Announcement: My new novels should be available from any webseller or can be ordered from any brick and mortar bookstore. Information can be found at www.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 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 huge 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.
Let's review my guidelines for conversation.
1. Cultural norms (greeting, introduction, small talk, big talk)
2. Logical response (characters must respond to each other in the conversation)
3. ID the speaker
4. Show us the picture of the conversation
5. Use contractions (most of the time)
6. What are you trying to say?
7. What is unsaid in the conversation?
8. Build the tone of the conversation.
9. Show don't tell.
I promised to show you a "confessional" conversation. This is a conversation between two people in which secrets are truly shared. This conversation is a compilation point in my unpublished novel Warrior of Darkness. This is the last of the official Ancient Light novels. Perhaps there is no need for explanation at this point. I will tell you I haven't shared this before except with my prepubreaders and my publisher.
Niul was very agitated when he picked up Klava at the
Lyon’s house the next
Sunday. Instead of heading directly for , he turned
off into Saint James Park and stopped the car. Westminster
Klava’s voice trembled, “What’s wrong Niul?”
“You and I need to speak about something.”
Klava covered her face with her hands, “What other sins have caught up with me?”
Niul stepped out of the car and went to her side. He opened the door and put out his hand, “No sins just something I need to know.”
Scáth scowled as she slid out of the car, “What else do you need to know about her, Mr. O’Dwyer? You’ve already taken an unfair share.”
Niul clasped Klava’s hand. She did not stop trembling. Niul led her down the walk. The day was dreary with early fog and cloudy skies. Scáth trailed them at a pace behind. Niul took Klava’s hand in both of his. He caressed it and took a deep breath, “Klava are you blind?”
Scáth’s voice was tense, “Does she act blind?”
“Yes, in many ways, she does.”
Scáth nearly spat, “Mistress, you don’t have to tell him.”
Klava smiled. She still trembled, “No, Scáth, I must tell him. He has a right to ask. It is one of my defects that is not readily apparent.” Klava pulled up short. She turned Niul to face her. Her deep emerald eyes sought his and were slightly off queue. They stared obviously unfocused at his cheek.”
“You are blind.”
“Who told you?”
“The Dean of the department mentioned that you were the most accomplished student he ever taught, and related his astonishment that you couldn’t see. You are blind.”
“Yes I am. I have been blind since I was a child. Is this a defect that makes me unacceptable to you?”
“No it doesn’t at all. It just makes me more ashamed, and me, more unacceptable.”
“More ashamed, Niul O’Dwyer. How could that make you more ashamed?”
“I took advantage of a blind girl. A person who was handicapped. What kind of monster does that make me?”
Scáth laughed, “One much worse than I.”
Klava put her arms around him, “I don’t think it makes much difference. We all are handicapped in some way. Most of us just don’t acknowledge our deficiencies, or we exaggerate things that are not deficiencies to hide our true faults—like sin.”
“But you are blind.”
Klava sighed, “And that makes you want to turn away from me?”
“No it makes me want to protect you even more.”
“You pity me?”
“Yes. I do pity you.”
“That is not a foundation on which to build affection.”
“Nah, there you are very wrong, Klava. If love is a commitment, then a person who loves must commit to everything for the one he loves. Pity is a feeling that makes me want to never let you be away from me—I’d gladly be your eyes. As it is, I’m not sure how you manage as well as you do.”
“I manage because I see through the black tablet.”
“A black tablet, what is that?”
“The black tablet. My black tablet.”
“Still, what is that, Lamb?”
Klava opened her purse and took out the tablet. Niul reached for it. Klava jerked it away from him, “Don’t touch it.”
“If you touch it, it will take your ka. It will pull your ka into the tablet.”
“Why can you touch it?”
Scáth sneered, “Duh! She’s the goddess who controls it.”
Niul moved his head to get a better look at the tablet, “It bears your face. What can it do? Is it the source of your power?”
Klava held the tablet close to her, “The Dagda is the source of my power. The tablet allows me to manipulate the forces of the world and the kas of men. With it, I can control darkness and use darkness.”
“And it allows you to see?”
“I can’t see real colors. Everything is like black and gold to me. They are all shades of black and gold. It is very lovely to my sight, but there is no color.”
“Is that why you only wear black?”
“Is that why you only wear black?”
She blushed, “Yes, every other color makes me appear underclothed. The tablet allows me to see in a region that is near infrared. My body shows through anything but black. Grays, in my sight, are scandalous, but usually not too overexposed.” Klava tossed her head, “I also dress this way to irritate my mothers—both of them. I like to remind them that I am not my sister, and I am not like them. I am who I am, and who the Dagda has made me to be.”
“And what you eat?”
“Dark foods appear unappealing to me. White ones are like gold. They are radiant.”
“What you drink?”
“I can’t see light liquids very well in a glass or cup. I make a mess. I can manage drinks that are black—I have come to enjoy them very much.”
“You usually wear dark glasses during the day. What about liking the night and darkness?”
“In daylight everything appears too bright to me. I can’t see details. At night and in darkness everything is clear.” She shrugged, “I can see much better.”
Niul laughed, “Here, they all think you have a character flaw, and you simply are trying to live life on your own terms.”
“Niul this is a secret. It is my secret. Scáth knows it, but few others. I told you because you guessed and you asked. No one else has ever cared enough to ask.”
Klava laughed, “That is just a bad habit. I am not pure as you think.”
Niul clasped her to his chest. He put his face in her thick hair, “Please, Klava, it is justice when you remind me of what I did to you, but it only makes me sad. If there is any lack of purity in you, that was my doing. You are perfect. You are precious…”
“I am neither, and I didn’t mean to remind you.”
“But you should, all the time.”He reluctantly released her. Klava didn’t step back. She reached up to his eyes and wiped them with her fingertips. “If we hurry, Niul, we can make Communion.”
I'll pull this conversation apart a little for you in the coming days, but I wanted you to get it whole. This is a very personal conversation where secrets are shared. These are not things the reader knew before. Many of them might have been surmised from the novel, but most of them could not. The fact Klava is blind, is known from the beginning--how she reflects her blindness in her life is not known, but seen. This is a point that can't really be understood without either telling or through conversation. I don't like to tell--I like to show. Klava drinks dark drinks and eats light food not because of preference, but because they look good to her. In the book, Klava drinks dark Irish beer and dark coffee almost exclusively. The reason she does is not known until this point.
This is the trick about confessional conversations--they allow the author to give great secrets that can't be shown either at all or easily. Plus, conversation, like this, is absolutely intimate. The fact that Scáth is present during a very private conversation should peak your interest in just who and what Scáth is.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing,