24 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, Tension
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 wrote that one way to choose which storylines to show is to pick those storylines which form scenes with the highest degree of tension. Remember, tension in a scene is the element which gives excitement and entertainment to a scene.
In general, you chose the storylines by the interaction of the protagonist with the plot. This isn't always true. For example, in my unpublished novel, Dana-ana, there is an important scene where the antagonist speaks to a couple of minor characters about Dana-ana. The tension and power of this scene is that the antagonist and minor characters are discussing how they will destroy Dana-ana. The reason this is such a powerful scene is that the reader has a vague idea that there is some kind of conspiracy against Dana-ana, but there is no real proof until this scene. Suddenly, the reader discovers that Dana-ana is in real trouble. All the woes of Dana-ana come into focus in a scene that doesn't include Dana-ana at all.
This is the important point here. In Dana-ana, this specific scene does not include Dana-ana at all. The scene is all about Dana-ana, but there is no Dana-ana in the scene. The tension is that Dana-ana and her friends have no idea that she is in this level of danger. The reader knows Dana-ana is in grave danger--they don't know the exact type of danger, but they know it is terrible. This is the tension I am talking about. By writing a scene that includes the antagonist and two minor characters and not the protagonist, the tension of the novel increases significantly, and information is shown to the reader that is not available to Dana-ana or her friends. There is more to choosing which storylines to show.
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/.