7 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 947, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon
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 third novel in the Enchantment series is Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon. Another great idea for a novel—if a sorceress called a demon could she ever escape the power of that demon. Specifically, could she ever be redeemed? This is the theme and plot idea behind Aksinya. At the same time, I blogged this novel to provide an entire novel example of how I conceive, develop, and write a novel. This was my ultimate example.
Aksinya is the protagonist of this novel. She is quite obviously a Romantic protagonist. You can gather this from the fact that she can call a demon in the first place. She must be a sorceress of great skill to make such a spell. Here is her description:
The dank stone room was filled with shadows. Every corner oozed darkness. Within a pentagram that was encompassed by a circle stood a slight young woman. Fat yellow beef-tallow candles marked the points of the pentagram and weakly illuminated only the area around her. A brazier of incense filled the room with the scent of myrrh along with an underlying smell that was indeterminate, but left a taste of blood in the mouth. The woman was dressed in a black gown that was much too large for her. Beautiful hand made lace cascaded down the front of the dress and decorated the sleeves. Thick velvet competed with black satin to form a perfect attire to greet a Tsar, but certainly not a commissar. The gown fell loosely away from the woman’s thin chest and small breasts. It looked odd draped on her body, like a girl playing dress-up from her mother’s closet. But this gown obviously came from the closet of a princess.
Aksinya, the woman within the pentagram, squinted across the dark cellar. She was barely eighteen and much too thin for her age. She was petit; that was a polite way of saying small. And underdeveloped, that was a polite way of saying she didn’t yet appear much like a woman. Aksinya’s hair was dark brown and silky and beautiful, bound up in a long braid, but her face was plain and Russian, so Russian. Her voice was soft and sometimes too shrill. When she was excited it rose in strength and pitch, so she never sounded very mature or well mannered.
Aksinya stood in the middle of the pentagram. She held a book in one hand, and the bodice of the dress in the other. It kept falling away from her chest and although there was no one to see, she felt uncomfortable and underdressed when it did. She squinted across the cellar again and focused back on the book. She knew the words and the pictures in the book by heart. She had memorized them long ago, but still she sought them like an anchor against the storm she was about to release. In the dark—she hadn’t thought about how dark it would be, she could barely read the text. Finally, she took up an extra taper from the floor and lit it from the closest candle. She had to hold the taper in one hand and the book in the other, which almost completely revealed her chest, but that couldn’t be helped now.
Aksinya read from the book. The words weren’t Russian, her mother tongue, and they weren’t the French of the Russian Court. They weren’t the Greek their priest pounded daily into her head. The language was Latin. She had studied it secretly for years. She had memorized all the Latin books she had found hidden in the unused guesthouse at the back of the estate. With nothing else to do, she had spent every free moment teasing out the secrets of these books for just this moment. Aksinya was tired of being nothing and being helpless. She intended from this moment forward to never be helpless again.
She read the ponderous Latin from her book. The cover was black, and a pentagram was worked into the ancient leather. The book was old, ancient. The pages were yellowed with age. In spite of that, the pictures and words were perfectly preserved as if time inside it had been slowed to a stop. The words of the book were dark and evil. Aksinya knew them well. She knew their meanings. She forced her lips to form them, but this wasn’t the first time she had forced her lips to make these dark words. For years and years she spoke them. She manipulated the world through them. She made the world obey her with these ancient words. She let her mind flow to the word—sorcery. Aksinya made magic. She had taught herself from the dark books she found, and here and now, she made the most horrible of magic.
You get the competency of Aksinya from the very beginning. She is competent. She is a highly skilled sorceress. This idea continues through the novel. Her power, knowledge, and skill resonates from beginning to end. If anything, she is skilled but too innocent and inexperienced. The problem with Aksinya isn’t her knowledge or skills but rather that she is driven by temptation. Once she has a demon, he temps her over and over. In the end, Aksinya becomes a pathos developing character because of this temptation. Here is another example from the novel:
A heavy sound woke her. She raised her head. She didn’t dare speak. Then she heard it again. It sounded like the slap of a bare foot against stone. She caught a whiff of sulfur in the air. In the darkness, a large dark figure stood outside her door.
Aksinya shivered and trembled at the same time.
Asmodeus voice thick with mocking amusement tumbled out of the darkness. Aksinya was so used to seeing his lips curl up over his fangs, she wasn’t certain if she could see them or she just imagined them in the darkness. The demon chuckled, “Dear alleged Countess what a terrible predicament you find yourself in.”
Aksinya stared at him.
“Didn’t I warn you not to confess? Didn’t I tell you to not seek out the Church.” He spat the word. “You sought to resist me. That was a new experience for me. None of my previous masters ever tried to fight against me before. But that doesn’t matter. There is no hope for you now.”
“There was never any hope for me from the beginning, was there, demon?”
“Ah, the little girl finally speaks. Yes, you are right. There never was any hope for you.”
“Why are you here now demon. Have you come to give me more instructions or did you just come to torment me.”
He laughed, “I have no more instructions to give you, alleged Countess. I’m here to steal all hope away from you.”
Aksinya pressed her lips tightly shut.
“You will never be rid of me, but now, I can torment you as I desire.”
“You lie. You may only torment the guilty, and I am confessed and forgiven.”
Aksinya heard a slight change in the tone of Asmodeus’ voice, “I warned you not to confess. I still have power over the world, and the world will do my work for me well.” He stuck out his hand and pulled it back.
The dress Aksinya wore slipped off her body. At the door, the demon held it in his fist.
“There, alleged Countess, the night is cold. Your cell is colder. This dress shall keep until the morrow.” He threw it far down the corridor where Aksinya could never retrieve it. “I can still torment you, but I don’t need to torment you. That was never my plan. I sought to bring everyone around you down to your level. Already my plans have come to a wonderful harvest. It is a harvest you shall reap for me. Could you imagine that you would see the ruin of everything you hold dear? You don’t need to imagine it, because you will soon live it. Everyone you touched will be harmed. Little girl, you don’t have any idea the havoc you have wrought in this world—soon you will know all.”
Aksinya huddled naked and shivering in the corner of the bench and the wall.
“This is usually the time you threaten me, alleged Countess. Why so quiet?”
“Because speaking will do no good. It never did any good before. The only thing that matters anymore is that I am confessed and forgiven.”
“What about your friends?”
“For them…for them.”
“Hah, don’t say you are willing to die.”
Tears trickled down the sides of Aksinya’s cheeks, “I cannot say that. I am not willing to die for them. I wish I was able, but I am not.”
“That is your problem. You were willing to release a demon to protect your family, but you would not have died for any of them. Let me tell you a secret, alleged Countess. I killed your family. I killed them all. If you wondered at your injuries when you traveled with me from your cellar to your family’s estate, they came about because you helped me bring about the deaths of your own family. I delayed just long enough between heaven and earth so the Bolsheviks would have the time to do their dirty work. You were marked with the touch of hell in the place where time has no meaning. Already you have been to hell; therefore, you should embrace your new home with even greater fervor.”
Aksinya was breathless, “You let them murder my family? You were sworn to obey me.”
“Never sworn to obey you. I swore to do evil in your name. You are such a fool, little girl. You tried to negotiate with a demon. My purpose is temptation and evil. I have no other purpose in heaven or earth.”
“So… I see.”
“Too late. Always they understand too late.” Asmodeus stretched to his full height, “Ah, evil is so liberating, but you have chosen a different path, haven’t you.”
“I have chosen.”
“With all the pain and suffering you will know. I could offer you life, liberty, freedom, sorcery.”
“It wouldn’t help my friends.”
“I could continue to lie to you and tell you it would. Would that change your mind?”
“I have chosen.”
“I must be completely clear because I don’t wish to lose all the potential of evil within you. If you determine to follow me, I will save you from all this pain and suffering.”
“But you won’t help my friends.”
“I will not help your friends or your enemies. I offer you evil and only evil.”
“You offer me relief now and eternal suffering later. Christ offers me suffering because of my own actions now and eternal life later. In either case, I can’t help my friends…or my enemies, and I don’t wish to bring any more evil into the world.”
At the word, Christ, the demon cringed. He frowned, “Very well. You will not know peace until your dying day, and I shall reap your soul in any case.”
Aksinya’s teeth chattered, “You will not have my soul. I am marked by Christ as His own.”
Asmodeus snarled, “Shut up, Countess.”
“I am His. I am Christ’s.”
Aksinya hugged her naked body more closely. The rosary pressed solidly against her chest. She pulled it out and raised it up, “In spite of all the pain and suffering I might face because of this decision, I choose Christ. You can’t do anything about that. My mind is free of you. I am Christ’s, not yours. I can swear, and I can hold onto the promise that is mine. I only wish I knew this before I knew you. Begone.”
At that moment Asmodeus was gone. All that was left was an acrid stink. Aksinya wondered if her confession had sent him away or something else.
You can read this entire novel with commentary in this blog. You can see how Aksinya has become a pathetic character. In the end, she has been abandoned by almost everyone. She has lost her possessions, her family, her money, her position, and her friends. She is about to be judged by an ecclesiastical trial, and she will soon face a criminal trial. This is all not good for her, and none of it was her fault. The demon caused everything. The demon tempted her to every failing and failure—in most cases, the demon just set her up and she fell into the trap.
You can see this pattern of a Romantic character who is made pathetic. This is a form I have developed through many novels.
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