5 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, more 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.
Although I used an example of how to take a very well know symbol and turn it into a modified symbol, It is almost always best to not modify well known symbols. We know that many authors have been modifying well known symbols recently--how can they pull this off? The first is you must have an audience that isn't completely clear on the symbols. This is really terrible. It means that too many people are not very well educated in the symbols of our culture. This is why you find young-adult novels are those most willing and capable of modifying symbols.
The most immediate example of this is the smother of teen vampire novels. This was preceded in Asia by a host of vampire manga and novels there. The problem with many of these novels is they modify the symbol of a vampire to something completely unvampirelike. As I mentioned, the success of the authors is because their readers are not very familiar with or they reject the symbol of a vampire.
Let's look at the vampire. A vampire is an undead creature that has been condemned to an impure and unholy existence for eternity. It is a creature that can be banished through prayer, holy water, holy symbols, and holy acts. It is a creature that seeks to make the pure impure the good evil and the Godly ungodly. It is a creature of evil without a single touch of good. Some modern writers have modified the vampire into a creature of nobility. This is the modification of a classical symbol into the exact opposite of its cultural symbol.
Other writers in the post-modern era have accomplished this. For example, the novel Wicked changed an evil witch into a tragic hero and a "good" witch into a self-serving being. Frank Baum in The Wizard of Oz already modified witches into a "good" witch and a "bad" witch. So, Frank Baum already modified a classical symbol--of course, he was writing for children?
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/.