27 March 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 631, Verb Forms English Syntax/re-arrangement of Words in a Sentence 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 first method of developing tone is through scene setting–the second method 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?
Syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence as tools to develop tone. What makes English so versatile and so difficult as a language are the many verb forms that allow subtle changes in the syntax and meaning of the sentences. That’s what I want to embark on next. So let’s take the basic sentence for example:
She loves Jake. This is the basic nominative-verb-accusative syntax structure. Let’s make it past tense.
She loved Jake. This is the form for basic novel writing. Every language has a present and a past tense. Most writing for novels is in third person past tense. Let’s make this perfect tense.
She had loved Jake. This is a useful form but should be rarely used in novel writing. We can make this a past participle tense.
She was loving Jake. …and we begin getting into a very subtle form in English. Is this immediate action (is she in the process of making love to Jake) or is this thought (she loves Jake in a mental and not physical sense). Part of this is the word choice, but that’s why I made it. The understanding of this sentence comes only out of the context. If Jake is in her arms, we might still need clarification. We can make this past perfect participle.
She had been loving Jake. The actual meaning, without context of this sentence is unknown. It is ambiguous without explanation. At the same time, the meanings of the sentences, in English, are not just different by time and action, but they show subtle and not so subtle differences in meaning. This isn’t just an exercise in time and action. How about future tense?
She will love Jake. This is an ambiguous sentence as well. Or future participle:
She will be loving Jake. Or future perfect:
She will have loved Jake. Or the future perfect participle.
She will have been loving Jake.
I didn’t address the present tense forms. The past and future tenses will be used in a novel narration. The present tense forms will be used in conversation. If you remember, the most common form is the past tense, that’s great, but without fully understanding these other forms, your writing can’t be as powerful as necessary—and you miss out on one of the important tools to develop tone, but there is much more to this—in English.
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