6 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 946, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden
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?
The second novel in the Enchantment series is Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden. After writing Hestia, I had this great idea for a novel—what would happen, or rather how could it happen for a goddess to be banished. In addition, I wanted to present an Anglo-Saxon character in the modern era. These ideas came together in Dana-ana. The theme and plot question is if and how a goddess could commit a crime so heinous that she would be banished. In addition, what about those she committed the crime against. Further, what punishment, in addition to banishment, would she endure? These ideas seemed delicious to me. Out of them, Dana-ana was born.
Dana-ana is the protagonist and definitely a Romantic character. She is based on the Dana-ana of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. She is cursed to act as a member of an Anglo-Saxon household without regard to time or place. She can’t help herself—this is her punishment. I’ve given away too much already. This is a discovery novel in which the other characters discover just who is Dana-ana. Here is her description from the novel:
The yells of students burst from the halls and classrooms and pressed into the yard. Byron Macintyre was carried along with the crowd. He just wanted to get to lunch. He rolled his eyes and kept up with the moving mob. The halls of their old school building were not very wide, and the lockers on either side made them smaller. The high school didn’t have that many students, but when they were all out of class and moving in one direction, it was nearly impossible to travel anywhere else. Byron figured he would just wait until he could get outside the doors, then he could duck back to his locker, the cafeteria, and then the library.
Byron was tall, but he still couldn’t see what was going on ahead. Out of exasperation, he yelled over the noise of the crowd, “What’s going on?”
From beside him, one of the sophomore girls laughed, “It’s that girl Diana. The stinky skank, who wears crappy clothes.”
Yeah, Byron knew about Diana. Everyone knew about Diana. She was never very far from trouble with teachers, students, or parents. She didn’t have any friends, but she usually kept a low profile.
Sure enough, when Byron spilled out into the yard with the other students, Jack had Diana by her long stringy hair. Diana was tall, but there wasn’t much to her. She was skinny and lanky. Her clothing was always plain and usually dirty. She had on ragged blue jeans and a plain white shirt. The shirt was slightly threadbare. She didn’t have much up top, but you could tell she didn’t wear a bra—probably didn’t think she needed one. Her long black hair covered her face, but there wasn’t much to that either. Her face wasn’t hard to look at, but usually she hid it in her hair by keeping her face down. She wasn’t making a sound, but a lot of others were. Byron pushed his way to the front.
From the beginning, it is obvious that Dana-ana (Diana) is a pathetic character. Her Romantic character is not evident at all. In this novel, I present a poor, malnourished, misunderstood person who blossoms with help. If you remember, she is being punished. She isn’t supposed to blossom. She isn’t supposed to have friends. Even the reason she is called Diana is because she will not speak without the Anglo-Saxon greeting ceremony—this is her culture and punishement.
Throughout the novel, Dana-ana is presented as a pathos developing character—or I should write, she is constantly a pathos developing character. She can’t help it, she is under a curse and she is banished. Here is an example:
Mrs. Macintyre pushed open the door at the end of the hall and walked down it. She wiped her hands on a hand towel and had a broad smile on her face. Kristine Macintyre was a tall and thin middle aged woman. Her hair was blond but slightly graying. She kept it in a ponytail. She wore blue jeans and a faded work shirt. Her face was kind and well proportioned, and she didn’t have many wrinkles yet. When she saw Dana, her smile slipped a little. She gazed the girl over more than once and slowed her walk. Dana was the same height as she. The girl looked terrible. A bruise marked her left cheek and her left eye was swollen and red. Her hair looked like it hadn’t been washed or brushed in a long time. It was long and black and fell almost as far as her waist. The girl’s face was gaunt. She wore a white shirt torn at one shoulder, and Kristine could tell she didn’t have a bra on under it. Mrs. Macintyre steeled herself for the odor. She knew this person would reek, but she was surprised at what she did smell. There was a scent, but it was like soil and the bayou. Not the most pleasant of smells, but not the reek of stale human perspiration. Still Mrs. Macintyre sighed. Her smile caught back up with her lips and before Byron could say anything, she put out her hand, “Hi, are you Dana…I’m Byron’s mom, Mrs. Macintyre.”
Dana looked down. She didn’t say anything. She buried her face in her cascading hair.
Byron pulled Dana’s hair to either side and stared in her face, “Dana-ana Goewyn, I request that you speak to my mother.”
Dana shook her head. She put out her foot.
“What?” Byron thought a moment, “No way.”
Dana nodded, and Byron shook his head. He grabbed her good arm and led her into the kitchen.
Mrs. Macintyre rushed right behind them, “Wait, Byron. What is this all about?”
Byron sat Dana in a chair at the kitchen table. He took a basin and filled it with water. He put it at Dana’s feet and pulled off her rotten tennis shoes. They were rotten and held together with duct tape. She didn’t have any socks—of course. In contrast, Dana’s feet were slender and beautiful. They were dirty, but not smelly. The tennis shoes were smelly, Dana’s feet were not. Bryon washed them and Mrs. Macintyre handed him her towel. He dried them.
A very large smile filled Dana’s features, “Thank you Byron Caedmon Macintyre, you are the first in this land to properly greet and welcome me.” She did not stand, but held out her hand to Mrs. Macintyre, “Hello goodwife Macintyre. I bless your house and I bless your peace. I bless your living and your dying. I thank you for your hospitality, but I cannot accept anything but gifts from you.”
Mrs. Macintyre gingerly touched Dana’s dirty hand, “Yes, right…”
Absently. Byron stated, “Mother, this is Dana-ana Goewyn. She’s a classmate. The one I told you about.”
Mrs. Macintyre made a face. She kind of recovered, “Would you both like a snack? I know Byron is always famished after school.”
Dana didn’t say anything. Her stomach growled.
Mrs. Macintyre brought a plate of apple slices and cut cheddar cheese and placed it between Byron and Dana at the table.
Byron picked up a slice of apple, “This is a gift for Dana.”
Dana looked at him with pleading eyes, “It won’t do any good. It was her gift. She must say the words.”
Byron turned to his mother, “Mom, will you please say to Dana. This is a gift to Dana.”
Mrs. Macintyre cleared her throat, “This is a gift to Dana….”
“Thank you,” Dana picked up a couple of pieces of fruit and cheese and began to devour them.
Behind Dana’s back, Mrs. Macintyre made a sign and pointed to the back door.
“Dana, my mother wants me to check something for her.”
Mrs. Macintyre nodded, and she and Byron stepped out the kitchen door. The back yard was filled with big old trees, roots, and grass. A few pieces of old iron and steel furniture peppered it. There wasn’t any breeze, but in spite of the humidity, the shade under the trees was comfortable. Cicadas droned in the soft early fall air.
Mrs. Macintyre led Byron a few feet from the house. She crossed her arms, “Byron, what is with this girl? Is there something wrong with her? Is she dangerous? Has she been fighting? What’s with the bruise? When you told me you were bringing a girl over for dinner, I thought…”
“Whoa, hold it just a moment. Mom, I don’t know what you thought, but this girl needs some help. I thought you wouldn’t mind helping a little.”
“Just tell me about her. She looks like she’s starving.”
“From what I can tell, she lives alone down by the bayou. She doesn’t have running water or electricity or gas. She is hungry. I think she gets her food from trash cans.”
“What about the school lunch program and charity and all that kind of thing?”
“Mom, I don’t know if Dana is nuts or just proud or what, but she won’t accept anything unless it’s been thrown out or unless you give it to her as a gift.”
Mrs. Macintyre put up her hands, “Is she dangerous? Has she been fighting?”
“I don’t think she’s dangerous. She hasn’t ever hurt others that I know about. She gets bullied a lot in school. They beat her up yesterday…” “And you rescued her?”
“Yeah, I kind of did.”
“I understood about the squirrels, rabbits, and birds, but Byron, this is a human being.”
“Yeah, and I think she needs a lot of help.”
“What about this foot washing thing?”
“When I took her home yesterday…”
“You took her home…? Come on Byron.”
“Mom, they beat her up so badly she could barely stand. The nurse didn’t want her around. I helped Dana get to her house. She lives in a tarpaper shed by the bayou. When I came into her house, the first thing she did was wash my feet. I don’t know why. She wouldn’t speak to me until then. I figured that’s what she wanted when she came here. Oh, darn, I forgot about the bread and salt.”
“Bread and salt?”
“She mentioned that yesterday. She said she would have greeted me better if she could offer bread and salt. She didn’t have any.”
“Okay, I get it. She’s a psycho.”
“I don’t know if she is a psycho or not, but she has some kind of needs. I don’t think they are especially trying, but they are real. Will you go along with it for now?”
“I will for now, but I want your father to weigh in on this before it goes much further.”
Byron nodded. They went back into the house.
When they came inside, Dana had the refrigerator open. Mrs. Macintyre frowned. She shut the refrigerator door in Dana’s face, “What are you looking for, young lady?” Mrs. Macintyre glanced at the plate on the table. It was empty. Her voice softened, “Are you still hungry, Dana?”
Dana stepped back from the refrigerator, “Some things in there,” she pointed with her index finger, “are a little off.”
Mrs. Macintyre glared at Byron. She stamped her foot, “Can you show me what isn’t good anymore?”
Dana smiled a very large smile. Her eyes crinkled in happiness, and she reopened the refrigerator. She pulled out a plastic container and an aluminum foil wrapped package. She felt around for a little and pulled out a carton of milk. She put all this in Mrs. Macintyre’s hands, “The fish is not safe to eat. Even I wouldn’t try. The beef has some good parts left. I would eat them, but most people wouldn’t. The milk is about to sour. I could make buttermilk with it—if you like.”
Mrs. Macintyre looked at the containers in her hands, “How did you know there was fish and beef in these. Did you open them?”
Dana bowed her head a little, “I didn’t open them.”
Mrs. Macintyre closed the refrigerator and put the containers on the cabinet. She opened them and smelled them, “You’re right, the fish is bad and the beef close to it. Would you really eat it?”
“I’d trim off the bad parts and eat the rest—yes.”
“Could you really make buttermilk?”
“Your milk is funny and doesn’t have much real butter in it, but I could make it palatable.”
Mrs. Macintyre poured the milk down the sink. She spoke very quietly, but clearly, “I don’t think we are that desperate.” She threw the two packages of meat in the garbage.
You can already begin to see the Romantic quality of Dana-ana coming out in this example. She has abilities beyond the norm. We find out later that she is really smart. She is gifted with skills most people can only imagine. She has ancient language skills. She has skills and abilities well outside the norm. At the same time, she is cursed—just when everything seems to be getting better for her, boom, she is back on the streets. The character of Dana-ana is a direct reflection of what I learned from my other writing—that is the power of a Romantic character who is also a pathetic character.
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