Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 897, Novel Development, Incorrect Protagonist

19 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 897, Novel Development, Incorrect Protagonist

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 seventh.

  1. Material not relevant to the climax or plot.
  2. Characters or character arcs 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.

A poorly chosen telic flaw (theme) will result in a poor novel more than extraneous writing. Likewise, choosing the incorrect protagonist gives a poor novel, however, this mistake will also result in all kinds of extraneous material. I know, I know, currently the idea of multiple protagonists has become popular, but they just don’t really work out. Usually, the result is a chocolate mess—just look at Thrones for a negative example. None of us could sell such a novel. Picking the correct protagonist is critical to writing a good novel. Mixing it up will ruin any good novel or novel idea.

Many people imagine that identifying the protagonist is easy—sometimes yes and sometimes no. In a novel with a strong protagonist’s helper, identifying the protagonist can be difficult. I like to have strong protagonist’s helpers. The trick to identifying the protagonist is in the telic flaw. The telic flaw will always be the protagonist’s problem to solve. Sherlock Holmes is always on the case. He solves the crime or mystery and Dr. Watson helps. Sherlock Holmes is the protagonist and Dr. Watson is the protagonist’s helper. It isn’t hard to mix them up. Other novels aren’t so easy.

Usually the POV (point of view) will also reveal the protagonist. Of course, in a first person novel, the protagonist is obvious—unless the author screwed up. Ah, there’s the rub. Maybe I should discuss this a little. I don’t like using the first person for any novels. The only time an author should use the first person is when the protagonist deserves the first person. I’ll grudgingly allow that in the Hungry Games (ha ha), that is the correct use of a first person protagonist. In the case of the Hungry Games, the protagonist was, literally, the most important person on that planet or country. In my novel, The End of Honor, Lyral Neuterra is, literally, the most important person in the Human Galactic Empire. Her life and death spawns an intragalactic war. Simply, if you write in the first person, make this check–your protagonist must be the most important person in the world of your novel. I believe an author friend of mine changed his novel from first to third person based on this advice. Writing in the third person is much more powerful than in the first person for many reasons. There is much more to this protagonist problem.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/
http://www.aegyptnovel.com/
http://www.centurionnovel.com
http://www.thesecondmission.com/
http://www.theendofhonor.com/
http://www.thefoxshonor.com
http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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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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