29 March 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 633, Helping 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. Verb tense is only one part of concept of syntax. English has more complex forms of verb usage that are sometimes called “helper” verbs. They are most properly called auxiliary verbs. Here is a comprehensive list of auxiliary verbs.
|Auxiliary verb||Meaning contribution||Example|
|be1||copula (= linking verb)||She is the boss.|
|be2||progressive aspect||He is sleeping.|
|be3||passive voice||They were seen.|
|can1||deontic modality||I can swim.|
|can2||epistemic modality||Such things can help.|
|could1||deontic modality||I could swim.|
|could2||epistemic modality||That could help.|
|dare||epistemic modality||How dare you!|
|do||do-support/emphasis||You did not understand.|
|have1||perfect aspect||They have understood.|
|may1||deontic modality||May I stay?|
|may2||epistemic modality||That may take place.|
|might||epistemic modality||We might give it a try.|
|must1||deontic modality||You must not mock me.|
|must2||epistemic modality||It must have rained.|
|need||deontic modality||You need not water the grass.|
|ought||deontic modality||You ought to play well.|
|shall||deontic modality||You shall not pass.|
|should1||deontic modality||You should listen.|
|should2||epistemic modality||That should help.|
|will||epistemic modality||We will eat pie.|
|would||epistemic modality||Nothing would accomplish that.|
If you notice we already saw some of the uses of be (is) and have (had). These auxiliary verbs are used to change the verb tense in English. They have other uses we will address.
One of the chief uses of be (is) is identity. The first example above is identity. The most common narrative sentence might be identity. For example:
The girl was pretty.
The night was dark.
The man was strong.
The person was loud.
The day was cold.
These are also sentences the author would like to reduce in fiction writing. Some identity sentences can be easily changed to other stronger verbs—some can’t. For example, from the list above.
The girl was pretty. The girl looked pretty.
The night was dark. The night looked dark—this is an identity that is hard to change. The night was dark is a true extension of identity for the night.
The man was strong. The man looked strong—similar to night. This is an identity or inherent feature of the man and therefore can’t be changed easily.
The person was loud. The person sounded loud.
The day was cold. The day felt cold.
Identity is used mainly in scene setting and narration. It is a very powerful verb use, likely overused in much fiction, and should be reduced by the use of stronger verbs. However, in terms of syntax, this is a function of tone and understanding. For example, the use of a stronger verb automatically improves and expands the tone of the writing. Just the use of sound instead of was brings an expression into the realm of sound from an implied realm of sound. Likewise for appearance compared to identity. The girl was pretty to the girl looked pretty. There is much more to auxiliary verbs.
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic