9 August 2018, Writing - part x580, Developing Skills, How to Suspend Disbelief, Language
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 pulls 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:
Generally, we write about problems with your writing that might prevent suspension of disbelief. The assumption is that you can write well enough to produce a work where suspension of disbelief is possible, and the problem is to keep the reader in that suspension of disbelief.
We are on language today. I do language. Language is a filter of culture, and the author can convey immensities by inferring or using foreign languages appropriately in a novel. As I wrote, I do languages. My novels are all about the cultural differences of languages.
About 100 years ago, I could have used basic languages (Latin, Greek, French, English, German, and Italian) even in American English fiction without blinking an eye. Today, you can’t touch it. Well, perhaps you can touch it, but only with direct or in context translations. You can also usually get away with foreign explicatives. I do this in my novel Aegypt.
Aegypt infers the use of French, English, Bedouin, Arabic, and ancient Egyptian. I use inferences and tags to state when the languages are being used, for example, Paul replied in French, and etc. I use French explicatives such as merde, zut, and obviously well-known French words such as oui and non in context. In this novel, I do not use whole phrases because in every case, the speakers know what each is saying. I think this is a reasonable approach to convey language differences without throwing the reader out of the suspension of disbelief. Let’s list the techniques for foreign language use:
1. Common simple words in context
2. Tags for language use
4. No phrases
5. No idioms or foreign language imitations in English
When characters are not supposed to be understood or language differences are necessary or the language is not as familiar to your readers, here’s how I recommend handling that.
First, I have a few novels where the language use of the characters is meant to be not understood by others. In this case, I recommend you use the foreign language phrase and either explain it in context or place a translation at the bottom of the page as a footnote. I know, using a footnote will likely throw your reader out of the suspension of disbelief, but the use as a footnote allow a full understanding of the joke and the text. In the case the reader understands the language, there is no suspension of disbelief (unless you get the phrase wrong in the language). You can also explain the phrase in context. This will hold the suspension of disbelief when you can use it.
Second, for unfamiliar languages I also recommend the use of footnotes or explanation in context. In my opinion, it is more important for the reader to understand the joke, tension and release, and point of the foreign language us than to necessarily contain the suspension of disbelief. If you provide the definition in context as well, you will hold the suspension of disbelief. You can also give a footnote and provide a definition in context. This is my usual technique. My reasoning is this. I know I will knock the reader out of the suspension of disbelief, but the point of the use of a foreign language in the text to hide the meaning from other characters is intentionally meant to do just that obfuscate the meaning. I want to get the reader caught up in this intentional feeling of language disconnect. The footnote and contextual explanation should assuage the curiosity of the reader while doing the least damage to the suspension of disbelief.
I also do this for short explicatives in non-familiar languages. I give the definition in context as well as provide a footnote. I expect the reader to be knocked out of the suspension of disbelief the first time they experience the word (or not if it is obvious in context) and then simply accept it as known as the novel progresses and the word is encountered again.
Okay, in my novels, language is important. Not all authors convey or attempt to convey these language differences, but I’ve lived all around the world and language and communication is important. Authors need to know how to convey these differences and nuances. The suspension of disbelief is critical to all fictional works, but I have shown you points where the author might intentionally compromise the suspension of disbelief to provide an effect.
I will point out that Jack Vance uses the technique of introducing his invented science fiction and fantasy world words in the text and then providing footnotes to their meanings. These throw the reader out of the suspension of disbelief but are so interesting and many times provocative that they provide a sideline that further encourages the reader. He is the only author I know who does this.
For more information, you can visit my author site http://www.ldalford.com/, and my individual novel websites:
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