretty pathos building stuff. How can you not generate interest in a goddess who has been brought this low.

Further, if Dana-ana were cruel and evil, you wouldn’t feel a thing for her, but she is a very compelling person. She is kind and helpful and understands exactly how low she has really become. She eats garbage because she can’t get anything else. And here comes the pathos. And that’s what I want to build from the beginning. With a pathetic character, I can make my readers feel every hurt and every unhappiness. On the other hand, with a non-pathetic character, the reader expects the character to power out. With a pathetic character, even when the character puts up with her suffering, the reader feels it and knows it.

In my newest novel, I’m writing about a really neat pathetic character, Shiggy. Shiggy isn’t hungry or sad or beaten down. Shiggy is a real screw-up. What makes her a pathetic character is that she is getting everything she deserves plus and she has no other options than to take it. The reader cheers when Shiggy gets even a little ahead, but she still gets smacked down. You can put a man in a similar situation, but without a similar strength of pathos. A man can’t show emotion either. When Shiggy is sad, the reader is sad. When Shiggy is hurt the reader might feel she deserves it, but with Shiggy, they feel her pain. This is a very important and complex idea. As I mentioned, women make much better pathetic (emotion generating) characters than men. This type of character is fully a function of style.

Before I get off this topic, I want to mention my published novel Centurion. Centurion has a protagonist’s helper, Ruth, who is a pathos building character. She is a prostitute forced into the business by the death of her mother and father. She lives a pitiful existence until the protagonist, Abenadar, rescues her off the streets. The rescue of Ruth also means the rescue of the protagonist, Abenadar. Abenadar could never be a pathos building character. Ruth, his lover, can be very powerful pathetic character. Read the novel, and you will see exactly what I mean.

More tomorrow.

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


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


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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