23 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Clothing as a Symbol
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.
Here are my rules of 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.
All language is symbols. Therefore it shouldn't surprise you that your writing should include higher level symbols. What are higher level symbols? I mentioned before the cross as a symbol. The cross is a higher level symbol--a symbol that doesn't depend on language. Symbols can be ready made or author made symbols. Some symbols are a mix.
I wrote about historical dress yesterday. There is much that we ca say about dress and symbols. The way a character is dressed focuses and forms them. It is very uncommon for an author to write much about what a character is wearing. That is, once the clothing is first described, there isn't much reason, unless it is important to the plot or theme, for an author to give us much more on the clothing.
In Aksinya, I described Aksinya and Natalya's clothing almost every time I introduced them for a new day. The reason for this was that the theme revolves around Aksinya's problem with luxuria--the love of fine...everything. Her clothing was not a force of identity for her, but she was tempted by the desire for beautiful things. Thus, in the climax of the novel, when she lost everything, the abrupt transition from silk dresses to a black woolen one is significant. In previous chapters, Aksinya's clothing was beautiful and fine--following the climax, it is plain and utilitarian. She never returns to the wonderful clothing she wore as a Countess.
In Aksinya, the clothing of Aksinya and Natalya are symbols for her wealth, temptation, and aristocracy. The clothing represents the culture and the times. I would also correctly observe that anyone familiar with the times and culture would immediately recognize the wealth and position represented by the clothing. Likewise, when Aksinya loses her status, her clothing changes. In almost every culture, clothing is a symbol of wealth, power, and position. In Aksinya, I also use nudity (lack of clothing) as a symbol. I'll write about that tomorrow.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow. The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel creation....ie, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques. To what extent do you outline the historic context, culture, mannerism, speech, dress and thought process of the main characters, in a historic novel...in order to maintain integrity, and gradually (help) reveal attributes of a character in the story, or otherwise clarify the plot, scene, transition, tension or resolution?
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.