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Monday, January 28, 2008


Life intrudes. Ended up driving a lot the past two days. I try to concentrate when I'm driving, so I can't say I come up with lots of plot ideas on the road. But I did manage to figure out a couple of things that were bothering me about this first scene. First, I have two characters going out to meet a sorcerer. My narrator Portier holds very firm ideas about magic, but somehow the fact that this particular sorcerer contradicts his ideas about magic never elicits a comment from him! He just seems to accept the possibility. Duh. And this gives me a great point of conflict for Portier and Ilario (as if they needed more!)

Second, I'm revealing way too much about one of my characters. He is a very complex man, and my first contact with him is peeling away too many layers. This particular "knowledge" smooths an area of conflict between two characters when we've only just begun to know them. One of the things I learned writing Transformation was the value of not telling too much too soon. Let information come out in a natural sequence. Let Conflict Fester.

Which is not to say a writer should purposely hold back information that is pertinent to a scene for the purpose of manipulating the reader - especially things your point of view character knows. Example: If your first person narrator encounters someone familiar and dangerous, it isn't fair to withhold the identity of the person or the nature of the danger. You have to consider, "what would really flash through a person's mind on such an occasion?" At least a name (or "my brother" or "the cop who killed my dad" or whatever) and what kind of danger this person presents. Or if you have your POV character keep looking in the box and never saying what's in it, you're building tension artificially. (If you don't catch that particular reference, never mind.) If the tension is "real" to the character (who knows the who and the why), it should feel real to the reader. Maybe tomorrow, I'll edit this to be clearer!

So what was the driving? Down to Boulder to visit kids Sunday and an excursion to the mountains to look at a couple of houses. Pete and I have been searching for "mountain property" for about twelve years. Lost the perfect place to a higher bidder back in 1998. Passed on a couple of places that we didn't understand were smashing deals. But now we may have found a place - it's a beautiful piece of ground with a weird house that would need lots of work. More later if that comes about. Today I zipped out to Evergreen in the mountains west of Denver. My niece just came home with a baby girl and needed someone to help amuse her two-year-old. Fun.


Anonymous said...

I love this. The fact that you are not some anti-social character living in your parents' basement, that you have a real life with the usual demands, that you've raised children, held interesting jobs and sustained a marriage...these are the things that breathe life into your work and it is gratifying to see the results. Thanks again for this glimpse into the process. It's like visiting your little sianu...
oh, please...do I go too far?

Anonymous said...

BTW, has anyone seen the NBC show Journeyman? I think it's great: creative, well-written sci-fi and, so far, pro-family which is rare. One can watch full episodes on nbc.com

Time for a bike ride through puddles since the rain is finally holding off in CA...so sorry for all of you living in the snow. We are weather wimps here.

Lady Kailen said...

Hi, thought I'd stop in and say hello to Carol, and also apologise for arriving so late to the blog! I think you're doing an absolutely fantastic job detailing the work needed to create your unforgettable characters (now I know how you do it so well!). I know I'm going to be reading & rereading your posts many times during the next year; it's just such a pity it's so long until we get to read the book ourselves. Still, I suppose quality is worth the wait... :-)