10 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Design
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.
Abenadar, the protagonist in my published novel, Centurion, is not the usual type of character I develop. He comes entirely out of the theme and is integrated into the plot--like all my characters, but the chief abiding difference is that he is mainly a normal and yet very powerful romantic character. This means that he represents a human ideal. I also write with classically developed characters, so Abenadar has a telic flaw. That is, he has a flaw in his character that is basic to his character which causes his failure, and by overcoming that telic flaw, his success.
The real difference between Abenadar and most of my characters is his normalcy. I don't usually write about normal characters--they are usually romantic characters (not romance characters). I like to develop odd main characters. Abenadar is normal in the sense that he is like many who strive in the modern or ancient world. His life experience might be different, but his life, mind, and aspirations are the same as most. Although, he is not a universal character, he can appeal as a universal character to most people.
In other words, I wrote Abenadar to be like the common man set in an uncommon set of circumstances. He does not have any oddball skills or characteristics. He is not eccentric. He is normal in almost every sense--the real skills that set him apart as a man are those he hones on the battlefield. And the sense we get from the book is that he really develops those skills--his abilities are not because he is super human, but because he works hard and observes well.
The concept of a character who is main-stream is very common in literature. This isn't the usual method I teach for character development, but it worked well for Abenadar. I'll explain 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/.