18 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Motivations
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.
The idea of levels beginning with storylines that form the plot relates directly to what and what not to show. In general, when the overlap of storylines relates directly to the protagonist you should consider showing it. This still doesn't mean you should show everything about the protagonist. The point is that a worthwhile measure of what to show is where the storylines coincide with the protagonist.
This assumes you understand the storylines of the other characters. Every character and many things and incidents in a plot have their own storylines. You don't have to know every detail in those storylines, but you need to know enough to understand them and the motivations of your characters.
The motivations is the critical part. It doesn't matter if you know every detail about a character, what you need to know to develop a storyline is the reason a character acts as they do. The reasons can be varied and not even told. In fact, don't give motivations. One way to know you are telling is when you explain motivations. Motivations are largely unknown--these are things you must show and not tell. For example, in Aksinya, Natalya was sexually and physically abused. We don't discover this until late in the novel. We see slow Revelations that lead to this conclusion, and finally, she makes a confession to Aksinya. We realise at that point (and later) that Natalya's motivations were because she was abused. I never tell you her motivations--I do reveal over time that she was abused.
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/.