7 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, the Goal
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 beginning of the novel, Centurion, is when Naomi, the mother of Abenadar, the Centurion, goes to get water at the well in Nazareth. She meets Miriam (Mary) and the book takes off.
The point of the novel is the why of the character, Abenadar. The novel is about the development of his life, and how he became a Centurion. Remember, you had to be a citizen of Rome to be a legionnaire. You usually had to be a true citizen of Rome to become a Centurion. It was not unknown for a half Roman to become a Centurion, but it was difficult. Through the novel, I get to show you all about how a Roman Legion is organized, trains, promotes its officers, gives out awards, etc. etc.
The novel is as much about the practices of the Roman Legions in the times as it is about Abenadar. This is the kind of novel I wanted to write. I wanted to humanize the Romans and the Legion. I wanted to show you their fears and their power. I think the novel encapsulates this well. I'll go further, because of the historical information, Centurion, may be the best source about the Roman Legion ever compiled. Many of the groups I speak to ask why I chose to write a novel instead of a historical treatis or document. I tell them that most of you would never pick up a historical book, but you might pick up a historical novel. That's why I wrote Centurion.
Look at my first rule of writing--entertain your readers. My first goal is to entertain. If i can entertain and give you historical truth, then I have succeeded in more than one sense--I've put forth some great information, and I've done it in a format you will find entertaining. That is the ultimate goal in writing.
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.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.