10 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, more on 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.
I showed yesterday a symbol (tea), a specific type of the symbol tea (Russian tea), and a modified symbol (Russian tea with milk and sugar) applied to a character. In no case did the symbol ever lose its basic or specific meaning. Note that to use this symbol required significant knowledge of the symbol and the cultures involved. This goes back to historical study and cultural awareness that I wrote about not too long ago.
A writer is an artist who works in symbols. Language is the symbol and all symbols are about history and culture. When I write history, I hope you also understand I am saying literature, art, architecture, politics, and all. Symbols come directly out of culture and history, but there are many kinds and types. I've mentioned two in any depth--the cross and tea. Symbols can be very obscure--such as a reference to a little known piece of poetry. They can be nearly universal such as the cross. They can be very culturally focused, such as tea.
How important are symbols in writing? I've tried to show you they are indispensable to writing. Language itself is a symbol. You might ask instead: how often do you use symbols in your writing--that is higher level symbols and not just language. The answer might surprise you. I have a symbol in at least every paragraph I write. Some are simple--metaphors or similes. Some are complex--a reference to history or from literature. In every case, they are necessary to express the full meaning of my intention in the writing. This is why I wrote before about classical interpretation of literature. I'll write more, tomorrow.
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/.