Writing – part x467, Developing Skills, Favorite Protagonists

12 July 2018, Writing – part x467, Developing Skills, Favorite Protagonists

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 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, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing).  If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.

In moving to mechanics, you have to start with something.  The something I recommend is the protagonist.  As I noted for you, the protagonist owns the telic flaw and the telic flaw is the catalyst for the plot.  The resolution of the telic flaw is the plot of the novel, so obviously, the best place to start any novel is with the protagonist.  I hate to do this because I usually end up writing a new novel—let’s develop a character.

A great question we might ask is, how did Robert Heinlein develop his protagonist, Jonny Rico?  First, it reflects Heinlein’s life and knowledge.  Jonny Rico is a great character to look at because he is a science fiction character.  The protagonist can’t exist in the real world because the world of Jonny Rico is in the future and during the “Bug War.”

Robert Heinlein in developing Jonny Rico was using his own experiences with the US Navy and Marines.  He followed some of the primary rules of writing in writing what he knew.  He also used his knowledge to project the world of Starship Troopers from the Twentieth Century into the future of the novel.

Jonny Rico is a typical recruit.  He is a high school graduate who is looking at his future.  At the time, the “Bugs” have attacked the earth and Jonny wants to do something to defend and protect humanity.

Starship Troopers is called a “coming of age” novel.  That may be true, I consider it a maturity novel.  It is definitely a novel that reflects one path to responsibility and human skills.

I like these types of novels, and I’ve written these types of novels and protagonists.  To me, characters in military type or other schooling provides a wonderful framework for the development and revelation of a character.  Most protagonists in such an environment are asking questions about their own life, experience, and future.  This makes them timeless and universal.  Every modern person asks the same thing, and we see the reflection of education and learning in our own lives.

Not only is this important to people involved in the process of learning, it is important to people who have been involved in the learning process—basically everyone.

The power of this character, Jonny Rico, is that he is everyman.  He is everyman even if he is a romantic character.  Jonny Rico is an everyman because he reflects a situation that every modern person experiences—or at least that every educated and reading person experiences.  I think this is a very important consideration in a character—they reflect the universality of the reader’s conditions.

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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