11 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, the Normal
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.
So what does it mean to develop a "normal" character like Abenadar? I mentioned, first comes the theme--then comes the characters. Abenadar is defined by the theme. He is a romantic character therefore he represents an ideal. The ideal he represents is a military leader. He is not necessarily a political leader, but rather a man who leads others directly to achieve great results. He has a telic flaw and by overcoming the telic flaw, he achieves the end goal of the plot and theme.
Together in the above paragraph, we have all the elements required to develop a protagonist and begin to write a novel. There is more to developing the character--this is the point about writing about a "normal" character.
A "normal" character is...well...normal. The description can be somewhat nondescript. She doesn't have any really annoying habits that might draw attention from the singular person. She doesn't have any real personality ticks. She might have major issues or make major mistakes, but these will be personal and not professional. The foibles of the "normal" character are simple common flaws and not character flaws. The point in developing such a character is to not draw too much attention to the character but rather to the plot and theme. This is not to say Abenadar isn't a great character--it is to say that the character of Abenadar doesn't get in the way of the theme and plot of the novel.
In fact, you can tell the difference immediately by comparing Abenadar to Aksinya. The titles of the novels give this away. The title of Centurion is a single appellation and not a name. On the other hand, the title of Aksinya includes the name Aksinya. The point of Centurion is not to draw attention to the Centurion Abenadar, but rather to the theme and plot and then to the person of Abenadar. The point of Aksinya is entirely to draw attention to the character Aksinya and through her the theme and plot. I'll write more about developing characters, 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/.