26 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 935, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Sister of Light
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
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?
Sister of Light is a follow-on to Aegypt that is supposed to be published by Broadstreet together with Aegypt and Sister of Darkness. Oaktara is additionally supposed to publish it as a single. According to my publisher, the economy has held back the release of the novels—oh well. These three novels are about people from the ancient world being brought into the modern world. The first novel, Aegypt begins in 1926. The protagonist is Paul Bolang. Sister of Light also begins in a 1926, just after the events of Aegypt. The protagonist of Sister of Light is Leora Bolang. Here is her description from the novel:
Leora provided a striking vision in pale-blue silk. She wore a dress Paul had bought for her the day before. Although the gown came from a rack on the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, it flowed over her body as though its designer had only her in mind. The modestly slit hemline floated on air; it just kissed the top of her petite, high-heeled Arnoult slippers. A thin silken cord encircled her neck and allowed the teasing neckline to accentuate her gentle bosom. To complete the ensemble, she grasped a small gold colored clutch with three-quarter length gloves that matched the azure of her dress.
This isn’t a very good description of the woman who is Leroa Bolang. Leroa is a woman who was once revered as the Goddess of Light in Egypt. She came out of a 3,000 year old tomb. She has powers and is very beautiful and intelligent. This obviously makes her a Romantic character; however, with Leora, I learned a powerful tool in building protagonists. A protagonist who draws emotion by her existence is a powerful protagonist. Here is an example from the novel:
Eventually, Leora took to her bed for most of the day. She could only muster enough strength to get up for short periods. She woke her children and dressed them. She saw them to breakfast and lunch and dinner, but she ate little and slept little. She tucked them in their big beds in the large bedroom and prayed every night with them. Autumn that year had been unusually dark, and now the winter didn’t seem to let the sun through the clouds anymore than a tantalizing sliver here and a sliver there. On the few days the sun came out in its glory, Leora went into the city with Madam Bolang and the children. On the days the clouds ruled the skies, she stayed in her bed—awake, but too weary to move. Her children brought her drawings and writings and showed her postcards of the sun over the Seine, but she could not do much more than lean on her elbow and inspect the lovely things they brought for her. Lumière especially watched her mother’s decline.
Finally, after a couple of months, the children took matters into their own hands. Lumière, followed in a little straight line by Robert, Jacques, and Marie, came to the door of pépère’s study. Gathering all the strength from her siblings around her, Lumière finally plucked up the courage to knock on one of the tall doors.
Not a sound came from behind the great portals. Lumière lifted her fist to knock a second time, but before she could touch the door, it opened, and Monsieur Bolang looked out at them. He knelt down, “My sweet lambs, what can I do for you?”
“We would like to speak to you, grand-père,” Lumière curtsied. She glanced back at the others.
“Come in, come in,” Monsieur Bolang pulled his pipe out of his mouth and stepped aside. “Please take a seat.”
The four children marched into the room and sat on the loveseat and one of the tall chairs. Monsieur Bolang gently closed the door to his study and sat in the other high backed chair, “Now what is on your mind? You may tell pépère anything and everything.”
As one the children ran to him. They all tried to get into his lap at once. They were so petite his lap and chair could hold them all. He lifted Marie into his arms and Lumière put her arms around his neck. The boys sat on each knee. Marie’s face was covered with tears and he could feel Lumière’s wet cheeks against his. The boys sat with stern features as though they wanted to weep, but they did not want to show weakness before their grand-père.
Monsieur Bolang barely restrained his own emotions. He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped Marie’s eyes and nose. He kissed her and then disentangled Lumière’s arms from around his neck. He dabbed her eyes and his own. When he finally could speak, he asked, “What can pépère do for you. Are you not happy here?”
Lumière clasped her palms together, “Dear pépère, we are so happy here. We love you and mémère and Sergeant Marcel, and our beautiful house. We never want to leave…”
“But something is bothering you. What is it?”
Lumière looked straight into the old man’s eyes, “It is our mother. She is dying here.”
Lumière and Marie buried their faces in his shirt again. The boys sat stiffly.
Pépère embraced the two girls tightly, “Lumière, Marie, what is troubling your mother?”
Lumière lifted her head and again spoke for them all, “Mama is so very, very sad. We all miss Papa.” She sighed, “But Mama needs the light. Without the light of the sun, she is sad. Without the sun, she will fade and die.”
“Come, come. No one dies without the light of the sun.”
Robert spoke bravely from his knee, “Our mother will, sir.”
“Sacre bleu,” Monsieur Bolang exclaimed.
Marie touched her finger to his lips, “Mama says that is a word to be read and not said.”
“Your mother is quite right. I am sorry Marie. I just don’t know what to think or what to do. Your mother has taken ill, but she does not complain.”
“She stays in her bed because she does not have the strength to get up. She must save all her strength to take care of us. She does not say anything because she does not want anyone to know.”
“To know what?”
“It is a great secret.”
“What is the secret?”
“I will tell you only because you are the pépère, and Papa said you can make anything happen.” She whispered at his ear, “Our mother sings in the light of the day. Only she can sing in the light.”
Monsieur Bolang chuckled, “I see. I will do everything I can for your mama. I will find her a brighter place, and soon. Will that do?”
“Thank you pépère,” Marie and Lumière kissed his cheeks. Robert and Jacques gravely shook his hands.
Gently, Monsieur Bolang let them all down, “I will do everything to help your mother regain her strength—to get enough sunlight.” He chuckled again. As he led them to the door, he put his pipe back between his lips, “How does your mother sing in the light? It sounds lovely, but I’m not sure what you mean.”
Lumière ran to the thin curtain that covered his window. At that moment, the sun chose to make one of its few weak appearances. She pulled back the curtain and formed a complex symbol in the air, “I have watched Mama many times.” The sunlight filled the sign and blazed for a moment hanging in the air as it slowly dissipated. She stuck her tongue in her cheek, “I did not make it so well.”
Monsieur Bolang’s pipe fell from his mouth.
Lumière stared fearfully at him, “You must not tell mother!”
He stared at the fading image suspended in the air, then turned his eyes toward Lumière. “Mon dieu!”
“Pépère !” cried Marie.
Monsieur Bolang made a conciliatory gesture toward the little girl, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Lumière.
Lumière fidgeted under his gaze.
“What on earth…? How did you do that? Just what did you do?”
She smiled happily, “I called in the light.”
He stared at her.
“Are you angry with me, Pépère?” Her smile turned into a frown, and her eyes brimmed.
He shook his head slowly. “No, sweet lamb, of course not. I just…I don’t understand. You say your mother does this often?”
Robert piped up. “Everyday.”
Their grandfather drew in a deep breath. “This is too…I have no idea what this means.”
“You mustn’t tell Mama,” Lumière pled.
Monsieur Bolang forced a smile. He picked up his pipe and gestured with it toward the door. “I won’t say anything about it. Give me a little time. I will think over what we must do to help your mother.”
The younger children scrambled for the hallway, but as Lumière passed her grandfather, he touched her shoulder. She looked up, and he gave her a reassuring smile. “Do not worry, sweet lamb.”
She curtsied and slipped out the doorway.
Leora will indeed die without sunlight to revitalize her. She is the Goddess of Light. In the novel, I make her a creature of pathos. Even though Leora is a powerful person, her responsibilities, her characteristics, and the loss of her husband drives her in a spiral of depression and weakness. There is much more that causes Leora and the reader’s pain throughout the novel. The point is that I have taken a Romantic character and given her a pathos existence. The power of this should be obvious. If you aren’t touched by the little scene above, you might check your humanity. The point is this, I’ve discovered that making a Romantic character have a pathetic circumstance tied to their telic flaw makes a very powerful and fine character. It is a character people want to emulate (Romantic) and one that people want to love (or at least feel sorry for). This is a very strong pairing that can drive and novel and give it very good success. I’ve gotten around to my point in this area—Romantic and pathetic.
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