22 February 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 962, Publishing, Protagonists, Examples: Regia Anglorum
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 third Ghost Ship Chronicles novel is Regia Anglorum. We move to another protagonist in this novel. Den and Natana are married and have become the Captain and the First Officer of the ship, Regia Anglorum. While on a backward planet, Natana comes in contact with a powerful psyonic child who is likely the offspring of a Family Trader. Nikita is the child. Here is an example from the novel:
Nikita roamed the quiet morning streets. She was hungry and had been hungry almost every day of her short life. The road was a mixture of mud and human waste. The smell of it rose with the slight morning breeze. Nikita kept to the driest side near the shops, within the shadows. Right now, it was early enough that she didn’t have to worry about the creeps and catchers. They were all still asleep. The street was narrow and the shops drab. Their bright fluorescent lights had been turned off less than an hour ago and the steam still rose from their hot fixtures. The air was just warming. A thin stream of mist formed at the damp surface of the street and lifted with the increasing heat and sunshine.
Nikita cut across Feast Street and into a dim alleyway. She caught herself at the edge of the opening and listened. Then she made a seeking—a mental probe. She didn’t detect any human presence, although she felt animals and smiled. They were already at their feast. The garbage cans overflowed, and the rats and stercats were already there. Nikita knew better than to disturb any of them. She moved quietly and cautiously toward a fragrant barrel that was too tall for either the rats or the stercats to reach and began to dig through the trash. Here there was food. She found many tasty things with only a trace of spoilage. The sun would soon turn it all rancid, so she must eat her fill and take what she could. It was enough to assuage her hunger for a little. Never enough to fill her tight belly completely, but enough to make the hunger go away for a while.
If she were stronger, she might fight the rats and stercats for their morsels, but she knew the danger in that. She had seen too many of her acquaintances in the streets maimed by the animals, and the rats carried disease. The stercats were not as dangerous as the rats for that reason, but they were still armed with long claws and fine sharp teeth. The rats were originally from Terra; she read that somewhere. They carried human disease. The stercats were indigenous to El Rashad, and couldn’t transmit human pathogens directly. Stercats were about the same size as a large rat. They walked on long legs and moved very quickly. Their heads were more feline shaped, and they had what appeared to be tufted scintillating fur. But their epidermis was closer to feathery down and skin not fur. They looked something like a kitten—a characteristic that resulted in the maiming of offworlders from time to time. They were as nasty as the rats and sometimes more feral. You couldn’t eat stercats either, but the rats were very tasty if you were lucky enough to catch and kill one. They were tasty enough that many of the smaller kiosks on Feast Street served them.
Nikita watched the animals warily. They probably thought the same about her—it was hard to read animal impulses. Nikita was skinnier than the sleek animals that feasted behind these restaurants, and probably dirtier. They didn’t molest her because the garbage was tastier and easier to get than Nikita. Nikita knew how to fight. She had fought all her life. The rats and stercats understood not to bother her, but just to remind them, she broadcast a mental signal that told them just how nasty she could be. She knew she communicated when in response, she heard a hiss and a squeak, and an unseen rat along with a stercat who were both a little too close backed away.
Nikita wrapped the remains of some food in a piece of paper and stuffed it into the cloth pouch at her waist. She carefully picked up the papers and trash that had fallen out of the waste can. She didn’t want the shop owners to start putting out poison or attach locking lids to the cans. Then she would really go hungry.
Her hunger almost sated for now, Nikita made her way back to Feast Street and walked away from the main Carnival District toward the big fence. She turned onto Church Street. It was named that because a church was there. It was the only church in the Carnival District and maybe on the planet El Rashad. It was, at least, the only church near the great egalitarian city of Fatima. Nikita knew that because she once heard the priest say the only reason this church was allowed was because it was placed with all the other illegal pursuits in the Carnival District.
Nikita was always cautious, even about the priest. He had never threatened her, and she never detected any threat in his mind, but Nikita was always cautious. She was cautious with everyone and everything. She slipped behind the church and stole directly to its garbage cans. There wasn’t much edible waste there, but she wasn’t looking for food. On the top of the can lay the newspapers from the previous day. The priest always left them for her. In the past many people, mostly men had left things out for her—to try to catch her, but they were usually creeps and catchers. Everyone knew about creeps and catchers in Carnival. The creeps were generally men and just wanted to rape her. She hadn’t been caught yet, but Nikita knew all about rape. She knew of it nearly daily from the thoughts around her. The pain and evil of it filled her young mind with horror. It was a typical condition of women and girls in the Houses of Carnival as well as its dark backstreets.
The catchers were generally women. They wanted to take Nikita for the sex houses or to sell her as a house slave. Nikita knew all their minds, and she could detect every one of them. She always kept her distance, that’s why Nikita was still free and most of those she had known in the streets were either enslaved or dead.
The priest left yesterday’s papers right on the top of the can. He sometimes put food and magazines for her just under them. Other than the newspapers, there wasn’t anything today. The priest didn’t have much to eat either. The people of El Rashad and Fatima didn’t own much of anything themselves, and what little money they could get, they spent in the Carnival District.
Nikita took a very cautious look around. When she was certain no one was nearby or watching, she climbed the stones at the back of the church and pulled herself up on a ledge just before a garret window. On the ledge, she was hidden from the ground. The window led into a small attic. The garret contained a false window that had once been nailed shut. Nikita long ago worried the nails loose. It took her days and much concentration, but she had pulled them out of the casement from the front side of the window. Now, just like every time before, she made a careful search before she eased open the window and slipped in. She left a small prop in the window frame to hold it open. That let in a slight airflow and ensured she had an escape path. Nikita always left herself an option—she always had to have an option to escape, some means to escape. That’s how she kept out of the hands of the creeps and catchers.
Inside the attic, Nikita first pulled a vaguely human looking stuffed piece of cloth from the cloth pouch at her waist. It was dirty and made of rags. It had a stuffed head with two different beads for eyes and a rough stitched mouth. Its body was a darker brown rag shaped somewhat like a dress with stray feathers and bobbles attached to it. Its arms and legs were stuffed and attached to the body. Nikita kissed her little rag doll and spoke to it, “Good morning, Alice.” She had already greeted Alice the moment she woke, but the return to their attic was an occasion that required such formality. Alice didn’t require food, but Nikita did, and Nikita took all the comfort she could from her doll. With Alice propped against the wall, Nikita laid the papers out on the floor and began to read them. She taught herself to read a long time ago, but she still had problems with some strange words. The numbers were the easiest for her to understand. She liked numbers, and she liked anything technological. She read everything she could find in Carnival.
She tried to get on the public computers whenever she could. If she came at the right time, she could eke out a half hour on the system before the manager kicked her out. After Nikita read the first paper through, she stood and stretched. The day was still new and the streets were still nearly empty. She must get everything done in her day before the Carnival District began to come alive again. Nikita tucked Alice back into her shirt and knelt at the base of her window. She sent out a scan, and sure no one was watching, Nikita rushed through the window and back onto the ledge. She was in the alley behind the church in an instant and began her careful trek toward the big fence and the spaceport.
The spaceport attached directly to the Carnival District and the city of Fatima. It sat on the tip of a peninsula that stretched from the city of Fatima out into the great Sea of Adin. Wide brown rivers flowed on either side of it. To the west, on the far side of the river, was the great sea and the river port of Fatima. At the east, on the long bank of the other river, was a large commercial fishing and harvesting center. To the north, the city of Fatima extended into the remote distance. It was a huge blot on the continent that reached upwards and outwards into the long flat plains of the planet, El Rashad.
A tall fence, the big fence, ringed the spaceport even along the shore. It was made of heavy woven plasteel and about six meters high. The top was constructed of multiple lines of alarmed shiggawire, a single molecular filament that would slice through anything including metal.
Nikita knew all the good places to watch as the spacecraft and aircraft flew in. The best was a high retaining wall near the seacoast. She could sit there and see through and across the fence, but she could not be seen. There were other places, but they had less visibility and some of them could be traps. She was once almost caught by creeps who blocked both ends of one alleyway that faced the fence. She and Alice together fooled them. She might have even hurt one—bad.
Nikita made her way to the retaining wall. It was a long walk, but the end result was worth it. She sat in a cleft near the top of the wall and perched Alice beside her. There, Nikita could see the shuttles coast in from orbit. They started as a thin red gold streak high above the horizon. That’s when she heard the first sonic boom. She always hugged herself and shivered when she heard it. Nikita explained to Alice everything she knew was happening in the shuttles. She didn’t need to imagine what the pilot was doing, she simply gazed into his mind. She did have to guess what the computers calculated. To do that, she imagined she could see in her thoughts their computations and the ship’s fight path. She tried to compute them in her mind and predict where the shuttles would show on the horizon. Most of the time, she was right. The shuttles always crossed the field at ten thousand meters and made a turn toward the final approach. She read about it in the papers, but she calculated the flight paths herself every day from the sun angles, shuttle positions, and the data she read in the minds of the shuttle pilots.
At the turn was when a shuttle made its second sonic boom. It was always really strong, and Nikita could feel it through her entire body. Then the pilot lined up on the long shuttle runway and landed. She graded the landings. She knew just what to look for. She always made it a point to spy on the spacers when they came into the Carnival District. She had eavesdropped once on a long conversation about landings, and she read it directly from every pilot’s mind who touched down at the spaceport.
Nikita knew all the shuttles and all the ships that came through the port at Fatima. She read their schedules in the paper everyday. She memorized them almost as quickly as she read them. That’s why the next inbound shuttle had caught her special attention. It was not from a usual spacecraft to visit El Rashad. She had read in the paper, it from a ship called the Regia Anglorum. The shuttle, when Nikita finally saw it, was a heavy lifting type that the Trader Families used; she had read about that too. She knew the Regia Anglorum was a Family Trader ship.
Okay, you should be able to see—Nikita is a strongly Romantic character and a very strongly pathetic character. She is almost the perfect amalgam of the two. I had the idea for Nikita from my good friend Alison Winfree Pickrell , As Eagles. She presented a character who was not much of a Romantic character, but was a very strongly pathetic character. Allison’s novel is a fun read and a great example of a pathos character. I made as strong a pathetic character who was also a Romantic character. Here is more about Nikita:
Nikita took a deep breath, “I’ll go first.” She squared her shoulders and took a firm step through the door. The passageway was close and went past storage lockers, electronics, and equipment bays. Nikita walked quickly to the front. When she popped her head out into the cockpit, Steven grinned, “Hi, are you Natana’s project.”
Nikita stared at him, “No, I’m Nikita Protania—her sister.”
“Her sister, whoa,” the copilot rose up a little in her seat.
Steven put out his hand, “Hi, Nikita Protania, I’m Steven Larsen, and this is Francine Muar.”
Nikita stared at his hand. She made a face, “Sorry, Natana, I can’t…”
Natana came up the passageway and moved to the side. She made a sign to Steven, and he pulled his hand back, “That’s okay, Nikita.”
Nikita stared at the copilot, “You’re a girl.”
Francine laughed out loud, “So are you.”
“That’s great,” Nikita took a big breath.
Steven moved out of his seat, “Nikita, you want to sit in the pilot’s seat?”
Her eyes grew wider. She turned to Natana. Natana nodded, and Nikita cried, “Oh, yes, please, please…”
“Steven ducked his head, “It’s a little tight in here. I’ll shift around and you can come right up.”
In spite of her anticipation, Nikita waited patiently until Steven was out of the way, and she had a clear path to the seat. She didn’t get too close to Steven, but she rushed around to the pilot’s seat and climbed in.
Francine laughed again, “Do you want to be a shuttle pilot?”
“I’d love to be a shuttle pilot, but I’m keeping my options open.”
Francine laughed again.
Nikita cocked her head, “I know some. I read about it.” She started to tell Francine everything she knew about a heavy lifting shuttle. Francine and Steven’s mouths opened wider and wider as they listened.
At a break, Steven asked, “You know all that about a space shuttle? Where did you learn it?”
“I told you. I read about it.”
“You got all that just from reading…technical documents, right?”
“No,” Nikita glanced at him innocently, “From the papers.”
Natana spoke quietly, “She synthesizes, Steven.”
“She puts together disparate information from many sources.”
“Ah,” Steven put his lips together, “That’s why she’s your project.”
Nikita stared at him, “I’m her sister, not her project.”
“I’m joking, Nikita. Do you know the checklist too?”
“I know how to activate it and run it.”
“It’s about the right time,” Steven glanced at his chrono, “Why don’t you start her up for us.”
Natana poked him, “Are you sure, Steven?”
“Sure I am. Francine is fully qualified. Nikita, do you mind if I move over next to you.”
Nikita glanced at him, “Well, if you must.”
“I must, I signed for this shuttle.”
Steven squeezed over beside Nikita and knelt beside the seat. He pulled out the instructor’s seat at the side, “Go ahead, Nikita. Let’s see what you know.”
Nikita’s hands were almost a blur. As if she’d done it all her life, she adjusted the seat as far forward and as high as it would go. The seats weren’t designed for someone her size. She put on the pilot’s headset. She pushed buttons on the center console and brought up the checklist. She had seen these steps in the minds of hundreds of pilots and copilots for years. She watched the shuttles start, takeoff, and land. She knew just what to do. The differences in the Regia Anglorum’s shuttle didn’t bother her. She had seen so many through the minds of others, she knew all of their procedures.
Francine stared. Nikita directed Francine, the copilot, exactly what to do. Steven nodded to her; Francine moved to compute the takeoff and landing data and complete the other copilot’s duties that Nikita directed. When Nikita arrived at, “Complete walk-around, exterior clear, locks sealed.” She stared at Francine, “That’s yours, co.” Steven gestured with his head for Francine to make the check. Francine rose from her seat and headed to the back.
Nikita continued with the checklist and held at the next copilot step.
Natana started to say something, but Steven stopped her with a sign.
Francine returned to her place, “Pilot, walk-around complete, exterior clear, locks sealed.”
“Thanks, co,” the words rolled right off Nikita’s lips. Nikita was delighted. She clicked the transmit button, “Fatima Tower, Heavy lifting shuttle Romeo Alpha Sierra zero one, ready for start, requesting clearance.”
The tower returned, “Heavy lifting shuttle Romeo Alpha Sierra zero one, Cleared to start. Clearance on request, expect text.”
“Roger, Fatima Tower, Heavy lifting shuttle Romeo Alpha Sierra zero one, cleared to start, expecting text clearance.”
Steven’s smile widened, “Instead of Romeo Alpha Sierra, we usually say Regia Anglorum Shuttle zero one, but you couldn’t know that.”
Nikita nodded, “Yes, sir.”
Steven told her, “Go ahead, Nikita, start her up.”
Francine stared at him. Natana crossed her arms and cleared her thoughts. She wondered just how far this was going to go.
Nikita didn’t focus on anything else. She activated the start sequence. Her heart leapt as the first of the three heavy hydrogen engines roared to life. She ran through clean up. Francine gave her a thumbs up. She started number two engine, then number three.”
Francine reported, “Pilot, all engines and systems are on line, read to taxi. Would you like me to make the calls?”
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry, Francine. I was so excited, I forgot. I’ll not take any of your duties again, sorry.”
“That’s okay, It was fun hearing you on the radio. You sound like you did this all your life.”
“Thanks,” Nikita drew her hand across her face.
Francine called on the radio, “Fatima Tower, Heavy lifting shuttle Regia Anglorum zero one, ready to taxi with information India.”
“Heavy lifting shuttle Regia Anglorum zero one, Fatima Tower, cleared to runway one two via taxiway alpha alpha, golf, then alpha.”
Francine grinned, “Pilot, we are cleared to taxi, we have a clearance.”
“Did you confirm the clearance, co?”
Nikita gave a huge sigh, “Okay, Steven, I think you need to take it now.”
Nikita pouted, “Because, I can’t see over the glareshield and I can’t reach the pedals and the tiller at the same time.”
Now we are talking—this is a fully developed Romantic character. A child who can start and follow the proper procedures for a space shuttle. The power in this is that this is an archetype of a human person. We would say this is almost impossible. You might find a person like this one in a 100 billion. In the context of the world, this is completely impossible—what makes it possible is the use of psyonics and the dedication to learning. The point for the reader is the dedication to learning—the use of psyonics is simply a science fiction plot device. You can see that the use of the device provides a very powerful development for the character of Nikita. I’m not sure there is another character in literature quite like Nikita. She is unique. I think you can see the strength of this type of character. You might be able to see how she will fit into the Family Traders and the family of Den and Natana.
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