9 March 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 613, more Tools for Developing 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.
If tone is the feel of the writing, the author must start first with what tone he wants to convey.
The second method of developing tone is through tension and release. Before I give anymore examples, let’s look at the specific tools used to create tone in tension and release (these can also be used in the scene setting). I like the list from the question—it is nearly exhaustive: 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. Why don’t we look at each of these tools?
The first tool is diction. The second is rhythm. Diction is a tool in conversation, and rhythm is primarily a tool of narration. Rhythm and diction are both tools of limited use. They are limited because they are either very subtle or very obvious. For example, the diction of an Ernest Hemmingway conversation or narrative is usually the same—terse and Hemmingway all the way through. He didn’t have much difference in his diction or rhythm. Anything he did with diction or rhythm in tone was very subtle. Perhaps too subtle to note. You may have caught the drift already.
If you have a style, like Hemmingway, that style usually has a diction in the conversation and a rhythm in the narration. If you radically change your diction and rhythm in your writing, you risk messing with your style. There is also a possibility the writing will sound stilted, like Hemmingway. On the other hand, it is not unusual for creative writing teachers to explain that diction and rhythm should change based on the action (and tone) in the scene. Usually, when the action and tone is tense, the diction and rhythm should become shortened. When the action (and tone) is not tense, the diction and rhythm should be lengthened. Can you see this is either very obvious—a great change in the difference or very subtle—a small change in the difference.
When we are discussing tone and diction and rhythm, I recommend subtlety. I recommend that you first determine the tone of the scene or the events in the scene, then write the scene. After you have written the scene, see how the diction and rhythm of the elements have come out. Then edit for the tone. Many times, I think you will find your writing has naturally shortened the action and naturally lengthened the non-action. If not, fix it. I mean, there really are scenes where the protagonist is agonizing in the middle of a gun fight, but they really shouldn’t. These kinds of scenes really bother me as a reader. The tone of the scene itself has been thrown off because the writer wasn’t thinking about tension and release at all and put a turd in the middle of the scene. Let’s talk about tension and release and relate it to diction and rhythm.
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