Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 938, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Shadow of Darkness

29 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 938, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Shadow 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.

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 think I have this protagonist concept down. Not every character can or should be Romantic and pathetic, but if you have the latitude to design this kind of character, you should do so. I’ll move on to more examples from my writing. The novel that follows Sister of Darkness in the Ancient Light series is Shadow of Darkness. The protagonist of this novel is Lumière Bolang. She is the daughter of Paul and Leroa and she is thought to be dead at the end of Sister of Darkness. She is not dead. Here is her description from the novel:

Lumière was not tall. Her appearance was almost waiflike. Her hair was black, as black as the night, and her skin the color of rich cappuccino. Her face was radiant with large deep emerald eyes that would have seemed more appropriate looking out of an Egyptian tomb painting than on the thin face of a teenage girl. She was swallowed by a cotton shirt that was much too large, and woolen pants meant for a man. A bit of braided towel held the pants on her thin frame and kept her long shirt tightly under wraps.

You can tell immediately, Lumière is a Romantic character. She possesses beauty that is beyond the ordinary and beyond time. She also has skills and knowledge that is outside of the human norm. She is indeed a Romantic character. Already, in the short section above, she is being turned into a pathetic character. Not much further in the novel we see:

Lumière was not far from Oba. The way for their escape was now clear. They could make their way through the line of stunned men and tanks and head east—their original destination. But then a roaring filled her ears. Lumière felt herself lifted into the air. She felt the touch of super heated air on her back and the penetration of burning of metal into her legs and arm. Her last thought was excruciating pain. The tablet was pushed from her fingers, and she could not know where it went.

Vasily Grossman stood next to Efim Gekhman. They were sheltered near the rear of the Russian troops at a place where they could observe everything that went on between them and the Reichstag building. The fall of the Reichstag might be the last shots fired in Berlin. They both had out their paper tablets, pencils, and the poorly constructed binoculars they were issued. When they could, they borrowed one of the Russian field commanders commandeered German binoculars. So far neither of them had been able to collect, beg, borrow, or steal a pair for themselves. The war might be over before they could get some—they still had hope.

Vasily and Efim both wore Russian officer’s uniforms with green tabs that marked them quartermasters of the second rank. They were, in fact, special correspondents with the Russian army reporting for the Russian newspapers. Vasily’s uniform was wrinkled and worn. He had a large nose, weak eyes aided with round spectacles, sensuous lips, and a strong chin. Efim was thin and wiry with a mischievous look and outlook. They both were laughing at the futility of the German’s defense, and their writing was taking a sarcastic turn—even though they were just taking notes.

The Russian tanks were moving forward. Vasily had just written: huge guns were blasting yellow, dagger-like fire at the building, and everything was swamped in stone dust and black smoke. Something between the tanks and the Reichstag caught his eye. He immediately stopped writing and pointed with his pencil, “Look Efim, do you see that?”


“There. Look there. Do you see that boy?”

“It looks like a boy?” Efim put his binoculars back to his eyes, “It’s a beautiful boy. Maybe a girl. What’s she doing?”

Vasily put his binoculars to his eyes, “He…she has something in her hand. She’s yelling something. “Adoni, dear Father Abraham, do you see what is happening?”

“I can see it, but I don’t believe it.”

“Its looks like the sunlight and shadows are swirling around her,” Vasily strained his eyes through the binoculars.

“Do you think she made it happen?”

“It’s centered right where she is. What do you think?”

“I’ve seem a lot during this war, Vasily, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Look! Our troops are dropping. Do you think she is German?”

“The Germans are dropping too. They haven’t fired a single round. Vasily, the tanks are being moved around—pushed backwards.”

“You’re joking.”

“Just take a look.”

“No. I’ve got my eyes on her. How can she do this?”

“She’s definitely not German.” Efim leaned forward, “They fired on her.”

“Fired on her?”

“Panzerfaust by the looks of it.”

“Why would they waste a weapon like that on a girl?”

“A girl who makes miracles.”

“Dear Adoni! Efim, I see her thrown into the air like a rag doll. She’s got to be dead.”

“Dead or dying like millions in this horrible war.”

“Look. The instant she was hit, the moving light stopped.”

“It was her, Vasily,” Efim spat between his fingers. “The end of her and good riddance, my grandmother would say. What a dangerous thing—if you believe it.”

“I don’t believe it, but I want to see this person.”

“You’ll see nothing but a broken, dead body, just like all the others you’ve already seen.”

“Come on Efim—let’s go. Quickly now”

Efim walked slowly, unwillingly to the jeep, but they both stepped in. Vasily pressed the starter and put the jeep in gear. They flew past their own troops who lay still stunned on the ground and past the tanks unmoving and jumbled as though they were toys. Efim half stood up in his seat, “Have you seen anything move a T-34 tank like that? Watch out, Vasily. You’ll run her over. She was just here.”

“I didn’t think you were interested.”

“Professional interest only. There she is. Blown half apart by the looks of her.”

Vasily stopped the jeep and leapt out. He ran over beside the girl. She lay on her face. The back of her shirt and pants legs had been nearly blown off. They still smoldered. The thick clothing had somewhat protected her slight body. Her body, small and thin, showed through the large holes in her clothing. Blood covered her white shirt and dripped onto her pants. Vasily put his hands around her shoulders and turned her over. She was beautiful. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Behind him, he heard Efim gasp, an entirely involuntary intake of breath. Efim came up beside him, “How could you ever think she was a boy? She is so beautiful.”

“She is also dying.”

While they watched, the girl choked on a mouthful of blood. Her eyes fluttered and flew open.

Efim covered his face, “She is dead.”

“She is not dead. Here, you dress the wound on her arm. I’ll get her legs.”

“She is bleeding from her lungs. How long do you think she will last?”

“I hope, long enough for an interview.”

“Vasily, Vasily, Vasily,” Efim pulled out their first aid kit and began wraping her bleeding arm.

The girl gave a pathetic gasp. Vasily tilted back her head and turned it to the side to clear her throat.

Efim shook his head.

“Take her arms Efim. I’ll get her legs.”

Efim grabbed the girl’s arms. He shook his head, “You think the field hospital will help her? Are you a fool?”

Vasily lifted her by her feet, “She weighs almost nothing.” He rasped under his breath at Efim, “Efim. Did not you see? A girl who can do this. She stopped the tanks. She stopped the guns and the troops. All the troops. What kind of girl is this?”

“You are living in a world of fantasy, Vasily. Whatever girl she was, she will soon be dead.”

“You drive, Efim. I’ll hold her.”

Efim shook his head again. While he drove, Vasily held the gasping girl in his arms, “Dear God she is trying so hard to live. Efim are those tears on your cheeks?”

“You are torturing me, Vasily. I can’t stand to hear her dying there in your arms. She reminds me of my own child. You’re getting blood on your uniform.”

Through injury and hardship, Lumière Bolang becomes a pathetic character. She is injured, almost killed. She has incredible powers that even she forgets she can control. Shadow of Darkness is a dark but illuminating novel about Stalin and the Soviet Union. Lumière lives in the belly of the beast and shows us about a very corrupt and horrible society. This is also the power of pathos and a Romantic character. It is difficult to contrast the evil with the simply immoral unless your stage is set with the evil and the pathetic. A Romantic comparison also helps. You can see that my writing is taking advantage of this idea of the Romantic and the pathetic. I do hope these novels are published soon. We shall see.

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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