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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 618, Example of Sentence Construction Tools for Developing Tone Q and A

20 December 2015, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 618, Example of Sentence Construction 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.  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?

Let’s look at sentence construction and tone by example.  This is another scene from Dana-ana: Enchantment and the Maiden.  Look at how the scene setting sets the tone of the scene and also how sentence construction adds to the tone.  I’ll also mark the tension and release for you.


Byron could make out the scent of the bayou not that far away.  The ground sloped down and he knew they headed toward it.  He didn’t notice the bugs he thought he should this close to the water.  The sunshine still wove its way through the trees and shifted on the green covered ground.  The honeysuckles and blackberry bushes had given way to smaller trees and low brush.  The trail still led through the thick foliage.  As they came around a small hill covered with sunshine and honeysuckles, an old tarpaper house came in sight.  Diana headed straight for it and Byron, still holding to her arm, followed. 

  The entire point of the setting and tone of the setting is to convey that quietness and beauty of a not too beautiful place.  Look at the sentence construction and the rhythm of the sentences.>

She paused at the door only a moment.  It was held shut with only an old wooden peg and a frayed rope loop.  Diana unlatched the door and pushed it open.  She went inside and Byron entered with her.  Inside the tarpaper building was a single room.  The floor was dirt, and wet in places.  There was a low dirty bed in one corner and a low table in the center of the floor.  Chunks of wood and pieces of cardboard ringed the table.  They were obviously the only places to sit.  Next to the bed were stacks of books.  The books were kept well above the floor by large concrete bricks.  The books lined one whole side of the small building.  On the other side was a pump sink and a wood stove.  Ancient rotten cupboards lined the wall above them.  Diana closed the door and the light came from a couple of almost opaque glass windows.  The windows were large enough and the sun bright enough that the small house was illuminated.  On the table sat a kerosene lantern.  The room was slightly musty with the smell of kerosene.

  The description almost makes it sound inviting—until you read the words.  This is tone.>

Diana glanced at him and nodded to a wood piece at the table.  She took his bag and placed it on a piece of cardboard on the floor.  He watched her carefully to see that she didn’t sway then sat down, “I really should be going.  Why don’t you lie down, and I’ll go.  I don’t think you should be standing so much.”

She ignored him and took a large metal bowl from near the door.  It was covered with strange markings.  They looked like runic writing to Byron.  She filled the bowl from the pump sink and brought it to the table.  She placed it at his feet and took hold of his right tennis shoe.  Byron sat up and pulled his foot back, “What are you doing?  What is this?”

She just stared at him and took his shoe again.  She untied it and pulled it off.  She pulled off his sock.  She washed his foot.  Then did the same with his other foot.  When she was finished, she put the bowl to the side.

She knelt at the table and opened her mouth, “I’m sorry I don’t have any salt or bread to offer you.”

  The girl can speak.>

Byron stared at her.  Her voice sounded soft and melodic.  It had a strange undertone he couldn’t place.  The accent was odd.  It reminded him of a British speaker, but it didn’t exactly sound that way either.  He cocked his head, “Why bread and salt?”

“To welcome and thank you.  No one has ever helped me before.  I’m afraid I am obliged to you, and I didn’t want to be.”

  The tone should be changing, but still render a degree of mystery.>


She didn’t say anything.

“Surely, someone helped you before.”

She turned him a slight smile, “Not even the nurse would help me.  Didn’t you think this odd?”

“Is this really where you live?”

“It is.”

“Aren’t you afraid here?”

“No one can hurt me here.  This is my place.”

“What about food?”

She didn’t say anything.

“Is that why you steal lunches?  Are you hungry?”

She pressed her lips tightly together.

He reached over to his bag and opened the top.  He pulled out his lunch bag.  It was slightly crushed.  He took out a couple of sandwiches and two apples.  His mother had packed it for him that morning.

The girl took a deep breath and pressed her lips more tightly together.

“Would you like to have this?”

Her stomach growled.

“Take it.”

Her eyes became slightly desperate, “Is it a gift?”

  After the girl spoke (for the first time), the next tension is her hunger.  The tone changes from mystery and quietness to desperation and hunger.>

Byron paused, “What do you want it to be?”

Her eyes took on a look of steel, “Please say it is a gift to me.  Say my name.”

Byron sat back, “This is a gift to Diana.”

She flinched, “I can’t accept it.  That isn’t my name.”

  If Byron can’t say her name, she can’t eat.>


“Please.  That is not my name.”  Her stomach growled again.

“Why can’t you take this?  I’m giving it to you.”

“No, not just giving.  Please, say it is a gift to me and use my name.”

“What is your name?”

A look of great relief came over her face and she sighed.  The smile she gave him could have melted stone, “I am Dana-ana Goewyn, but if you just say Dana, everything will be appeased.”

  Notice, the tension that was built was hunger.  That moved to her name—the release is about her name.  Look at the sentence construction.  It shapes the tone, but is written to compare the differences between Byron’s mode of speaking and Dana-ana’s>

“Appeased?”  Byron took a breath, “Very well, this is a gift to Dana.”

“Thank you,” her voice trembled.

“Go ahead.  Take it.”  Byron handed the sandwich to her.

Dana ripped the plastic bag off the sandwich and crammed it into her mouth.

“Wait.  Stop.”

She glanced at him with scared eyes.  She swallowed without chewing, “You aren’t going to take it back are you?”

“No, I just don’t want you to get sick.  You barfed about an hour ago.  You probably have a concussion.”  Before he finished speaking, the sandwich had disappeared.  “You were hungry?”

She didn’t say anything.

“Look. You can have the other one too.”

“Is it a gift?”

Byron frowned, “I don’t understand any of this.  Okay, Dana, this is a gift for you.”  He handed the sandwich to her.

“Thank you.”  She ate it so fast she almost choked.

Byron gave a laughing sigh, “These apples are also a gift for Dana.”

“Thank you,” she sighed.  Then she handed an apple back to him.  “Please take this apple Byron Macintyre as a gift from me Dana.  I give it to your hand to do as you please.”

“Thank you.”  Byron bit into the apple and a taste like the most perfect fruit filled his mouth.  The flavor was effervescent and fresh.  It was like the most perfect apple from the most perfect tree eaten with dew on its firm crisp skin.  He glanced up in surprise at her, and she returned a mischievous grin.

This part of the scene doesn’t end with a full release—the tension and tone of mystery begins to build again.  You can see how the sentence construction helps build the tone.  The setting and tension and release cycle are the primary means, however, of tone development.  This is not to say that sentence construction isn’t important to tone, but just look at all the work the sentences and sentence construction is doing in regard to the entire passage.  Tone is only a small part, but a part completely supported by the sentence construction.  Note also, the diction of the conversation builds the tone and the tension and release--especially, the tension and release.
More tomorrow.
For more information, you can visit my author site, and my individual novel websites:

fiction, theme, plot, story, storyline, character development, scene, setting, conversation, novel, book, writing, information, study, marketing, tension, release, creative, idea, logic

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