14 June 2018, Writing - part x524, Developing Skills, Build a Scene, Character Voice
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 www.ancientlight.com. 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 http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
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 http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
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.
These are the steps I use to write a novel including the five discrete parts of a novel:
1. Design the initial scene
2. Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
a. Research as required
b. Develop the initial setting
c. Develop the characters
d. Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
3. Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
4. Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
5. Write the climax scene
6. Write the falling action scene(s)
7. Write the dénouement scene
I finished writing my 28th novel, working title, School, potential title Deirdre: Enchantment and the School. The theme statement is: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
Here is the cover proposal for Deirdre: Enchantment and the School.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I continued writing my 29th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 28th novel, working title School. If you noticed, I started on number 28, but finished number 29 (in the starting sequence—it’s actually higher than that). I adjusted the numbering. I do keep everything clear in my records. I’m just finishing number 30, working title Detective.
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.
For novel 29: 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.
For novel 30: Lady Azure Rose Wishart, the Chancellor of the Fae, supernatural detective, and all around dangerous girl, finds love, solves cases, breaks heads, and plays golf.
Here is the scene development outline:
1. Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
2. Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
3. Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
4. Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
5. Write the release
6. Write the kicker
Today: Many people would like to write, but writing is hard work. I’ll express again, if you want to be a skilled and potentially a published author, you need to write about one million words. That equates to about ten 100,000 word novels. When you look at it this way, it is a daunting goal especially if you haven’t written a single novel.
To become a good writer, you need two specific skill sets first reading and then writing. Without these skill sets, I really can’t help you much. I provide advanced help and information on how to write great fiction.
Characters are the key to great writing. Entertainment is the purpose of fiction writing. The key to entertainment is character revelation, and specifically revelation of the plot and protagonist telic flaw (the same thing). If we want to be a successful writer, we must aim for great protagonists, and a great protagonist means a great or compelling telic flaw.
With a character, we now can move into the mechanics of the writing.
Here is my expected scene setup.
1. Initial scene: General Bolang informs Sorcha and Deirdre that they are going off to a Catholic girl’s boarding school instead of to aviation training. He gives them reasons, and sends them off. This is the output.
2. Based on the expected output, Deirdre and Sorcha are taken or go to school. Somehow I need to give them no options to escape. They inspect the school and the output is the end of the day.
3. First day of class is the obvious input. The output will be their investigation of the off areas in the school that they observed. Perhaps they will talk to the teachers and the students.
With a scene input, we can move to the scene itself. The scene input is the hard part. Following the setting, we move on to the output. The next step is to write the tension development in the scene.
An entertaining (successful) scene is always made up of tension and release in the scene. No matter what the subject or concept of the scene, a scene cannot be considered a good scene without tension and release.
First a scene is not a novel, but every scene must include tension and release. This is a complex way of stating that every scene must be filled with entertainment and excitement. Tension and release is the way you incorporate entertainment and excitement into a scene.
1. Setting tension – there can be tension that comes directly from the setting.
2. Character tension – tension that comes from the interaction of the characters.
3. Item tension – tension that comes from items interjected into the
Character tension is the main way we build tension and release in a scene.
Perhaps I should look at tension from this standpoint:
1. Telic flaw
4. Existing conflict
5. Character details
6. Setting details
7. Item details
Whole books have been written (or should be written on author voice). This is a very difficult and complex idea. Character voice is a little easier to tackle.
A good writer can give every character their own voice such that within a conversation, the readers should be able to pick out the speaker with little difficulty—even without tags. In great writing, the voice of the character come out uniquely and naturally. What does this mean?
In real life we identify speakers by the sound or their voice, their proximity, and their identity visually. Unfortunately, this won’t work for the author. The author must use descriptive characteristics to provide sound, location, and all the visuals. The author has some tricks and one specific characteristic that real life doesn’t give you—the author can use tags.
Tags are as simple as names and as complex as descriptions of sound, location, and physical characteristics. A wise author uses all of these, and a very wise author builds on character revelation to produce a unique voice for the character.
If you note, a unique voice can be expressed in description as well as dialog. Further, the unique voice of dialog relies on description. First, let’s write about the most basic tag—that is the name. The character’s name or handle is part of this basic and unique identification. In some novels, the name selected by the author doesn’t fit the character and doesn’t fit the circumstance of the plot or the dialog. A poor name choice will immediately lead to an unhappy outcome. For example, except for the most absurd names, most will float with a reader, but a name out of time (Cathy instead of Kathrin or Kate, or Chuck instead of Charles in a formal or Victorian setting), a name not within the context of the times (Sansur in an English setting before the Twentieth Century), or a name that doesn’t fit in a modern context (Pussy or some other name though contextual to the Victorian era, but not fitting in a modern context).
I choose a name for my characters and especially the protagonist very carefully. I use actual names from historical lists and records to ensure authenticity. I research the names of my characters to make sure they are historically and contextually correct. Finally, I say the names out loud and read them in the context of my writing to make sure they don’t sound odd. And that’s the main point—to be effective, the name must read and sound correct. Correct means not odd. At the same time, the name itself must be unique and identifiable. Catherynne would be a terrible name for any character in any context. It is the name of an actual person—a very capable author, but I would never use this as any character’s name. The name is too oddly spelled. It may have some real historical context, but I doubt it. It is too difficult for the reader to take in whole. Another poor example would be something like Aos Si which is pronounced Essie in Gaelic. I mention this because this is the actual name of one of my characters in one of my novels, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si. What I did was use an actual historical name Aos Si, but in the novel, I give the character a handle, Essie. The reader can pronounce, identify, and digest Essie, where Aos Si is just not a great choice for a tag.
The point is to not confuse the reader—that’s rule number two above. I’ll continue with this thought.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, 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