12 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Normal Characters
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.
Just what is a normal character? I posed the question and made the comparison between Aksinya and Abenadar. Aksinya is my usual type of character. Notice, I didn't write my "normal" type of character. Aksinya is ugly (at least she thinks she is). She is plain and not beautiful. Aksinya has some very critical flaws. They aren't just telic (tragic) flaws--she is really flawed. She called a demon. Most people don't think of themselves as ugly or plain--they would never admit it if it were true. Most people don't know or imagine they have flaws. Most people don't believe they succumb to temptation. Aksinya is a person that people cannot identify with, but that most can sympathise with. This is my favorite type of character. I want unique characters who will stick in a persons mind and whom they sympathize with. This creates a pathetic character. A pathetic character is, by definition, one that creates emotions in the minds of the readers. I usually write characters that make people experience emotions because they understand the problems the character is going through.
Now, let's look at Abenadar. Abenadar is a "normal" character. He is described generically. There is some description, but it is done in his youth--it is also not too detailed. I didn't break my own rules about description, but I intentionally made the description a little vague and nondescript. I was more detailed about other characters in the novel. And some of the other characters fulfill my concept of my usual characters. The point is that Abenadar doesn't. Abenadar is a generic romantic character--if there can be such a thing. You will find that many romantic characters are similarly described. The point is to give a marker to the theme and not to the person. The character might be unique, but the intention of the author is to subsume the protagonist within the plot. The reader is supposed to put him/herself in the place of the protagonist--and that is the purpose of what I've been calling a "normal" character.
In most of my books, you wouldn't necessarily want to put yourself in the shoes of my protagonist. You might wish to be like them, but you don't really want to be them. In Centurion, I think many (men especially) will want to put themselves in his sandals. They see themselves as Abenadars--Centurions who are making their own way in the world on their own terms. Such is the character of Abenadar and, I think, the character most people imagine for themselves. 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/.