16 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Plot and Theme
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.
The development of a character comes directly out of the theme. That is, the development of all the characters in your novel comes directly out of the theme. In a novel, there should be nothing extraneous. Every character has a reason. Every character must support the theme. Every characters must be necessary to the plot. Did you get the difference here? Not every character is necessary to the theme, but every character is necessary to the plot. In a perfect world, and in your novels, you should attempt to have every character necessary to the theme as well. Let me show you the difference.
My unpublished novel, Dana-ana, is about a girl who thinks she is an Anglo-Saxon maiden in the modern world. She will not speak to people unless properly approached, but she is in a modern high school. The theme is about an Anglo-Saxon maiden in the modern world--there is much more to the theme, but that is sufficient for now. In the initial scene, Dana-ana is being attacked by students because of her strangeness and because they accuse her of stealing lunches. In this scene I have four tertiary characters--two boys and two girls. The boys are attacking Dana-ana on the behalf of the girls.
In this scene, I could have had one boy and one girl or one boy and two girls or two boys and one girl. I could have had the main contention be that Dana-ana stole something other than lunches or stole some food other than their lunches. We find that the theme requires Dana-ana to have some power over the natural world--I chose food as part of her power. The plot develops this idea. The characters all support the theme, but I made them necessary to the plot because of my choices from the plot. In this case, you can see, the characters support the theme, but are necessary to the plot.
What this means is that in a cohesive plot, you can't change the details once they are established. This is a critical difference between the plot and the theme. Many plots can support the same theme. Or said another way, you can develop many different plots from a theme. Once you write, your plot and theme must be cohesive and the characters are the glue that binds it all together. 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/.