Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 347, Tone Conversation Example

16 June 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 347, Tone Conversation Example

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 seventeenth chapter right now.  That means I’ve written about 340 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 novel Valeska.  I’ll use this as an example of conversation in a novel.  I’ve used this before to discuss conversation.  Let’s review my guidelines for conversation.
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

5.  Use contractions (most of the time)

6.  What are you trying to say?

7.  What is unsaid in the conversation?

8.  The tone of the conversation.

Review the following conversation and try to identify the characteristics above in the development of the conversation.  Today, I’m looking at tone.

The butler stepped to the side, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Long, may I present Mr. George Mardling and his niece Ms. Heidi Mardling.”

[The tone is nonchalant.  I didn’t give you the other part–Heidi and Gorge are a little late.  He wanted to miss the receiving line.  There may be a little irritation from the butler–he doesn’t show it.]

Mrs. Long stepped forward and put her hand out to Heidi. She had a very bright smile on her face. She took Heidi’s hand, and her eyes went wide. Heidi released her hand immediately. Mrs. Long was breathless. She stammered a little, “Good evening. I’m Sveta Long.”

[Tone: At first very pleasant.  That changes immediately when Sveta touches Heidi.  The tone becomes fear and worry from Sveta and action from Heidi.  This depicts their very different personalities.  Although Heidi is naïve, she is also long lived and wary.  Sveta is seasoned, but unprepared.]

Heidi made a deep curtsy, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Long for inviting us to your party.”

[Tone: Heidi is absolutely in perfect control.]

Sveta reached out to Heidi again. Heidi stepped back, but Sveta connected with Heidi’s shoulder. Sveta froze, and her head came up. She stammered again, “You are very welcome. Make yourself comfortable in our home,” but her face clearly said exactly the opposite.

[Tone: Sveta wants to confirm her reaction.  Sveta has the same tone as before: fear and worry.]

Heidi glanced in Sveta’s eyes, then quickly turned her head away, “What I really need is a glass of sweet wine.”

[Tone: Heidi is in absolute control.  She changes the conversation to hold to the mundane.  She doesn’t realize how this will affect Sveta. ]

Sveta looked like she was about to say something, but she lowered her head and stepped back.

[Tone: Sveta is still worried and fearful.  She lost the opportunity to ask a direct question of Heidi.]

Heidi sighed.

[Tone: Heidi knows Sveat won’t back down–that’s the sigh.]

Daniel’s lips twitched, “I’m not sure what is going on, exactly.” He grabbed George’s hand and shook it, “Good to see you back in England, old man.”

[Tone: curious and congenial.]

George forced a smile, “I’m glad to be back. I’m looking for a new assignment as soon as possible.”

[Although Daniel has no clue what is going on, George is sensitive to it because he knows what Heidi is.  The tone is wary.]

Daniel clapped George on the shoulder, “I really hoped to keep you here in London for a while. I have some new recruits and training for you to supervise.”

[Still congenial.]

George grimaced, “Sounds long term. I guess we’ll make do.”

“We’ll?”

“Heidi and I.”

Daniel frowned and put his head back, “Don’t tell me you are sharing your flat with this young woman.”

[Daniel is professionally concerned.]

Heidi blinked, “I am happy to have a place to stay while I’m visiting in London.”

[Tone: defusing.]

Sveta stepped forward, “No, you should stay here. As I understand, the single flats the organization is assigning now are barely suitable for one—I can’t imagine a young woman having to put up with such close quarters…”

[Tone: Sveta is taking action in a way Heidi can’t allow.  Sveta’s tone is action.  Heidi is in defense.]

Heidi glared at Sveta, “I would feel completely out of place anywhere else.”

[Tone: the situation has changed quickly.]

Sveta glared back, “I insist.”

[Tone: exultant.]

“I equally insist and respectfully decline—Mr. Mardling is my guardian. It would be unthinkable for me to stay anywhere else.”

[Tone: pleasant but insistent.]

Sveta squinted her eyes at Heidi and Heidi squinted back at Sveta.

[Tone: beginnings of anger.  Sveta is thwarted.  Heidi is in danger.]

Daniel stepped between them, “Sveta, dear, I’m certain I can assign George a larger flat.”

[Tone: soothing]

Sveta let out her breath. She visibly calmed, “Yes… I’m sure we can work things out. Are you certain, Heidi, you don’t want to spend your time here until we can get George a larger place.”

[Tone: Sveta petulant–she doesn’t like losing.]

Heidi didn’t back down. She made a slicing motion with her hand, “I will not.”

[Tone: anger.]

Sveta forced a smile, “Very well. But, I do think you are a bit young to drink wine.”

[Tone: Heidi used this as a distractor, but she didn’t realize the situation.  Sveta is a prude and Britain has a law about drinking age.]

At that moment, a maid carrying a platter of filled wine glasses walked by. Heidi gracefully plucked a glass off the platter. She downed it in a swallow and turned Sveta a deep frown, “I do not like dry white wines. Do you have something more acceptable to my palate?”

[Tone: angry and distracting.]

Sveta’s eyes bulged. She took a step toward Heidi and appeared like she was about to leap. Heidi crouched slightly.

[Tone: Anger.]

Daniel grasped Sveta’s arm, and she came to herself.

[Tone: pacifying.]

George raised his hands, “Heidi is much older than she looks. We just came from Poland where there are no age limits for drinking alcohol. She usually has a glass or two every evening.”

[Tone: calming.]

Sveta squinted her eyes again, “I see. Heidi,” she almost spat the name, “You may drink as much as you desire in my house. Harold, please bring up a sweet German Riesling for Ms. Mardling.”

[Tone: obvious anger.]

Heidi raised her head high, “An auslese, if you have it.”

[Tone: saucy.]

Harold, the butler, bowed, “Yes, ma’am.”

Heidi glanced at Sveta from the sides of her eyes, “Thank you again for your hospitality.”

[Tone: conciliatory.]
Now that you’ve seen the conversation, you can note.

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

5.  Use contractions (most of the time)

6.  What are you trying to say?

7.  What is unsaid in the conversation?

8.  The tone of the conversation.

I’ll look at how the tone is conveyed next.

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

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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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