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.
Lack of clothing--nudity or nakedness--is as powerful a statement as clothing. There is a difference between nudity and nakedness. Both are cultural symbols. In real life people take off their clothing for various reasons. In a novel, unless it drives the plot, theme, or story line there is no reason to write about nudity. On the other hand, it it supports the plot, theme, or storyline, the action, consequences, and reasons for a character's nudity or nakedness are important. If you don't know, nudity usually refers to the simple action of being unclothed--nakedness implies a purpose for being unclothed, usually nefarious.
In my novels, especially the Aegypt (Ancient Light) novels, I use nudity with specific cultural symbols in mind.
Back to EdenOne of the main themes in the Aegypt Novels is 'back to Eden' driven by Leora. Leora, the Goddess of Light, is not perfect, but she is the archetype Eve--the perfect woman. Her nudity demonstrates and represents her closeness to God. Likewise Lumie're, her daughter, and the Goddess of Darkness, in her time, is clothed and uncomfortable unclothed. These symbols play throughout the novels with this specific purpose.
Good/Purity and Evil/ImpurityLeora, the Goddess of Light, is nude at certain times, and Leila, is always naked. The contrast within the books is their stature and pose--the purpose for their nudity is to represent the concept the Jews call Eve/Lilith. Eve was created perfect, the mother of mankind, Lilith was created perfect and the mother of demons. The concept displays how beauty and perfection of form does not equate to beauty and perfection of purpose.
Cultural Comparison/ContrastI write about cultures and societies in my novels. Many cultures are driven by clothing, many are not. The contrast and comparison is wonderful. The play between them significant. A powerful contrast in many cultures is their view of nudity. The ancient Irish culture abhorred it, while the Greeks thought it was completely normal. This comparison/contrast based on clothing, or the lack of it, provides a powerful driver for plot lines.
ShockShock refers to the characters and the readers. The shock value of the use of nudity in a fashion the reader may not expect can be powerful--the shock value between characters whose cultural perceptions are very different are priceless. These cannot drive a theme, but they provide some power within a theme--especially a theme about culture.
All these ideas and symbols work together on a page. They are self supporting and although can be used separately, gain power through being used together.
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/.