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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 601, Examples Tone Q and A

3 December 2015, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 601, Examples Tone Q and A

Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but the publisher has delayed all their fiction output due to the economy.  I'll keep you informed.  More information can be found at  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

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

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, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

Here is the cover proposal for Escape from FreedomEscape is my 25th novel.

Cover Proposal

The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action.  I'm on my first editing run-through of Shape.

I'm an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action--in fact, to write any novel. 

Scene development:

1.  Scene input (easy)

2.  Scene output (a little harder)

3.  Scene setting (basic stuff)

4.  Creativity (creative elements of the scene)

5.  Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)

6.  Release (climax of creative elements)

I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:

1.  Historical extrapolation

2.  Technological extrapolation

3.  Intellectual extrapolation

Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been.  It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect).  Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing. 

One of my blog readers posed these questions.  I'll use the next few weeks to answer them.

1.  Conflict/tension between characters

2.  Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)

3.  Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme

4.  Evolving vs static character

5.  Language and style

6.  Verbal, gesture, action

7.  Words employed

8.  Sentence length

9.  Complexity

10.  Type of grammar

11.  Diction

12.  Field of reference or allusion

13.  Tone - how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.

14.  Mannerism suggested by speech

15.  Style

16.  Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter's style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov's includes 'apparent' inconclusiveness).

Moving on to 13. 13.  Tone - how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.

If tone is the feel of the writing, the author must start first with what tone he wants to convey. 

Aksinya is a great example of tone in a novel.  The novel moves from horror and murder to blissful elegance and high society.  The tone of the scenes range from love to hate and from great happiness to despair.  The peaks of human emotion and human suffering are found in Aksinya—the tone of the novel must therefore fit the scenes.  Here is the beginning of the initial scene from Aksinya.  Can you guess the tone?

        The dank stone room was filled with shadows.  Every corner oozed darkness.  Within a pentagram that was encompassed by a circle stood a slight young woman.  Fat yellow beef-tallow candles marked the points of the pentagram and weakly illuminated only the area around her.  A brazier of incense filled the room with the scent of myrrh along with an underlying smell that was indeterminate, but left a taste of blood in the mouth.  The woman was dressed in a black gown that was much too large for her.  Beautiful hand made lace cascaded down the front of the dress and decorated the sleeves.  Thick velvet competed with black satin to form a perfect attire to greet a Tsar, but certainly not a commissar.  The gown fell loosely away from the woman’s thin chest and small breasts.  It looked odd draped on her body, like a girl playing dress-up from her mother’s closet.  But this gown obviously came from the closet of a princess.

Aksinya, the woman within the pentagram, squinted across the dark cellar.  She was barely eighteen and much too thin for her age.  She was petit; that was a polite way of saying small.  And underdeveloped, that was a polite way of saying she didn’t yet appear much like a woman.  Aksinya’s hair was dark brown and silky and beautiful, bound up in a long braid, but her face was plain and Russian, so Russian.  Her voice was soft and sometimes too shrill.  When she was excited it rose in strength and pitch, so she never sounded very mature or well mannered. 

Aksinya stood in the middle of the pentagram.  She held a book in one hand, and the bodice of the dress in the other.  It kept falling away from her chest and although there was no one to see, she felt uncomfortable and underdressed when it did.  She squinted across the cellar again and focused back on the book.  She knew the words and the pictures in the book by heart.  She had memorized them long ago, but still she sought them like an anchor against the storm she was about to release.  In the dark—she hadn’t thought about how dark it would be, she could barely read the text.  Finally, she took up an extra taper from the floor and lit it from the closest candle.  She had to hold the taper in one hand and the book in the other, which almost completely revealed her chest, but that couldn’t be helped now.

Aksinya read from the book.  The words weren’t Russian, her mother tongue, and they weren’t the French of the Russian Court.  They weren’t the Greek their priest pounded daily into her head.  The language was Latin.  She had studied it secretly for years.  She had memorized all the Latin books she had found hidden in the unused guesthouse at the back of the estate.  With nothing else to do, she had spent every free moment teasing out the secrets of these books for just this moment.  Aksinya was tired of being nothing and being helpless.  She intended from this moment forward to never be helpless again.

She read the ponderous Latin from her book.  The cover was black, and a pentagram was worked into the ancient leather.  The book was old, ancient.  The pages were yellowed with age.  In spite of that, the pictures and words were perfectly preserved as if time inside it had been slowed to a stop.  The words of the book were dark and evil.  Aksinya knew them well.  She knew their meanings.  She forced her lips to form them, but this wasn’t the first time she had forced her lips to make these dark words.  For years and years she spoke them.  She manipulated the world through them.  She made the world obey her with these ancient words.  She let her mind flow to the word—sorcery.  Aksinya made magic.  She had taught herself from the dark books she found, and here and now, she made the most horrible of magic.

Her words called out an entreaty.  She beckoned as gently and as enticingly as she could.  She spoke carefully and pronounced the words exactly.  She learned that early.  She had a scar on her leg and cheek that had come from these dark words not pronounced correctly.  She would not make that mistake again.

The words flowed from her mouth.  They filled the cellar like the incense and the faint illumination of her tallow candles.  Their volume rose to a crescendo, and Aksinya cried out.  Her words rang in the space.  They reached out, and magnified.  They echoed as though she stood at the edge of a great precipice instead of in the dark cellar of an old guest house.

As though a fit seized her, Aksinya’s body began to sway and her words jumbled a little.  She fought to keep them straight and perfect.  They were a frenzy from her lips and she almost screamed them out.  She held them in her mind perfect and pure and exact.  She didn’t realize the book lay at her feet across her cross decorated bookstand, and the taper sizzled on the cold stone but still the words flowed from her lips.  They were like a black song.  They were like a horrible solo that called deep into the earth rather than up into the heavens. 

At once, Aksinya felt the strength sucked from her body.  She felt her power burst out, and along with her voice and the incense and the paltry light, it entirely filled the space.  That was the sign she looked for.  The sign was always the same when she said the words correctly.  She locked her knees and would not let herself fall.  That would be the worst.  She mustn’t falter, not now. 

A great roar filled the cellar, and she almost dropped.  She didn’t.  Her voice rang out more clearly.  A hot sulfurous wind rushed through the place and Aksinya smiled.  Then she forced her face back to blandness.  There was a dark flash, a scream like the sound of metal cutting metal, and across the cellar, in the corner suddenly was a shape.

In this initial scene, Aksinya calls a demon.  I gave you the part up to the appearance of the demon.  The tone of this scene is dark, dank, horrific, and powerful.  Aksinya knows what she is doing.  She is in control of the situation and the events.  The words used build on this power and strength as does the horror in the scene.  Right now, I want you to get the feel of tone—later we will look at the how of the tone.              

More tomorrow.

For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

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