Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 956, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: The Fox’s Honor

16 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 956, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: The Fox’s 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. I do use Romantic and somewhat pathos building protagonists in my science fiction. I have three published science fiction novels as a series, 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 Fox’s Honor.

The Emperor’s Fox is Prince Devon Rathenberg. He is the Emperor’s chief of intelligence. The people call him the Fox because he is known for his derring-do and leadership. He is also sneaky in an intelligence kind of way. You can tell already that Devon Rathenberg is a Romanitc character. He has skills beyond the norm that set him apart, and he doesn’t necessarily play by the rules.

A little about Devon Rathenberg. He designs a plan to flush out the enemies of the Human Galactic Empire. Unfortunately, to make this plan work, he must die. At the same time, Devon wants to woo the Lady Tamar Falkeep. He doesn’t tell her he plans to die, but his suit is moot anyway. He is too high a rank to wed the Lady Tamar Falkeep. You can see the touches of pathos already threading their way through this plot.

Let’s look at a description of Devon Rathenberg:

All the young maids and old as well, discreetly watched the young men announced to the ballroom. The same was true of Duke Falkeep’s three daughters. The two oldest, though already wedded, spent a delightful evening weighing the rank, title, and characteristics of each of the noblemen who entered the ballroom. They justified their occupation as in the interest of their youngest and unwedded sister, Tamar. Tamar did not necessarily agree with their assessments.

Of particular interest, to their disdain, were the less choice of the young gentlemen. Those men who through valor and accomplishment attained noble standing, yet whose manner pointed irrevocably to their previous unpolished beginnings. One such gentleman aroused even the looks of the Duke, and a quaint unsettled quiver of his eyebrows left no doubt of his thoughts.

This young man was arrayed in colloquial finery. An officer’s uniform, yes, but the style and the natural materials left little doubt that it and its owner obviously came from a culturally deprived planet. The gentleman’s boots were real leather; they creaked. His pants bloused over his boot tops, and as he walked they swaggered like a Cossack dance.

The seneschal announced the young officer, “Sir Devon de Tieg, Knight of the Red Cross.” A small number of the Duke’s less cautious guests let loose a traveling titter that lost its momentum in a few muffled guffaws.

The knight said nothing. Those who recognized the order of Knight of the Red Cross instantly sobered, and the Duke made a second appraisal of the man.

The knight’s eye glinted with his bold smile, and he strode across the broad floor of the ballroom. His ceremonial dagger clinked against his left leg, balanced by an oddly shaped cylinder on his right, and his knight’s spurs jingled with each step. He stopped with a flourish and a low bow before the Duke, “My lord Falkeep, will you grant me the privilege of a dance with your daughter, the Lady Tamar?”

Strange knights did not dance with a duke’s daughter; it just wasn’t done.

The Duke raised his eyebrow, and a smile tripped across his lips, “You may, young knight. That is, if she will dance with you.”

“My lord,” Sir Devon bowed again and turned toward the ladies. In a few solid steps, he stood directly before the Lady Tamar.

Tamar Falkeep was a beautiful young woman. Her face was formed in the most classic shape of an Imperial Princess. Her eyes, shaded by long dark lashes were large, a smoky gray that could display fire or ice. Her nose was slight, curved gracefully from her eyebrows, and matched the gentle oval of her face. Her heart shaped lips were full and seemingly touched by a permanent knowing smile. Her dark hair fell full and silky. It billowed over her bare shoulders and shined like satin as she tilted her head.

Tamar’s figure reflected the perfection of her features: a dancer’s frame, graceful and yet full. In her stance, however, was the firm hauteur of a true princess. Not the simple pose of pride or icy frigidity, but a glance of power and purity that stopped most men cold. Her femininity beckoned; the princess spurned. It was unfortunate she was only a lesser duke’s daughter and not a true princess.

“My lady, would you give me the honor of this dance?” Sir Devon’s eyes glimmered with humor.

Although Devon is in disguise, you can see the strength of his Romantic character. How do we turn such a character pathetic? Let us see the results of the duel:

After the last man left the clearing, Tamar waited only a moment before she ran to the prone body of Devon Rathenberg. With strength induced by her fear, she rolled him over. Only minutes elapsed since the blast threw him to the ground. The explosion burned his shirtfront away to the skin. His face was lacerated by bits of plasteel yet not bleeding. And, he was not breathing!

Tamar didn’t pause an instant. She tilted his head back and placed her lips on his. She forced a breath into his lungs—then another. She placed her full body weight behind the balls of her hands and compressed his sternum. “Don’t die, damn you,” she cursed him under her breath, “…2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.” She expanded his lungs twice again. “Breath, damn you.”

Suddenly, Devon’s back arched. He gave a strained gasp and started to breath. Tamar froze. She stopped compressing his battered chest. As she watched the tortuous rise and fall of his chest, she held her breath and trembled violently. Then, as if she could breathe for him, she matched each ragged gasp. For a few seconds, Devon fought for air then his breathing smoothed. Tamar felt for his pulse; it was strong and regular. “Thank you, God,” she almost screamed, “Thank you, God.” She knelt and stared at him, afraid to touch him, terrified his breath would stop again.

Slowly, Tamar’s thoughts caught up with her, and a sudden fear overtook her. She scanned the entrances to the clearing. Surely, when her father’s guards investigated the explosion, they would discover them. The Duke of Falkeep would not take kindly to dueling in his gardens. He definitely would not approve of his daughter sneaking about in the woods in search of nobles, knights, or whatever. He also would not have a lot of good to say about a knight who challenged one of the chief holders in his sector—particularly one who lost on purpose!

Tamar grasped Devon’s arms to pull him into the brush, but his right arm bent back at an odd angle. It had a rubbery feel. Though unconscious, Devon moaned and the muscles of his arm convulsed abruptly and ineffectually. Tamar was almost sick. The arm was broken—likely shattered. She laid it across his chest and fumbling, fixed his arm by the hand under his belt.   After a fierce struggle, she dragged him by his feet into the woods.

Tamar’s precautions wouldn’t have made any difference. Duke Falkeep never heard the explosion in the pavilion. The trees of the garden blocked the sounds so efficiently that no one but Yedric’s clandestine group, Devon, and Lady Tamar knew anything about it.

By the time she hid Devon in the trees Tamar was exhausted. She plopped down beside him and rested her head in her hands. The night was chill, and in thick white wisps, her breath curled around her face and hair. After her heart slowed a little, Tamar looked at Devon. She marked his labored breaths, and his shrapnel wounds had started to bleed. In the pale, partial light of Falkeep’s moon, long streaks of black ran down his face, arms, and chest. His lips were blue and his skin as pale as the almost invisible moonlet. Tamar knew he was in shock, and she felt as though she was going into shock herself. If he was to survive, the knight needed warmth, and his wounds required treatment.

Who was this man who said he loved her? Count Yedric called him Prince Devon Rathenberg. Tamar covered her mouth with her hand. She looked down at his bruised face. Could this really be the Emperor’s Fox? Could this be the chief of Imperial Intelligence, Emperor Marcus’ wisest advisor? If this was Prince Devon Rathenberg, he was one of the most important men in human space. And… Tamar gave a choked cry, if he were Devon Rathenberg, he could not love her. She was not an Imperial Princess. She was only a minor Duke’s third daughter. Devon Rathenberg could not marry her; the Landsritters would forbid the match. Now she realized the full degree of his two-fold mission. He came to announce his illicit love and he came to die, and he didn’t care how much pain those two events caused. Tamar raised her hand to strike him. Devon lay quiet and unmoving; Tamar breathed deeply and lowered her fist. In spite of how he hurt her, he needed help.

This is how we move a man like the Fox into pathos. He is helpless, and his life lies in the hands of Tamar Falkeep. That is pathos. We make a character like Devon Rathenberg pathetic by making him helpless as a person. We find he is more helpless than this. Basically, through his actions, he has made himself a nothing. He was supposed to have died, but he didn’t and Tamar gave him back his life. For a man like Devon, this is true pathos. The power of the pathetic isn’t as great as other characters, but it is sufficient to produce the emotions we desire in our readers. We’ll look at A Season of Honor next.

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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