7 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 856, Casual Words, Developing Conversation on the Stage of the Novel
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 started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.
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)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I’ll use my newest novel as an example. It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above. Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play. A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point.
In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
All conversations follow a similar development and cycle of events. If an author is sensitive to this development and cycle, he can write more natural sounding (read realistic) conversation. The cycle of conversation moves like this: greetings, introductions, casual words, deeper words, ending. Let’s look at the introductions.
Once the characters are introduced, the author can move to casual words. You do this all the time:
Jake asked, “The weather is fine. Isn’t it?”
Jane smiled, “How’s business?”
James rubbed his chin, “How’s tricks?”
The point is that just like in a normal conversation, people shouldn’t leap immediately to a deep conversation. I mean, there are unique situations where people delve kind of deeply into an idea near the beginning of a conversation, but not usually. It would be absolutely peculiar for you characters to immediately enter into an in-depth conversation. Even the most erudite conversations usually begin with something casual. The element that turns them from casual to a deeper level is when there is a question or a response that moves beyond the casual level.
Let’s stick at casual for now. The author needs to be familiar with conversation—that means if you can’t converse with real people, you won’t be able to write real-sounding or meaningful conversation. With this in mind, listen to conversations and note how and when (if ever) it moves to a deeper level. There are people like me who like to move conversations to a deep level all the time. I’ve learned that most people don’t want to get beyond the weather, kids, or sports. God forbid you move to ideas, politics, religion, or philosophy. I’m redundant there, but look at most conversations. Notice how they flow. Greetings, introduction, casual words, and most stop or canter along with casual words. This is true of many if not most conversations. The trick for the writer is to turn casual words into deeper words. The reason is revelation of characters can barely occur on a casual level. You must move deeper to be able to move the character revelation and the plot.
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