8 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Modified Character 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.
Using, developing, and modifying symbols are the author's job. This includes language and other symbols. It is the other symbols that I have been writing about. Yesterday, I gave an example of description that used symbols exclusively to begin to define a character. The symbols were a clerical collar, a smoking jacket, an Oxford accent, a cheap cigarette, and cheap whisky. These are simple and strong enough symbols that they don't need modification. Let's choose a symbol that is easily modified and that has some real power to it. Let's use tea--Russian tea.
In one of my yet unpublished novels, Shadow of Darkness, the main character, Sveta, drinks Russian tea with milk and sugar. Russian tea itself, like vodka represents the people and the resilience of Russia. Unlike vodka, Russian tea doesn't represent the underside of Russia and Russians--that is laziness and drunkenness. Russian tea connects Russia to Europe and to Britain. Russian tea connects Russia to Imperialism and power. Russian tea is a wonderful symbol. The fact that Sveta like her Russian tea with milk and sugar connects her directly to Europe and to royalty. I modified the symbol of Russian tea by making the symbol personal and by putting sugar and milk into it. Russians usually drink their tea without sugar or milk. The way Sveta likes her tea is a powerful statement about who she is and who she was. It tells the reader who she really is.
The who she really is, is a secret in the novel. This is a secret that isn't revealed until very late in the novel and even then, the reader isn't certain it is true.
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/.