11 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Culture and Symbols
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.
When we speak about symbols, we are speaking about writing within a cultural paradigm. A cultural paradigm implies a historical setting or paradigm. My point is that to write properly requires a very in depth knowledge of the culture and history you are writing in and for. Language is, of course, the ultimate symbol. I've written before about language and culture. They are inseparable. You can't have a language without a culture and culture is expressed through language. If you don't understand how culture and language are interconnected, read back through this blog, and you will see.
So, symbols require a strong understanding of the culture and of the language. I'll still make the point that they are significantly the same. In one of my novels, Children of Light and Darkness, I play on this idea of language and culture through the entire novel. The trick is to make other nonAmerEnglish cultures and languages somewhat understandable to my AmerEnglish readers. The way you can do this is through symbols. Symbols is perhaps the only way you can achieve this.
So when I write about another culture, I use their religious symbols, touches of their language, their names, their places, their knowledge. The culture is all about symbols, and this is a necessary part of communicating the culture.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow.
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/.