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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 870, Cigars and Scotch, Developing Conversation on the Stage of the Novel

28 August 2016, Writing Ideas - New Novel, part 870, Cigars and Scotch, Developing Conversation on the Stage of the Novel

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 finished writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.  This might need some tweaking.  The theme statement is: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a 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 started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja. 

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)


How to begin a novel.  Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea.  I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement.  Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement.  Here is an initial cut.


Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.


Let’s go back to the beginning.  I’ll use my newest novel as an example.  It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above.  Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play.  A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point. 


In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:


4. Don't show (or tell) everything.

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


All conversations follow a similar development and cycle of events.  If an author is sensitive to this development and cycle, he can write more natural sounding (read realistic) conversation.  The cycle of conversation moves like this: greetings, introductions, casual words, deeper words, ending.  Let’s look at the setting for conversations.


I still need to delve into the how much a bit—I don’t think my explanation was adequate, but I’m still working on the thought.  Instead, I’ll give you an example of characters who sat down for a deep chat.  This is from my Ancient Light novel Warrior of Light.


Daniel kept quiet about most things, but he did get an opportunity to speak to Mr. Bruce Lyons on the night prior to their departure for America.  After dinner, Mr. Calloway invited Daniel into the study with Bruce Lyons and Daniel’s father. 

Mr. Lyons opened a tarnished silver cigarette case and pulled out a cigarette.  He lit it.  Mr. Calloway filled the men’s glasses with a dram of Scotch.  He poured Daniel a small glass of cider.  It was real British cider, so Daniel nursed it as long as he could.  It was a sign of great respect and trust that Mr. Calloway treated him like that, and that Daniel’s father didn’t say no.

When they all had their drinks and Mr. Lyons settled with a thin wreath of smoke encircling his head, James leapt up, “Terry, are you up for a game of billiards?”

“I’d love to have a go.”

“Bruce, Daniel, if you will excuse us, we’ll be in the billiards room.”

Daniel was amazed at his luck.  This was the moment he hoped for since he found the declassified documents in the library.  He had written a letter for Mr. Lyons’ eyes only, Sveta’s suggestion, but that was his last resort.  As soon as Mr. Calloway and Mr. Long were out of the room, Bruce and Daniel leaned toward each other.  They both said at almost the same instant, “Now, we can talk…”

“What’s this?” Bruce chuckled.

Daniel hadn’t laughed along with many older people.  He did now.

“Go ahead…” they both said and laughed again.

Bruce stared at Daniel, “You have been planning to speak to me.  I can tell.”

Daniel replied in French, “I have been trying to find a private moment for a while.”

Bruce lapsed into French, “Your French is excellent.  Did you get it from your mother, Rosalie?”

“Yes.  And you?”

Bruce’s eyes glistened, and his smile widened, “My mother.”

Daniel changed his speech to German, “Where did you get your German?”

Bruce responded in perfect German, “From my schooling, in Germany…I haven’t thought about that for a very long time.  You need to work on your German a little.  Did you get it from school?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You speak Russian too.  From your father, I know.  But don’t try any on me—I can’t understand a word of it.”  He grinned, “You didn’t want to corner me to practice your German or your French.  I understand you have been using Sveta and Klava for French and Russian practice.  What’s on your mind?”

“First, Mr. Lyons, I must inform you I didn’t discover any of this from my father or from anyone else who might know.”

“Might know what?”

“Might know about the organization.”

“The organization is no secret, Daniel.”

“You are the director.  My information will be important to you.”

Bruce leaned closer, “Let’s use French, please.  Just to ensure no untoward, accidental eavesdropping, shall we?”

Daniel fell easily into French, “I must make this very clear.  No one told me these things.  I discovered them myself.  That’s what makes them so disturbing.”

“Yes, yes it does.”

“You believe me?”

“I do.”

“Then you need to know this; the government declassified the wartime information on MI19 along with the other MIs.”

“I was aware of that.  They did it against my wishes…and advice.”

“They also declassified the lists of officers and employees of those organizations.”

“Blast!  Pardon me, I knew of that too.”

“Then it should not come as a surprise to you that I discovered everyone in our neighborhood works for MI19.”

“For, the organization, if you please, sir.  We don’t call it MI19 anymore—political reasons.”

“It is also obvious that MI…the organization absorbed MI2, MI3, MI9, MI11, and MI14.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“To me, from the records, yes.”

Bruce sighed, “Daniel, do you know what the organization does?”

“I gather it provides language infiltration and support.”

Bruce leaned back in his chair, “Your research is spot on.  May I ask where you did discover it?”

“From the British Library.”

Bruce lit another cigarette, “Who gave you the idea to look?”

“It was all my own.  I was curious about my father’s work.”

“Are you sure Sveta and Klava didn’t encourage you?”

Daniel didn’t say anything.

“You don’t need to tell me, Daniel.  The girls have taken a liking to you.  They are indoctrinating you—you realize that?”

“No, sir.  Indoctrinating me?”

“They are a dangerous pair.  Except that you’ll likely experience the greatest excitement and fun you’ve ever had around them, I’d tell you to run away as fast as you can.  Now, I will give you the Uncle speech.”

“The Uncle speech, sir?”

“Yes, the Uncle speech.  First, you must call me Uncle Bruce.  That is an order.”

Daniel nodded, “Yes, Uncle Bruce.  I am a bit old for that, sir.”

“Age means nothing when you are an official member of this household, Uncle Bruce and Aunt Tilly.”

“Aunt Tilly too?”

“The girls use those titles, surely you can.”

“Very well.”

“Now, here is the rest of it.  Those girls are like life to Aunt Tilly.”  Bruce cleared his throat, “And to me.  Therefore, I won’t accept any breaking of their hearts, nor hanky-panky.  Do I make myself clear?”

“I really didn’t have any romantic inclinations toward them.”

“If you didn’t, you are a fool, son.  They are the most beautiful young women in England and perhaps the world.  They are young yet.  Their minds might move forward faster than their father, mother, and I desire.  I don’t want any problem from you on that account.”

“I will keep myself in check, sir.”

“Good.  Next, they have chosen you as their friend.  You are older and must also be their protector.  They are very capable of defending and taking care of themselves, but they are also young and like most girls, fragile.  Look after them like a brother.  They might think up some harebrained scheme.  You must keep them from hurting themselves or others—yes?”


“Their grandfather is a very good friend of mine…”

“Colonel Paul Bolang?”

“Yes, and their grandmother, Leora Bolang.  I have already sent special instructions to him—about you.”

“About me, sir?”

“Yes.  Leora intends to train Sveta and Klava in some special skills.  I don’t know what, and I don’t care to know.  While you are there, Paul Bolang will teach you some skills.”

Daniel gazed at Bruce expectantly.

Bruce stared back, “Isn’t it obvious?”

“I think so, but I would really like to hear it from you, sir.”

“If you can progress as well as you have, when you are finished with your schooling, I am willing to hire you for the organization.  That is, if you want that kind of headache.”

“You mean as an operative?”

“I mean as an agent.  Now keep your mouth shut and your nose clean.  Finish your schooling.  I need agents in German and Russian particularly.  We aren’t at war with the French right now.”

“I intend to study Mandarin at the Grey Coat Hospital.”

Bruce’s smile broadened, “I need that skill above all, but you’ll have to be really good at it.”

“By the way, sir, did you offer me a job just to keep my mouth shut?”

“No, I offered you a job because you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and fantastic language skills.  With Sveta and Klava make sure you keep your head where it belongs.”

“Yes, sir.”

“By the way, Mr. Long.  Just so you know, I did ask Mr. Calloway to play billiards with your father so we might have this little tête-à-tête.”

“Yes, sir.  I did have a question for you.”

“Oh you did, did you?”

“Yes, sir.  I wondered how you received the scar across your face?”

Bruce nursed his scotch for a long moment, and Daniel thought he might not answer.  The look on Mr. Lyons’ face was not angry, but Daniel thought he might have angered the man.  Finally Bruce turned back to him, “I will tell you because it might help you.  I ask you not to share the information because it is still embarrassing to me.”

“Then perhaps you shouldn’t tell me.”

“I will.  If I don’t hear it from Sveta and Klava when you return, then I will know you are mature enough for my trust.”

“That’s not very fair, sir.”

“Not fair, but that is life.  When I was a youth, I was the cockiest young man you ever met.  I could woo in three languages and diagram in four—I studied Latin then.  My father was on the embassy staff in Germany.  I went to University there.  Have you ever heard of the Mensur?”

Daniel shook his head.

“They were sword fights made for honor and dueling scars in the German Universities.  I subscribed to those antics to preen my vanity and lord over other men.  You wouldn’t imagine that I was once an overbearing braggart.”  Bruce tendered Daniel a sad smile, “The German world, at the time, was on the cusp of Nazi fervor.  One day I gave insult to a Hitler supporter and we entered a duel that was supposed to be Mensur—only to wounding and blood.  I worked him over pretty well.  I was a wicked swordsman.  He was bleeding from his face and arms—all clean and proper, but his second hadn’t called an end to it.  I knocked my opponent to the ground.  I should have noticed well before, that the crowd in the Hirschgasse Beergarten were all Nazi supporters.  None of my friends or comrades, only my second had been allowed inside.  Their point was to settle with the smart aleck Englisher who constantly showed up the German students.  When I knocked my opponent down, the Menseur became a melee.  I lost my mask and received this well placed slice.  I almost lost my eye.  I have other scars to show for my foolishness.  I was well protected by the fencing garb, my second was not.  They killed him.  When that happened, I was unstoppable.  I killed a couple of men—they were the first men I ever murdered.  It was not an entirely fair fight on either side.  Afterward, I landed in hospital until my father could whisk me out of the country under diplomatic immunity.  My parents never fully forgave me—I don’t blame them.”

“Why wouldn’t they forgive you, sir?”

“Because my second was my younger brother, Brian.  He was a good man and a good brother.  It was my fault he was involved.  I could have killed him with my own hands and not done worse by it.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

“Not as sorry nor as grateful as I am.  The incident changed my life.  It changed many lives.  I went into this business because I was good at killing, and because I wanted revenge on myself and others.  By the grace of God, I have become what I am.”

“And what is that, sir?”

Bruce gave Daniel a steely look, “Now, I still must oversee the killing of men, but I am a compassionate reaper.  I try to meet out justice.  I realize my justice may not always be right, but I try my best in this dirty business.”

“And you believe God’s hand is in it?”

“I know God’s hand is in it, son.  I trade the lives of one or two truly bad men for the lives of thousands sometimes millions.”

Daniel stared at him, “And no one realizes.”

“No one has any idea.”

“I thought the organization handled language only.  You make it sound like an MI6 affiliate.”

“Daniel, the most effective MI6 agents are recruited, tested, trained, equipped, indoctrinated, and shared out of my organization.  Each of them are my responsibility.  James Calloway is an MI6 share.  I won’t say what his expertise is.”

“James?  What about my father?”

“You should ask him.”

“He won’t tell me, but you share him with the Foreign Office.”

“Your father is much more important than you might think, and I certainly will not tell you what he does.  Someday you might end up working for him, only my best shares do.”

“I would like that, sir.”

“I would like that for you too, Daniel.  There isn’t much killing in that line of work although it is all dangerous, very dangerous.”

“That’s why my mother…?”

“That’s why your mother.”


In this scene, Daniel Long and Bruce Lyons speak about very deep subjects.  They are not smoking, but they are drinking.  This is the typical/atypical mentor conversation.  I write typical and atypical because I rarely find these discussions in much modern writing, but I think they represent what readers wished their mentors, parents, and teachers told them and did for them.  As I’ve said before, authors should entertain.  Part of entertaining is providing an inviting world that your readers see as real.  You would also like them to lose themselves in the world you develop as well.  I’ll provide a cigar and Scotch example tomorrow.


More tomorrow.

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