9 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, more 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.
I took a very well known symbol--tea. Then I made it specific-Russian tea. Then I modified it to a character--Russian tea with milk and sugar.
Let's look a little deeper at this symbol. First in AmerEnglish culture tea is a symbol of British refinement. It symbolizes nobility and tea time. In all my novels that touch British society, I use tea as this symbol. Tea is the symbol that brings the pauper up and the queen down. It both ennobles and normalizes. Nothing can be common with tea. In my novels of Scottish farmers, they drink tea, but they don't have tea time--tea time is too high, you see. Tea time is alright for the queen, but not for the thistle laced farm. On the other hand, the pauper comes to tea time with a proud and happy face--she knows it is time to warm the heart and the fingers with tea and the stomach with a bit of bread--perhaps biscuits.
Russian tea is much different. It still holds the symbol of tea, but it makes common. Russian tea is a drink without its own time. It is a drink that Russians all share. It is a Russian past time, pleasure, and habit. It is drunk dark and pure because it is already flavored with wonderful and powerful spices. All Russian tea is strong and black and spiced in one way or another. The common tea is smoked. The less common tea is spiced. It is served from a concentrate and diluted with boiling water from a samovar. The samovar makes Russian tea available all day and at every hour of the day. It can be made the proper richness by dilution, but Russians drink their tea very black indeed. I have friends who like tea, but who consider Russian tea to not be tea at all--in their minds tea must be unfermented (green) and pure (unspiced). Such a thought would never run through a Russian mind. This is the symbol that is Russian tea.
Then I modified it to Sveta. Sveta was born in the USA of French parents and she lived her life in the US, France, and England. She drinks tea with milk and sugar. This identifies her and her origin. In the novel, Shadow of Darkness, one of Sveta's great secrets is her origin. She doesn't know where she came from for almost the entire novel. She thought she came from Moscow. We know she began the novel in Berlin. She drinks her Russian tea with milk and sugar--a modified symbol.
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/.