2 August 2012, Development - Rules of Writing, the Theme of Centurion
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.
To develop characters you must start with a theme. The theme allows you to draw that critical first scene picture. Note that the symbols build the theme and characters are symbols. I mentioned the theme of Aksinya yesterday. I'll use the theme of another novel for this example. I thought I would use Aegypt, but I changed my mind. There are too many spoilers. Instead, I'll use my published novel Centurion. The reason is that it is a historical fiction novel with a very straight forward theme.
The theme of Centurion--dundududun (drum roll)--is based on the words spoken by the Centurion at the cross of Jesus Christ. The Centurion is reported to have said, "Surely this was a (the) Son of God." The exact theme is the question: what would make a Centurion state something like this? This novel, Centurion, is not really religious--although some will see it that way. I don't really care whether the statement is historical or the speaker is historical--although there is much to support the history of both. The point of the theme is not to answer the historicity of the event--the point of the theme is to answer the question in most people's hearts and minds. What would make a hardened veteran and Roman warrior make such a statement. The purpose of the novel is to answer this very complex question for everyone: what would make a person like a Centurion say such a statement. This is the theme, and the characters, plot, and storylines come directly out of this theme. I'll begin to define the characters for you, 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/.