6 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, even more Modified 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.
Modifying common cultural symbols is not just a characteristic of young-adult or children's literature. It is true that young-adult and children's writers tend to modify symbols much more than adult writers. They likely shouldn't. The most important lesson to teach the young and inexperienced are the nuances of cultural symbols and understanding. If you modify common cultural symbols, you might find that children imagine their conception of the symbol is correct when it isn't. No matter what modern authors do to modify the symbol that is a vampire, they will never be able to cut it lose of disconnect it from the classical picture Bram Stoker drew more than a century ago.
Bram Stoker designed and defined the symbol that is the vampire. Bram Stoker did more than that. He also defined the horror and the Gothic novel. He defined the idea of the "Mummy" that came back to life. I used this symbol in my novel Aegypt.
If you note that Bram Stoker's vampire is the antecedent of every vampire. The modified vampires of the post modern world begin with a comparison to the vampire symbol designed by Bram Stoker. So some of the first questions the heroine asks of the modern vampire: does the cross affect you? Does garlic affect you? Does sunlight affect you? One of the many modern vampire modifiers makes her vampires have scintillating skin--that's the reason they don't come out in sunlight. That is a far cry from the creature of the night that can be destroyed by purifying sunlight.
I'm not against modifying symbols, quite the contrary. What I want is for you to know when you are modifying a symbol and what the modification connotes. And to tell you the truth, the most important thing is that you are conginzantly using symbols in your writing. I'll give you more about symbols.
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/.