Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 950, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer

10 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 950, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer

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 wrote before, the Enchantment novels allowed me to explore plots and themes I couldn’t in my other novel series. The sixth novel in the Enchantment series is Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer. This novel begins a new tack on the same types of themes I was developing in the other Enchantment novels. I decided to change up the characters a little. In the previous Enchantment novels, except Aksinya, the protagonists began as a supernatural being. Part of their supernatural appeal (and Romantic nature) was their beauty. The only different one was Aksinya. Aksinya thought she wasn’t very beautiful at all—that idea encompassed and played through the entire novel. Likewise, Lilly starts as a human being with special skills. She also doesn’t think much of her beauty.

Lilly is a math super genius. This makes her a Romantic character right off the bat. There is more to her than that. You might expect her to come from an upright family with love and great support. She isn’t and she doesn’t. Here is her description:

All Dane knew about the girl was that she didn’t come into the FastMart very often. When she did, she didn’t pay with cash. She always used the FastMart Bucks, which you earned by purchasing gas or food. What was unusual was that she used a different account ID and phone number every time.

She looked terrible, especially for this part of the city. She wore a baggy old sweatshirt and an over-large pair of worn-out, not stone-washed, jeans. She had a ragged backpack on her back. Her hair was matted and her clothing filthy. Her face and hands always looked clean, but Dane couldn’t vouch for the rest of her. He never got close enough to smell her—he figured that would be much too close. He only knew her from his side of the cash register. She carried an inexpensive tablet computer in one hand, and her shopping in the crook of her arm. The tablet had a broken screen and was taped across one corner. Dane was surprised it worked.

She shuffled, literally shuffled, to his aisle, the only one open at this time of night and lifted a half gallon of milk and a cheap loaf of bread to the counter. At that moment, a group of four high school boys rushed up impatiently behind her. They had tried to beat her to the counter to pay for their power drinks and snacks, but were just a second too late. They pressed right up behind her, but she didn’t budge an inch.

Before Dane could ring up her stuff, she announced in a very soft lilting voice, “It’s four dollars and sixty-three cents with tax.”

Dane turned her a strange look and ran the items through the scanner. The total came back, four dollars and sixty-three cents. Dane glanced at her, “You’re right. Four dollars and sixty-three cents. How are you going to pay tonight?”

She smiled and lifted her tablet, “Use my FastMart Bucks.”

“What’s your phone number?”

She glanced at her tablet, “253-280-7061.”

“The name on your account?”

“Billy Martin…”

Dane was about to ask her to put her password into the keypad when a voice raised behind her, “Hey Billy, this girl is using your account. She has your name and password and everything.”

Lilly is not what she seems. She is immediately pathetic. She is living off the street and using her math and computer skills to eat. We find later that she is sharing her “bounty” with a Japanese man and his cat. What we later learn is that this Japanese man is a displaced Japanese Kami (god) who wants to pass his godhood to Lilly. Here is some more about Lilly:

Lilly stopped in front of the gate. In the deep shadows of the night, Dane entirely missed a shape at the base of one of the posts. It looked like a bundle of rags. Lilly reached toward the bundle and shook it, “Hiko-kun. Hiko-kun, I have something for you tonight.”

The rags moved. Dane swore he heard a tinkling sound just at the edge of perception. The rags sat up and a wrinkled oriental face smiled up at Lilly. The voice was oddly deep and didn’t fit the face at all. It was rumbling and strong, but didn’t sound like it went that far beyond them, “Lilly-chan, how many times must I tell you? My name is Kanayama-hiko. Hiko isn’t my first name.”

Lilly rummaged around in her backpack and brought out the breadsticks in the napkin. She held it out and wrinkled her nose, “Saying Kanayama-kun just sounds too pretentious. I brought you fresh bread tonight. It is a gift from Dane, Hiko-kun.”

The old oriental man smiled, “Dane, you say?”

Lilly stepped slightly to the side, “This is Dane. He helped me tonight and bought me dinner.”

Dane moved to get a better look at the man. He saw a scrawny and ancient looking Asian man with a thin white beard. On second appraisal, the old man’s clothing was very fine and looked oriental. He wore a black yukata embroidered with metallic thread. It only looked like rags because the man was so shriveled and small. Dane realized Kanayama-hiko was not small at all, but the clothing engulfed him and was itself wrinkled. When Kanayama-hiko moved, Dane could hear the sound of tinkling bells—or perhaps it was the muted toll of clanking metal. The man moved deliberately but easily as though he had once been ponderous, but was now much smaller and lighter. When Kanayama-hiko reached out to take the bread from Lilly, the sleeves of his clothing fell back, and his hands and arms looked like those of a blacksmith. The hands that took the bread from Lilly were large and heavy, but the man moved lightly, with a gentle touch.

Kanayama-hiko did not stand. He did not bow his head. For some reason, Dane felt like he should bow. He lowered his head, and Kanayama-hiko smiled, “Thank you, Lilly-chan for your gift, and you also Dane-kun.” A black cat moved from behind the post and sat next to Kanayama-hiko. Kanayama-hiko offered a piece of bread to the cat, and Dane was surprised it took it and began to eat.

Lilly stood straight, “I’m sorry Bakeneko-chan. I don’t have milk for you tonight.”

The black cat looked up at Lilly and meowed.

Kanayama-hiko glanced at Lilly, “Lilly-chan, how many times must I tell you. Her name is Kuro-chan and not Bakeneko-chan. She is a Bakeneko, but her name is Kuro-chan.”

Lilly laughed, “I like to say Bakeneko-chan. There are surely many cats named Kuro-chan, but how many can be called Bakeneko-chan.”

The old man smiled. Dane caught the sound of the tinkling of metal again. Kanayama-hiko wrapped up the bread and folded his legs. He sat up against the post of the gate, “You are very kind to bring a gift to me every night Lilly-chan.”

What about Lilly? She has her Romantic characteristic which become even more pronounced and powerful as she advances in the novel. She does become a kami, and the question then is: what will she do with her new-found powers? It isn’t as simple as that. Remember, the question in these novels is one of redemption. In the case of Lilly, it is the question of the redemption of Lilly and the kami. The point is one of Eastern religion and redemption. In this case, the novel itself is somewhat different than the others. The question isn’t just the redemption of Lilly, a kami, but the redemption of an entire idea in society and culture. I try to not let the theme interfere with the plot—in other words, all these novels are entertaining. Here is a little of Lilly’s conundrum.

Lilly twitched her lips, “It is very simple. Kanayama-hiko loaded the essence of his kami into my mind. It’s kind of like an instruction manual for his shrine and his being. He thought he had little purpose in the modern world, but I have great purpose. At the same time, he made you my kannushi. You don’t know how liberating this is for me. I had many worries as Lilly Lin Grant. I have almost no worries as Kanayama-hime…”

“Who exactly is this Kanayama-hime?”

“Very simply Kanayama-hime is me. I am the kami of metal and of all things that can be made of metal.”

“But what does that mean exactly?”

“It means that I am responsible in the world for giving purpose to men and women who find, mine, and use metal.”

“You are a kami?”

“That’s exactly what it means. I have you as my kannushi and Kuro-san as my helper. I also have two dragons as shrine guardians, and I have some shrines.”

“Some shrines?”

“You didn’t imagine this is the only one—did you? There are shrines to Kanayama-hiko and Kanayama-hime in Japan and some other places. They are all under our providence.”

“Under our providence?”

“You are mine Dane.”

Dane couldn’t reply for a few long moments, finally he choked out, “Why are you saying Kuro-san now instead of Kuro-chan?”

“I wish to honor Kuro-san. She is a wonderful being who deserves great honor…”

Dane glanced at Kuro. She was listening with careful attention to Lilly’s words. A quiet smile had taken root on her face that suddenly wouldn’t leave.

Dane stammered again, “What are you going to do?”

“What are we going to do, you mean. First, we will go to class and live our lives as we have in the past. Second, we will begin to give purpose to the legacy of Kanayama-hiko and Kanayama-hime. Their power should invigorate people to use metals. Third, we shall make our place in the world for Kami-sama. Ah, I don’t wish to leave the onsen so soon, but we must eat and prepare for the day.” She called, “Kuro-san…” Lilly stood and walked to the other side of the onsen. Dane couldn’t help but watch her in the bright light of the morning. Her back and limbs were beautiful. They almost shined in the sifting sunlight. He could see scars on them, white on her very lightly colored skin. Lilly spoke quietly, “Do you see the marks on my body, Dane.” She turned around to face him.

Dane averted his gaze, “I see them.”

“This is something I hid from everyone in the world. I let you see them all you want. I will not hide them anymore. Can you guess where they came from?”

“Your mother…?”

Lilly’s voice was not harsh or unkind, only sad, “Yes, my mother. She beat me because she could and marked me to keep me from attracting her cliental. It was protection. I should thank her for that, but it left me with a permanent stigmata on my body and my heart. There is no reason for me to hide them from you or from the world any more.”

Lilly has become a kami, but she is still a pathetic character. The novel is about people. It is not about events or about things rather the center is the interaction of people. Lilly has become a kami (a goddess) yet she is still a human being with needs, desires, and suffering. This is the crux of writing, to take the unexpected and make it real. To take the terrible and expose it, then provide some human solution to the impossible.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/
http://www.aegyptnovel.com/
http://www.centurionnovel.com
http://www.thesecondmission.com/
http://www.theendofhonor.com/
http://www.thefoxshonor.com
http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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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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