Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 923, Publishing, The Unique and Entertaining Protagonist

14 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 923, Publishing, The Unique and Entertaining 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

Would you like to write a novel that a publisher will consider? Would you like to write a novel that is published? How about one that sells? I’m in Scottsdale. I played golf at Camelback golf club again. I’m staying at the Sanctuary with five ladies—don’t worry, I’m supervised.

The protagonist must be unique and entertaining. The question is how do we make a unique and entertaining protagonist? I am not a big fan of the Harry Potty novels, but they are popular and well known—many have read them. Harry is a unique and mostly entertaining character. Harry is a god with faults. His main and only fault is that he doesn’t love or trust himself. This is the basic repetitive theme of all seven of these novels—I wish it weren’t. I hate godlike characters. I don’t mind god characters. In general, god characters can be made human by limitations and human behavior. Godlike characters cannot be rehabilitated. For example, Superman is a godlike being. What is amazing is that he looks like a human when he is really an alien. Also he eats human food even though he is an alien. If you don’t realize why aliens will never be able to eat any human or earth food, you need to study biology. Additionally, the chance of a human reproducing with an alien is the same as a human reproducing with a steam-shovel. It might or might not be fun, but it is likely to be disappointing for both partners. If you don’t understand this, you need to study biology.

Back to Harry Potty.  The god. Harry, is a god. He has godlike powers and even in his own community of gods is the unique god. There you go. Harry Potty is a unique character among the unique. He is a god. Now, most characters in literature are not gods or godlike. I do write about gods in the modern world. This is where I get many of my unique themes and characters.

Usually, protagonists are not so unique they are gods or godlike—they are still special in some way. These are usually referred to as Romantic characters. Romantic characters (protagonists) are characters who are human archetypes. Most of the novels you love the best have Romantic protagonists. For example, Harry Potty is definitely a Romantic character. One of the easiest ways to tell is ask: does this character like to follow the rules or not, additionally, is this character special? Typical favorite Romantic characters are Tarzan, Sara Crew (The Little Princess), Jean val Jean, Howard Roark, many science fiction characters, and Harry Potty. Most of your favorite characters are Romantic characters because Romantic characters are unique and usually they are entertaining. Let’s start with unique. What makes a character Romantic and unique?

More tomorrow.

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


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


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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