Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 939, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Shadow of Light

30 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 939, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Shadow 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.

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 Shadow of Darkness in the Ancient Light series is Shadow of Light. Shadow of Light is about the People’s Republic of China, spying, and Mao. The protagonist of this novel is again Lumière Bolang. She returns to her family at the end of Shadow of Darkness, and she brings a friend and potential husband. Unfortunately for Lumière, her experience at the hands of the Nazis, her Aunt, and the Soviet has marked her soul. She runs off her lover and is devastated. She takes up a new life in the British MI structure as a share from the Organization. Here is her description from the novel:

A low clicking sound awoke Marie Bolang Hastings. Having children made her very sensitive to noise—the motion of a child awake in the night, the soft sound of distress before little Leora began to cry. Marie sat up on the bed without waking her husband. She was a slight woman, petite and exquisitely beautiful. Her skin was the color of cappuccino. Her hair was black, long, and silky. Her eyes, more appropriate on an Egyptian tomb painting were large and brown and exotic. She was, by rights, an English Lady, the Lady Hastings in waiting. She stole a glance at her sleeping husband, George, and sighed. She pulled on her robe and walked out their door to where she heard the strange sounds. Down the hall, Lumière Bolang, Marie’s sister, sat in the darkness of the small living room. Marie knew it was Lumière. She couldn’t tell why, but her soul and spirit told her Lumière sat on their mother’s couch and mumbled in French, the sound of clicking came incessantly from Lumière’s hands. Lumière appeared very much like Marie. They were sisters, after all. Any difference was due to Lumière’s slimmer build and brilliant emerald eyes. Where Marie’s face was round and her figure full; Lumière was thin, still curvaceous, but thin, perhaps too thin. She looked strikingly like their mother.

Do I need to write it again, you can tell immediately, Lumière is a Romantic character. She possesses beauty and skills that are beyond the ordinary and beyond time. She has 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 read:

Late in the morning, Lumière entered the dining room. Her mother and father, Leora and Paul, and their great friends, Tilly and Bruce, sat at the table. Leora Bolang was almost an exact copy of Lumière. If there was any difference, it was simply their age and eye color. Leora appeared as Lumière would when she was some twenty years older. Paul displayed an officer’s stature and grace. He was tall and strong and handsome. His face was wrinkled with smile lines at the corners of his mouth and eyes. It was worn with weather and the worry of command, but always full of strength and optimism. Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons was their old friend. She was a thin athletic looking woman with a round face. She was the daughter of Lord and Lady Hastings. When her parents died Marie and George would attain those hereditary positions. In consequence, Tilly loved Marie like a daughter and treated all of Leora’s children like her own. Bruce Lyons was her husband. Bruce was a handsome man with a strong face and a calm manner. A long scar crawled across his forehead and gave his right eye a slight droop. He was a hero of the Second World War and the head of “the organization,” a British Military Intelligence agency.

Aleksandr sat at the end of the table. He was tall and also spare with a shock of blond hair and northern Russian features. He was Russian and did not speak English well. He raised his face toward Lumière, and when she didn’t acknowledge him, he reluctantly turned his face away. Tilly stood and walked over to Lumière. Her British accent made her sound brisk, “Good morning, Lumière. Would you like coffee?”

Aleksandr called out in his rough English, “No. No coffee, tea. She would like tea, tea with milk and sugar.”

Lumière looked down and then back toward Tilly, “Yes, tea with milk and sugar—if you have it.”

Lumière sat awkwardly at the table between her parents and Tilly and Bruce. Aleksandr was across from her. He did not look up at her.

Tilly poured a cup of hot water and began to brew some British tea for Lumière.

Leora glanced at Lumière, “Did you sleep last night, child?”

Lumière turned her face toward her mother, “Mother, I did not sleep last night. I did not sleep the night before.”

Leora winced. She whispered, “You’ll kill yourself.” Louder, she asked, “Why can’t you sleep? What is bothering you so much?”

“I won’t speak about it right now. I can’t. Not here and not in front of everyone.”

Leora raised her hand, “I’m sorry—I didn’t know it was like that.”

“Like what?”

Tilly placed a cup of tea in front of Lumière, “Drop it, Lumière. You haven’t slept. You are worried about something. You won’t tell us what is bothering you—just drop it for now.”

“I really can’t tell you.” She glanced down into her tea and took a sip.

Aleksandr stared darkly at Lumière. In his limited English and thick Russian accent, he stated, “I can tell you what is bothering her.”

Lumière glared at him. She barked at him in Russian, “Shut up, Aleksandr.”

He responded in Russian, “Svetlana, I don’t work for you any longer. I can do whatever I want now.” He stood up and nodded at Leora and Paul, Tilly and Bruce; then he stalked out of the room.

Lumière stared at her tea until he was gone. When Aleksandr was safely out of sight and hearing, she threw the cup and saucer away from her. It fell off the table and shattered on the floor. Then Lumière buried her face in her arms.

Leora pursed her lips. She lifted her chin to Paul. He stood and left the room. Tilly and Bruce stood and nodded at Leora. Leora sat watching Lumière and sipped her coffee. After a long time Lumière slowly lifted her head. She didn’t look to either side. It was as though no one else was there—it was as though the tragedy that was Lumière was her tragedy alone, and her actions were all intentional. She didn’t notice whether anyone remained in the room. Lumière started to stand. Leora placed her hand on Lumière’s arm. Lumière stared at her mother’s fingers. She made a face as though deciding whether to stay or whether to leave. Lumière sat back in her place. She stared straight ahead like a child caught in a misdeed who knows they deserve some punishment.

Bang, she becomes a pathetic character. The rest of the novel is first involved with finding Alexandre. The rest of the novel is much more than finding Alexandre. The power of this character is that she is Romantic, and she is pathetic all at once. More than that, her telic flaw is related to both the Romanic side and the pathetic side. As I mentioned, part of the novel involves finding and reconciling with Alexandre. The rest of the novel involves the destruction of the Goddess of Darkness. The entire novel involves the destruction of the Goddess of Darkness. Finding Alexandre is just a part, a step in the process. It helps Lumière find herself and resolve her problems.

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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