20 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 960, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: Athelstan Cying
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?
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. The first Ghost Ship Chronicles novel is Athelstan Cying. As I wrote yesterday, Den Protania, is a failure in the Family Traders. He failed in command and astrogation, and is failing in shuttle. He disobeys his orders and investigates a derelict ship, the Athelstan Cying. There he loses his life, but another’s soul is trapped in Den’s body and fights to keep it alive. Den Protania is a failure. The soul inside of Den Protania’s body is a past pysonic warrior and a great leader. You can already see, the soul within Den is a Romantic character. However, this character is faced with a failure and somehow making himself successful in the Family Traders. In this way, the soul in Den Protania is both a Romantic character and a pathetic character. Here is an example from the novel:
The presence watched the men as they approached and boarded his ship. He saved them once and learned a skill of immense value. He saw them come to innocently desecrate his “tomb of millennia” and paid them little attention until one stood purposely before the sealed cabin doors. That’s when the presence first tried to warn the man.
The man opened the doors to the first and second cabins.
He realized the direction of the man’s search and attempted to turn him from his intentions. The man now stood before the door to the breached cabin.
“Stop!” the being shouted soundlessly into the stillness. “Stop!” he pleaded without effect. “Fool!” he screamed as the door opened and the white suited body swept into the cabin. The man tore through the remains of a friend, and was impaled on a dagger of plasteel that rimmed the breach in the hull; one gaping wound produced another.
The being moved instantly to the wounded man. He felt the man’s life as it slipped out of the body, and he struggled to call it back. He tried to hold on to the man’s soul. He tried to restart the dying body and recapture that breath of God’s devising. Unbidden, his consciousness merged with the dying man’s, and he felt the pain and then more than pain as Den’s soul slipped from his hold. He could do nothing to stop it. Den would no longer fight for his life or his body. His soul was gone and the only thing that was left was the castaway husk.
Then, with dread, the presence realized he was caught in the vacuum of the discarded body—a body that still desired life, but whose original master was gone. He became a person he never wished to be, a being he was not born to be. He was captured, a soul encased in a body that would not let him go. Resolved and as unrelenting to death as he had been for millennia, he struggled least he slip the way of this body’s previous tenant. With a will as powerful as the plasteel that pierced him, he recovered the body’s breath and then the heartbeat.
The contest was more than any, the man, Den, could have made himself. Slowly, the body responded, stabilized, fell from shock to unconsciousness, helpless but sustained and alive! He was safe for the moment—that is, if anyone would come help him. Resolutely, the powerful mind and soul kept guard over its new and fleshly prison.
Steven reached the breach in the ship just as Den’s vacsuit clad body rushed uncontrolled out of it and was impaled. The limbs trashed for a moment, then became still.
Steven yelled over the suit radio, “Johan, Den’s hurt!”
“How bad?” Johan snapped back.
“Really bad,” Steven tried to keep the horror out of his voice as he picked his way through the shattered plasteel toward Den. Steven choked back nausea as he hurriedly scanned the biomonitors on the suit. The suit sealed along the edges of the plasteel, but the indicators showed no respiration, no heartbeat, and the composite monitor gave a report of severe shock. Den’s faceplate was entirely fogged over.
Suit’s malfunctioning, Steven whispered, “If the suit’s sealed, the faceplate shouldn’t be fogged—ever—unless…,” but he wouldn’t think of that possibility. Den would have to be… Then, for a moment, the fog cleared, and he caught sight of Den’s eyes through the ceriplast; at first, the eyes remained dull and wide open, but then, as if a fire were kindled behind them, they suddenly lit up. Den’s face took on an appearance like none Steven had seen there before, an aspect of maturity unsuited to the visage of his youth. Then the eyes closed and the mask fogged over again. When Steven looked back at the suit monitors, the body functions had become incredibly normal.
Steven shook his head, and counting all he’d seen to fear-heightened imagination. He gazed all around the impaled body trying to determine how he could move it. After a moment, he noticed Johan enter the shadows of the cabin behind Den.
“How is he, Steven?”
“Hard to tell. The suit’s systems showed him dead for one instant and alive the next. That must have been a malfunction. They read normal now, but I think the suit’s fouled with blood, and I don’t believe he can survive a careful rescue.”
Johan propelled himself across the open cabin. As he checked Den over, Johan called over the radio, “Lokki, dispatch with Scott for emergency medical. We’ll meet them halfway…” Then finally, he noted the size of the piece of the ship that pierced Den’s suit, he continued, “Hold it… Dear Lord! Look at his suit. Lokki, tell medical we need them here, major medical. There’s no way we’re going to get that out of his suit without a vactent.”
“I don’t think he can last much longer, Johan,” cut in Steven quietly. “Look at the suit monitor. Look at the fogging and fluid level in the suit. One chance, I think.” Steven stared directly at Johan, “He’s bleeding to death.”
Johan hung silent for a second.
“He’s bleeding to death,” repeated Steven.
“You up to it?” whispered Johan.
“Damned if we do; damned if we don’t. Let’s do it now!”
“Okay,” Johan stated resolutely, “We’re bringing him out. Scott, get that sled here, now! Steven, here!” Johan pointed, “Grab him on the side—there’s plenty of room to bring him fully through. You got a good grip? I’ll push him toward you. You push him free of the metal. Ready, set, now!”
They could plainly hear a horrible gurgle in their headsets as the plasteel slipped out of Den’s body and then out of the sealed suit.
The new mind was becoming locked more and more strongly into the body of Den Protania. When Johan and Steven pulled Den’s body from the plasteel lance, it almost lost its battle with death, but with another shock of adrenaline and intense mental control, the spirit stabilized the body again.
A burble of blood gushed out of the suit. Steven quickly stanched the flood with his hands. He pressed the edges of the fabric together and helped the quickseal reseal the tear. He hoped the pressure in the suit would hold Den’s insides together. In a rush, he and Johan bore the limp body between them to the gravsled. Johan was immediately glad he’d not sent the sled away. They loaded Den in his nearly flaccid suit on the sled. They didn’t take the time to strap in properly, and Scott accelerated at a full two Gs into and out of turn around. Scott played it close but he was one of their best master pilots.
We see Den Protania merge with the being from the Athelstan Cying. The novel is a discovery novel. The main character discovers himself and about Den Protania. Helping him is Natana Kern. Here is some of their initial interaction:
Natana ran pell-mell from the Protania’s cabin. Her mind was in turmoil. When the door closed, the corridor wall rushed quickly up to meet her, and she collapsed against it. That wasn’t far enough away from the object of her terror. Through the solid wall, she could still feel the strength of the man’s mind—Den Protania’s? Oh, God, she didn’t know. Who was… what was the power behind those thoughts? No, she wasn’t far enough away. In a panic filled scramble, Natana regained her feet and rushed at breakneck speed down the corridor. She sobbed for breath, and her chest heaved with emotion. She ran and ran. She was lucky not to meet anyone else during her terrified retreat. She didn’t stop until she reached the door to her quarters. With fumbling fingers, she activated the lock and fell through the portal to the floor. The door shut and locked mercifully behind her, and she lay huddled and trembling on the cold plasteel.
Oh God, she thought. What if he had not deflected his mental attack? Natana shuddered as she thought of the woman in his memories—she died, and died horribly. But Den, Den stopped his attack before it harmed her.
Natana raised herself on one elbow. That wasn’t the mind of Den Protania. She knew Den Protania. She read him enough times in passing—without even trying—shallow and arrogant, an ambition without motivation. Who or what had taken over Den’s mind? How had it occurred? The terror of the unbelievable engulfed her. She lay flat against the deck again. She sensed the sweat as it trickled along her body. She could barely breathe. What if he attacked her again mentally? His mind was the strongest she had ever known. She felt like an animal caught in a frenzy of terror. Natana curled up on the floor, and realized she sobbed uncontrollably. She began to whimper then amazed at the hysteria in her own voice, silenced herself.
“Natana,” she said aloud, “Get a grip, Natana.” She concentrated on her training. “Training, training, training.” Remember mother’s words. Remember the gestalt. She slowly sat up. She put her arms around her legs and buried her face in her knees. The fear, the terror of what she experienced. No! Shut it out. She quieted her racing mind. He hadn’t touched her. He protected her—though she invaded his mind. If she looked at it that way, she became the aggressor. She provoked his unconscious attack. Natana instinctively knew her metal probe had caused the flashback that lead to his reaction.
But who was he? Den Protania, the failure, the Captain’s embarrassment—the mind in the body of Den Protania was not the same Den she knew. But who could he be? Who was in the mind of Den Protania?
She thought back to the dialogue in the flashback—something about an Imperial Prince. But the galaxy had not seen an Imperial Prince for nearly two thousand years. Nothing was that old. Nothing sentient! She started to tremble again—nothing, nothing except…that ship.
The thought cleared her mind. That ancient ship they salvaged, the Cying or Athelstan or something. The ship was built during the late Imperial era. It was nearly two thousand years old, and Den had been injured on it. He nearly lost his life in the exploration of it. What if? No, the thought was impossible. How could something take over the mind of a human being? How could something two thousand years old do anything? True, when they found the ship, it was active, but by itself, a ship wouldn’t be able to reprogram a mind or insert new memories in it—could it? The Empire never had technology like that. That was well beyond the technological capability of mankind now. At least, the Empire never advertised the capability, and she was an expert in the realm of psyonics. Yet there was much today experts didn’t know about the Empire’s capabilities in psyonics.
Had something been on that ship? Something alive? She felt the terror well up in her thoughts again. No, No, not alive. How could anything be alive after so long? She sighed, nearly a sob. It had to be a machine. A machine had taken hold of Den’s mind, but how could she prove it. Who investigated the salvage now? What had they already discovered?
She didn’t need to go to the derelict ship firsthand. She could call up that information from the Twilight Lamb’s data files. In moments, she sat before her computer terminal and searched frantically through the data on the ancient ship now locked in their holds. After a few minutes, she was forced to conclude: there was nothing unusual about the Imperial ship, Athelstan Cying. There was nothing unusual about it at all. She could trace and understand all the components of the ship’s systems. The small Imperial ship’s technology was ancient compared to the Twilight Lamb’s. But that still left her with a question: what affected Den, what was in his mind, and what could she do about it?
Should she immediately call Captain Protania, her father, or Doc Greaves? Would they believe her? Who could she tell? Perhaps, her mother and father, but they were not nearly as sensitive psyonically as she. She had to conclude no one might believe her. She barely believed it herself. What if this thing—animal, human, machine or whatever were loose on the ship and capable of taking over people? She clenched her teeth and gripped the sides of her seat tightly to stop shaking. “Stop it,” she yelled at herself, “Stop it. Focus on the problem.”
What could she remember about the salvage they took in? What about the ship? What about Den? She placed her trembling fingers on the keyboard again. Her screen displayed the Athelstan Cying’s central system layout, and showed the Cying’s computer interconnection with the ancient ship’s other systems. A note at the bottom of the screen caught her eye. It read the electronic log showed something manually switched off the ship’s offensive systems just prior to when their party boarded it. The engineer completed a trace on the log to see if the defensive or offensive systems somehow malfunctioned, but he could find nothing wrong with them. He was at a loss to explain how the systems could be turned off when no one was onboard, the switches were still in the ‘on’ position, and covered with dust. The engineer’s conclusion was that the offensive systems switches somehow failed, though ‘how’ was an impossibility he couldn’t explain. He guaranteed the system fully operational.
But, the offensive systems weren’t turned off! Natana replayed her portion of the Twilight Lamb’s log. There, stored as a permanent record was her initial scan that showed the Athelstan Cying armed and the systems on autodefense. Her confused note that the defensive and offensive systems had suddenly gone dead immediately followed in the record. Morbidly, she played the rest of the log and saw Den injured and rescued again.
She bowed her head. Something was on that ship. Den Protania nearly died. He appeared dead to Steven, and after the accident, Johan could not believe Den was alive. In spite of an injury that would kill any normal man, Den made an incredible recovery—almost twice as fast as Doctor Greaves expected. Between the time Den was injured and he returned to the Lamb, something happened to him. Or maybe when some creature attacked his mind, Den tried to kill himself. Natana could imagine such things. But again, what could and should she do about it? She couldn’t leave a monster free-reign of the ship, yet she despaired that anyone would believe her.
Natana jumped at a rap on her cabin door. A creeping sensation grew between her shoulder blades. She keyed the intercom, “Yes?” There was no answer. Then there came a second knock. Hastily, she glanced around for a weapon. All she could find was a small laser solder gun and her personal tablet computer. As she turned on the monitor trained on the corridor outside her cabin, she heard her own heartbeat in her ears. She nearly jumped out of her seat. Den lay motionless at her door. No one else was in the corridor, but what should she do? What did he want?
She was certain Captain Protania would never believe her story. He might laugh at it. Except her parents, perhaps, everyone would laugh at her. She thought fast. The only thing she could do was to find out from Den himself who or what he was and what happened to him. Her stomach hurt at the thought. She was more terrified than she ever felt before, but if there were anything to her fanciful speculations, then she must have the courage to discover them. She recorded a quick note on the computer that described her thoughts and locked it with her father’s password. Then Natana steeled herself and prepared to open the door. She gave the corridor one last look to reassure herself Den had not moved and took a position in front of the door. With one hand she pushed the open button and with the other she brought the hand computer down on Den’s head as hard as she could. He didn’t move, and as the tablet cracked against his skull, he only gave a groan. Natana was almost sick. The sound was horrible and she thought if she were wrong, she might have killed him without any reason. At once, she recalled the flashback—the certain reality of it drove any thought of mistake from her mind. This was not Den Protania.
Before anyone noticed Den in the corridor, Natana dragged him into her small cabin, and with her belt and a shirt, she quickly bound his arms and legs. When he was secured, she rolled him over. Den weighted over thirty kilos more than she did, but after a valiant struggle, she finally tied him and stretched him out on the floor. She was afraid to touch him again, but after he was secure, she knelt to check his respiration and pulse. Blood trickled from his nose but he seemed all right otherwise.
So, we have the continuing discovery of Den Protania, the soul inside him, and Natana Kern. I’ll let this out—Natana was once in love with Den, until he broke her heart. What happens when Natana finds the mind of the man of her dreams in the body of the one she once loved? Okay, this is a discovery novel. Lots of discovering going on here. My point is this, the plot and theme of this novel, produces a Romantic character who also engenders pathos. This is a very powerful combination in a science fiction novel, and it is almost the only way forward for this type of novel. Imagine a character that takes over Den Protania who is evil or not pathetic—that’s a horror story. Imagine a non-Romantic character as the soul in Den Protania—that’s just boring. Pathos and Romantic work together to produce the power of the novel.
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