Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 650, more Mannerisms Suggested by Speech Q and A

15 April 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 650, more Mannerisms Suggested by Speech 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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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 FreedomEscape is my 25th novel.

 Escape Cover proposal sm
Cover Proposal

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 development:

  1. Scene input (easy)
  2. Scene output (a little harder)
  3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
  4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
  5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
  6. Release (climax of creative elements)

I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:

  1. Historical extrapolation
  2. Technological extrapolation
  3. 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.

  1. Conflict/tension between characters
  2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
  3. Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
  4. Evolving vs static character
  5. Language and style
  6. Verbal, gesture, action
  7. Words employed
  8. Sentence length
  9. Complexity
  10. Type of grammar
  11. Diction
  12. Field of reference or allusion
  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.
  14. Mannerism suggested by speech
  15. Style
  16. 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 14. 14.  Mannerism suggested by speech

In conversation, the author can not just suggest mannerisms, but actually show gestures, actions, and mannerisms. This is usually accomplished by a directive statement, “Stop biting him.” There are other means to suggest or indicate actions, gestures, and mannerisms.

How about this, “Your mustache is getting in the way of our kissing.” This is not a directive statement, but it points to an identification tag. A similar statement, “You don’t need to cry.” Or, “Wipe your eyes.” How about, “Blow your nose.” The last two are directive.

A gesture or mannerism can be conveyed with, “You don’t need to stagger.” Or, “Stop biting your nails.” The point is that the author can show actions, gestures, and mannerisms through conversation. This is good and this is bad.

This is good because it is pure showing. The reader gets a double dose, and if it was properly identified as a character tag (the mannerism), the conversation reminds and accentuates the expression and the action.

This technique isn’t really bad, but conversation isn’t always where the reader is looking for description or action. Conversation is supposed to convey knowledge—where it does, the reader may catch and run with the description in it. Where it doesn’t or it is not in line with the conversation, the reader may immediately discard it. For example, if the characters are involved in a very tense situation and one says to the other, “You don’t need to cry,” and that is followed by a compassionate or not so compassionate rejoinder. Compassionate, “You don’t need to cry—I’ve got your back.” Not so compassionate, “You don’t need to cry—you’re nearly a grownup. Buck up.” The reader may remember the incident. On the other hand, without any connection to the conversation—for example, “You don’t need to cry. Let’s get to the business at hand.” In this example, the character gives no reinforcement to the statement. What was the purpose of the statement, “You don’t need to cry?” It might have conveyed a gesture, but without a tie to the conversation, it was almost meaningless.

That’s the point actually—just like a gesture, tag, or identification action in a conversation, for example, Jane twirled her hair, “You don’t need to cry,” shows an action that helps delineate and id a character, so does an action encased in a statement. If the action or statement isn’t used by the author for any real purpose, it’s just a throwaway. Use mannerisms, actions, and gestures in conversation to punctuate release in a scene.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:


fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic


About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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