Announcement: I heard from my publisher that my Aegypt novels will continued to be titled Ancient Light and that the next two books will be called Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. These were the original titles. They will be released individually and as a 3 in 1 volume. I saw the proposed cover. 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 newest novel, Valeska, is this: An agent of the organization becomes involved with a vampire girl during a mission, she becomes dependent on the agent, and she is redeemed.
Here is my proposed cover for Valeska:
The plot is developed directly from the theme. The first steps are fleshing out the characters (not accomplished in the novel, but before writing the novel) and the setting. The main characters and the setting come directly out of the theme. The characters are revealed through the storyline that is based on the plot. Then how do you get to the storyline?
I left up the example for the first scene plot outline from before. This outline is how I develop a scene in my mind. Once I have the scene outline, I can write the storyline. If you note, the plot outline comes directly out of the theme and the storyline comes directly out of the plot outline. So here is the outline--then how do you write the storyline?
Scene 1 (for this example): Christmas party at Lyons House 19 December 2014, damp night
George and Heidi arrive late
George and Heidi meet Sveta and Daniel
Heidi and Sveta have a confrontation based on contact (tension builder)
Heidi seeks a way to break off the confrontation
Daniel restrains Sveta, Heidi removes George (release)
First you set the scene. Then you set the characters in the scene. Then introductions. Not every scene will have introductions, but most with characters will have some type of introduction, even if it is just a greeting or a "good morning." I'm trying to make this simple for those of you who are just starting and I'm giving a way to measure your writing if you are more experienced. So, here is an example from the scene above:
The room was not filled with people, but at least fifteen couples stood in the space. Buffet tables filled with food and drink were under the stairs. A quartet at the left side played Christmas music and classics. Harold, the butler, led Heidi and George toward a handsome middle-aged couple at the side. The man was medium height and shorter than George. His hair was light brown and his features were fine but nondescript. He had a very pleasant face with a few wrinkles--most seemed to grace his eyes and lips as though he was used to smiling.
The woman was slight, petite and exquisitely beautiful. Her skin was the color of cappuccino. Her hair was black, long, and silky. Her eyes, more appropriate on an Egyptian tomb painting were large and brown and exotic. She seemed to have an almost timeless look, but slight wrinkles marked her eyes and lips in almost the same measure as the man—as though they had known many of the same joys and sorrows.
The butler stepped to the side, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Long, may I present Mr. George Mardling and his niece Ms. Heidi Mardling.”
Mrs. Long stepped forward and put her hand out to Heidi. She had a very bright smile on her face. She took Heidi’s hand and her eyes went wide. Heidi released her hand immediately. Mrs. Long was breathless. She stammered a little, “Good evening. I’m Sveta Long.”
Heidi made a deep curtsy, “Thank you very much, Mrs. Long for inviting us to your party.”
Sveta reached out to Heidi again. Heidi stepped back, but Sveta connected with Heidi’s shoulder. Sveta froze, and her head came up. She stammered again, “You are very welcome. Make yourself comfortable in our home,” but her face clearly said exactly the opposite.
Heidi glanced in Sveta’s eyes, then quickly turned her head away, “What I really need is a glass of sweet wine.”
Sveta looked like she was about to say something, but she lowered her head and stepped back.
Daniel’s lips twitched, “I’m not sure what is going on, exactly.” He grabbed George’s hand and shook it, “Good to see you back in England, old man.”
George forced a smile, “I’m glad to be back. I’m looking for a new assignment as soon as possible.”
Wherever you intend to go with a dialog scene, you must present the human interaction using the proper cultural interaction for the society you are writing about. Human interaction always must follow the proper degree of social rules for the situation. I think the proper attention to normative human interaction is what separates immature and awkward dialog writing from good dialog writing. I know good dialog writing is a problem for many beginning writers because of many of the poor examples I read.
I've mentioned before that conversation in a novel is never real conversation, but it must appear to your readers like real conversation. The ability of the author to produce conversation that appears to be "real" begins with an understanding of who people interact in society. The writing of storyline begins with the scene and character setting and moves to introductions. I advise you never to skip these steps. The next part of the dialog comes out of the introductions and greetings and moves into the subject at hand.
Notice, the subject at hand may require an oblique approach. This is also governed by the rules of social interaction for the culture. There are many subjects that can't be approached directly, and there are many subjects that require some buildup. For example, in the scene above, the subject of who is Heidi and who is Sveta can't be approached directly in this setting. The author must change the setting to enable the primaries to discuss these subjects. This is part of the dance of the dialog. This is what makes conversations in novels appear to be "real."
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: