15 June 2018, Writing – part x440, Developing Skills, Protagonist’s Helper, Example Valeska
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 then 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 protagonist’s helper is simply a character who is critical to the expression of the plot of the novel because the protagonist could not achieve the resolution of the internal or external telic flaw without that character. I’ll provide some examples.
In my unpublished novel, Valeska: Enchantment and the Vampire, George Mardling is the protagonist, and Valeska is the protagonist’s helper. Valeska is also a vampire whose given name is Heidi.
I’ll recommend that you not follow fads, but Valeska is not your modern vampire novel. You should be able to tell that from my statement above. Valeska is the protagonist’s helper in the novel. That should immediately alert you that something it up. Further, Valeska or Heidi, as you like, is a real vampire cut from the inventor of the vampire, Bram Stoker.
Where Valeska is different as a vampire character is that in my universe vampires only need to hunt humans for blood during a full moon, a single bite isn’t enough to turn a person into a vampire, and obviously, a vampire can’t attack a cross-bearer. These small variations aren’t as odd as you might thing. In Dracula, the number of bites required to make someone into a vampire is ambivalent—it’s not stated specifically. Also, Bram Stoker explained that vampires can’t abide crosses, but he missed or intentionally didn’t connect the dots that a person who was a cross-bearer, i.e. a Christian is supposed to be marked permanently with the sign of the cross at baptism. If you address a spiritual concept like a vampire, you can’t just ignore other lore because you don’t like it. Actually, writers do that all the time, and it drives me crazy.
In any case, Valeska is a classical vampire. The point of bringing her up is that you should ask: how can a classical vampire become a protagonist’s helper? I think this is a lovely part of the novel in every sense. Valeska is a destitute vampire who was abandoned by her own and her maker. She is a poor hunter, and her hunt is disturbed by George, who is a British spy. George is critically wounded during an operation. George is a cross-bearer, but he allows Valeska to dine because he thinks he is about to die. Valeska gives George back his life, and now they are connected through this link. For some reason, Valeska can’t hunt or dine on anyone else.
Now, George and Valeska are connected through this intimate association. The how and the result was fun to write and to read—I hope this novel is published soon. More than that, the intimate association allows Valeska to become a sounding board and intimate communique to George. George can talk to Valeska about things he would never address with other humans. Likewise, Valeska has never spoken her heart or about herself with anyone before.
There is the beauty of the protagonist’s helper and part of the allure of this novel in particular. All novels are a revelation of the protagonist, but in many novels, like Valeska, other characters deserve and readers want to know about them. It is extremely difficult to get to the revelation of a vampire without telling—with a vampire as the protagonist’s helper, it is simple. Who doesn’t want to know the life and times of a vampire? How else can you express this without telling? You can when the protagonist and the protagonist’s helper are engaged in intimate conversation. These ideas come out naturally as a result of their dialog.
Thus, back to my whole point of the protagonist’s helper. The author can express an introspective and thinking protagonist because the protagonist’s helper is there to listen to their ideas and thoughts. Likewise, the protagonist can hear something amazing from the mind of the protagonist’s helper. The power of the use of the protagonist’s helper is amazing in the context of any novel. That’s why I recommend using them. Likewise, friendship and companionship play a major role in the protagonist’s helper.
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