Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 508, Sweet Essie Actions Characteristics Character Presentation Q and A

24 November 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 508, Sweet Essie Actions Characteristics Character Presentation Q and A

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 26th novel, working title, Shape, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

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, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’ve started writing Shape.

I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.

Scene development:
1.  Scene input (easy)
2.  Scene output (a little harder)
3.  Scene setting (basic stuff)
4.  Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
5.  Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
6.  Release (climax of creative elements)

I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:

1.  History extrapolation
2.  Technological extrapolation
3.  Intellectual extrapolation

Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been.  It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect).  Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.

1.  Conflict/tension between characters
2.  Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
3.  Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
4.  Evolving vs static character
5.  Language and style
6.  Verbal, gesture, action
7.  Words employed
8.  Sentence length
9.  Complexity
10.  Type of grammar
11.  Diction
12.  Field of reference or allusion
13.  Tone
14.  Mannerism suggest by speech
15.  Style
16.  Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 2.  2.  Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)

An author develops a character first and then reveals the character through the plot.  Plot revelation is what it is all about.  We do not reveal characters by telling.  First develop, then reveal.

Appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, and actions are means of character revelation.  I really like this list–let’s look at each piece.

Actions define a character.  Words are actions.  Here is an example from the newest novel I’m writing.  Essie is the Aos Si.  She is also the goddess (guardian) of the fae.  The fae don’t like being ruled by a creature less beautiful, refined, and intelligent than they:

Mrs. Lyons mumbled under her breath, “It’s is more surprising that you can’t write—in this day and age.” Louder she asked, “It is inconvenient for me to just call you girl. Tell me your name, or I’ll have to give you one.”

The girl spoke. Mrs. Lyons was so surprised she couldn’t make out a word. She rose a little in her seat, “What did you say…my old ears couldn’t make it out.” Mrs. Lyons had perfect hearing, but the excuse was always useful.

The girl looked to the side, and Mrs. Lyons had to strain to hear her say, “Must I tell you my true name?” The voice was very soft and melodious.

“Yes, please speak up and tell me your true name.”

“I was always punished when I used my true name.”

“I shall not punish you for that. What are you called?”

The girl still didn’t look up, “I am mostly called bitch and pussy—sometimes hellcat.”

Mrs. Lyons froze, “Those are not appropriate terms for you to ever be called. What is your true name?”

“If I tell you, you will gain power over me…”

“I already have power over you.” Mrs. Lyons opened her hand, “I will tell you my names.”

The girl stared at her for a moment, but quickly averted her eyes, “Then I would have power over you.”

Mrs. Lyons smiled, “If you wish. I am named Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons, but you may call me Aunt Tilly.”

The girl mumbled, “So many names…”

“It is a fault of birth and marriage. Now, what is your name?”


“What was that? I didn’t catch it. Please speak up.”

“I said my name is Sith.”


The girl put up her hands, “You shouldn’t say it out loud. It is my true name.”

Mrs. Lyons spoke a little more sardonically than she really wanted to, “Then what may I call you out loud?”

The girl shrugged, “The other names I mentioned perhaps…”

“Never. Let me think. What about Sissy.”

The girl gave a slight shudder, “I have been called Aos Si.”

“Ess shee? That’s a bit difficult to pronounce. Perhaps Essie?”

The girl, Sith let by a tiny smile.

“Then I shall call you Essie. Will you answer to it?”

“Essie sounds pleasant to me. I can understand it.”

Mrs. Lyons grinned, “Very well, Essie. You may call me Aunt Tilly. Now, since we are on speaking terms, will you tell me where you are from?”

The girl lapsed into silence.

“That is a forbidden subject, I guess. Then will you answer this, why were you in my pantry?”

Essie shrugged, “I was hungry.”

“Then you were the one breaking into houses in the shire and village?”

Essie shrugged again.

“I need to know a little bit more, but that is neither here nor there. Why were you starkers in my pantry?”

Essie stared a moment, “What is starkers?”

“You didn’t have anything on. You were naked.”

Essie glanced at her a little amazed at the question, “I didn’t have any clothes.”

“Yes, that is the point. Why didn’t you have any clothes on?”

Essie glanced at the clothing she now wore, “I’ve never had any clothing.”



Mrs. Lyons pondered that a moment, then she answered, “Well from now on, you shall wear clothing. I have plenty to fit a girl your size. What else do I need to know about you?”

Essie made a face.

“With that, I suspect you mean you won’t say. That will be sufficient for now…except I’d like to know, why didn’t you have any clothing? I can’t quite fathom that part. Every person wears clothing.”

“But I’m not a person.”

Here is another side of Essie (the Aos Si).  Essie isn’t crazy, she is just the Aos Si.  She has great powers and great purpose.  She isn’t really a human being, but she has characteristics of a human being.  She shows one face to the fae and another entirely to the humans she interacts with.  The point of this example is to show you how her actions (including conversation) define her.

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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