3 August 2018, Writing - part x574, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Vocabulary
Announcement: Delay, my new novels can be seen on the internet, but my primary publisher has gone out of business—they couldn’t succeed in the past business and publishing environment. I'll keep you informed, but I need a new publisher. 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 29th novel, working title, Detective, potential title Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective. The theme statement is: 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 cover proposal for Blue Rose: Enchantment and the Detective.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I am continuing to write on my 30th novel, working title Red Sonja. I finished my 29th novel, working title Detective. I’m planning to start on number 31, working title Shifter.
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 30: 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 31: TBD
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: Suspension of disbelief is the characteristic of writing that sucks the reader into the world of the novel in such a way that the reader would rather face the world of the novel rather than the real world—at least while reading. If this occurs while not reading, it is potentially a mental problem. To achieve the suspension of disbelief your writing has to meet some basic criteria and contain some strong inspiration. If you want to call the inspiration creativity, that works too. Here is a list of the basic criteria to hope to achieve some degree of suspension of disbelief.
1. Reasonably written in standard English
2. No glaring logical fallacies
3. Reasoned worldview
4. Creative and interesting topic
5. A Plot
Here is a list of these basic language factors (standard English) that might prevent suspension of disbelief:
Let’s look at vocabulary. Writers have a large vocabulary. If you don’t you need to build it. Readers also have a large vocabulary based on their education and age. All readers should be seeking to expand their vocabulary. That said, if your readers are looking up a word every page or worse every paragraph or even worse every sentence, where do you think the suspension of disbelief will be? There will be none. Anything that kicks the reader out of the world of the novel, and not understanding a world will do just that.
We know that we are preached to by writing “experts” to use the exact word every time. I could be considered a writing expert and I will tell you use the exact word for the moment and your readers. There are a million words in English. Using the exact word every time will kill suspension of disbelief so fast, no reader or publisher will touch your work. Here is an example and I could give you about 970,000 examples. Of the 1 million words in English only about 20,000 to at most 30,000 are in common use.
Here is the simple example. If you are writing about the fear of cliffs or precipices you might write “cremnophobia.” I hope you are writing for psychiatrists and even then most will be diving for their dictionaries or highlighting for the definition. Don’t use words like this unless they are obvious in context or unless you dive the definition in the sentence.
You could safely write: John’s problem was fear of precipices, cremnophobia. He experienced it since he was a child.
Thus you can introduce a word like cremnophobia into your writing without causing a break from the writing. I advise you to repeat the definition if you use the word again in the novel. Give it to your readers about two to three times (just as you should also introduce names) so they get the word and associate it properly. Personally, I’d never use cremnophobia. You can tell it is one of the 970,000 worthless English words because the spelling correction doesn’t find it. It doesn’t add anything to the novel or the narrative. It is a throwaway. Chiefly, the word doesn’t match its meaning in any fashion.
Here is what I did for my novel Centurion. In Centurion, I introduced the Latin words for the tools of the legion. I did this to give an archaic and Roman feel to the novel about the Roman Legions. When I introduced a Latin term, I gave its definition within the context of the narrative and usually through dialogue. Here is a passage from my published work, Centurion.
Piso stretched over the edge of the door toward Abenadar and squinted. “He is tall. He will have to be fit, but I have armor for him.” Piso didn’t open the door. He handed a mail hauberk over the top. “Here is his lorica hamata and his belt.”
Abenadar examined the armor Piso called a lorica hamata. It was formed of fine iron rings woven into one another and sewn to a leather jerkin.
Portius said, “Put it on, Abenadar. Let’s see how it looks on you.”
Abenadar glanced at Portius and then with perplexity at the armor.
Portius laughed. “Here, let me help you.” He lifted the bottom end over Abenadar’s head and pulled it down. The lorica hamata clung to him, but it wasn’t too tight or too loose. Portius pulled the shoulder flaps from the back to the front and attached them with their hooks and an iron ornament. An extension of the mail around the loose square collar covered Abenadar’s shoulders. The leather jerkin that undergirded the rings extended beyond the mail in wide overlapping strips. All of the edges of the armor were finished with leather. The whole garment reached down to Abenadar’s lower thigh.
“Now you’re starting to look like a legionnaire.” Portius clapped him on the back.
Here I introduce the term lorica hamata. I define it and explain it. Since Abenadar, the protagonist is learning about the armor with the reader, this feels natural and fits in the context of the narrative and plot. This is how you introduce a term. Further, you should define or remind your readers about the term when you use it next. When I use the term lorica hamata next, I write.
“Get up, Abenadar,” hissed Portius. “Put on a tunic and your armor.”
“I can’t see to put on anything.”
“Put on your tunic then and bring the rest outside. I’ll help you with it there. It’s already dawn,” said Portius.
Abenadar felt around under his cot and gathered his things. After a moment, he followed Portius out of the barracks building. The sounds of waking men engulfed the chambers. Abenadar could hear clanking weapons and armor as the men dressed in the darkness.
Outside, with Portius’ coaching, Abenadar shrugged on his lorica hamata and clasped it at the shoulders and breast. He put on the belt and hung his gladius from it. Portius strapped Abenadar’s kit bag to his side and his scutum on his back. When Portius was finished, he studied Abenadar as he stood, uncomfortably weighted down by his armor and awkwardly holding a pila in his hand.
The next time I use the term, I give the reader the context and reminders just as Adenadar is getting. This helps solidify the terms in the mind of the reader. I think the terms sound reasonable in English and since they are Latin, they fit in the context of the writing and the times of the writing.
In any case, I didn’t get to words in context as opposed to words that must be defined. I also didn’t give any conclusions about vocabulary. I’ll get to those next.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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