Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 341, Tags Conversation Escape Initial Scene

10 June 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 341, Tags Conversation Escape Initial Scene

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.

All novels have five discrete parts:
1.  The initial scene (the beginning)
2.  The rising action
3.  The climax
4.  The falling action
5.  The dénouement

The theme statement of my 25th novel, working title, Escape, is this: a girl in a fascist island nation will do anything to escape–a young cargo shuttle pilot not following the rules crashes on the island.

Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the ComputerLilly is my 24th novel.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene.  I’m writing about the initial scene of my newest novel, “Escape.”  Escape is the working title.  I’ll decide on the proposed title when I finish the novel.  I’m at the fifteenth chapter right now.  That means I’ve written about 300 pages.

One very great problem for many inexperienced writers is conversation.  They believe their conversation sounds trite and forced.  They want to know the tricks to writing good conversation.  This is a great aspiration and an important skill.  About 90% of my novels is conversation.  I love to write conversation, and I see it as the major tool of the novelist.  I’ll spend some time defining what makes good written conversation in a novel and how to write it.

Here is the example from my newest novel Escape (working title).  This section still needs some work, but I’ll use it as an example of conversation in a novel.

I do not use the word “said” in conversation–or I should say, I very, very rarely use the word “said” in conversation.  To me, said is dead.  Just like gotten is rotten.  Instead of said, I use stronger verbs.  If I need to tell you how something was said, I tell you–the character, yelled or cried or screamed.  If a character just says something, I either give you a tag (an identification) or an action.  Look at the first paragraph of conversation below–Scott unlatched the helmet at the neck and pulled it off.  That is an action followed (assumed at the same time) by the conversation he spoke.  I don’t need to tell you how he said it–or redundantly tell you he said it–I just need to tell you the actions he did while he spoke the words.

Reb’s response–now I tell you how she said it–she was breathless.  I am building a picture as well as showing you a conversation.  Or better, I am simply showing you a conversation.  Show the conversation–don’t tell us, show us.

Scott unlatched the helmet at the neck and pulled it off, “Hi there. Are you all right?”

Rebecka could understand his words although the accent was strange to her ears. She was breathless, “Did you come to get me?”

The man stood straight as though the question caught him completely off guard, “To get you?” He took a moment to regain his thoughts, “No my engine failed. I’m afraid I’m stuck until they rescue me…” The last sounded slightly desperate in his ears. “Do you think I could get some help here?”

Rebecka shook her head slowly, “This is Freedom. I’ve never heard of anyone coming here from anywhere else before.”

“Freedom? That’s an odd name for this place. Could you help me?”

Rebecka stood in contemplation for a long time.

Finally, Scott asked again, “Can you help me?”

“Do you really think they will come for you?”

“Eventually…,” But that didn’t sound very reassuring either.”

“If you will take me with you when you leave here—I’ll help you…”

“Take you with me?”

“Listen to me. You don’t stand a chance here without help. If you will take me with you, I will do everything in my power to help you.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

Rebecka stuck her hands on her hips, “Do we have an agreement or not? If you wait too long, the armed citizens will come and take you away. If that happens, you will be judged and categorized. If that happens, I don’t think you will ever leave here.”

“Judged and categorized…what’s that?”

“Listen to me very carefully. I can see you know nothing about this place…”

“You’re right about that.”

“You don’t stand a chance without help. I will help you, but you must promise to take me with you.”

Scott thought for a moment. A sudden noise from the west startled them both.

Rebecka stamped her foot, “We don’t have very long. Make up your mind…”

Scott sighed, “If you will help me, I’ll do anything you wish…”

“Is that a promise? Do you swear?”

“I swear.”

“As a citizen…”

“I’m not a citizen.”

Rebecka was taken aback, “You do swear by all you hold sacred?”

“I swear.”

Rebecka stepped up to him and grasped his gloved hand, “Then come with me.”

I left in the rest.  If the ID of the speaker is obvious, you don’t need to have a tag or an action.  Look at the last part above–the speaker is obvious and the conversation is obvious.

These are the rudimentary parts of building conversation–and we haven’t even come to the content of the conversation yet–well not much.  Remember:

1.  Cultural norms (greeting, introduction, small talk, big talk)

2.  Logical response (characters must respond to each other in the conversation)

3.  ID the speaker

4.  Show us the picture of the conversation

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:



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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