17 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Levels
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.
How do you achieve levels in writing and maintain those levels cohesively through a novel? There are two primary levels: plot and theme. The plot is the culmination of your storylines--that is broadly the story you are telling (showing). As long as your storylines are cohesive, your plot will be cohesive. Remember, there is only one plot. If you have more than one plot, you either have an experimental novel, or you need to write another novel. You can have multiple storylines, but only one plot.
What does that mean. A storyline is a cohesive and connected linkage within a novel that combined with the other storylines produces the plot. For example, in Aksinya, the storyline of Natalya combines with that of Aksinya in Minsk. Natalya's storyline started before Aksinya and before Minsk. Her storyline is usually connected to Aksinya's in the novel, but not always. Likewise, the storyline of Asmodeus begins before Aksinya calls him. It connects to Aksinya's for most of the novel, but at times, it moves away from her. At times we discover that Asmodeus has been acting on his own against Aksinya. The reader guesses about his activities, but only later in the reflection of the life of Aksinya do we understand what the demon was up to. Also, Ernst has his own storyline. It weaves into Aksinya's for a while. Every character has their own storyline and we only see them when they intersect with the protagonist's or when the author explicitly shows them to us. All the other times, the storylines are not directly seen, but they all exist. This is the beginning of how to understand the development of levels in writing fiction--more 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/.