Writing – part x434, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, All Together Now

9 June 2018, Writing – part x434, Developing Skills, Types of Protagonists, All Together Now

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’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:

  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         

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):

  1. Picturesque – strong imagery describing settings, characters, and objects. Unique, defining, skilled, see individualism.
  2. Primitivism – nature is nobler than society.  Being away from society is better.  Concept of a simpler social ideal (as compared to Victorianism, for example).
  3. Sentimentalism – expresses strong emotion (pathos).
  4. Supernatural – interest in mystic and mythical things, events, beings.
  5. Nature – the love and inclusion of nature.
  6. Nationalism – arts are about heritage, myth, folklore, and customs
  7. Melancholy – unhappiness, sufferings, horrifying, and unloving feelings (pathos).
  8. 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 most 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.  Last, romantic characters are individualistic.

Okay, okay, I hope you get the point.  The reason we want to develop romantic characters is simply that, at the moment, romantic characters are the most entertaining.  They relate directly to the age of literature we are living in.  I have made the point that we are still in the age of romanticism.  I’ll take the hits on this, but whatever your opinion on the age of literature, it is most obvious that the most common and entertaining characters are romantic.

All of my characters are romantic.  I suspect that almost all modern characters are romantic.  I’m certain you can find a few who aren’t, but I’m also sure there aren’t that many.

I write about romantic characters because I enjoy them, and I know they are entertaining.  If you have a different idea, go for it.  However, you should observe first the opposite of the romantic character.  Look at the examples above and turn them around.

  1. Unpicturesque – weak imagery describing settings, characters, and objects. Everyman not unique, unskilled, plebeian.
  2. Urbanism – society is nobler than nature.  Being in the city is better.  Concept of a complex social ideal.
  3. Cynicism – the worst in humanity.  Expresses weak emotion (bathos).
  4. Absolute realism – not only is God dead, so is everything related to myth and the spiritual.
  5. Industrialization – the love and inclusion of industrialization.
  6. Internationalism – arts are about general humanity.
  7. Cheerfulness – lack of thought and logic, happiness without reason, lack of intellectual depth.
  8. Conformity – everyman, team play, plebian, not unique, unskilled, not special.

I’ve seen some art like this and some literature.  This is why we moved from the realism of the Victorian era into romanticism.  In general, romanticism gave artists the ability to write about the world in ways they never had before.  It also allowed artists to revolt against the conformity found in modern society.  It should not be unusual to us that people seek the opposite of conformity and lack of uniqueness.

Take a look when you are shopping, for example, how many people do you see who are unique or connected to you directly—how many friends do you see?  In the Victorian era, the people who were writers and artists only saw those they knew—or they knew most of those they saw.  This changed slowly—they world went from one of uniformity and individualism in recognition to conformity and complete lack of recognition.  People moved from recognizing most of the people in any normal venue to the exact opposite, and when the regular folk, like you and me, began reading, the enormity of the modern world hit us all in the middle of the forehead.  Society had moved from close and known to formal and unknown.  The world moved from the familiar to the completely unfamiliar.  We see the exactly same point today.  We commonly can go out into society and never see anyone we know—occasionally, we will meet people who are familiar to us. On the other hand, if we go to more exclusive conditions or events, we begin to see those we know and associate with.

This sudden (or maybe not so sudden) condition of the world became reflected in romanticism.  Romanticism is an attempt to regain the familiarity and association of the socially close past.  This is what makes romanticism so appealing and the characters so entertaining.

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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