18 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 867, more Examples, Ending the Conversation, 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 ending.
Here is another example of a beginning and an ending. This is from my yet unpublished novel Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse. You can see all the parts I mentioned.
I realize that conversations are difficult to write—especially at the beginning. For those who are experts already, here is an example of how I write conversation. For those who are new to this, here is how I write conversation. I’ll annotate on the way through.
Shiggy didn’t run very far. Her eyes stung with anger and misery. She didn’t get far because the sun was already falling out of the sky and it was becoming dark. She felt cold. She stopped in a small clearing at the north side of the house and called, “Dark Ash, Dark Ash will you come?” [Here we have a greeting similar to the one before.]
Shiggy heard a footfall behind her. She turned. Ashly stepped through the dark woods. She appeared like a nearly full size woman. She stood naked. She yawned and cocked her head, “You seem a bit put out.” [Ashly with her direct way of speaking drives directly to the point—Shiggy is put out.]
“I am a bit put out, but I bring gifts, and I’d like comfort.”
Ashly clucked her tongue, “I suspect you just want to talk.” [This is a joke based on a creative element introduced before. It was also referred to in the previous example. The creative element is that dark fairies toy with humans sexually.]
“That’s just it. I don’t know what else you mean.” [Shiggy is a little bit innocent and naïve.]
Ashly put out her hand, “Come, child of Eve.” Ashly led her a few steps further to the north. They came to an open area slightly protected from the wind by a hawthorn and holly hedge. A couple of large stones lay across from one another. Ashly sat on one. Shiggy sat on the other. Shiggy handed a beer to Ashly. She popped open her own. Ashly opened her beer. They tapped them together, “Slanté. Cheers.” [If you can get your characters into a situation where they eat, drink, or smoke together, you can move quickly and easily into deeper words. Here the ladies are having a drinking party.]
Ashly took a long drink and let out her breath. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
Shiggy opened her clutch, “I brought cigarettes.”
Ashly’s eyes lit up, “I haven’t had a smoke in ages.”
Shiggy handed her the package and a book of matches.
Ashly deftly opened the package with her fingernail. She thumped the bottom of the box and popped out a stick. She pulled it out. She popped out another about halfway and offered it to Shiggy. Shiggy took it. Ashly lit her cigarette with a flame from her finger. Shiggy started, but when Ashly offered, she leaned forward to have hers lit too. Ashly took in a deep lungful of smoke and sighed. After a long moment, she let it out.
Shiggy sucked in a lungful of smoke and about lost it. She hacked and coughed then coughed and hacked. She dropped her cigarette, and Ashly picked it up. Ashly encouraged her, “Take a sip of beer.”
Shiggy did and slowly came back right again. She wheezed, “How can you stand it?”
Ashly handed the cigarette back to Shiggy. Shiggy took it with a little trepidation. Ashly spoke around her cigarette, “I’m used to it. If you’re not, don’t inhale the smoke.”
Shiggy tried again with a little more success. She didn’t cough again.
Shiggy and Ashly smoked quietly until they drained their first beers. Shiggy handed Ashly another and took one herself. They opened them and clinked them together. Ashly offered Shiggy another cigarette, and lit them.
Shiggy leaned back and shivered, “Aren’t you cold?” [Conversations in real life move from casual to deeper words and back again. This usually indicates a change of subject. The author should use creative elements (like the chill of the night) to move the conversation and provide movement into deeper words. In this case, Ashly just blurts out information that immediately moves the conversation to a deeper level. There is a reason for this in the context of the novel.]
Ashly nodded, “It’s a chill night, but not as bad as some nights.” Ashly smiled, “When it gets too cold for me, the Puck and I share a bed.”
Shiggy leaned on her knee, “He’s your lover?”
“For a long long time.” Ashly flicked the ash off her cigarette, “I didn’t nark on you.” [This is the entry into a confession. Ashly is the kind of person (being) who just tells the truth. There may be some supernatural creative elements here or just intuition. She tells Shiggy what Shiggy wants to know.]
Shiggy raised her chin, “About what?”
“About your stash. I must answer to the Mistress of Sherwood House—she demanded the information from me. She threatened to take the clothing you gave me.” Ashly glanced away, “I couldn’t keep your secret.”
Shiggy let out a half-smile, “I wasn’t sure what I would do to her anyway.”
“You seem to be a pretty good thief.”
“I’d rather not be known for that skill.”
“I won’t mess up your room again.”
“Thanks. And thanks for changing the mushrooms.”
Ashly crossed her legs, “What did she do to anger you this time?”
Shiggy clenched her fists, “It isn’t really about what she did. It’s the entire situation. I never realized anything like this would happen to me.” [Shiggy is keeping secrets. The reason this is important is because she realizes she has no control over the situation and any compliant would just be a complaint.]
Shiggy paused in a long moment of thought. Finally she smiled, “Like sitting out in the night and sharing a beer and a cigarette with a fae being.” [Shiggy brings the conversation back to a more casual level.]
“I like that. I haven’t had any humans who would really speak to me before. You are an odd one.”
Shiggy handed Ashly another beer. They smoked another cigarette. They spoke about all kinds of things, drank all the beer, and smoked all the cigarettes. [This is another means to end a conversation. That is, the author moves the camera out and summarizes the conversation direction. The implication is that there is no more deeper conversation and what they say is not as important as the fact they were together saying it.]
When she snuffed out the last cigarette, Ashly sniffed her hair, “Lady Sorcha will not let me into the house tonight. She can’t stand the smell of cigarettes. I’ll sleep with my Puck.”
Shiggy hadn’t said anything for a while. She lay half on and half off the stone. She held her arms around her sides. She shivered. Without another sound, Shiggy slipped off the rock and lay on the ground. She pulled her arms and legs in close.
Ashly came over to her, “Are you well?” Ashly shook her, “Wake up, handmaiden.”
Shiggy didn’t move or make a sound.
Ashly stood and looked around. She said to herself, “You shouldn’t sleep there. Although you are safe from humans or the fae in this place, you are exposed too much to the elements of the world.” Ashly took a look back at Shiggy. She made up her mind, became a small creature with wings, and swooped off toward Sherwood House. When she attained her smaller size, her doll’s clothing suddenly appeared on her body.
Shiggy drank herself to oblivion and is sleeping out in the forest. She had good reason to drink and forget—she found that she is officially dead. Not actually dead—that’s a good thing, but legally dead. This was the scene prior to her conversation with Ashly. There are a lot of creative elements addressed in this scene many if not all with impacts on the conversation. Most of the turns in the conversation (casual to deep and back) are governed or moved by the creative elements. You see references to other creative elements in the text and action narration. My point again is to give you the beginning and the ending of the conversation so you can see the elements of the conversation and the movement from casual to deep and back.
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