28 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Power of 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.
The number one purpose for any art including writing is to entertain. This is where many modern artists have been misled by misunderstanding the purpose for their field. Many writers have missed the point too--generally, those writers are not published. The artists can sometimes get the government to support their uncreative and naive scribbles. This is generally not so with authors. If you have a message to tell, don't write--rather don't write fiction (go for essay)--or become a preacher. However, if your writing doesn't entertain, neither will your sermons.
The purpose of art is to make the world more understandable and beautiful. It is possible for dark and ugly images to achieve both illumination and beauty. How can that be? My latest topic in symbols is opposing symbols--that is symbols that are the opposite of what they literally convey. I mentioned that this is evident in the novel, Aksinya. In Aksinya, we see a young woman who has committed the grossest crimes, yet the image produced is that of innocence. In her name much evil has been done by the demon, but we also see how she isn't fully responsible for those crimes. Aksinya is coerced into taking Natalya as her lady-in-waiting, but Natalya assumes and credits her status as the beneficent act of Aksinya. To save a sorceress' virtue (Aksinya), Natalya is willing to seduce Aksinya's probable fiance'. Natalya, whose every action lead us to believe she is innocent has been sexually and physically abused. All these are dark and in some cases ugly images--but the revelation of them in the context of the novel brings understanding and becomes beautiful.
The great betrayal of Aksinya by Natalya leads to the redemption of Aksinya, Ernst, and Aksinya (just to mention three). The power that makes these opposing symbols come right is subtlety and presentation. As I mentioned, the primary purpose in writing fiction is to entertain. The theme, plot, and storylines are all part of that entertainment--they are also their own message on (hopefully) many levels.
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/.