20 December 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 898, Novel Development, more 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.
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 seventh.
- Material not relevant to the climax or plot.
- Characters or character arcs 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.
If you remember the telic flaw is always connected to the protagonist, you should be able to correctly identify and write about the protagonist. The problem comes if you make a mistake and write a novel focused on someone other than the protagonist or specifically on someone who is not the character with the telic flaw. I’m not sure I have read or written a novel with this problem before, but I have read novels where the protagonist didn’t seem correct or where the focus changed during the novel. Sometimes these aren’t that bad of a novel, and sometimes they don’t make any sense.
Usually simplistic novels don’t have this problem. Complex and adult novels can. Many major characters and mixed up protagonist’s helpers can cause problems. I have read some novels with way too many major characters. Sometimes these kinds of novels can resolve themselves poorly with an incorrect protagonist. A good example of this type of novel is Martin’s Tuff Voyaging. This novel begins with a group who is going off to investigate a treasure in the galaxy. It begins Dungeons and Dragons style with many major characters. The protagonist is not fully clear at first. Eventually, we have a resolution by death and the protagonist becomes obvious. This is a popular method of novel development in the modern era. I have read and reviewed a few indie novels that use this technique and did not resolve properly. Writing about the wrong character as the protagonist is a major flaw in a novel. Few publishers will warm to such a novel.
Let’s review a little. The way to produce this kind of novel is to first have a Dungeons and Dragons start—many major characters and the protagonist not well identified. Another means to produce this kind of novel is ambivalent protagonist’s helpers or misidentifying the protagonist’s helper. Many writers have no idea what a protagonist’s helper is. In a love story everyone is not equal—there is always the protagonist and usually the protagonist’s helper. You need to understand about the protagonist’s helper before you write about one. I’m sure there is more, but let’s move on.
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