15 March 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 619, Sound Effects 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. 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?
Let’s look at sound effects. In reality, sound effects are simply onomatopoeia, exclamations, or descriptive words. In many cases, sound effects can’t build tone. However, there are some very real tone building sound effects. The creak of a floor or a door. The cry of a bird or animal. The cry of a baby. These are all scene setting tools—and sound effects. Sound effects that have lessor value in tone building, but can be useful in description are bang (like a gunshot), whoosh, etc. basically any single onomatopoeia that explodes into the environment. These break the tone of a scene—that can be a very good thing. Onomatopoeia are the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named—at least that’s what it is supposed to be. Funny how a dog bark in Japanese and Chinese is wan wan while in English it is bow wow. What kind of onomatopoeia is that? This is true of most onomatopoeia in most languages—they don’t match from language to language. This is an interesting cultural point. Every culture seems to hear sounds a little differently and express them in words much differently. This means that onomatopoeia should be able to be used to express cultural tones. If I express a dog bark as wan wan, then I am building a Japanese dog in a Japanese setting. How you can use this, I’m not sure, but it is intriguing—isn’t it?
Exclamations are even more powerful in cultural scene setting. For example, if my character exclaims, “Bloody.” That’s a British tone and setting. If my character exclaims, “Zut.” That’s a French tone and setting. Or at least the characters are British and French. The entire cultural tone and the general tone can be developed from a few choice exclamations.
Descriptive words are the most powerful tone setting sound effect. For example, if I write, the door closed like a shot, or, the gate moaned like a ghost, you immediately get the setting and the tone of the setting. Obviously these statements are just part of a setting, but the tone is being built through the description and the description is a descriptive sound effect.
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