4 March 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 972, Publishing, Protagonists, 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.
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?
I’ve come back full circle from another frame of reference. The question is how do you entertain your readers, and how do you produce novels that will attract a publisher? Luckily, these questions have similar answers. The question of pathos and theme are related to both. Pathos is always a factor in entertainment. The question is usually degree and depth.
You have to admit, the Harry Potty novels are really not very strongly pathos building. They do touch on pathos concepts, but much of it is diluted by the magical themes. No one really imagines that Harry and his friends won’t succeed. If anything, the relatively unknown get killed and the really evil aren’t as evil as they could be. Everyone has enough to eat and no one is searching in garbage cans for leftovers. True degree of pathos occurs with real threats to life, love, and happiness. But you can also go too far.
I mentioned the example of abuse. The power of tension and release happens when there is a real threat to life, love, and happiness. If the one threatened dies, there is no longer any hope. If the one threatened is rescued too early or before the full aspect of the pathos is developed, the tension and release doesn’t have the artistic effect that is possible in pathos. Likewise, if the pathos drives to horror, the strength of the emotional development of the theme of the novel might be harmed. This can be a tightrope the writer walks between horror and dampening the pathos. I think A Little Princess, although a kid’s novel, produces the exact balance I’m talking about. That’s why this relatively simple literature is worth studying. This is why, in my writing, I try to use the pathos in the tension and release cycle of the scenes and plot to build the emotions experienced by the characters and the readers to a peak and back again. This is also why I am not so enamored of themes or plots where life is constantly threatened. What I mean by that is that Sara Crew hungry and sacrificing her money to feed an urchin is a thousand times more satisfying that the threat of her losing her life. The threat of Sara Crew being beaten by Cook or Mrs. Minchin is a thousand times more terrible than any threat to her life. The author didn’t need to threaten death to delve the depths of pathos in this character. I think the most entertaining novels are similar. Real life seldom encompasses threats to life—real life is usually more about hunger, pain, and suffering. This comes back again to the most powerful and entertaining themes.
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