19 July 2018, Writing – part x474, Developing Skills, Conversation, Favorite Protagonists
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, 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.
How do we make a character real? Conversation is another powerful means for showing. Usually, when we think of showing, we think of action—conversation is an action. I use showing in action very effectively to reveal my characters, however, I also use conversation extensively to reveal my characters.
The reason conversation is so useful is that you can show elements from your character’s thoughts—at least you can put their thoughts into words and present those words. There is always the question of truth versus perception or even lies.
Here’s how this works. If an author tells, the telling must be truth—if it isn’t there is no purpose for any omniscient perspective. This is one of the reasons most adult authors reject omniscient voice or any omniscient perspective. This is why most good authors don’t use mental reflection or tell the mind of the protagonist (or any other character). Telling the mind, and this is real telling, is like giving a truth serum to your character. When you tell the mind of any character, you are baring the mind of that character completely. There is no equivocation, hiding, or lying—there can’t be. In my opinion, this is so foreign to good writing and real life, that no character can be “real” within this context. There is no reality for a character who is told.
What is telling exactly? Telling a character is when I get into the character’s mind and either reveal their thoughts or use the omniscient voice to tell you their thoughts. Here’s some examples:
Here is simple telling:
Jack greeted them.
Here is telling directly from a character’s thoughts:
Jack thought, I’ll grab the boat from the side and pull it directly to me.
Here is omniscient telling:
Jack knew just what to do now. He would snag the side of the boat and pull it directly to him.
Don’t tell. Don’t use telling.
Here are showing examples of each of the above. Use these:
Jack raised his hand, “Good morning.”
This time Jack reached for the boat and grabbed it at the side. He pulled it straight toward him. It stayed on course. He finally had it.
Here is an example of thought filled conversation based on the above omniscient voice.
Jack turned to Jill, “This time, I’ll try to grab the boat at the side and pull it directly toward me.”
Jill chewed her lip, “Do you think that will work—the last three times…”
Jack shook his head, “I think it will. Wish me luck.”
This is how you show and this is what showing is all about. Next, I’ll explain the whys and hows of the intimate conversation for character revelation.
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