21 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, even more on Storylines
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 primary means of writing a good novel is the use of scenes and a scene outline. Scenes and a scene outline can be enhanced through the use of storylines to reveal characters.
Every character has a storyline. A character's storyline begins when they are born. It is basically their entire life story and experiences from birth to death--and in some novels beyond death. The storyline is what happens to a character. Let's take a character from Centurion as an example. Ruth is Abenadar's lover. She is the woman he rescued from an abusive customer. We don't know anything about Ruth until she is introduced in the novel. The initial description and the initial scene are her debut, but we know she had a life prior to that point in the novel--I just didn't show it to you directly.
In later scenes, we find out a lot more about Ruth. We find out about her birth and family and the death of her parents. We find out that she was left without anyone or anything on the streets of Jerusalem. All of this is her storyline. In the novel, we see parts of her storyline--that is, when she is on stage (in a scene), we see her storyline played out, but when she isn't on stage (in a scene), her storyline is still going. We just don't see her when she is not in a scene.
When an author writes, the storyline of every character is critical to the writing. Even the storyline that the readers don't see is important. For example, when we see Abenadar in a scene at the Legion headquarters, the assumption is that Ruth is at their house either working on domestic things, at the Inn, or shopping. Except that I, the author, show you what she was doing during the day, you rarely get to see any of that part of her storyline. Still, even the parts of her storyline, you don't see are important. 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/.