18 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Types of 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.
I defined three types of characters within a novel for you in yesterday's post. The first type of character is a major character (protagonist, antagonist, and protagonist's helper). These characters are necessary to the theme and to the plot. They are the primary characters that spring out of the theme and that define the entire novel. They must be carefully and fully developed. They are the focus of most of your research and writing activity.
The second type of character are those that support the theme and are necessary to the plot, but from the beginning of writing the novel, you realized and developed the character. Or you planned for the character while outlining the plot and developed the character when you arrived at that point in the writing. I did this with Ernst in Aksinya, and with numerous characters in other novels. Many times you realize what the character should be like, but you really don't want to fully develop them until you reach that point in the novel. The reason is that if you develop these characters too early, you might end up with a character that doesn't fit as well as she should--or you might end up having to rewrite much of the character. I'll try to give detailed examples.
The third type of character is the kind that suddenly becomes a need in the plot. Most novels end up this way. You work against an outline, but an active plot in writing is a really malleable thing. The theme is the critical part and the plot (and storylines) develop and interweave as you write the novel. You will reach points where you suddenly need a new character. I mentioned the Centurion Fabius as one of these characters. When I wrote Centurion, I wanted to build a situation in the plot where Abenadar was dependent on Ruth. I also wanted to build a situation where Ruth disobeyed Abenadar and went to the Legion Camp. I additionally wanted to have Ruth and Abenadar exposed in their relationship to the Legion and the Legion leaders. The addition of the Centurion Fabius allowed me to have a Centurion for Abenadar to rescue who would retaliate against Abenadar for the rescue. That resulted in an attack on Abenadar which led to Ruth seeking him out in the camp. 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.thefoxshonorhttp://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.