4 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, 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.
If you mess with culturally universal symbols you run a great risk of confusing your readers. For example, if you have a cross that is not a holy symbol or a symbol of the church and Christianity, you have modified that symbol. There is a strong possibility you will confuse and lose your readers. Very powerful symbols like the cross have such long standing defined characteristics that to modify them is foolish.
A better idea is to modify the concept of a specific cross. This is a means of symbol modification you can use with almost any symbol. Take a specific cross, the Maltese Cross, for example. The Maltese Cross has a very specific meaning and is the focus of a very specific order and organization. Let's say I want to use the Maltese Cross to mean something a little different. Its basic meaning is a holy order of knights. I can use these concepts to make it the modern symbol of a secret society or a criminal group or a hospital. The point here is that you can slightly change the meaning without causing misunderstandings or confusions in your writing.
This can be an even more powerful concept if you choose symbols that are less well known.
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/.