30 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 879, Novel Development, Revealing the Protagonist, Material in Scenes to Dump, Example
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.
Here is an example from one of my as yet unpublished novels. This is from Khione: Enchantment and the Fox. I’m using it as an example because it doesn’t include Khione, the protagonist. Pearce is the protagonist’s helper in this novel. In any case, the conversation is mostly about Khione, but doesn’t include Khoine. The point is to show what should be included within a scene to support the telic flaw or climax or the protagonist’s revelation.
Pearce went to the student center. He bought a sandwich and a coke—lunch was on his meal plan from the university. He had dinner three times a week too and on every evening he was working for security. He’d still have to stock his refrigerator more often now that Khione was living with him. He cringed at that thought. Money was always a problem for him. [This is setting. It also gives information (revelation) about the protagonist/protagonist’s helper.]
Pearce went to the table he and Jason usually used. It was out of the way and somewhat isolated. After a few minutes, Jason came up with a tray. Jennifer and Yumi were right behind him. Pearce rolled his eyes and tried give Jason a hand sign. They all sat down anyway. [This is also setting.]
Jason sat at the outside. He smirked, “Hi Pearce.”
Jennifer put down her tray across from Pearce. She didn’t have a pleasant look on her face. Yumi sat next to Pearce. She didn’t seem too happy either. [All of these characters were previously described and introduced. It might be worthwhile to describe their current clothing, but not as important as the action and conversation.]
Pearce swallowed his first bite of sandwich, “Hi guys. I didn’t expect to see you ladies today.”
Jennifer stared at him, “What’s this about a girl in your room?” [The girl is Khione. To be short. Jennifer is in love with Pearce (Pearce doesn’t know). Yumi is her friend. Jason was first studying Khione in the wild. All three are necessary to determine about Khione—to reveal Khione.]
Pearce tried to look nonchalant, “Where did you get that idea?”
“Jason told us.”
Pearce turned Jason a look that could kill.
Jason put up his hands. One held half a submarine sandwich, “They forced it out of me. People have been talking.”
Pearce took a sip of coke to calm down, “What did you tell them.”
Jason grimaced, “Nothing much.”
Pearce tried to smile, “There’s nothing to it. This girl was hit by a bus while we were on shift, and I took her back to my apartment.”
Jennifer’s hands covered her mouth, “Hit by a bus? Why didn’t you take her to the hospital?”
“Man, Pearce, now you’ve done it. How can we explain this?”
Jennifer stared Pearce down, “You can explain it by telling us what’s going on. You have to admit, this is really strange. Who is this girl?”
Pearce put up his hands, “No idea. She says her name is Khione. She’s Greek.”
“An international student?”
Pearce made a face, “Yeah, I guess you could say that?”
“Does the university know she was hurt?”
“Jason, are you certain you haven’t told them anything?”
“Shoot, I get that from Khione all the time—don’t you start.”
Jennifer glared at him, “What’s going on Pearce?”
Pearce stared back at her for a moment, “Okay, okay, I’m glad this came out, because frankly, this is more than I can handle by myself.”
Jennifer’s look didn’t change, “What can’t you handle?”
Pearce weighed how much he should say, how much he should tell them, “Jason had been observing this girl for a while. She’s been hanging around the university. We saw her hit by a bus a few days ago. We weren’t sure about her status in the country so we took her to my apartment. She barely speaks English, and she doesn’t know much of anything. I’m not certain, but she might have lost some of her memory due to the accident…”
Yumi leaned toward them, “Then she should be in a hospital.”
Pearce stuttered, “You don’t understand this girl.”
Jennifer’s eyes squinted, “What I understand is you have a girl at your place. Why don’t you let us see her?”
Pearce ran his fingers through his hair, “That’s problematic.”
Her eyes slitted more, “Why?”
“This girl’s really messed up. Look, this is really hard to explain.”
Jennifer slapped her hand on the table, “Listen to me, Pearce. Something is going on here. You have a defenseless girl in your apartment. Tell the truth. We want to make sure she’s okay. People in your complex have said they heard her screaming.”
“I don’t know what else to do, but show her to you.”
Yumi nodded, “That sounds more like it.”
Jason asked, “Is that a good idea, Pearce?”
“You caused this Jason. You should have kept your mouth shut. Now your experiment is at risk.”
Jennifer turned toward Jason. Her voice shook, “What do you mean by experiment?”
Jason put his hands up, “He’s just joking. He didn’t mean anything by it.” Jason gave Pearce a hurt look.
Pearce turned back to his sandwich.
Jennifer scowled at Pearce, “How can you eat at a time like this?”
“I have class in a few minutes. The girl is safe for now.”
Yumi pursed her lips, “Are you sure. We should check on her now.”
Pearce put his hands down flat on the table, “No.”
“No?” Yumi and Jennifer spoke at once.
“No,” Pearce was firm, “This girl isn’t what you think. I told you that already. She tried to kill me once already.”
Yumi and Jennifer both got in Pearce’s face. Jennifer shook her finger at him, “If she did it’s because of what you tried to do.”
Jason went white, “Pearce is right. You don’t understand at all. This girl is feral.”
“Feral?” Jennifer’s voice rose, “Now, you’re just being mean.”
Jason wouldn’t stop, “No, you don’t get it. This girl was living out on the streets. She really is wild.”
Jennifer gave Pearce a more accusing look, “You picked up a homeless girl and gave her a place to stay—real convenient.”
Jason grasped Jennifer’s sleeve, “She wasn’t just a homeless girl. She was living naked on the streets. She hunted animals every night.”
Jennifer turned her glare to Jason. He slowly let go of her sleeve. She gritted her teeth, “You think we would believe that? That’s just absurd.”
Pearce’s voice was steady, “It’s not absurd. When you see her, you’ll understand. She isn’t like anyone you’ve ever met.”
Jennifer sat back, “I’ll judge that for myself.”
Pearce picked up his sandwich, “Then this afternoon after classes. Come over to my apartment. You can see Khione for yourself.”
Jennifer picked up her tray. She stood, “Then at five.”
Yumi picked up her tray. They both moved to another table.
Jason gave Pearce a sad grimace.
Pearce just glared at him, “It’s your fault. If you’d kept your mouth shut none of this would have happened.”
Jason didn’t say a word. He ate his sandwich.
If you look carefully at this conversation, every single part of it is about Khione. There is not a single other idea in the entire scene. This is a whole scene, by the way. This is what I mean by cutting out material that is not pertinent to the novel. Every word spoken and every action in this scene directly relates to Khione, her telic flaw (who she thinks she is), and the climax of the novel. The climax is directly related to who she is. This is the point of looking into each scene and determining if every word supports the protagonist’s revelation, their telic flaw, or the climax. For example, if the conversation moved from Khione to Jennifer’s feelings for Pearce, that would not be material to the novel. Her feelings about Pearce are revealed to Khione later, but that is to the protagonist and directly related to the protagonist. This is a good example, that is this scene because the protagonist isn’t present and the characters have so much off the stage of the novel that is obvious or partially obvious from their conversation and actions.
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