3 July 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, 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. 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 cross is a ready made symbol. It has many very specific and many very general meanings. An author can also program it with new or enhanced meanings. For example, if I am writing about vampires, the general meaning of a cross is as a holy implement or device. The specific meaning is usually as a protection against vampires. An author might negate the classical meaning of a cross by stating that her vampires aren't affected by crosses at all. There is a problem with this change of meaning for a cross--do you see it? The concept of a vampire is as a foil to holy things. A vampire is a set of symbols by itself. Classically, a vampire is a creature of the night that is undead and immortal. It can only live at night and subsists on human blood. There are many other components of a vampire. If we deconstruct the concept of a vampire and begin to change the classical symbols that make up a vampire--we don't have a vampire anymore.
This might be okay with people who don't know anything about vampires, but it certainly will mess up those who do. Therefore, if the cross won't affect a being whose purpose is as a foil to holy things, the idea of vampire suddenly is nought. I now I'm bringing logic into a place where logic might not be familiar to many people, but Bram Stoker, who developed the symbol of the vampire in literature, set in place this symbol. You can mess with symbols, but you need to be careful how you do it.
There is much more to writing without confusing your readers. I'll write about that tomorrow.
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/.