22 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, and 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.
A novel can't show any character's entire storyline--not even the protagonist. You don't care to read about the protagonist's every action...or at least, you shouldn't care about their every action. The only parts that should be in the novel are the parts specific to the theme and the plot. So, even though every character has a storyline from womb to tomb, you will never see the entire storyline of any character.
What an author must do is determine which parts of each character's storyline must be shown. This is easier than it sounds. For example, in Centurion, the protagonist is Abenadar. He is the focus of the plot and the theme. Ruth becomes the protagonist's helper. Her job is to support the plot and the theme. When Ruth and Abenadar are together, that might be a scene that should be shown in the novel. Not every time where their storylines come together, only those time where their storylines support the plot and the theme.
How to determine those points is really easy if you use the scene outline method I wrote about before. If you write in scenes and each scene follows the other, then those scenes that should e included will be included and the storylines that should be show will generally be shown.
I also wrote that storylines can be used to manage the complexity of character revelation in a novel. This is true too. For example, a part of a storyline that is important in the life of a character might become the focus of the plot of support the theme. This happens at various times in the novel Centurion. At times where Ruth and Abenadar's storylines intersect with Jesus, these are scenes that might possibly be included if they support the plot and the theme. If they don't, they should be excluded and they were. I did not show all the possible scenes where Jesus and Ruth interacted, but I did show every scene where Abenadar, Ruth, and Jesus interacted. Those times when Ruth and Jesus' storylines intersected were alluded to in the novel, but they weren't important to show. I'll discuss more about how to choose what to show 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/.