30 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Naming 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. 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.
I wrote before about characters and symbols. I don't intend to repeat, but I want to write more about designing characters to represent levels.
Obviously, the first level of a character is their most basic information. In other places, to simplify, I have written that you should start with description. Let's instead start with the name. You can just pick a name out of the air, but why would you do that. I've been through many steps of historical and cultural study. I've mentioned many times about analysis and developing characters. So...the question is why would you spend days and weeks (I do) developing and researching your characters only to turn around and label them with a lame name you picked out of the blue. Don't do it. The naming of a character is a critical step. Let's imagine it as a first step.
So, as a first step--that is naming a character, if you intend to write a simple children's book you must still be concerned about storyline, plot, and theme--just not to a very complex level. If you want to write literature--you need to be a bit more cautious and deliberate. Whoops, you can't just start with the name--you have to know something about the storyline, plot, and theme just to begin. Likewise, you need to know something about the character to develop the storyline, plot, and theme. We'll look at this more tomorrow.
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/.