18 May 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 683, Use of Figures of Speech in Style, 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, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si. Essie is my 26th 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 finished editing Children of Light and Darkness and am now writing on my 27th novel, working title Claire.
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
Quick digression: Back in the USA for the holidays.
Let’s look at figures of speech and style.
a word or phrase used in a nonliteral sense to add rhetorical force to a spoken or written passage.
For the writer, the force of a figure of speech is to make ideas that can only be thought and not perceived otherwise explode into the world. Figures of speech birth ideas through symbols. As I wrote before, the question of style is how many and how much. Writing is all about figures of speech, but a novel can’t or shouldn’t be only figures of speech. Writing in tension and release is similar to telling a joke—the punchline is based in timing of action, conversation, and ideas. Figures of speech deal mainly with conversation and ideas. To make the tension and release cycle work properly, the author must time it properly like a punchline.
Figures of speech are used to turn words into ideas. To be effective, those ideas must resonate through the writing. It isn’t enough to just put in a bunch of figures of speech—they must actually move the plot, theme, and character revelation. Thus, if I compare the protagonist to a wolf, that becomes a focus of the revelation. If I use a figure of speech in a conversation, the conversation should/might turn on the figure of speech. If I use a figure of speech in an action sequence, the climax of the action (tension) should occur due to the figure of speech or its association.
Thus a figure of speech can become the power factor in the writing. I’m not writing that you should develop every scene like this, but this is an indication of the power of the writing. Thus action, events, and conversation become ideas and not just plot points. How much an author does this and the degree of the integration of the figures of speech are functions of style.
Too much might be too much for your writing. Some writers use figures of speech pervasively in their writing. Some use very direct figures of speech like metaphors or similes. Other authors use less direct figures of speech such as allegories, allusions, and reference. Some mix it up well.
A reader might easily identify metaphors and similes. Such writing is filled with word pictures that build ideas in the minds of the reader. The reader might not see an allegory, allusion, or reference with the same clarity as metaphor or simile. However, the purpose is the same—word pictures that build words into ideas. In my writing theory, the more the better. If the writing is entertaining, you can’t drown your readers in too many figures of speech. On the other hand…
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