17 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Design in Plot
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.
Back to Centurion with this idea that the characters support the theme but are necessary to the plot. The protagonist of Centurion, Abenadar is both necessary to the theme and to the plot. He, as the protagonist, is literally the glue that holds the novel together. Likewise, in the example I used yesterday, Dana-ana, Dana-ana is the glue that holds the novel together--she is necessary to the plot and the theme. In both of these novels, the other characters are only necessary to the plot, but support the theme.
Let's look at Centurion. The protagonist's helper, Ruth, is an important character through the last half of the novel. She is the woman that Abenadar rescues from the streets of Jerusalem. She is the woman he longed for in his life. She becomes a necessary part of the plot, but she is not necessary to the theme. The novel could progress within the theme without her, but not the plot. Ruth additionally becomes a symbol in the writing of Adenadar's dependency on others. This idea supports the theme and is necessary to the plot.
An author develops the plot and the characters within the plot to support the theme. To write, then, you must first have a theme, you develop the characters, and you then weave them into the plot. The last step is sometimes coincident. For example, when I was writing Centurion, I knew there would be a Ruth character from the beginning. I designed the plot to introduce her and build her relationship with Abenadar. The scenes are both touching and fit well with the theme.
On the other hand, another Centurion who causes Abenadar problems was not in my list of characters or plot design. I built him into the plot to provide a reason for Abenadar to rescue another Roman patrol. This kind of character development on the fly is necessary to some degree for all novels. Most of the time, this kind of character is secondary or tertiary. I developed this Centurion who causes Adenadar problems to build on the theme of Abenadar's skill and the trust his leaders placed in him. In this way, this centurion supports the theme and became necessary to the plot. The plot is based in Abenadar saving this other centurion's life and century. Later, this centurion tries to have Abenadar murdered. This event precipitates many theme points and plot events which move the novel toward its ultimate conclusion.
As another example of character development as necessary, in the novel, Aksinya, the four senior girls at Akinsya and Natalya's table were planned and designed into the plot. I didn't know who they were, their names, descriptions, etc. until I arrived at their introduction in the plot. At that moment of their conception, they became necessary to the plot and they were supporting of the theme. Another character, the witness of Akisnya's sorcery when she saved Natalya and Sister Margarete from rape, was a character developed on the fly for the plot. The plot was designed with such a character in mind, but not until necessary did I develop him.
Thus, keep this in mind, the characters must support the theme and be necessary to the plot. I'll go into more detail in the character development, 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.thefoxshonorhttp://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.