Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 993, Introducing Pathos into the Rising Action

25 March 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 993, Introducing Pathos into the Rising Action

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 also working on my 29th novel, working title School.

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.

For novel 28: 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.

For novel 29: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre 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 like to start with characters who immediately introduce pathos into the writing, but many Romantic characters can’t be made pathetic and some characters who initially seem strong and independent can be made or revealed as pathetic. Remember, pathetic means pathos developing, which means the character creates a strong and appropriate emotion in the reader.

Let’s review Sorcha and Deirdre a little. Sorcha is my major pathos building character in this new novel. She literally has nothing but a good mind and a fit and athletic body. She was in the British foster and homes system until she beat up some girls. She was sent to juvie prison and escaped. She decided she wanted to attend Wycombe Abbey and is now attending in plain sight. She is not paying tuition, and she is not officially on the student list. She has skills and is very tricky. She learned to get into the classes. Sorcha immediately builds pathos because we want to cheer for her efforts—even if they are slightly illegal and wrong. At the same time, we want her to succeed. Do you taste the Romantic nature of her character too.

Deirdre is an altogether different character. She has had everything she needs—not perhaps everything she wants, but we know she has anger and fighting issues—that’s why she was sent to Wycombe Abbey, and that’s why Luna is watching her so closely. We realize that Deirdre has never really been put upon, or we think we know this—the revelation will be different. In any case, Deirdre also builds pathos, but a different kind of pathos. We see her latching onto Sorcha as a kind of sad need for friendship that she can’t really achieve any other way.

For the new character (no name yet), she is a girl who is a day border. Day borders are supposed to be included in the school Houses and structure, but sometimes they aren’t despite the work of the teachers. This girl is poor, on scholarship, weird, a great student, but very stuck up, and not in the good graces of those girls in the power structure. You can see immediately the pathos elements—these won’t be immediately evident. They must be revealed in the plot. Likewise, the force of the pathos elements of Sorcha and Deirdre will be further revealed. This is similar to Flavia DeLuca. She is a great pathos revealing Romantic character. Her father is a nobleman, but her mother is dead. She has a cook, but eats terrible food. She lives in a huge mansion that is falling apart. She never thinks of herself as poor, but she never has money in her pocket. I think the author should have made her even more pathos building, but he didn’t. As an author, don’t lose the advantage of building and developing pathos in revelation. There is much more about this.

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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