One of the most fun . . . and most difficult things about setting a scene is getting the right tone. It’s the mélange of sentence and paragraph length, verb choice and dialogue flow that puts the reader in the mood as much as the actual words themselves. Short, punchy sentences, terse conversation, crisp action verbs set the stage for conflict. Languid adjectives, lyrical sentences, sensual verbs and sometimes verbiage lead to more passionate activity. Character word choice can indicate age, sex, social status, and frame of mind. All these add up to whether or not your writing conveys what it’s meant to in the most concise and unique way possible. So choose wisely.
If a scene’s not working the way I want it to, I’ll tinker with the tone. I’ll make the word choice either more aggressive or softer. I’ll pick multisyllabic instead of simple. I’ll toy with alliteration (my favorite bad habit!) or make the complex sentences more concise. In this clip from my new re-release MIDNIGHT TEMPTATION, I’m going for a dangerous feel with words like “gliding,” “eerie,” “unnaturally beautiful,” and comparisons of “serene and sinister” in the introduction of my suave antagonist. The language is more formal for a historical feel, the sentences longer, more descriptive and visceral to lure the unwary into a deadly situation. The original was written 15 years ago. Would I do it differently now?
Original 1994 –
And then her gaze settled far back in the shadows, upon the figure of a man in stark silhouette. She saw him jerk as if with some shock of recognition, then he took one gliding step forward to the edge of lamplight.
Reflection played an eerie game upon his face, highlighting skin so fair it seemed translucent and hollows so sharp and deep they were like caverns; a face so startling, so unnaturally beautiful she came close to stumbling in her study. Beneath an arch of black brows, eyes of an icy, luminous blue entranced her. And even as she turned her head away, she caught the impression of his smile; serene and sinister all at once.
Nicole had never seen the Devil, but on this night, she was sure he walked abroad. And she was just as certain that he followed safely back amongst the shadows. She could feel him, an essence so powerful, it frightened her. But the moment they crossed the bridge, the sensations faded and she knew he was gone. But the fear lingered, lending a quickness to her heartbeats and an anxious panic to her mind.
Update 2015 –
There, in the darkness, a man stood in stark silhouette. Jerking as if with recognition, he took one gliding step toward the edge of lamplight where luminous eyes of icy blue entranced from beneath an arch of black brows. Reflection played an eerie game upon his features, highlighting skin so fair it seemed translucent and hollows as sharp and deep as caverns. A face so startling, so unnaturally beautiful she stumbled. Surprised by her reaction, she turned away, heartbeats hurrying as she caught the impression of a smile both serene and sinister.
Nicole had never seen the Devil. Tonight she knew he walked abroad, following her from within the safety of the shadows. His powerful essence frightened her into a quicker pace.
The moment they crossed the bridge, those strange sensations faded and finally disappeared. But her uneasiness lingered, leaving a residue of panic upon her mind.
Which do you prefer? Is one better than the other or are they just different?
Hunt or be hunted . . . A centuries old obsession stalks a noble family fighting to hide their dark secret from an ever-changing world. Sink your teeth into Nancy Gideon's Touched by Midnight series.
A Wicked Legacy . . .
Terrified by her unusual strength and frightening urges, Nicole Radouix’s sheltered country life is shattered when she discovers her family’s secret— she’s the daughter of a mortal mother and vampire father. Stricken, she flees to the seductive lure of the city to discover the truth about who and what she is. But the turmoil of post-revolution Paris is no place for an innocent.
A Wild Desire . . .
Finding herself under the protection of noble ex-patriot Marchand La Valois, Nicole is pulled into deadly underworld struggles, both political and vampiric. As their passions ignite, Marchand soon realizes the lovely Nicole is more predator than prey and may be more of a threat than the unruly streets outside.
An Unthinkable Dilemma . . .
Desperate to control her dark desires, Nicole accepts an offer of guidance from a hypnotic enemy, ensnaring both her and Marchand in a dangerous web of centuries’ old revenge. To escape their deadly nighttime games, Nicole must embrace her immortality. But will it cost her Marchand’s eternal love?
“A treasure trove of unearthly delights! Readers will want to induct Ms. Gideon into the vampire storyteller’s Hall of Fame!”—Romantic Times
“An extraordinary, moving and sensual tale of supernatural love powerful enough to defy death. Nancy Gideon is a bright artistic star of epic proportion in the supernatural galaxy. Five Star!”—Affaire de Coeur
A fast-paced, surprisingly believable look into a dark and mysterious world where only the greatest of loves can flourish!”—The Literary Times
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