29 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 878, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, Material in Scenes to Dump
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.
If you looked at your scenes and are sure that each one supports the telic flaw and the climax, we can move to the next step. Please make certain you have rewritten or dumped every scene that doesn’t support the telic flaw and the climax. Now look inside each scene.
Everything inside a scene doesn’t have to support the telic flaw and the climax, but everything that doesn’t must support the protagonist revelation. Now, I will give you scope to reveal the protagonist’s helper and the antagonist, but they both must be in context of the telic flaw or the protagonist revelation. For example, don’t give us (show us… show don’t tell) the life story of anyone except the protagonist. The purpose of revelation in a novel is to reveal the protagonist. Everything in the novel should reveal the protagonist. This doesn’t mean you can’t show information about other characters, for example, you must show everything on the stage of the novel. Descriptions, actions, and conversations on the stage of the novel are key events that belong in your scenes. You already made the scene check—so if a scene supports the telic flaw and the climax, then the scene should be on the stage of the novel. However, look at everything that is not description, actions, and conversation. You might as well get rid of everything that isn’t—if it isn’t description, action, and conversation, then you shouldn’t leave it in anyway.
Once you’ve looked at stuff that isn’t action, description, and conversation, and deleted it, now look at conversation and action. Description is description—there is likely never a reason to delete description unless it is too long, or it is telling. New writers don’t usually give enough description as it is. Look at your action and conversation. Do they support directly or indirectly the protagonist revelation or the telic flaw resolution? If the answer is no, dump it. You don’t need anything in your writing that is about anyone else or anything else. There isn’t a problem with mentioning other characters, but this isn’t filler. The question is, does it support the protagonist revelation or the telic flaw resolution. If the action or the conversation doesn’t relate to the protagonist in some way, it is extraneous. I’ll try to give you a good example.
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