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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 635, Passive Auxiliary Verb Forms English Syntax/re-arrangement of Words in a Sentence Tools for Developing Tone Q and A

6 January 2016, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 635, Passive Auxiliary Verb Forms English Syntax/re-arrangement of Words in a Sentence 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 first method of developing tone is through scene setting--the second method 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?

Syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence as tools to develop tone.  What makes English so versatile and so difficult as a language are the many verb forms that allow subtle changes in the syntax and meaning of the sentences.  Verb tense is only one part of concept of syntax.  English has more complex forms of verb usage that are sometimes called “helper” verbs.  They are most properly called auxiliary verbs.  Here is a comprehensive list of auxiliary verbs.


Auxiliary verb
Meaning contribution
She is the boss.
progressive aspect
He is sleeping.
passive voice
They were seen.
deontic modality
I can swim.
epistemic modality
Such things can help.
deontic modality
I could swim.
epistemic modality
That could help.
epistemic modality
How dare you!
You did not understand.
perfect aspect
They have understood.
deontic modality
May I stay?
epistemic modality
That may take place.
epistemic modality
We might give it a try.
deontic modality
You must not mock me.
epistemic modality
It must have rained.
deontic modality
You need not water the grass.
deontic modality
You ought to play well.
deontic modality
You shall not pass.
deontic modality
You should listen.
epistemic modality
That should help.
epistemic modality
We will eat pie.
epistemic modality
Nothing would accomplish that.


If you notice we already saw some of the uses of be (is) and have (had).  These auxiliary verbs are used to change the verb tense in English.  They have other uses we will address. 


Another very important use of be (is) is to create the passive voice form of a verb.  For example:

They were seen.

They were seen by him.

She was told.

She was told by Jane.

He had been loved.

He had been loved by Jane.


The passive voice of the verb is another verb form the author should reduce in his writing.  Some passive voice is good and necessary.  Too much passive voice is bad.  And here we have a real form of syntax that allows the author to directly affect the tone of a scene.  The most important rule about passive voice is aim for zero passive voice.  I’ll explain when it is necessary.


Notice in all six passive voice examples above, the object of the verb is either assumed or it is set off using the word “by.”  Whenever I have an indirect object set off with “by,” I can easily convert a passive construction to an active construction.  Watch:

They were seen by him becomes, he saw them.

She was told by Jane becomes, Jane told her.

He had been loved by Jane becomes, Jane had loved him.


This is a direct conversion of a passive sentence to an active sentence.  Do this for all your writing.  The active voice is shorter and more direct than the passive voice.  Note, however, there may be times where you might want to use the passive voice.


When the object of the verb is intentionally vague or unknown, the author may not wish to declare the object or for tome or to keep the object unknown.  In the case of the other passive sentences without an indirect object:

They were seen.  Who saw them may not be important, rather the fact they were seen may be the most important piece of information.  In this case, the passive voice may be the best choice.

She was told.  The who told may be immaterial.  The fact she was told may be the most important piece of information.

He had been loved.  The who again might be unimportant to the plot and theme. 

The purpose of the passive voice is specifically to make the action of the verb more important than the actor of the verb.  This is an important means of building tone, but many times an overused tool.  If, for example, the author rarely uses the passive voice and suddenly has a sentence in that verb form, the reader will take note.  On the over hand, if the passive voice is overused, the reader won’t care and won’t be able to tell the difference. 
Don’t overuse the passive voice—in fact, hunt it out and convert it to active voice, except in the most very obvious and necessary situations.
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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