28 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 877, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, Telic Flaw
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. With a telic flaw for your protagonist, you can write a plot to a climax. This is the best way to prevent meandering away from the plot revelation.
So, if we have written what we think is a cohesive novel, what we need is a good check. The first check for extraneous material is to look at each scene. Next time you make an editorial run-through of your novel, evaluate each scene and determine: how does it support the climax and how does it support the telic flaw of the protagonist? If you get an “it doesn’t” about either question, you need to remove or rewrite the scene. There are some very easy scenes you can identify as extraneous—if they don’t include the protagonist, protagonist’s helper, or the antagonist, they are automatically suspect. Not every scene like this is suspect, but there is a very good chance if any of the three characters are not in the scene. If the scene is not normally on the stage of the novel, it may be extraneous. The way to pick out these scenes is look for the protagonist. If the protagonist isn’t in the scene, it might not be on the stage of the novel and should be removed or rewritten.
Usually, no protagonist, no telic flaw. I mean, really, how can you write a novel with a legitimate scene that doesn’t include your protagonist? You can, but they are few and far between. In this case, it is easy. If the scene doesn’t include a direct reference to the climax or the telic flaw, it likely should be removed.
Here’s an example. You are writing a mystery novel. The telic flaw is the mystery and the climax is the resolution of the mystery. Every scene should include some reference to the climax or the telic flaw. If your detective makes a visit to her mother, she should ask advice about the case from her mother. If there is no reference to the case or the mystery or the telic flaw, dump the scene. I don’t care if her mother is the nicest woman in the world and you wrote a conversational scene that supersedes Shakespeare, dump the scene, or include something about the mystery. This is the key point about scenes. The other determination is about pieces inside your scenes.
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