13 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 953, Publishing, Protagonists, Example: Antebellum
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 originally wrote a novel I titled Antebellum. Antebellum is very similar to my Enchantment novels. It is so similar in plot and theme, I’ve thought about renaming it, Heather: Enchantment and the House. The difference between the Enchantment novels and Antebellum is that Antebellum is about the redemption of a house. The house stands for the Antebellum South. The protagonist of the novel is Heather Sybil Roberts. Heather’s family once owned the plantation and plantation house Belfleur. During the Civil War, Belfleur disappeared as did Heather Robert’s namesake. During the summer of 1965, Heather is trying to earn enough money to go to college. She is also called to the ghost house Belfleur. Here is her description:
The clouds sifted in brilliant soft puffs across the warming morning. As Heather walked slowly across the grass, moisture grappled the hem of her dress and anointed it as though for worship. The morning sun flashed brightly, lifted by the trees, and the air was clear - clear and intoxicating. The voices of songbirds floated quietly in it, and spiced the already flavored day with cinnamon sharpness. Heather hugged herself and trembled with the early morning chill and the fineness of the day.
She hummed caressingly to herself and found no reason to hurry along this new ‘shortcut,’ but every reason to linger. The morning was sibilant and beautiful, filled with every conceivable joy that her young heart could imagine. The air was chill but full of clean scents — then yes — she was puzzled. Yes, even the mustiness of the bayou came furtively to her on the almost still air.
The trees thinned as she approached an old cotton field, and she walked a little more quickly, goaded by the anticipation that she would see the full light of the sun that blazed already flittingly between the trees.
A little later and more to the point:
Now, then, Heather Roberts, there was a girl he might not mind too much in the place. She came from a poor family. Her clothes were a little shabby, but she was a hard worker and usually quiet. Strange girl though, she’d won nearly all the scholarships available in their small township, but she still probably couldn’t afford to go to college.
Funny thing was her family was once the richest in the Parish. Yes, he could probably stand Heather, at least the job would get done and done right.
You can immediately see Heather is a Romantic and a pathetic character. The fact that she is really smart but a strange girl—this is a strong indicator of the Romantic character. She is unusual in her intelligence and her approach to life. This we discover in every degree. She is the kind of kid you always wanted. The problem is that her father isn’t very keen on a smart daughter with book learning—that’s just the times. And here, Heather is pathetic. Her family is poor. She can’t afford to go to college. She wears shabby clothes. Heather is a pathetic character and a Romantic character. Here is a little more about Heather:
Heather awoke to the pitiful clinking of her old alarm clock. As she reached to shut it off, Christin, her younger sister grunted, rolled over, and then burrowed deeper into the covers. Heather slipped from between the sheets and sat on the side of the bed. The old fat blinds were easily within reach, and she tugged them open.
Outside was almost full dark with only the faintest glimmer of dawn out over the trees. The one county light at the far end of their blacktop drive where it intersected the Old Mansfield Road was still lit. As she stared at the halo of humid brightness, Heather’s thoughts cleared immediately of sleep. She shivered. The warm air seemed to take on a chill. The memories of yesterday overwhelmed her mind.
Heather felt like a small child nursing a deep fear, a fear forgotten in sleep and only remembered at daybreak. She shook herself. What had happened yesterday? What events had truly transpired? Which of her memories could she trust? Could she trust any of them—they were all so difficult to understand. Then a name flew to her lips, Sibyl. Each of the events had a common denominator. They were intertwined in a time, a place, and a person. The plantation house and the person of Sibyl Roberts.
Heather balked at accepting everything she remembered. It was all so strange: ghost houses, ghostly beings, phantom furniture all items she saw, touched, and held.
Quietly, Heather got up and dressed. As usual, she wore a mid-calf dress, a hand-me-down from her mother—worn, but carefully and lovingly mended. It was old, but clean and crisply starched.
Heather’s toilet was simple. Brushed to a gentle gloss, her hair fell docily into a long ponytail. The only difference today was the detached and thoughtful look, she caught in the mirror at each stroke.
She fixed a quick breakfast and then started for Jane’s in the humid and translucent dawn.
Heather made her way down the blacktop drive toward the Old Mansfield road. The summer sun already brightened the sky, but she couldn’t see it topping Pine Hill yet. Because of the unsettling incidents of the day before, she chose this route, the long way, to the Lees today. She would try the shortcut again tomorrow or perhaps next week, but she shied away from repeating the experiences of the previous day.
As she kicked rocks across the road and lifted the hem of her dress away from the dew soaked plants along the shoulder, she thought about the scenes in the plantation house’s kitchen and dining room. She’d thought about it yesterday and all last night, only passing into sleep long after the old clock in the hall had struck twelve. And, though she’d run the facts over and over in her mind, they seemed so utterly impossible that, even now, she could barely believe they happened.
The sun finally topped the hill, but Heather had to turn nearly all the way around to see it. That wasn’t right! The shoulder under her feet no longer bound a strip of asphalt, instead, she stood on a gravel road. That wasn’t right either. And, the smell of the bayou grew stronger on the soft morning breeze. With growing apprehension, Heather lifted her eyes and found that she stood before a fog covered field. The sun rose blindingly through the trees behind her, and when she looked back, the gravel had disappeared and she stood ankle deep in clover and swamp grass.
This novel isn’t about the redemption of Heather. She is the protagonist, but the telic flaw is her problems of the mystery of the plantation house and how to afford college. In some ways, this novel is simpler than the other Enchantment novels. The theme is similar, the approach is somewhat different. Did I write that this was one of my early novels? Already, I began to understand the power of the Romantic and pathetic characters. The fact I designed such a character for Antebellum indicates this.
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