28 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 603, different Examples of Tone 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.
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:
- Historical 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 suggested 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 13. 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.
I’m writing from Florida–thought you should know.
If tone is the feel of the writing, the author must start first with what tone he wants to convey.
Aksinya is a great example of tone in a novel. The novel moves from horror and murder to blissful elegance and high society. The tone of the scenes range from love to hate and from great happiness to despair. The peaks of human emotion and human suffering are found in Aksinya—the tone of the novel must therefore fit the scenes. Here is the scene just after the Demon achieves Aksinya’s revenge. Can you guess the tone?
When Aksinya awoke, her books and tools were neatly stacked near the door. The sun was high, but not very bright. A low coal fire burned in her fireplace. The demon must have lit it. She guessed it was still morning. The moment she moved her legs she regretted it. She lifted her dress and examined them. They were black and blue. The bruising went up to her thighs. She gingerly felt them. They weren’t broken, but still very, very tender. They felt as though someone had beaten them. She could barely move them. Though the room was cold, the black dress she borrowed from her mother’s closet was sweaty and uncomfortable. It smelled of sulfur and incense. The scent nauseated her. Aksinya reached back and unbuttoned the bodice. She hadn’t been able to button it up all the way anyway. She undid the buttons one by one until she could wriggle out of the dress. She stood naked for a moment then stumbled to her closet and took out a nightgown. She pulled that over her head and went back to bed.
Later a scratching sound at her door wakened her. She sat up.
Asmodeus called from the other side of the door, “When are you going to get up? We have many things we must discuss.”
Aksinya settled back on the bed, “I am tired. I don’t wish to get up now.”
“It doesn’t matter. You are awake and I need to speak to you,” the demon pushed the door open. He came in, closed the door, and squatted before it.
“What do you want?”
“You have over fifty dead Bolsheviks on your lawn.”
“Yes, I realized that.”
“Do you realize what it means?”
“Are you so stupid? Right now the Party officials are hearing about all these missing Party members. They are getting an earful from their wives, mothers, and sisters. Very soon they shall begin to search diligently for them. Very soon, they will find them on your lawn.”
Aksinya pulled the covers over her head, “So they will kill me too. Isn’t that what you want?”
“It isn’t just you. It is everyone in the village and the district who supported your family.”
Aksinya threw back the covers and stared at the demon. She tugged on her lower lip, “Why do you care—it’s just more killing?”
Asmodeus sneered, “The first is that I am contracted to protect you. The second is that I cannot harm the innocent.”
Aksinya’s brow rose, “So those on my lawn were all guilty?”
“What must you be guilty of to lack enough innocence to merit your condemnation?”
“You must be guilty of murder or of another of that guy’s laws that call for death.”
Aksinya smiled, “You mean God’s laws.”
“You know whom I mean,” the demon spat.
“Am I guilty?”
Asmodeus drew his talon along the floor as though he wrote on the wood, “Yes, mistress, very guilty.”
“I don’t wish any harm to come to my father’s people. What do you suggest?”
“I can dispose of the bodies so the Party will not look here.”
“That is good. Do it.”
“There is another problem.”
“The problem is you.”
Aksinya lay on her pillow again, “There is no problem with me.”
“You cannot remain here. There is no food and there is no heat. Everyone you knew is dead. There is a revolution here. You shouldn’t get caught up in it.”
“I am already caught up in it. What if I asked you to fight it with me?”
“There is only so much I can do.”
Aksinya rolled over, “Why do you care for me at all?”
“I told you, mistress. You have a contract with me. I am required to protect you.”
“I just want to die.”
Asmodeus shifted from foot to foot, “That would happily end our contract, but I would be in default.”
Aksinya rolled her head back to stare at him, “You are afraid. What on earth would make a demon like you afraid?” Her mouth worked for a moment. Asmodeus didn’t say anything. Finally, Aksinya burst out, “You are afraid of Him. You are afraid of God. Could that mean that God allowed me to do this? Is there still some hope for me?”
In this scene, the tone is brighter, but Aksinya is depressed. Her depression feels too light and contrived—she has no real desire to die, she just wants to confound the demon. The demon wants something entirely different. This is the beginning of the great temptation of Aksinya. It began with the calling of the demon and at the moment, is very subtle. This subtlety becomes less and less in the novel. Can you sense the tone? Can you feel the difference between the tone in the first scene, the second example, and this third scene? Right now, I want you to get the feel of tone—later we will look at the how of the tone.
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