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.
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 Freedom. Escape is my 25th novel.
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 input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:
- History extrapolation
- Technological extrapolation
- 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.
- Conflict/tension between characters
- Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
- Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
- Evolving vs static character
- Language and style
- Verbal, gesture, action
- Words employed
- Sentence length
- Type of grammar
- Field of reference or allusion
- 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.
- Mannerism suggest by speech
- 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 8. 8. Sentence length
Sentence length is directly related to pacing which is a product or should support the tension and release cycle of the novel. The reason for changing or using sentence length changes is ultimately to show the passing of time. This is exactly what pacing is all about. When time is passing quickly, in an action sequence, the author needs to sometimes speed up the time and sometimes slow down the time. The reason is specifically to support the tension and release cycle of the action.
When time is passing slowly, the author indicates this with long sentences and passages; however, in the interest of the tension and release cycle, the author may place some short sentences in a slowly paced scene.
In addition, when time is passing quickly, the author will want to use short sentences to indicate that with due consideration for tension and release. When the time languishes or is moving slowly, the author will want to use long sentences and passages—always with consideration for tension and release.
Here is an example about time passage. I could write:
A week passed.
That does not convey any time passage and ruins the pacing of anything—there is likely nothing in tension and release that needs such a short sentence to indicate a week of time passing. Try this:
The week passed quickly with new events occurring every day.
Better pacing, but your readers might want to know more about those illusive events. The tension and release is messed up. Try this:
The week in school passed just like the previous with nothing new and nothing out of the ordinary.
This is proper pacing and tension and release. The sentence tells the reader nothing changed and gives some impression of time. You can increase this type of time passage by increasing the words in the passage or sentences to indicate time passing. This is exactly what is meant by the use of sentence length to indicate pacing and to indicate time.