12 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, more Culture and 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.
It isn't just writing about other cultures that require knowledge of symbols. More than anything else, any writing requires knowledge of symbols. This includes children's literature. I think the simplification of children's literature has been a terrible disservice to the intellectual development of the next generation. Dr. Seuss is the exact opposite of this trend. Dr. Seuss produced children's literature that spoke to complete symbols, modified symbols, and simplified symbols. In many cases, Dr. Seuss developed his own symbols. Combined with rhyme and pictures, Dr. Seuss formed complex concepts through language and symbols that children could enjoy and understand. The enjoy is critical. That goes back to my rule: entertain your readers. Dr. Seuss entertained... and much of that entertainment came out of the symbols he used.
Symbols not only can prevent or remove confusion, properly used they entertain. I think it is both silly and disingenuous when someone says a pun was not intended. Puns are an intellectual means of entertainment. If they aren't intentional, then did the speaker or writer accidentally stumble across them? Does this mean the speaker or writer isn't aware of his own language enough to understand what he is saying or thinking? Or is the speaker or writer just lying because they think puns are silly, wrong, or not acceptable. If I use a pun it is because I used it intentionally. A pun is a use of language as an advance symbol. At the highest level a pun draws attention from one subject to another. Such use of language is a powerful capability.
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/.