27 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, more Opposing 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. Entertain your readers.
2. Don't confuse 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.
Just producing something shocking or vulgar is not irony, sarcasm, satire, or anything else--it's just vulgar. The tools we mentioned (irony, sarcasm, and satire) are best yielded purposefully, gently, and subtly. The point is to get your message across. No one will accept a vulgar message. For example, placing a cross into a vial of urine is just vile and vulgar. It didn't change any one's opinion--it just polarized every one's opinion. Further, such a vile act is both intolerant and prejudiced. The person who did such an act is neither an artist or an intelligent person. Likewise, using nudity as a means to shock or produce a vulgar show is not art and is not effective as a means to influence. If you say the artists who did such things were not trying to influence, you are really fooling yourself. Remember my rules of writing--they are also good rules for art. I put them above (and in the correct order this time).
My first rule is to entertain. A cross in urine is only entertaining to a scatologist. It is ugly and dirty to the mentally not ill. A vulgar show of nudity might entertain the perverse, a pornographer, or a pedophile--it certainly is not entertaining to those more adapted to society and culture.
So, if you intend to write using irony, sarcasm, or satire, do not assume that the shocking or the vulgar are what you want. The intent is subtlety. If you want an example of how to write using these tools take a look at Aksinya. In this novel, you will ind sufficient examples of all three to engender full understanding. In Aksinya, the Catholic Church is prosecuting Aksinya for the sorcery of conjuring a demon, yet none of those doing the prosecuting believe in sorcery or demons. Those that are close to Aksinya know she can do sorcery, yet they are all willing to defend her to the point of lying about her actions. These are great ironies. These are handled delicately in the novel...and that is the point. Based on the novel, I desire that even those who might disagree with my points will agree with the irony. I want those who might disagree to be entertained. I might not convince them, but I wish to entertain them. And is there anything I really want to convince them of? Not really...or not that I will say. The point is the novel and the entertainment, if the theme has any kind of punch or tracks that is due to the fact that someone read and was entertained by the novel. ...And that's the ultimate point of art and writing.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow. The following is a question asked by one of my readers. I'm going to address this over time: Please elaborate on scene, theme, plot, character development in a new novel creation....ie, the framework, the development, order if operation, the level of detail, guidelines, rule of thumb, tricks, traps and techniques. To what extent do you outline the historic context, culture, mannerism, speech, dress and thought process of the main characters, in a historic novel...in order to maintain integrity, and gradually (help) reveal attributes of a character in the story, or otherwise clarify the plot, scene, transition, tension or resolution?
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/.