27 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 876, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, Climax
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.
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 Si. Essie is my 26th novel.
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 input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- 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:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
Here is my list of ways an author might add extraneous writing to a novel. Let’s look at the first.
- Material not relevant to the climax or plot.
- Characters or character arches not relevant to the climax or plot.
- Side stories.
- Information not relevant to the climax, setting, or plot.
- Excessive storylines.
- Lack of a sufficient telic flaw.
- Incorrect protagonist.
Material not relevant to the climax or plot. Here is a secret. You don’t need to know the precise climax to properly write the plot of a novel, but you need to be especially careful. You must know the telic flaw of your protagonist to write a plot…period. If you say, “my character (protagonist) doesn’t have a telic flaw.” You have either chosen the wrong character as the point of view (POV) or you don’t have any story at all. To have a plot, your protagonist must have a telic flaw. Further, the climax development, in a complex novel, must be (should be) an unexpected resolution to the expected climax.
I’ve been through this before (recently), but I might as well write about it again. The climax is always expected. For example, if you are writing a mystery/detective story, the initial scene must introduce the mystery (action movement of the plot), the protagonist, the protagonist’s helper or antagonist, and the setting. The mystery, in this case, is the external telic flaw of the protagonist. In a very simple novel, the mystery is the telic flaw. The protagonist (your detective) wants to solve the mystery. The solution to the mystery is the telic flaw. This is an external telic flaw. You find this kind of plot development in simple, young adult, and children’s novels. There isn’t a problem with this, but most complex and adult novels today also have an internal component to the telic flaw—the internal (emotional and mental) part that affects the protagonist. Usually, the internal and external telic flaws are related. In Aksinya (the demon novel you can read on this blog), Aksinya has an internal demon and an external demon. In most novels, the resolution of the internal telic flaw results in the resolution of the external telic flaw. This is true in A Little Princess where Sara Crew gains a father and her internal telic flaw of being a princess becomes true.
Now, here is the second part of concept of the climax. The climax is always expected—it is obvious from the telic flaw of the protagonist. You know the protagonist of your mystery/detective novel will determine the solution to the mystery (comedy) or not (tragedy). However, like A Little Princess, the climax resolution seems impossible. How can she get back her dead father—looks like a tragedy. The wise author builds a telic flaw and telic flaw resolution that appears impossible, but then resolves it. This is the expected climax with an unexpected resolution. You find this in good kid novels, and it is a feature of all great adult novels. The trick of keeping out extraneous material is identifying the telic flaw and writing to the resolution of the telic flaw.
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