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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 615, more Diction and Rhythm Tools for Developing Tone Q and A

17 December 2015, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 615, more Diction and Rhythm Tools for Developing 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. 

The second method of developing tone is through tension and release.  Before I give anymore examples, let’s look at the specific tools used to create tone in tension and release (these can also be used in the scene setting).  I like the list from the question—it is nearly exhaustive:  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.  Why don’t we look at each of these tools?

If tension and release is used as the primary means of developing tone in the scene, then the diction and the rhythm in the scene are both very subtle compared to the storyline that builds to the tension and release.  This can be said of many of the tools used to develop tone.  Ultimately these subtleties together with the storyline produce tone.  And there is the rub.

Tone is not simply the use of the proper tools to build an atmosphere in a scene.  Tone is a subtle quality that has more to do with storyline and tension and release than simple or subtle tools.  Here is an example of tone development in a scene:


The yells of students burst from the halls and classrooms and pressed into the yard.  Byron  Macintyre was carried along with the crowd.  He just wanted to get to lunch.  He rolled his eyes and kept up with the moving mob.  The halls of their old school building were not very wide, and the lockers on either side made them smaller.  The high school didn’t have that many students, but when they were all out of class and moving in one direction, it was nearly impossible to travel anywhere else.  Byron figured he would just wait until he could get outside the doors, then he could duck back to his locker, the cafeteria, and then the library.

                Byron was tall, but he still couldn’t see what was going on ahead.  Out of exasperation, he yelled over the noise of the crowd, “What’s going on?”

                From beside him, one of the sophomore girls laughed, “It’s that girl Diana.  The stinky skank, who wears crappy clothes.”

                Yeah, Byron knew about Diana.  Everyone knew about Diana.  She was never very far from trouble with teachers, students, or parents.  She didn’t have any friends, but she usually kept a low profile. 

Sure enough, when Byron spilled out into the yard with the other students, Jack had Diana by her long stringy hair.  Diana was tall, but there wasn’t much to her.  She was skinny and lanky.  Her clothing was always plain and usually dirty.  She had on ragged blue jeans and a plain white shirt.  The shirt was slightly threadbare.  She didn’t have much up top, but you could tell she didn’t wear a bra—probably didn’t think she needed one.  Her long black hair covered her face, but there wasn’t much to that either.  Her face wasn’t hard to look at, but usually she hid it in her hair by keeping her face down.  She wasn’t making a sound, but a lot of others were.  Byron pushed his way to the front.

                Dan held Diana’s arm.  He put his pimply face in hers and yelled, “Thought you could just take it, didn’t you?”  He twisted her arm and Diana flinched.  She turned slightly until Jack’s hold on her hair stopped her.

                Byron took a step forward, “What’s up Dan, Jack?”

                Dan glanced quickly up at Byron.  His eye twitched, “Don’t interfere Macintyre.  She stole Sherrill’s lunch.  We’re sure she took Jane’s the day before.  She’s been taking lunches since the beginning of school.  We just finally caught her at it this time.”

                “How’d you do that?”

                Dan twisted Diana’s hand around and squeezed it open.  “Take a look,” he grinned, “red handed.”

                Diana’s hand was stained blue.

                “Put that powder from the last chemistry lab on the handle,” he showed his teeth again, “add a little water, and the blue hand shows who touched it.”

                Byron put out his arm, “That’s enough, Dan, Jack.  Just tell her to keep her hands off other people’s lunches and let her go.”

                Jack shook his head, “That won’t be enough for her.  She’ll do it again unless we teach her a good lesson.”

                “What did you have in mind?”

                “Sherrill has to get her piece, and Jane.”

                Byron glanced at Jane then Sherrill.  Jane shook her head.  Sherrill tossed her hair, “That’s enough for me.  She didn’t get my lunch.  Diana, you keep your hands off my stuff—you hear?”

                Dan had Diana’s arm behind her back, and Jack twisted her head back with her hair.  Her face was turned upwards and her eyes were squeezed shut.

                Byron addressed the girl, “What do you say, Diana?”

                Dan twisted her arm a little more.  Diana flinched.  Dan squinted, “She won’t say anything.  She never says anything.  Just slinks around and steals stuff.”  He turned a little more toward Sherrill, which twisted Diana’s arm a bit more.  Byron thought her arm looked close to breaking—still Diana didn’t make a sound.  Dan nodded to Sherrill, “Sherrill, pop her one.  That’s your right and that’ll teach her.”

                Sherrill stepped forward, took a look at Byron, and stepped back, “You do it.  I’m done.”

                Without any warning, Jack pulled back his fist and tugged Diana’s hair toward it.  His fist met her cheek with a crack, and she sagged forward.  Dan’s hold was the only thing that kept her from falling flat on her face.  He released her arm, and she flopped forward into the dirt.

                Sherrill scowled, “She didn’t admit to anything.  Pants her.  That’ll teach her.”

                Dan reached down and grabbed the back of Diana’s pants.  She didn’t have a belt on.  He tugged down and half bared her buttocks.  Byron moved quickly, “That’s enough Dan.  You made your point.”

                Sherrill laughed, “She doesn’t have any underwear on.”  She pointed, “Look at that.  I thought she was low, but I had no idea she was like that.”

                At the edges of the crowd a call went up, “Teacher.  Beat it.”

                The group began to quickly disperse.  Jack, Dan, Sherrill, and Jane were instantly gone.  Byron knelt next to Diana.  He tugged her pants back up and rolled her over.  He hadn’t been this close to her before.  Her face was thin and pale—Byron couldn’t tell how much was her own complexion and how much was due to shock or injury.  A bruise already formed on her cheek.  She was breathing raggedly.  Her white shirt was dirty and stained.  The seam at her shoulder had ripped and showed her bare shoulder.  Byron grimaced when he looked at her face.  He put his arm behind her neck and pulled her into a sitting position.  Her head lolled on his shoulder.

This example comes from my currently unpublished novel, Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden.  This is the initial scene.  There is multiple tension and release in this scene.  The first is the confrontation to “Diana” being knocked out.  The second is the attempt to pants her.  The third is the coming of the teacher.  Look at this scene.  Note the tone in the scene.  Tomorrow, I’ll review the diction and the rhythm in the scene to show how it supports the tone, and I’ll look at the tone of the overall scene.      
More tomorrow.
For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

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