10 May 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 675, Word Use, Style 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 editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader. I’m editing Children of Light and Darkness at the moment.
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 15. 15. Style
Woah—style is huge. I just spent more than six months defining style from almost every angle I could imagine. Here are the elements I found for an author’s style.
1. Novel based style
a. Writing focus
c. Scene development
d. Word use
g. Use of figures of speech
i. Character revelation
k. Real world ties
m. Character interaction
2. Scene based style
c. Tension and release development
e. Theme development
What about word use and style. Some author’s word use can become annoying. Andre Norton comes to mind as well as Edgar Rice Burroughs. Some authors are especially erudite in their word choices and use. Jack Vance and William F. Buckley come to mind. Some authors are lyrical and almost poetical in their word use. Ray Bradbury and Catherynne Valente write with this style.
The rest of us fall somewhere along this continuum of style. I hope you aren’t an annoying writer, but at least you know. The example authors I gave above are all great writers and popular authors. Their writing sets them apart from the herd. Much of that separation is their word use. Both Norton and Burroughs’ word use produce some degree of annoyance, but that is also their style. That is, I’m certain they never intended to be annoying, but their writing and word use becomes slightly repetitious—not so much to end their popularity or limit their novels, but after reading them all, you begin to see their idiosyncrasies. Perhaps all authors’ writing styles become stale over too many novels. Or in some cases, the authors approach to writing (a style in itself) becomes stale. In any case, there may be safety in being in the center of the word use continuum.
I write using standard English and using a more erudite style. This seems to work well for my novels and my readers. I don’t intentionally try to write at a more educated level, but I do try to use my basic vocabulary. Usually, there is no reason to simplify your word use or vocabulary—unless you are writing for children or young adults. Valente is supposed to write for children, but her vocabulary and word use is very complex. A quick bit of advice. You don’t want your readers to always be checking their dictionary for the meanings of your words. At the same time, you don’t want to use a Dick and Jane vocabulary. I think most readers want to improve and broaden their vocabulary, but too much is too much. Jack Vance presses at the very top of a complex vocabulary and he gets away with it.
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