24 June 2018, Writing – part x449, Developing Skills, more Antagonists
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.
I think there should be much more about a good antagonist, but really there isn’t. The antagonist is a required character, but it is truly a secondary character in any modern novel. The antagonist is necessary and perhaps we as authors should take more time in properly developing the antagonist, but as I noted and as my writing displays, antagonists should have a face, but they stand for something greater and worse than themselves. In even the most simple novel, the antagonist is no longer a single person but rather an idea, concept, or institution. This isn’t really healthy or right, but it has become our focus in the modern era.
As I noted, a wise author puts a face on the worst antagonist (idea, concept, or institution). The face of the antagonist (a character) begins to bring us back to the classical age of literature. It also allows a reasonable resolution, although you can express the resolution of an antagonist that is an idea, concept, or institution without an end of the world theme.
In the Romantic Era of literature, I think it is more important to have a strong protagonist’s helper than a great antagonist. I wrote about a strong protagonist’s helper—the protagonist’s helper is an option. The antagonist is a requirement. What I mean is that an amorphous antagonist based on an idea, concept, or institution is okay when the protagonist has a true sounding board like a protagonist’s helper.
Then there is always the possibility of a positive antagonist. I wrote about this yesterday. It is theoretically possible to have a character close to the protagonist and in direct opposition who is also intimate. It is possible to have a romantic antagonist. It is completely possible to have an antagonist who is good and great as a human being without any negatives at all—see A Christmas Carol.
The antagonist may be too overlooked as a concept—or not. I see in most modern literature not a problem with the antagonist in any form, you have to have some type of opposition to your protagonist. The problem I see is too little experimentation with forms of the protagonist’s helper and a lack of creativity of the antagonist. I’ll look at this next.
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