Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 955, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: The End of Honor

15 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 955, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: The End of Honor

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?

Readers like Romantic characters because they want to be like them. They like pathetic characters because they want to love and comfort them. What about protagonists from other genres, especially science fiction. I also write science fiction. I have three published science fiction novels called the Chronicles of the Dragon and the Fox. The novels are individually named: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A season of Honor. The theme of the novels is focused around–honor. What are the protagonists like? Let’s look at The End of Honor.

First of all, let me confess, these are somewhat experimental novels. I think they are entertaining, but they are a little different in their approach, for good reasons. The End of Honor begins in the first person with a young woman who has just been executed. She is not the protagonist of the novel. The protagonist is Prince John-Mark, this woman’s lover and fiancé. The death of Lyral Neuterra results in an intragalactic war. Prince John-Mark in part was the cause of this war, and he must find a way to stop it. Science fiction engenders itself to Romantic characters. The special and unique scientist, the telepathic boy, the super smart girl, the tricky and lucky rogue, the super computer, and all.

You can tell immediately, Prince John-Mark is a Romantic character. Here is his description through the eyes of Lyral:

As I entered the garden from the house and walked into the sonic bordered expanse that held the environs of long dead Terra, I couldn’t help but notice the young man. To my amazement, he hung out of a window in my father’s study. He seemed to be trying to get a better look at the rose bushes in the beds below. The window was nearly one and a half meters above the ground, and he stretched downward for a rose just out of the reach of his fingertips. For a moment, I was shocked into stillness, but then, with a grin I asked, “May I help you?”

He was really very young, almost as young as I. In spite of his youthful looks, he was dressed in the uniform of a major in the Emperor’s Huscarls, the Emperor’s private guard. I immediately thought it odd a lowly major should be conversing with my father in his private study, but then, I noticed the drapue and gold of a nobleman. Still, my Father had few dealings with noblemen of so low a rank to be only a major in any force. I wanted to be courteous, and at the same time find out what he was doing here.

At my words, the major snatched his hand back in embarrassment. He swayed off balance in the window for a moment, then caught himself with both hands on the lip of the sill. He seemed a little taken aback by my appearance, as though I’d caught him in a forbidden act.

When he didn’t answer my initial question, I repeated myself, “I said, may I help you?”

He smiled. I remembered that smile even to my grave. I remember it now: his eyes, a washed gray lit like glowing stones. They were as clear as a spring of water. The corners of his mouth curled into a hundred expressions at once, then his upper lip raised slightly showing the tips of his teeth. He sported a mustache and goatee. These accentuated his features and telegraphed the humor in his thoughts to me. His clear eyes seemed to catch me like a camera. They at once appraised me and, like a photograph, cataloged me, frozen in mid-stride.

He looked directly in my eyes and answered, “The garden is lovely, my lady. I was only trying to sample its fragrance and finery more closely.”

His voice was strong and clear, yet he spoke softly as if he was afraid he would frighten me away, “The question, now, my lady, is are you a part of the garden? You seem lovely enough to be. Are you a wonder of nature or a miracle of the garden?”

I colored slightly at his words, but I chose to ignore the slight impertinence—at least, my Matron would have said impertinence. I answered more boldly than I intended, “You could come into the garden yourself, then you could discover whether I was a wonder or a miracle. The door is down a short flight of stairs just a few feet beyond the next room.”

“I would love to, my lady, but I await the pleasure of the Duke of Neuterra. I fear, if I kept him waiting that might bring out his worst disposition. Right now, I need his most patient spirit.” The young major said this with such a bland voice and wry look I could barely keep from laughing. My Father’s wrath and dispositions were legendary.

I smiled at him, “Yes, I think you’re right, the Duke doesn’t like to be kept waiting, but here,” I picked one of the roses he tried so vainly to reach and lifted it to him, “you can enjoy the garden though you haven’t set a single foot in it.”

My action seemed to astonish the major. He was taken aback for a moment, then in a single motion, he reached down to take my offering. He grasped the fragile blossom, and at the same time, caught my fingers and pressed them gently to his lips. “Thank you, my Lady. The garden is indeed beautiful, but you—you are more lovely. I think you must be a miracle,” he smiled more broadly as he released my hand.

I laughed a moment, but the eyes he held to mine were full of sincerity and repeated the strength of his words.

As if taking in the garden in a single whiff, he touched the rose reflectively to his nose. Then, I heard the study door open and shut with a bang, and I knew the Duke had entered. The major half turned, then turned back to me, but I was gone. My Father had passions; many in general, but specifically ones about being disturbed, so my mother, and I, and all the servants, holders, and common people took the greatest pains not to interrupt his business.

I wondered why the major should want to speak to my Father. Perhaps we were related, and he sought a boon. He would find none forthcoming from my Father. Perhaps he was a messenger from the Emperor. That might be good or bad. Not much later, I learned, from the servants, the major was undertaking an alliance between our House and the Emperor, or another family, or something. They didn’t have the information exactly right, but the house staff was always the first to know, that is, after my Mother.

It is really difficult to make a prince a pathetic character, but I manage this. The way to make a prince a creature of pathos is to take away his honor. His honor is his title and his power. So we see Prince John-Mark in this scene:

Devon Rathenberg entered Count Acier’s Hall on his father’s arm. Beside him walked a young man of military bearing whom John-Mark recognized as Duke Falkeep’s youngest son. The presence of the young Falkeep with Devon Rathenberg presented a further enigma.

Devon Rathenberg certainly possessed the visage of a prince. He leaned easily on his father’s arm, a slight limp obvious in his walk. Though through this disability, he stood straight and walked with pride. The pride in his steps was not due to arrogance or because of his status; it was instead a reflection of his surety. He fully understood his place and responsibility. Anyone who saw him knew he was a man to be reckoned with—a most dangerous enemy and a choice friend.

As the two Rathenbergs approached, John studied the man whom he would soon pronounce the Crown Prince of the Empire. To a certain degree gazing at Devon Rathenberg, the Emperor’s Fox, was like looking at himself in a mirror. The man had burnt blond hair cut short on the sides but long in the front. He kept it combed back in a part. His face was sharp and angular, but with a characteristic smile that softened the features and made them almost nondescript. His eyes, like most of the Nobility were gray. The Fox’s eyes, however, bore an intensity that was remembered long after his appearance was forgotten. But of all the young Rathenberg’s characteristics, his bearing could not be hidden. He moves like my father, thought John-Mark. It is the true measure of an Emperor, the absolute surety of person and action.

The three men approached John-Mark and bowed. Then John reached out his hand to Devon. They embraced and pounded each other on the back like schoolboys. John felt a lightening of spirit like nothing he had felt in the last month.

“Devon, I was convinced that you were dead,” exclaimed John, “It is so good to welcome you back—and welcome you back to our victory. Your father told you?”

“Yes,” Devon smiled, “Perodus has certainly felt the Dragon’s sting, but he also felt the Fox’s bite. Like you, death hounded me from the moment I left the court on Arienth. I was fortunate more than once to retain my life. My Prince, I also come to you in victory. I rid the Empire of one of Maricus’ betrayers and, out of Arienth, within the bowels of Perodus’ security, I secured information that may add immeasurably to your victory. I just returned from Arienth, where Sir Roger Falkeep and I acquired the Emperor’s campaign plans.”

John-Mark stared at Devon for a long moment, then he clapped him on the shoulders, “You are not called the Fox for nothing. My friend you deliver the ultimate victory to our forces.”

Devon bowed.

John immediately envisioned the perfection of his own plans, “That is exactly the key I was searching for.” Then in a whisper, he said to Devon, “Perodus must and will pay dearly.”

“Count Acier,” Devon addressed Ian, “Sir Roger carries laser disks containing not only the Emperor’s strategic plans, but our own opinions, derived from direct observations of the Emperor’s capital and forces.”

Ian gratefully took the packet Roger proffered to him, and in his broadly accented voice said, “You could not have come at a better time gentlemen; we must soon make a choice as to our future plans. While our fleet holds together, we have the capability to strike. We only need a target.”

“I think you will find one there,” said Devon.

“Come, Devon, we must introduce you to the leadership of the Houses of our rebellion,” John grasped his arm.

John led the group through a set of large double doors into Acier’s council chamber. Every man in the crowded room craned to view their entrance, and an excited buzz filled the large chamber. John’s hopes brightened immediately. Their leaders recognized the Fox. He noted the information sweep thorough the long chamber. It passed in whispers even between the different Houses. This demonstrated the greatest unity he observed in them in days.

Count Acier’s Hall was the perfect place for this meeting. Even the Hall of Accords would have represented too new and polished a setting. The fierce barbarity, the mediaeval splendor of Ian’s court was like a linchpin in these men’s minds. The place fitted in their hearts, accentuating their emotions and martial honor.

As Devon and John-Mark strode into the room, out of the corner of his eye, John observed that his companion was outfitted in military splendor. Devon was arrayed in the uniform of a Huscarl Major that normally meant little when the drapue of a prince covered a man’s shoulders. Indeed, the many campaign ribbons and medals, the emblem of a Knight of the Red Cross set the Fox apart from the most outstanding warriors here. His uniform and those badges were indications of consummate military skill, but they covered more honorable emblems; the physical scars of numerous skirmishes. Devon Rathenberg’s lithe form moved slowly, almost painfully, but with a warrior’s grace, and every man here realized battle wounds decorated the Fox once again.

The chief nobility of the Houses Neuterra, Centri, Reinland, Anas, Deneb, El Rashad, Aurora, Belgesa, and Cyan sat around Count Acier’s massive table. Behind these men, perched uncomfortably on hard, wooden chairs, the nobles of the lesser Houses under the Duchies surrounded their lords.

The men were still flush with their victory, but a deep sense of discord filled them. They were at odds with the Empire and themselves. They sought reunification with the other Houses and their Emperor, yet they would accept the Emperor’s authority again only on their own terms.

John slowly led Devon to the front of the long hall. Devon’s father, the Duke walked beside them while Count Acier trailed a pace behind.

“Devon,” John-Mark carefully watched his friend’s face as he whispered at his side, “Devon, you would not have believed the cry of anger that rose when Perodus reported your death. They love you. They respect you. I betrayed these men into the hands of the Empire. I am partly to blame for the state they find themselves.” His fingers dug into Devon’s arm. “Devon, my friend, my brother. If Perodus were to die tomorrow, I would not be a welcome man in the Iron Throne. You, on the other hand, would be. You are the Fox. These men know you not by feature but by reputation. You are even more beloved and known than I. They cried for you; wailing filled the Houses of the Landsritters the night your death was announced. And Devon, you look like a Prince. Don’t say that makes no difference, you are a Prince. You can hear their murmurs of approval as we walk to the place of honor. These men would instate you as Emperor tonight if your father said the words. When our Houses were first banned, your father, Count Acier, and I decided on this course of action. When Perodus told of your death, we though all hope was lost, but you are here. And you are the glue to hold together the cause of the banned Houses. Without you, they would have to depend only on a despot like my brother or a manipulator like me.”

Devon shook him off, “I can guess what you intend, and I don’t want this, John.”

John expected his response. He grasped Devon’s arm more intensely, “This isn’t about what you want or don’t want. This is the reality of this moment and the need of the Empire. After this night, you will be the Crown Prince of the Empire. You must face that. If you do not accept the regency, the rebellion will fail. I can fight for it until death takes me, your father can provide leadership, Count Acier can give us wealth and knowledge, but only you can bring honor and rule to this enclave. Without you, we are all traitors; we fight against the rightful rulership. With you, we can claim the honor of the House Haupenburg and House Rathenberg. You are the tie. You are the legitimacy in our defiance.”

When John reached the end of the table, he gently sat Devon into the chair at the head and again whispered, “Look like an Emperor, that is all I ask.”

Devon Rathenberg composed himself. His actions, the bite of anger in his eyes made him look nothing if more princely. The Nobles half expected this action from John-Mark. They approved of it completely.

By the time John and Devon reached the head of the table, the hall was absolutely quiet. Not the sound of a cough or the sigh of a breath could be heard. John-Mark raised his arms. “Nobles of the Landsritters,” he paused, “I present before you Devon Rathenberg, Count of Gran Stern, Knight of the Red Cross, Chief of Imperial Intelligence, and Crown Prince to the Iron Throne of the Human Empire.” He paused, then continued with a finality, his words flowing like liquid from a broken vessel, “Before you, I abdicate my rights to the Throne and place the regency into the hands of Prince Devon Rathenberg. Nobles listen to your Prince: the man of honor, the Fox now holds the honor of the Noblesse.”

A murmur of approval rose in the hall. Duke Centri spoke out, “This is Devon Rathenberg, the young Fox?”

If a prince willingly gives up his power and rank, he becomes a pathetic character. Before this, John-Mark lost his love, Lyral Neterra, his father and his family. He is indeed a pathos building character. He is not as great a pathos building character as some of the other examples I showed you, but he still builds pathos. In large measure, this is why I started the novel with Lyral’s death—I wanted to begin on a pathos strain. That strain continued through the novel. It is about the loss of honor. Thus, I am using the same types of tools in my science fiction as my historical fiction. The difference is the power of the projection of the tools. Men and princes make great Romantic characters—they are but poor pathetic characters. We’ll look at The Fox’s Honor next.

More tomorrow.

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


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


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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