31 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 940, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Children of Light and 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?
I noted that I’ve learned to develop characters who are Romantic and pathetic. As I’ve wrote, these types of characters appeal to readers. Readers like Romantic characters and they feel an emotional attachment to pathetic characters. I’ll move on to more examples from my writing. The novel that follows Shadow of Light in the Ancient Light series is Children of Light and Darkness. Children of Light and Darkness is about the nation of Myanmar, that is Burma, Britain, spying, and girls who seem to be modern goddesses. The protagonist of this novel is Kathrin McClellan. She was introduced as a character in Shadow of Light. She works for the organization which is where Lumière works. In fact, Kathrin and James’ assignment is to find Lumière and Alexander. Here is Kathrin’s description from the novel:
Kathrin knew she was pretty—perhaps bordering on beautiful. Her face was freckled and sported blazing green eyes. She had heart shaped lips in a heart shaped face. Her hair was red, and she was thin, perhaps too thin. She wasn’t very tall either. None of those characteristics ever seemed to affect her negatively. She spoke with a thick but improving Scottish brogue that made her a little difficult to understand at times. She knew she always showed a slightly harried look, and that was backed by an overly brisk personality. And true to the Gallic stereotype, she did possess a raging temper. It was a prideful secret that she kept it in check almost all of the time. When she let it out, it scared her. She didn’t let it out often, not at all since she had been working for the organization.
Kathrin does not appear to be a Romantic character. She actually is a Romantic character, but the protagonist revelation more than this simple description shows you that. Indeed, in Shadow of Light and in Shadow of Darkness, the reader knew generally who and what Lumière was. This is not true of Children. Children is a discovery novel. Kathrin knows exactly who she is, everyone else has no idea. The undercurrent of mystery and secrets in this novel are what propel it and the plot. Now, concerning pathos. Not much further in the novel we read:
Kathrin met James on the way to pick her up. She wasn’t moving very fast.
“Hullo, Kathrin. Any success?” They continued along the track toward their hotel.
She answered with her head down. She wouldn’t bring her eyes up to his, “Great success. They are Svetlana and Klavdiya Diakonov. We are one step closer.”
“Excellent. I put out some initial feelers about what we must do to get them out of the county. It’s not pretty.”
“I need you to get me books, in English, and as many as you can.”
He laughed, “Books?”
“Yes, books. It is one of the means I intend to use to convince them to come with us.”
“I saw that too. They might not want to leave here…for many reasons. Kathrin, you need to work this as quickly as you can. We can’t hope to escape detection forever. The villagers will be our first problem. The government and potentially the religious structure here will be next on the list.”
Kathrin beetled her brows and glanced at him, a tiny look, “Why the religious structure?”
“Burma is Buddhist, culturally, structurally, nationally. Strong paganism of any type is viewed with great suspicion. I’m surprised the villagers have not had problems already with the local Buddhist temple.”
“But you said there were thousands of gods and goddesses…”
“So I did and so there are, but here Buddhism is the defining religion. We have two real goddesses on our hands—this would not make the Buddhist monks very happy—or the government.” He stopped and grabbed her hands, “Look Kathrin, what’s eating you? You have never acted like this before.”
“Never, since I knew you.”
She kept walking but didn’t pull her hands out of his, “James, when we get back to England, you’ll dump me, won’t you?”
“Whoa, Kathrin. When did the conversation move from our mission to us?”
“Our relationship never bothered me before. I guess I’m not as emancipated as I thought. I know I have been a jerk. I was really ashamed at myself. First for giving in to you, and second, for not giving myself to you. That’s all over for now.”
“Kathrin, I realized it was over a while ago.”
“No, you don’t understand. I can’t let you have sex with me anymore, but I still want you…” An anguished look came over her face, “I don’t know what I am saying anymore. I just want us to go back to the way it was at the beginning. Then, you desired me, and I desired you and we didn’t give in. I was looking for someone to marry, and I found a friend…only later a bedmate.”
“I think I understand, Kathrin.”
She glanced away, “I know you will dump me when we return…”
“Have I ever treated you like I didn’t respect you?”
“No, you have always acted like a gentleman.” She smiled up at him, “Even when I didn’t act like a lady.”
“Then have no fear. I will not take advantage of you, and I will not hurt you. You have become tired of me?”
She touched his face, “I am not tired of you James. I loved you—I still think I love you. I just need to stop feeling ashamed of myself. I need to reearn the respect for myself I once had.”
He stared squarely at her, “These two little girls made you realize this?”
Kathrin sniffed, “Yes, they did. I think they can read some thoughts—especially if they touch you.”
“That’s important to know. What gifts will you bring them tomorrow?”
“I am ordered to bring books. I have two more romance novels. The girls think my life is like one of those stories.”
James snorted, “I have news for you, Kathrin. Your life is like one of those stories.”
She giggled, “I guess it is, isn’t it?”
“I have another book to donate to the cause.” He pulled a small service New Testament from his pocket and handed it to her.
She stared quizzically at him, “The girls told me today, I must not just believe, I must do. I think they meant I should act on what I believe.”
James smirked, “So that is my problem now too?”
“Do you really think I should give this to them?”
“Bruce Lyons thinks the New Testament is important enough that they are issued to every agent. Usually they are kept hidden unless you have a cover like ours. Svetlana and Klavdiya Diakonov father’s cover was an orthodox priest when he acted as an agent for the organization. The New Testament might enable you to bring that up in conversation.”
“Now, you’re telling me how to do my job?”
“Just helping. I don’t usually get to help you with that part very much.”
“Thanks, James. That kind of praise makes me feel useful.”
“We don’t need any martini skewers tomorrow. You still up for a drink?”
“Anytime with you, James, anytime.”
Kathrin does not become a pathetic character immediately. The readers learn slowly about her life and her background. They learn she is poor. She has been shaking up with James. She literally escaped from her Scottish parents and sisters and came to London. She becomes the mother to two girls quite accidentally but intentionally. There is action all around her with great pathos development, but slow and purposeful pathos development. Later in the novel, we read:
Kathrin thought it was a delightful idea. She helped Sveta and Klava write invitations on fancy cards. Sveta and Klava handed them to Susan and Clare on Tuesday. Susan and Clare brought their acceptance cards the next day. On Friday, after school, Susan and Clare with their mothers arrived in front of Rosewood House.
Mrs. Worth glanced at her daughter, Susan, “Are you certain this is the right address, dear? I thought your friends were poor and disabled.”
Mrs. Keigwin, Clare’s mother, stared at Mrs. Worth, “Well, this isn’t what I expected at all.”
They smiled and headed up the walk to the front door. Sveta and Klava saw them coming. They had been waiting in the front window of the study for almost thirty minutes. They rushed past Herbert and down the walk, “Hi, Susan. Hello, Clare.” The girls all giggled.
Susan pointed to her mother, “Mother, may I introduce Sveta and Klava to you? Sveta and Klava, this is my mother, Mrs. Worth.”
“How do you do, Mrs. Worth?” pronounced Sveta and Klava almost together. They curtsied and shook her hand.
Clare introduced her mother to them. Sveta took Susan’s hand and Klava, Clare’s and led them up to the house. Herbert opened the door with a broad smile, “Good afternoon, Ladies.” He helped Mrs. Worth and Susan and Mrs. Keigwin and Clare with their coats. Then, he glanced at Sveta and Klava, “Miss Sveta, Miss Klava, should I announce our guests or will you do that yourselves?”
“We will, Herbert. Come on.” They skipped to the foyer and were about to head toward the bright sunroom at the back of the house.”
Kathrin and Tilly had heard Herbert’s door signal and waited in the foyer. Kathrin stepped forward and Sveta and Klava took her hands. Klava spoke for them both, “Mother, may we introduce you to Mrs. Worth and Mrs. Keigwin?” Kathrin nodded and shook their hands, “Good afternoon, Mrs. Worth and Mrs. Keigwin. I am Kathrin McClellan.”
Mrs. Worth was surprised, “You are these girls’ mother?”
Kathrin smiled, “I am.”
“Mother,” continued Klava, “May we introduce, our friends Susan and Clare?”
Kathrin shook the girls’ hands.
Kathrin glanced at Klava and Sveta, “Please don’t forget Aunt Tilly.”
Klava opened her mouth and rushed to Tilly’s side, “I’m sorry, Aunt Tilly.” She pulled Tilly forward, “Aunt Tilly, may I introduce Mrs. Worth and Mrs. Keigwin and our friends Susan and Clare?”
“Hello,” Tilly shook their hands, “I am Tilly Lyons. I am so glad to meet you.”
Kathrin waved them forward, “Let’s go to the sunroom. The girls have planned a very nice tea.”
They all moved to the sunroom. Mrs. Worth and Mrs. Keigwin’s eyes were everywhere. They had expected a hovel, at best a cottage. In the sunroom, Klava and Sveta, assisted by Mrs. Lamport and Herbert served tea.
“We made the biscuits, ourselves,” bragged Klava, “It’s our Gram’s recipe.”
After tea, Sveta and Klava took Susan and Clare up to their room to play. Their mothers and Tilly remained in the sunroom.
When the girls left, Mrs. Worth put her hand on Kathrin’s, “Miss McClellan, I am so glad you invited us to tea. And I do apologize that I have not had you and your wonderful girls over after school.”
“I second that,” Mrs. Keigwin stated, “We had no idea.”
Kathrin frowned, “I hope Klava and Sveta didn’t leave you with a bad impression before.”
“Not at all. Not at all, Miss. McClellan,” Mrs. Keigwin continued, “I am ashamed to admit, I wasn’t sure I could handle your girls at my house. I had heard so much that was rumor. I think those rumors are wrong.”
“You just can’t trust everything you hear.” Mrs. Worth went on.
“What did you hear?”
“Oh, that Klava and Sveta were poor and didn’t have much to eat. Susan said they were on a nutrition watch at the school.”
“A nutrition watch?” laughed Kathrin.
“Well, what else are people to think? We knew they were from a missionary family and that you are still a Miss, we naturally assumed…”
“You assumed they didn’t have much.”
“And they do have…you know…disabilities. Although, I am not sure they act disabled at all.”
Kathrin spoke very clearly, “They don’t imagine that they are disabled at all.”
“Oh, I see.”
The ladies continued in other conversation for a while longer. Then it was time to go. Sveta and Klava said a nice farewell to Susan and Clare and their mothers. When they had gone, Kathrin and Tilly broke out in uncontrolled laughter. Klava and Sveta couldn’t figure out what was so funny.
As you can see, the idea of pathos is generated through the novel based on many factors. My point in this as a discovery novel is to slowly allow the reader to come to understand Kathrin and the world around her. This is the power of a discovery novel.
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