Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 875, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, more Material

26 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 875, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, more Material

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 started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.

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)

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.

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.

These are the steps I use to write a novel:

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

Here is my list of ways an author might add extraneous writing to a novel. Let’s look at the first.

  1. Material not relevant to the climax or plot.
  2. Characters or character arches not relevant to the climax or plot.
  3. Side stories.
  4. Information not relevant to the climax, setting, or plot.
  5. Excessive storylines.
  6. Lack of a sufficient telic flaw.
  7. Incorrect protagonist.

Material not relevant to the climax or plot. What is the telic flaw of the protagonist? I’ve been through my novels more than once to identify the protagonist and express their internal and external telic flaws. I won’t do this again here, but I’ll give some examples of telic flaws in common literature. This is the most important concept an author can identify in his novel because it define the plot and the climax. You really can’t have a climax without the resolution of the protagonist’s telic flaw.

Let’s pick some writing that everyone has read. Harry Potter is probably a good example because almost every person has read these novels. Unfortunately, the plot and climax in these books is repetitive and in some ways unconnected directly to the internal telic flaw of the protagonist. Instead, I like to use other more common, and better written novels. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is a great example. Oliver’s telic flaw is he is a noble (or at least a respectable person) forced to live with the common. The idea of the perfection of the aristocratic was a common theme concept in Dicken’s time. Societal concepts were moving from the nobility to those of more common means, but still held firmly in the middle class or the landed gentry as they called themselves. Oliver doesn’t really have an internal telic flaw, but his external telic flaw is that he is living and existing at a level of society below him. The obvious climax is that Oliver becomes part of the landed gentry. Perhaps this is a poor example because the plot only requires Oliver to continue to act noble with common people all around him. The climax that Dickens develops has an unexpected resolution, but the climax plays out pretty much as expected.

Perhaps a better example is Sara Crew from A Little Princess. The external telic flaw for Sara is that she has lost her father (he died). She does have a wonderful internal telic flaw. Hodgson created a powerful internal telic flaw that Sara is a princess because she acts like a princess. The resolution of the external telic flaw is Sara gets a father. The resolution of the internal telic flaw is that her perfection as a person is revealed. The plot drives to this resolution, and we see Sara return to her class station, and she gets a new father. In any case, to prevent material extraneous to the climax and plot, the author needs to understand the telic flaw (internal and external) of the protagonist. Indeed, they need to understand who the protagonist is. Revelation of the protagonist is the key to the plot and the climax.

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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