Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 562, Said, Words Best Not Employed Q and A

17 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 562, Said, Words Best Not Employed 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 Escape from FreedomEscape is my 25th novel.

 Escape Cover proposal sm
Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I’m on my first editing run-through of 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 – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
  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 7. 7.  Words employed

The list is gone. I’d would be nice to keep it up and add to it as I thought of more classics. I want to give you more ideas about the employment of words or the right word for the moment, but I’m going to come from a different point of view for a moment. Let’s look at words not to use. Here’s the list:











These are words you want to reduce in your writing. Down to the last one. I don’t use said to introduce conversation. This is my simple rule and example from my website.


Said is dead.  Don’t use said to tell us what a person is saying.

“I like you,” she said.  (bad)

“I like you,” she gushed.  (better)

“I like you,” she kissed his lips.  (best)

Let’s get a little deeper into said. Some writers tell us the word “said” just disappears into the writing and readers ignore it. I know this is true, but then why should an author waste a single moment, word, or thought on a word that will be ignored? I don’t. I just don’t use said.

I’ve written before about gestures and tags (or IDs). In real life, conversation is at least fifty percent or more body language (gestures and actions), therefore, in conversation, the author must convey this body language. The way you do that is by interjecting it as tags, gestures, and actions in the conversation. For example:

A gesture: Rosy touched her cheek, “I’m not sure what to say.”

A tag: Rosy tugged at her long braid, “I’m not sure what to say.”

An ID: Rosy yelled, “I’m not sure what to say.”

An action: Rosy grabbed her sword and shook it, “I’m not sure what to say.”

A gesture is a limited or small human action accomplished to accentuate a point of conversation. In the example above, Rosy is showing embarrassment or indecision.

A tag is an identification based on a characteristic of a character. In this case, Rosy has long braided hair. This identifies her in the conversation.

An ID is the use of a name with a conversational indication to show the reader how something was said—in this case, Rosy yells. This is the direct analog to said—although as I wrote, said is a meaningless term in this case. Said can be used as an ID to tell the reader which characters said a piece of conversation. My point is use any of the other terms for said to show us how the character actually said the words, or give us an action.

Finally, an action is an action description in the conversation to indicate an action that occurs while the character is speaking.

All four of these are better uses of your time and writing than the use of said. As I wrote: said is dead. Show us what is happening, and what the characters are doing while they are speaking. Don’t waste words, and don’t waste opportunities to communicate with actions (gestures etc.).

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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