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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 25th novel, working title, Escape, is this: a girl in a fascist island nation will do anything to escape--a young cargo shuttle pilot not following the rules crashes on the island.
Here is the cover proposal for Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer. Lilly is my 24th novel.
A very great problem for many inexperienced writers is conversation. They believe their writing of conversation sounds trite and forced. They want to know the tricks to writing good conversation. This is a great aspiration and an important skill. My novels are about 90% conversation. I love to write conversation, and I see it as the major tool of the novelist. I'll spend some time defining what makes good written conversation in a novel, and how to write it.
Here is the example from my newest novel Escape (working title). This section still needs some work, but I'll use it as an example of conversation in a novel.
The first main point of writing conversation is to follow your cultural norms in developing it. The second is the characters are responding to each other. That response needs to be measured and logical. In cases where it is not measured and logical (note Reb's question below), the response of the other character should be in relation to it. I'd like to say that logic governs all aspects of conversation, but it doesn't. In reality, logic must govern the response although logic may not govern the conversation. What I mean by that, is this: the characters respond to each other in a reasoned and normal sense (based on their character). This is logical. If I ask you a question about the weather, I expect a response about the weather--if you don't respond about the weather, my next response to you will be somehow related to my character and why you didn't respond correctly.
You can see this in the following conversation. Scott asks, "Are you all right?" Reb responds, "Did you come to get me?" The first is culturally proper. The second character and incident driven. The response from Scott is logical. That is, he responds to Reb's unusual question. The continued cycle of response is then normal.
Scott unlatched the helmet at the neck and pulled it off, “Hi there. Are you all right?”
Rebecka could understand his words although the accent was strange to her ears. She was breathless, “Did you come to get me?”
The man stood straight as though the question caught him completely off guard, “To get you?” He took a moment to regain his thoughts, “No my engine failed. I’m afraid I’m stuck until they rescue me…” The last sounded slightly desperate in his ears. “Do you think I could get some help here?”
Rebecka shook her head slowly, “This is Freedom. I’ve never heard of anyone coming here from anywhere else before.”
“Freedom? That’s an odd name for this place. Could you help me?”
Rebecka stood in contemplation for a long time.
Finally, Scott asked again, “Can you help me?”
“Do you really think they will come for you?”
“Eventually…,” But that didn’t sound very reassuring either.”
“If you will take me with you when you leave here—I’ll help you…”
“Take you with me?”
“Listen to me. You don’t stand a chance here without help. If you will take me with you, I will do everything in my power to help you.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
Rebecka stuck her hands on her hips, “Do we have an agreement or not? If you wait too long, the armed citizens will come and take you away. If that happens, you will be judged and categorized. If that happens, I don’t think you will ever leave here.”
“Judged and categorized…what’s that?”
“Listen to me very carefully. I can see you know nothing about this place…”
“You’re right about that.”
“You don’t stand a chance without help. I will help you, but you must promise to take me with you.”
Scott thought for a moment. A sudden noise from the west startled them both.
Rebecka stamped her foot, “We don’t have very long. Make up your mind…”
Scott sighed, “If you will help me, I’ll do anything you wish…”
“Is that a promise? Do you swear?”
“As a citizen…”
“I’m not a citizen.”
Rebecka was taken aback, “You do swear by all you hold sacred?”
Rebecka stepped up to him and grasped his gloved hand, “Then come with me.”Every conversation is a sequence of response from one character to the other. When there is a break in the response cycle, the author must have a good reason for it and must build it into the conversation. If you remember that conversation must be about statement/response, then you are on the way to writing it well. The other point is how you identify characters and their words.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites: