Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 961, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: Twilight Lamb

21 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 961, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: Twilight Lamb

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. The second Ghost Ship Chronicles novel is Twilight Lamb. Den Protania is the protagonist of this novel as well. As I noted, he is a Romantic character because he is a psionic warrior and leader in the body of a failure. The psionic warrior and leader are the points that make him Romantic. The failure makes him pathetic. We find that Den Protania can now achieve journeyman in three disciplines where before he couldn’t achieve one. This is another indicator of a Romantic character. Here is an example from the novel:

The family trading vessel Twilight Lamb hung heavy and brilliant like an irregular planetoid in a matched orbit with the massive dry dock in high orbit around the planet Neuterra. At over ten kilometers in length and 100 million metric tons, she was large for a family trading ship. In the surface, pocked by the thousands of kilometers of wiring, ductwork, and structure, everything unnecessary to place within the pressure vessel, could be seen a reflection of Neuterra’s day and night. The Twilight Lamb had plied space for over 300 years and was one of the most successful of the family trading cartel in Human Space. The ship was home to over a 500 people.

The business of managing command and astrogation repairs for the Twilight Lamb in dry dock orbit around Neuterra took most of Den and Natana Protania’s time for the next couple of weeks.    Even so, Den watched expectantly for Natana and his rotation for surface leave on the ship’s schedule. He saw their planetside leave time come up again then unexpectedly, their slots were removed from the schedule.

Den burst into the cabin he shared with Natana, “Nata!”

“Den. I’m right here.” Natana Protania was beautiful in her own way—slight and small. Her skin was dark like most spacers but translucent. Her hair short and lightly brown—it framed her delicate features and constantly threatened to fall into her face. She habitually pushed her hair back behind her ears. She was young, but looked younger than her 18 terra normal years—both an asset and a liability to the youngest Master Astrogator in a Family Trading Ship.

“Sorry. Do you know why they took us off the planet roster?” Den Protania eased into a seat he pulled out of the wall. He was broad shouldered and tall for a spacer. His face appeared young—as young as his 21 terra normal years, but his eyes seemed older, ancient. His grey-eyed gaze promoted trust and leadership. On the breast of his ship’s suit, the multiple badges of Master Command, Master Astrogator, and Journeyman Shuttle announced his proven skills.

“No idea, but I can guess. But do you really want to go back down there?”

“Yes, we have to return to Neukoln.”


“The information we recovered from Dr. Fleisher’s records is incomplete. He obviously kept his personal records separate from those in his lab. If we hope to ascertain what his organization is up to, we need his personal records. We also need to determine where he found the advanced psy equipment.”

Nata took him in her arms, “I have no intention of losing you now that I have you safe with me.”

Den pushed the hair away from her face, “They can’t surprise us now. We know what to look for. We were unprepared before.”

“I won’t let you go alone,” Natana shook her head.

“I don’t want you to be away from me. We’re a team, Nata, and I may need the extra capability your psy and the chip give. We need to know if the chip inside your brain causes side-effects. The ancients who developed that microchip will likely have experimented with it for a long time. They had many symbiotic chips that were well tested and safe. This may be one that was fully tested then later modified by the doctor or someone else.”

“How do we find out which kind of symbiotic chip this is?”

“The version number is available through a physical and a thought sequence. The physical sequence is a simple set of actions that are not common during normal human interaction. The thought sequence can be anything close to the actual programmed command. The chips use an intelligent matrix to resolve ambiguities. The physical sequence is enough to activate the chip information recall. In most of these chips, for the physical sequence, you focus your left eye on your right pinky finger and then think the command sequence.”

Natana gazed intently at her right pinky with her left eye and said, “Chip version number.” She gasped, “Amazing, it says EX1704-6514t003, I’ve got it.”

“Try this,” said Den, “Same physical input and ask for the command list.”

Natana gasped again, “This is fantastic. The chip is running through a full list of its capabilities. There is just too much here to grasp all at once.” Her voice raised in volume a little, “How do I stop it?”

“Physical sequence, then think stop.”

“Whew, that did it. How do you know so much about these devices?”

“I had one. Most people in my time had at least one biological symbiot. I had a basic calculator and a time chip. Nothing as complex as the microchip you have. You can test the chip functions with the physical sequence followed by test.”

Natana started the chip test. After a couple of minutes, she asked “How long will it run?”

“Depends on the chip. Mine finished after about a minute. Depending on the complexity, this one could take hours. Order it to run in background and report when finished.”


Den sat back at the computer terminal. He tapped his fingers on the thin desk, “Now, how are we going to get back on the planet leave roster?” Den answered his own question, “I guess the first step is to ask.” He tapped his teeth, “The council may disagree on principal—why don’t we make use of an ancient custom? In my time and on most planets, after they are married, couples take a trip called a honeymoon. Do you think the council will buy that?”

“They might—the ship’s families have a similar custom, but usually there’s no planet to honeymoon on. My mother definitely won’t like it. She’s fuming now.”

“Then we’re lucky your mother’s not on the council.” Den typed out a computer note to the council making the request.

Natana put her hands on his shoulders, “So assuming the council will let us back down on the planet, how will we get the information you want, and what do you plan?”

“That’s something we must plan together. How much of what we need, can we get from the ship down to the planet?”

“What will we need?”

“Weapons, night vision equipment, distorters, combat environment suits, lock cipher tools, some other basic infiltration equipment—fake id cards and such.”

“We can’t take weapons down to the planet. The rest of the equipment is available or it may be available onboard. We can check the stores,” Natana pushed him out of the seat, “Here I’ll put the list in the computer…”

We note that Den has achieved ratings in three areas of Family Trader expertise. Additionally, we see Natana, who is a Romantic type character in her own right (and the protagonist’s helper) has additional skills that are secret to others. She has a symbiotic chip in her brain. These characters lost a portion of their pathos development at the end of the first novel. They retrieved some of it later. Here is an example:

At the very bottom of the ruins, they found a sealed door.

‘They didn’t open this door. Why not?’ Den tugged unsuccessfully at the portal.

Nata plugged in her computer, but no system power was available to the door. “It’s dead,” she said. I can get into the door’s system to open the cipher, but I can’t connect to any power to pull the locks and power open the door. Where do you think it goes?”

“Somewhere important. Our friends either didn’t have the equipment or the time to break through here.”

“You seen everything you want?”

“I’m done.”

They retraced their steps to the exterior blockhouse. When they stepped out of the stairwell puff of ammonia and a ragged hiss greeted them. A lizard struck at Den and grasped his gloved hand. Its fangs penetrated the ballistic cloth and Den gasped and tried to rake the thing off against the wall. It held firm and wouldn’t let go.

Finally, Natana crushed it with her stick and pried it off Den’s hand.

Den cursed and flexed his fingers. His blood and the thick ammonia scented saliva mixed on the outside of the glove. Nata looked worriedly at him.

They met no more of the creatures as they left the blockhouse and headed with less caution directly to the aircar. Den stumbled as they reached the edge of the trees. “Den!” Natana gasped.

‘I’m alright,’ his mental communication was slurred and he grasped a tree to keep from falling.

Nata grabbed his arm and placed it around her neck. She held him up the last few meters to the vehicle. Inside, Nata took the driver’s seat. She strapped Den in and snapped the gravvehicle up through the trees. Nata set the autopilot for the Pleasant Tours Rustic Hotel then she ripped off Den’s glove and started working on his hand. Den was conscious but unresponsive. He breathed steadily, and his pulse was strong and regular. She cleaned the wounds and she put every protective salve and analgesic in the first aid kit on them. Then she bandaged his hand.

They had over an hour to the lodge. She pulled off her CES then without his help pulled off his. She packed all the special equipment into their backpacks and put on their normal clothing. As they neared the lodge, she tried to wake Den. She started gently and ended up slapping his face. Finally, with a start, he turned his head and recognition came back to his eyes.

Breathlessly Nata said, “We are only a few minutes from the lodge. I can’t carry you. We need to get to the room, and then I can call for a doctor.”

Den nodded resignedly.

They set down and Nata grabbed their gear out of the aircar. She heaved Den out on the other side and supported him. The car checked itself in automatically. She and Den staggered up the slight rise to their cottage. Nata out of breath put her palm on the door and keyed it open. The door opened, and a familiar voice called out from the room.

Injury and separation are a couple of methods of developing pathos. In the novel, there are other methods I use to continue the projection of pathos onto Den Protania. This is a very adventurous and exciting novel that moves through exploration, piracy, and military operations.

Placing a protagonist in a position where he or she must show action and leadership especially in ways that lead others to achieve incredible results, is a means of expressing a Romantic character and lends itself to producing pathos. The potential for failure while achieving extraordinary results in the face of great adversity produces a fantastic plot.

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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