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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Internet Magic

I'm back from visiting my mom in Texas and buckling down to some actual work on this book. I have a writers retreat in the mountains this weekend, and I hope to make real progress.

I am still mucking with the opening chapter, though I like the way Portier and Ilario are shaping. My rough beginning had Ilario acting too serious and clever - he is a ditzy young lord who carries a luck charm to protect him from crocodiles - and Portier too timid. Portier may be a failure in his chosen profession, but he has been charged with a serious task by his king, and he is smart and determined to make good. (And the king has chosen well!) I also gave these two too much room to get to know each other. Part of the unfolding structure of this book must be my three main characters learning to accommodate one another - or not doing so. Once I got these two guys straightened out in my head, I was faced with a problematical disconnect in the plot.

My opening action has these two new partners approaching a third person, feeling him out to see if he can help in the task the king has set, without revealing anything of the secrets that surround the task. Well, of course it all goes wrong. But the person they approach - a sorcerer - shows Portier something that shakes him. Only this early in the book, I've not laid the groundwork for why what the sorcerer demonstrates should shake him.

So, back up, Carol. How do I lay the groundwork for the structure of magic, the current belief system, its relationship to scientific discovery, etc - all that stuff I worked out week before last? If I do it right, then the reader can feel Portier's wonder when he says,

The green eyes stared at me. Watching. Waiting.
I stared into their fiery depths and felt the entirety of the world crumble.

You see the problem? We have to know what is crumbling before we can feel Portier's astonishment and distress. And this is tough to do so early in the story. So I think I need to stick in another piece.

So far, the king's charge to Portier has been off screen. We don't know what has caused,
the dread that settled in my bowels like Discord’s Worm, gnawing at the heart of the world.

I really don't want to show too much too soon, but if I do and Portier must place this threat within the context of magic, then we'll know what he believes. Thus when I shake him up yet again, we understand.

All of which leads to contrasting magic with science. King Phillipe has called upon someone familiar with magic to solve his mystery. But he embraces science, and gives Portier an example of what he loves - which led me to looking at 17th century scientific breakthroughs - which led me to this online copy of Robert Hooke's Micrographia. To be able to turn the pages of a book published in 1665 on my computer is just wizardly!


Carmen Webster Buxton said...

Carol-- any female characters in this one yet?

ssas said...

This blog looks fun, I might have to hang around here. Sure had fun this weekend! Hope to see you soon!


David E. Hughes said...

This does look interesting. Thanks to Bets for supplying the URL.


carolwriter said...

Carol-- any female characters in this one yet?

There are several side characters that I know of so far, and one VERY important young woman who will actually be our narrator in the second book and one of two in the third. Don't know who else might show up along the way.

carolwriter said...

Hi Bets and David,

Cool to have you. Yes, the weekend [more on that in coming post] was terrific. Sleep...sleep...sleep...

Anonymous said...

So fun to hear about your process. Maybe someday your blog can be edited and compiled into a nonfiction writing book. Can't wait to see you at Pikes Peak! Thanks for adding me to your newsletter list. All my best and great luck within your new world! XXXOOO Karen Lin

Anonymous said...

A charm to protect from crocodiles. That... makes me oddly happy.

And yes, reading incredibly old books online is just one of the many Wonders the internet has to offer. (And now, I'm trying to imagine what would happen if some sorcerors got ahold of the internet. It would be either a disaster or the greatest thing ever!)

carolwriter said...

I'm sure sorcerers and internet are being "done." The concept does wake the imagination.

I think crocodiles is one of those intrinsically humorous words.