My Favorites

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 695, more Punctuation, Style Q and A

6 March 2016, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 695, more Punctuation, Style 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.

     4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.

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, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.

I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee.  This might need some tweaking.  The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.  

Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos SiEssie is my 26th 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 editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader.  I finished editing Children of Light and Darkness and am now writing on my 27th novel, working title Claire.

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)

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 15. 15.  Style

Woah—style is huge.  I just spent more than six months defining style from almost every angle I could imagine. Here are the elements I found for an author’s style.

1.  Novel based style

a.  Writing focus
b.  Conversations
c.  Scene development
d.  Word use
e.  Foreshadowing
f.  Analogies
g.  Use of figures of speech
h.  Subthemes
I.  Character revelation
j.  Historicity
k.  Real world ties
l.  Punctuation
m.  Character interaction

2.  Scene based style

a.  Time
b.  Setting
c.  Tension and release development
e.  Theme development
f.  POV


Quick digression:  Back in the USA for the holidays.


And here we are, the use of the ellipsis and the double dash becomes a question of style.  Why not just break the independent clauses into separate sentences or use a conjugation?  Many times you might want to do just that, but when you have two independent clauses that are related, you might not want to.  In this case, you would usually use a semicolon.  Instead, in fiction writing use a double dash.  It is also called technically an em-dash.  You don’t have an em-dash key on your computer—the double dash (2 x en-dashes) automatically turns into an em-dash.  The em-dash is called em because it is as long as an m (theoretically) in typeface.  The en-dash is half the length of an em-dash and is named for the length of the n (theoretically) in typeface.  A hyphen is also shorter than the en-dash by about half.  These are all in typeface and your computer word processor likely puts the correct dash in place for you.


What do you do with an em-dash.  As I mentioned above.  In narrative, you use it to separate two independent clauses.  It acts like a semicolon.  The difference is that in fiction, what matters is the timing of the pauses in the clauses.  An em-dash produces a longer natural break than a semicolon.  This produces the correct breath break that the semicolon really doesn’t—it’s too small and hard to catch in the writing.  This isn’t really a question of style—except for using it instead of a conjugation. 


Where the em-dash becomes very worthwhile is in conversation.  The author of fiction has two pieces of punctuation she can use in conversation to denote a break.  One is the ellipsis and the other is the em-dash.  An ellipsis is not really acceptable in narrative, but it is very effective in conversation.  Specifically, the ellipsis is supposed to be used when the actual words are not continued.  It also marks an interruptive break.  It can be used as a general break.  I’ll leave it to you to determine which is a longer break, but the ellipsis is usually considered a longer pause than an em-dash.  The whole point here is to provide the proper pause for phrase of conversation.  In this case, it’s like a punchline or used to set words or phrases apart.  The question of style is the use of these pauses in the writing.


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

No comments:

Post a Comment