Writing – part x581, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Idioms and Dialects

3 November 2018, Writing – part x581, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Idioms and Dialects

Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment.  I’ll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher.  More information can be found atwww.ancientlight.com.  Check out my novels–I think you’ll really enjoy them.

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 withhttp://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.

Today’s Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select “production schedule,” you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.

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.

     4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.

  1. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.

These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of a novel:

  1. Design the initial scene
  2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
  3. Research as required
  4. Develop the initial setting
  5. Develop the characters
  6. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
  7. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
  8. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
  9. Write the climax scene
  10. Write the falling action scene(s)
  11. Write the dénouement scene

I finished writing my 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential titleBlue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.  The theme statement is: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.

Here is the cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30thnovel, working title Red Sonja.  I finished my 29th novel, working titleDetective.  I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.

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.

For novel 30:  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.

For novel 31:  TBD

Here is the scene development outline:

  1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
  2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
  3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
  4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
  5. Write the release
  6. Write the kicker         

Today:  Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that pulls the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading.  If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration.  If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too.  Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.

  1. Reasonably written in standard English
  2. No glaring logical fallacies
  3. Reasoned worldview
  4. Creative and interesting topic
  5. A Plot
  6. Entertaining
  7. POV

Here is a list of these basic language factors (standard English) that might prevent suspension of disbelief:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Grammar
  3. Dialog
  4. Language
  5. Idioms and dialects
  6. Understanding
  7. Terms

Generally, we write about problems with your writing that might prevent suspension of disbelief.  The assumption is that you can write well enough to produce a work where suspension of disbelief is possible, and the problem is to keep the reader in that suspension of disbelief.

Idioms and dialects are right out.  Uncle Remis and Robert Burns are one thing—they are established authors communicating in their own dialects. Adding dialects in dialog to your novels will knock your readers out of the suspension of disbelief.  It is worse than using foreign languages.

Some people can understand foreign languages—those won’t be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief.  No one writes dialects in standard English, so there is no way a reader can’t be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief.  Even if they can comprehend the words and meaning, it will knock them out because they will have to slow down and likely go over the writing more than once to get an understanding of the text.  That is if they can ever get the meaning of the text.

I meant to find you an example, and I looked for it in a recent turn of the 20th Century novel I read.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it again.  This author threw in a couple of paragraphs of her interpretation of some English dialect.  The meaning was incomprehensible.  Even if you give a footnote as to the meaning, you have knocked every reader out of the suspension of disbelief.  Even those who understand the dialect will be knocked out because there is no standard English writing for any dialect.

I also wanted to give you an example so you could see what is unacceptable and we could talk about what is acceptable.

Unacceptable is any dialect written in non-standard English.  Acceptable is generally any dialect written in standard English—just don’t give us too much.  A few ain’ts and gonnas will not turn out your readers.  A few pages of it might.  It doesn’t take much to convey an odd dialect, so as little as possible in standard English and don’t give us too much.  Yoda and Jar Jar are great examples of what not to do.

One slight idiom that is a type of dialect has been used sparingly to produce some great results, but it might and likely will knock your readers out and that is Pig Latin.  I’ve seen some great jokes perpetrated with Pig Latin in some novels.  Again, you might get away with one sentence—more than one will irritate your readers.

Idioms must be explained if they are not culturally universal.  I would say that many idioms are not and most idioms are limited in both time and culture.  To be most effective, an idiom must be either universal or explained.  It should be explained before it is used or right after it is used. An example of a culturally universal idiom is, “It was raining cats and dogs.”  Notice, an idiom should not be expressed in narrative.  Putting an idiom in the narrative automatically drives the novel into the omniscient voice.  On the other hand, putting an idiom in dialog creates immediacy. Notice, in dialog, the only way to provide a meaning is to either revert to narrative or have the character explain—in narrative is bad, explanation might be good.

An example of a time and culturally limited idiom is, “Where’s the beef?” This means where is the good or important part?  This came from a television commercial in the 1980s and was a universal idiom in American culture, but not in British or other English cultures.  This would need explanation, but would make a great historical marker for the 1980s.

There you go.  Idioms, like dialects, are cultural and historical indicators. They make very powerful cultural and historical indicators just as languages do for cultures.  With this in mind, if you handle dialect like you would another language, you can’t lose.  For example, write:

She replied in a strong Irish brogue, “Top of the morning to you.”

This gives a tag that explains the dialog.  In addition, this gives an idiomatic phrase that is self-explanatory and relates directly to the culture.  Expressing dialects and idioms in this fashion will not knock your readers out of the suspension of disbelief, but will convey your point of a different dialect and culturally and historically place your dialog.  This is an excellent means of portraying these differences.

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:

http://www.ancientlight.com/

http://www.aegyptnovel.com/

http://www.centurionnovel.com

http://www.thesecondmission.com/

http://www.theendofhonor.com/

http://www.thefoxshonor.com

http://www.aseasonofhonor.com

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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About L.D. Alford

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.
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