Writing – part x388, Novel Form, Designing a Plot from a Character, the Plot and Expectations

24 April 2018, Writing – part x388, Novel Form, Designing a Plot from a Character, the Plot and Expectations

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.

These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of 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

I finished writing my 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: 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.

Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’ll be providing information on the marketing materials and editing.

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 29: 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.

This is the classical form for writing a successful 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 (protagonist, antagonist, and optionally the protagonist’s helper)
    4. Identify the telic flaw of the protagonist (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

The protagonist and the telic flaw are tied permanently together. The novel plot is completely dependent on the protagonist and the protagonist’s telic flaw. They are inseparable. This is likely the most critical concept about any normal (classical) form novel.

Here are the parts of a normal (classical) novel:

  1. The Initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  2. The Rising action scenes
  3. The Climax scene
  4. The Falling action scene(s)
  5. The Dénouement scene

So, how do you write a rich and powerful initial scene? Let’s start from a theme statement. Here is an example from my latest novel:

The theme statement for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School is: 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.

Here is the scene development outline:

  1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
  2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
  3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
  4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
  5. Write the release
  6. Write the kicker

If you have the characters (protagonist, protagonist’s helper, and antagonist), the initial setting, the telic flaw (from the protagonist), a plot idea, the theme action, then you are ready to write the initial scene.  I would state that since you have a protagonist, the telic flaw, a plot idea, and the theme action, you have about everything—what you might be lacking is the tension and release cycle in your scenes.

With a protagonist, a telic flaw, a theme statement, and an initial setting, I’m ready to begin a novel.  I’ll move to the telic flaw for the novel.  Since I am going to provide the first chapter as a teaser any way, I might as well show you the initial scene.

Here is the theme statement as a reminder:

Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.

With a single scene—the initial scene (along with the characters, setting, and the telic flaw), you have enough to write an entire novel.  This was the wonderful discovery I made by the time I wrote my eighth novel.

In writing thirty novels, this is what I’ve discovered about developing a plot:

  1. Protagonist and setting are used to design an exciting and entertaining
  2. Initial scene which provides a
  3. Scene output and a theme question based on the telic flaw of the protagonist
  4. The scene output leads to the next scene
  5. The theme question provides a basis for the plot
  6. The scene outline provides the continuing scenes and the theme question focuses the plot
  7. Resolving the theme question (telic flaw) resolves the plot

Today:  If I have a romantic character who is pathos building, I can build a plot based on the revelation of the protagonist.  This is flat out how I write a novel.  I do want to write a little more about protagonists and characters in general.

Some writers and especially new writers have an idea that protagonists specifically should be racy, avant guarde, and fickle.  I’ll go for any of those, as long as they are consistent. I personally like characters who press cultural buttons, but not necessarily in evil, bad, cruel, or overly naughty ways.  Characters can be all over the place, but only in their own way all over the place.  What I’m trying to tell you is that protagonists, especially, need to be consistent.

A character can change in certain ways through a novel.  They can learn and improve (or unimprove?).  What a character should never do is surprise the reader by doing something entirely outside their character.  You can build up a character to finally and climactically accomplish something that was impossible at the beginning of the novel, but you can’t have them act outside of character.

The very worst characters and here I mean protagonists are those who act in a way the reader never expected.  A plot can and should move in an unexpected way.  A storyline might too.  A scene can reach a new and expected place.  But a protagonist should never act in a way the reader doesn’t expect.

An example:  your Rambo-like character has never shown a trace of compassion at all.  Suddenly she begins to show remorse.  Now, on the other hand, if you show this character slowly becoming more and more upset by their violent actions so they have an epiphany that is something else entirely.

An example:  your sweet school girl has never said an unkind word about another person.  She suddenly attacks another girl and gives her a black eye.  If you showed a buildup of slow anger over time and the girl reacts suddenly, that is okay.

An example:  your remarkably in love protagonist suddenly begins to pine for another.  Just give the reader a hint that she isn’t really that committed.

We know in real life, people are naughty, nasty, and fickle.  This kind of behavior just drives us crazy.  It has no rational explanation.  In novels, your readers expect rationality and understanding.  They might go for a crybaby Rambo, a violent sweet school girl, or a fickle eternal lover, but only, only if they are already prepared to accept the fickleness of the character.  There is more to this—of course.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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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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