8 June 2018, Writing – part x433, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, Individualism
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:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
- 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:
- 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
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.
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’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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.
For novel 30: 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.
Here is the scene development outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Today: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation. If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and I would say, great protagonist’s helpers.
The classical protagonist is also a romantic protagonist. The reason for this is that the current style and philosophy for art and literature is romantic. I assert that we are still in the age of romanticism in art and literature. Here is a list of the romantic ideas boiled down as characteristics for a protagonist (or other character):
- Picturesque – strong imagery describing settings, characters, and objects. Unique, defining, skilled, see individualism.
- Primitivism – nature is nobler than society. Being away from society is better. Concept of a simpler social ideal (as compared to Victorianism, for example).
- Sentimentalism – expresses strong emotion (pathos).
- Supernatural – interest in mystic and mythical things, events, beings.
- Nature – the love and inclusion of nature.
- Nationalism – arts are about heritage, myth, folklore, and customs
- Melancholy – unhappiness, sufferings, horrifying, and unloving feelings (pathos).
- Individualism – self-made, self-motivated, internal, driven, weak with teams. Leader not a follower.
If you look at the above list of romantic characteristics (characteristics of romanticism), you will see almost every modern character. The question is how do we create romantic characters? I gave a partial example yesterday of Lady Wishart. I could go through all my protagonists and show you how they conform to the romantic ideal. This might or might be useful—I’m contemplating just this action.
In general, I’d like to be able to show you how I develop a romantic character in such a way that allows you to develop a romantic character. This work has taken me years, and it is a very difficult concept to bring into easy focus. The reason is that every protagonist is tied directly to a plot—the telic flaw of the plot and the protagonist. Thus, it is very difficult to design a protagonist without a telic flaw and therefore a plot or at least a plot idea.
First, we saw how a protagonist should be picturesque (unique and skilled). Second, I introduced sentimentalism (pathos) to bring the character to zero and to give a telic flaw. Third the plot and or character might reflect the supernatural. Fourth, characters and literature in the modern era generally reflect nature and primitivism. Fifth, nationalism as understood as heritage, myth, folklore, and customs is a focus of romantic plots and characters. Sixth, introspective and thinking characters are common.
From yesterday, I should clarify, Hamlet isn’t a romantic character, however he is a melancholic character.
The last characteristic of romantic characters and literature is individualism. I hope you know the type. Think of your favorite books as a child, Tarzan, Pollyanna, Rebecka, Sara Crew, Anne, John Carter, Johnny Rico, Starship Jones, and more (likely and all).
These are all rugged individualists. These are also the types of characters that followed our youthful literature as it turned into adult literature. These are the characters we loved and admired. These are who we wanted to be.
I’m not into the concept of self-identification of the reader with the protagonist as much as some modern writers, but readers identify with characters personalities and goals if not the characters themselves. This is one of the reasons why the romantic character archetype—it gives the reader a protagonist they like. In a broader sense it provides an entertaining protagonist, and the purpose of novels is to entertain.
Back to the individualist. I listed a number of traits for the individualist: self-made, self-motivated, internal, driven, weak with teams. Leader not a follower These are all characteristics we admire in real people and many times ourselves. I must write that we may be seeing some movement away from this romantic ideal, but I’m not so sure. Even with an intentional movement toward teams and groups and a negative view of self-made and motivated, these are still successful and admired traits. Though denigrated in some groups, the self-motivated and self-made are still the ideals—they are the ones who get anything done.
In any case, this is the romantic protagonist or hero—individualistic and independent. As you read and glean literature look for these characteristics and especially note when your favorite characters become less entertaining. I’ll give you an example. In Harry Potty, we admire and are entertained when Harry figures out a piece of the puzzle. We want him to be the smart or at least the cagy and thoughtful leader who eventually figures out the clues. We are immensely disappointed when he is given the answer for example when Cedric gives Harry the clue to the second problem in the Goblet of Fire. This is not entertainment. It’s cutesy new-think by the author, but it makes our hero more of a zero. Which is a good point for the plot, but not the entertainment. If you remember, the best means to take your hero to zero is by no fault of their own. If it is their fault, then your hero has a very difficult redemption. It can be done, it’s just difficult. In Harry Potty, his successive rescue of two of the hostages is great, but not necessarily his characteristic. Let’s just put it this way, if you are looking at Harry Potty for traits of great protagonist development, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for traits of a typical romantic character, you will generally be happy. A few times, the author lapses in Harry’s character development, but there are all kinds of logical inconsistencies in the novels. Logical inconsistencies that in an earlier era would prevent the works from being read—today, almost any drivel with enough imagination and marketing can become a best seller.
If you want excellent works of fantasy that are great literature, read Randal Garrett, Fletcher Pratt, or the master Jack Vance. These are romantic literature with powerfully romantic characters.
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