27 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 936, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Sister of Darkness
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 Darkness is a follow-on to Aegypt and Sister of Light that is supposed to be published by Broadstreet together with Aegypt and Sister of Light. Oaktara is additionally supposed to publish it as a single. The novels are all part of the Ancient Light series. 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. Sister of Darkness begins at the outbreak of World War II and continues to the end of the war. The protagonist of Sister of Darkness is Leora Bolang. Here is her description from the novel:
She stepped out of the coolness of the small house. Her children expanded their orbit from papa to include mama also. They turned their gaze from their father to mother. Leora was radiant. The sunlight literally seemed to gather in her creamy coffee au latte skin and long black tresses. She appeared as though she was not quite thirty, but appearances can be deceiving. Her eyes were almond colored and slightly almond shaped, thin lidded like an Egyptian tomb painting without makeup. Her beauty always took Paul’s breath away. Her smile for him was large and inviting. Paul folded her in his arms and kissed her.
Leroa is a woman who was once revered as the Goddess of Light in Egypt. She escaped 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, as I wrote yesterday, 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:
The heavy green shores of the Bristol Estuary slid in and out of the dark thick fog. Leora and her children stood at the rail of the ancient hulk that had carried them to England. With each meter toward the naval yards in Bristol, Leora felt the strength draining from her. She slumped slightly at the rail, unable to notice Lumière also drooped a little beside her.
Marie swung casually under the top rail. She held her nose. The smell of fish, charcoal, sewage, oil, and steel rolled across the dark water along with the dirty white mist.
Jacques leaned over the top of the rail. He spoke English almost unconsciously, “It’s not at all like Hyères—gloomy.”
“Gloomy,” Marie leaned on the second rail, “and stinky.” She glanced up at Leora, “Mama, where will we go? What will we do?” Her question was nearly an unconscious repetition of those she made during the entire slow trip.
Leora did not hear her youngest daughter. She did not respond—she had no response to give.
Marie repeated under her breath, “Where will we go? What will we do?” She glanced up at Jacques. He shrugged.
The ship sat a long time in the cold mist and darkness, but Leora and her children didn’t move from their spot on the rail. Anything was better than the ship’s cramped and smelly cabins. It had been used by the British to deliver their clandestine forces around the Mediterranean. Now it carried a few families and individuals, mostly British escapees from German and the recent Italian aggression. Leora and the children were not the first rescues, and they had not been the last. They had spent longer than a miserable month on the “the ship”. That was all they were allowed to call it—the actual name was classified information. It had originally been commissioned a steam fishing vessel, and the holds still reeked of fish. Since its acquisition for British commando operations, the ship had been allowed to deteriorate to a level of general unacceptability as a war prize. The cabins stunk of unwashed men, and there was no place on board to clean anything properly or to wash. Leora was certain they all smelled a little less than the ship, but enough that common courtesy would not allow them in any social venue.
They had not seen Major Lyons since he put them aboard. The crew was intentionally uncommunicative and the passengers more so. Many were recovered spies. A few were special agents and couriers. None was free to speak and few wanted to. Without books and with little entertainment, the trip had dragged on and on. They only learned of Italy’s official entry into the war a day ago. Jacques overheard a couple of sailors talking. The event was a foregone conclusion—five of the passengers on the ship came aboard, rescued from Italian colonies or islands.
Finally, when all the outbound ship traffic had passed, the ugly little steam freighter, ex-fishing vessel slowly made its way up the remainder of the Bristol estuary to its berth. The sun had set by then, but still no one left the rail. All the passengers anticipated disembarking. They held rapturously to the expectation of much better accommodations, genuinely edible food, and a long necessary bath.
Once docked, the crew let off their passengers with silent efficiency. The purser sought out each one, handed them their packet of official paperwork, and wordlessly led them to the gang plank. Leora and the children were the last to debark. They watched each of the others descend into the foggy darkness ungreeted by any well wishers and pace off into the empty streets.
Leora, already in despair from the lack of sun, knew a further feeling of helplessness—she had little money and no one to turn to. They had escaped their house on the beach at Hyères with nothing except coats and the clothes on their backs. Leora had her purse, but that was all and it contained only a paltry sum—all worthless French Francs.
The purser did not speak to Leora. He held out a bag to her and nodded toward the gangway. Leora took the bag and headed down to the dock. The children gathered tightly around her. They were strangely afraid or else reflected Leora’s own unspoken tension. At the end of the gangway, they moved to the side of the street, and Leora opened the bag to see what the British government through the purser gifted them. Under the fog dampened glow of an electric street lamp, she discovered British passports for each of them along with their original French documents. The new passports were stamped with official looking visas and showed a trail of movement between France and England. Other permits and papers identified each of them. It was the brick-a-brac of modern government officialdom. At the bottom of the bag, Leora found a few limp British pounds. Not much, but a start.
Although Leroa Bolang is the incarnation of the Egyptian Goddess of Light, with the proper plot, telic flaw, and development (revelation) she becomes a product of pathos. You can see how she descends from peace in her house in Hyères, France with her children and husband around her. She loses her country, her husband, her home, her peace. She is left with her dependent children around her, but she is responsible for them. At the same time, the lack of sunlight slowly is killing her. Since she is the Goddess of Light, she requires the light of the sun to invigorate her person and powers. Without the sunny skies of Hyères, she slowly falls into despair and will eventually die.
I think you can see how an author can take a truly Romantic character and turn them into a Romantic character who is also pathetic. In my opinion, this is the kind of character that readers strive for. This is the kind of character publishers desire and readers desire. This is my favorite type of character. This is exactly the opposite of the superhero, unless you are talking about Spiderman. Spiderman is this Romantic type of character with some pathos driving him. This is why he is such an endearing superhero compared with the other superhero gods. The reason these types of protagonists are so powerful is that people want to look up to a Romantic character. They want to imagine that they are like that type of protagonist. At the same time, the reader wants that character to experience hardship, just like they do. Even if the reader doesn’t experience any hardship at all, they glory is seeing the character of their dreams experiencing hardship and overcoming hardship. The trick is overcoming hardship. Every human being imagines they face hardship in their lives—this is the topic I should explore before we continue on with the examples.
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