Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 971, Publishing, Protagonists, Conclusions, more Themes and Pathos

3 March 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 971, Publishing, Protagonists, Conclusions, more Themes and Pathos

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?

I hadn’t thought much about this subject, but it became obvious to me that pathos can drive a multitude of themes and emotions. In general, I’m reaching for the kind of pathos that makes a reader cry, but then with resolution makes them smile. Sara Crew is a pathos character: she is starving, but uses her pence to buy buns for a street urchin. The reaction of the reader is great emotion toward Sara. Who can’t help but cry for her? This isn’t sadness, it is an emotion based on her willingness to sacrifice. The sacrifice brings the emotion. However, you can evoke many other emotions and situations from a similar sacrificial or pathos theme. For example, the child who is abused. The emotion is sadness and the reader should be upset (considering a proper emotion and emotional development (of the reader and the plot)). In this case, the child who offers to be abused in the place of another produces a similar reaction (in emotion) to the one for Sara Crew. Now move the scene forward. The outcome of such a scene could be, the child is rescued, the child dies, the child is abused, the child’s sacrifice is ignored, both children are abused. In each case, the reflective emotion of the scene changes. In the case of rescue, the reader should feel relief (the same as the child). In the case of death, the reader will feel horror and anger—the child can feel nothing. In the case of abuse, the reader and child should feel anger, sadness, and depression. In addition, with sacrifice, the reader and the child should feel success and some degree of triumph. If both are abused, the reader and the child will feel sadness, anger, depression, but with the exultation of the attempted sacrifice.

If you notice, the reader (except in the case of death) is to a large degree reflecting the emotions of the subject. You can play this scenario game with many different situations and plots. You can also play this scenario game with other than pathos developing scenes, but I won’t go there yet. Let’s stay with pathos. Which outcome do you like the best? This really depends on the theme of your novel. In the case of a horror theme, the death of an abused child might be the plot and goal. I like redemptive themes. I want my characters and readers to feel relief. To me, the Sara Crew example is the perfect pathos setup. She is not rescued—she rescues. The emotion in such a scene is exquisite. The reader can’t help but feel the sacrifice, joy, sadness, hunger, and muted triumph of the character. In addition, this is a long term plot and theme tension and release setup for the characters and the reader.

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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