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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Development - Rules of Writing, example Conversation and Symbols

15 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, example Conversation 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

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 and select "production schedule," you will be sent to

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.

Here is an example of converstation from the begining of the novel, Aksinya.  Aksinya has just called the demon, Asmodeus.  Here we can readily see many examples of levels and using symbols to move from the plot to the theme.  I'll add comments in blue:

The demon slitted his eyes.  His voice was a hiss only slightly slurred by its fangs, “Russian.  I can answer in this tongue.  Be very afraid.”  He wrinkled his nose at her, “Where is your master little girl?” The demon was described before--he is a symbol.  I use description to move you from a literal framework to a more figurative framework.  The demon's voice is a hiss and slurred by its fangs--these are symbols.  Back to the literal with the use of Russian--this appeals to the culture and uses the language itself as a symbol to accent the culture.  The statement of the demon "Be very afraid," is the opposite of the statement of an angel "Be not afraid."--this is a symbol.  This statement propels the level to that of the theme (the theme is redemption).  The last statement places us at a middle level--Aksinya is diminutive and young (this is a symbol), but she called a demon.  The demon can't believe this at first.

“Ha, demon.  I am your master.”  Thus the claim of Aksinya--she is his master (this is a symbol).  This is obviously not literal, it is based in demon and folklore.  The symbols are very powerful: a demon, a young woman, the calling of a demon, the master of a demon, sorcery, and all.

“My master?  We shall see.  Who called me?”  The demon still doesn't believe her.  This interjects a level of humor to the mix.  We already have touched on:  a literal level, a cultural level, an intellectual level, a master/servent level, and a redemptive or theological level.

“I did.  I demand you name yourself.”  A name is a symbol in the context of culture, magic, and folklore--if you hold a name, you control a being.  Likewise a name is a symbol in itself--it stands in place of a person and representd the person.  There is much more in this simple demand.

“Little girl, I am Asmodeus.  Do you know me?”  The demon names her "little girl" and names himself--Asmodeus.  I won't go into the detail of who is Asmodeus again--Google it.  I will mention that Asmodeus is the demon of Lust (Luxuria), thus his last question has more than one meaning: do you know me (know of me), do you sexually know me (lust after what I represent), and have you experienced the lust I represent.

“I do know you, and I demand you obey me.” Aksinya only catches or answers the first part of the  question.  There are many levels represented in her answer, but she doesn't get it (or does she).  Likewise, the naivite of her demand is revealed later in the novel.  The ultimate question is "who can control a demon?" 

“Who really called me?”  The demon reacts to her naivete and her statement.  This has many levels as well--the levels all come out of what was spoken before.  I'll skip ahead--note in the places I don't mark there is still much going on within the conversation.

“I called you.”

“If you lie, you know what I can do to you.”

Aksinya stuck out her chin, “I do not lie, demon.”  She began the next part of the reciting in Latin again. 

As she spoke, the demon’s eyes widened, “You did call me.”  He began to laugh.

Aksinya cautiously stopped speaking the dark words and asked, “Why are you laughing?”

Asmodeus scratched his nose and let out a little snort, “In all my many years, I have never been called by a girl or a woman.  Only men.  How old are you anyway.  You are nearly breastless.  Are you even past the age of accountability.”  Accountability--a symbol.  This is a concept that immediately causes the conversation level to leap into the theological and to that of the theme.  The question is very deep.  It is about age, sex, theology, sin, personal responsibility, and knowledge of the world.  Note, that this follows in the wake of the statements about who has called the demon in the past.

“The age of accountability?”

“Yes, are you at least twelve with pubic hair?”  This statement is Jewish and Talmudic.  This is the marker of accountability according to Jewish Orthodoxy.  The statement from the demon keeps the level at the theme and brings in a literal component.  The literal is the age and appearance of Aksinya.  The is the use of a cultural symbol to make a very critical point.

Aksinya blushed, “You, keep quiet.  I called you—you have no right to insult me.”

“I have not insulted you, little girl.  I only wish to know with whom I deal.  If you can’t be held accountable for your sins, then I can’t have any dealing with you.”

“I am more than twelve, and I have…I have…,” Aksinya was breathing hard.

“You have pubic hair.  I could ask you to prove that, you know.”

“Zatknis'[1], demon.  I don’t have to prove anything to you.”

“Ah, but you do, and you know it.”

“What I have to prove has nothing to do with, with, that.  Listen to me demon, Asmodeus, I claim you as my servant.  I called you, and you must now answer to me alone.” I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point.

In this very short example of a conversation from the novel, Aksinya, we see the levels of the novel and the levels in the writing play out.  There is much more that I didn't mention.  If you are perceptive and trained in AmerEnglish culture, you should be able to tease them out one by one.
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:, and the individual novel websites:,,,,, and

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