Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 538, Explanation Historical Speech Language and Style Q and A

24 December 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 538, Explanation Historical Speech Language and Style 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 5. 5.  Language and style

Short digression:  I’m writing from Anchorage Alaska.

To write in an older person’s speech pattern, I just have to use standard English and then use the proper decade’s or period’s standard English and idioms.  Here’s an example of a greeting.  The greetings are the best place to show differences.

Mrs. Lyons opened the door, “Good afternoon, Constable Wyght.”

“Afternoon, Mrs. Lyons.  May I inquire about Essie’s whereabouts?”

“She is right here with me.”  Mrs. Lyons called out of the room, “Essie, dear, come greet Constable Wyght.”

Essie entered the foyer.  She blinked then gave a slight curtsy, “Hello, Constable.  How are you?”

“Very well, thank you,” he smiled.

I left up the example because I want to show the differences in the speech rhythms and patterns. The first is Mrs. Lyons initial greeting. A young person might say “hello” or “hi.” A cowboy or a person from the Western US might say howdy. A person from modern Britain might say “afternoon, constable.” You definitely don’t want to move out of standard English—so your urban person should not make a greeting like “yo” or “wasup.” Bringing colloquial English into the writing will simply date it.

Mrs. Lyons says “good afternoon” and directly addresses her visitor. This is a common older and more formal greeting. Most readers should catch this. Mrs. Lyons is obviously an older person from a formal background. The response from the constable is a shortened greeting “afternoon” and a direct address. This places the constable in a less formal category. A more formal greeting and response from both Mrs. Lyons and the constable would be, “good afternoon, Constable Wyght. How do you do?” This would definitely place them both in the early 20th Century and very formal. They are friends so the more formal address is not necessary to place them and the novel is set in the early 21st Century, so there is no need for that degree of formality. All of this is standard English and will stand the test of time.

If you note the rhythm of the speech—it is a very British and somewhat formal way of speaking. None of it is odd or unusual, the speech just fits the speakers. So, Constable Wyght’s question is professional, formal, and place setting. He could ask, “Where is Essie?” or “I need to know where Essie is?” or “Could you tell me were Essie is?” or “May I see Essie?” Each of these questions place the speaker in a different place, time, and formality. He could also demand, “Let me see Essie” or “I need to see Essie.”

What I want you to note is the words, their patterns and rhythm, and their containers (tags and IDs) all matter and reflect the age, place, time, education, culture etc. of your characters.

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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