3 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, the Characters of Centurion
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 yesterday that the theme of my published novel, Centurion, was to answer the question: why would the Centurion at the cross state "Surely, this man was a (the) son of God." As I have written before, the characters flow out of the theme. This means that before you can write a novel, you must have a novel-length theme. That is an absolute fact. It really helps if you understand your theme. Roz Young taught me this lesson early. She insisted that I write down my themes. You should too. The theme is the most important component of the novel.
The characters in Centurion are relatively easy to develop. First, you have the Centurion. Next you have all the usual suspects in the New Testament accounts. I didn't bring in the disciples directly, but you must have Jesus. Since I focused on the politics and political figures, I included Pilate, John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Anas, and Ciapas. I developed other characters from primary historical accounts and information.
Based on the theme, the author must choose the major characters. Additionally, the beginning of the novel--in time--also determines the characters. For Centurion, I decided that the Centurion would be half-Jewish and half-Roman. I already knew the name I would use for the Centurion. In many ancient accounts, the name of the Centurion is Abenadar. We also have accounts that put two Centurions at the cross, the executor and the overall leader. The executors name is usually recorded as Gaius Flacus. Why two Centurions? When to start? I'll discuss this further, 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/.