9 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, Characters of Centurion, the Plot
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'm still writing about the development of characters, and I'm using the example of the protagonist, Abenadar, from my published novel, Centurion. Abenadar comes directly out of the theme of the novel. His life and his experiences that led to the specific moment when he stated, "Surely this was a (the) son of God," is the plot of the novel. There, you see I've woven the plot and the theme together. The them is the reason Abenadar would make the statement, "Surely this was a (the) son of God," and the plot is his life and experiences that led to him making that statement. Notice, I could have had the same theme, but a different plot. The plot could have been, the spiritual or the political or the intellectual contemplation of Abenadar that led him to make the statement--surely not as interesting a plot as the life and experiences of the man.
Just as the plot can vary, so can the character (or characters). That is, the character of Abenadar can vary greatly based on the plot. For example, I chose to have Abenadar be a manly man. He doesn't shirk danger and he doesn't lack courage. I felt like that was a more true to life portrayal of a Centurion who was a half Roman. I could have made him a weak man who achieved greatness purely through politics or intellect--that rally doesn't fit well with the Roman Legion--and that's what I tried to show. The Roman Legion was not filled with weak men. There are men who are weaker than other legionnaires. There are men who are afraid, but these men still are the stuff of legends. They are like the men of the armed forces today--all volunteers, all parts of an elite fighting group, all well trained and disciplined.
In the novel, Centurion, I showed this training and discipline. I showed the elite nature of the men and their charge as professional military men. I'll write more about how that developed the character of Abenadar, 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.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.