29 May 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 694, Punctuation, 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)
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.
The way your English teacher put it, you’d think that punctuation was cut and dried, but a look at any complex piece of fiction indicates the opposite. The guide for punctuation in English is a style guide, in America, either the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. The Elements of Style is a general guide to style in English. In these guides, you will find the basic rules for putting together documents for publication. You will also find their rules for punctuation. You will also find stupid fads in punctuation. For example, the very foolish: element, element and element, instead of the correct element, element, and element. This little punctuation problem launched an entire book: Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.
Punctuation is not as cut and dried as your teachers explained it. This is especially true in conversation and when using semicolons, ellipsis, and the double dash. Commas also have their own issues, but generally for commas and punctuation in general, the lessor the better. That’s not to say, when you need a comma don’t place a comma. It means that if there is no need for a comma, leave it out. Commas are used for all kinds of functions in English. They are the small break and used to set off elements. In general, commas set off individual elements and dependent clauses. The purpose of the semicolon is to set off independent clauses.
Half the English world, or worse, can’t find an independent or dependent clause with both hands. This doesn’t mean you dump the semicolon, but as an author, it sure helps if you understand English, right? In fiction, the semicolon is just not used much. You can still use it, but the ellipsis and the double dash have come to replace the semicolon in most fiction writing, and especially in conversation. In general, the double dash replaces the semicolon in narrative and the double dash and the ellipsis replaces the semicolon in conversation. The question is when.
And here we are, the use of the ellipsis and the double dash becomes a question of style. Why not just break the independent clauses into separate sentences or use a conjugation?
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