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Friday, January 25, 2008

Into Their Heads

Several tough days. I don't feel as if I'm progressing all that much. When other writers say they write ten pages a day, rain or shine, I shake my head...and feel terribly guilty. Yes, I can do that every once in a while, but not at the beginning of a brand new story. I am still feeling my way, exploring motivations and personalities and picking at details that will define the world. I'm still hunting names for things - for I can't move forward if I don't know. For example, what is the title of a Knight of Sabria? To be named a Knight of Sabria - Chevalier y Sabria, I decided- is a great honor, sort of like the Medal of Honor, except occasionally someone highly unlikely will end up with the title. And that somebody is Ilario.

Portier says of Ilario, his traveling companion in the first scene:

With a sigh I waved the fool onward, hoping to still his unceasing prattle with movement if I could neither send him back nor throttle him. Knight of Sabria, indeed. Ilario de Sylvae had been fostered since babyhood with his half-sister, Queen Eugenie, and had most assuredly never set foot near a battle. If the fop had ever drawn a sword outside Merona’s fencing halls, I’d eat my boots.
I am looking forward to working with Ilario. He must be the foil for stolid, morose Portier. His true nature lies somewhere beneath
such a panoply of red silk sleeves, lace collar, dark green waistcoat, gold link belt and bracelets, and uselessly thin and tight leather breeches deemed suitable for “rustic” excursions, one might think he had wrapped himself as a passion-gift for a court sweetheart.
But I am not sure how far beneath. That's the fun part.

The actual writing of these days has consisted of exposing Ilario and Portier's first venture together: They're seeking out someone to assist in the task the king of Sabria has set them. I've a year-old first attempt at this chapter (written as I played around with this story idea before) so the work is an amalgam of writing new words and modifying old words. I ought to just throw out the old ones, but that is very hard for me - and there are some descriptions and such that I really like. Eventually I will replace them, stripping and substituting pass by pass as I understand the situation better.

The first conversation between two principals is so important - revealing character, the state of the world, the present situation. It is tempting to throw simply everything into this stew. You want to ground the reader quickly, so that the import of the following scene is made clear. Quickly being the operative - and difficult word. I'll likely have to strip out a good deal of what I've stuck in. But for now, we're getting there. Tomorrow we'll meet Dante.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Berg

Your approach to writing and developing your characters is just as good a story as your books seem to be.

Your formulas are complicated, and I hope you don't get lost...or is that part of the plan?

carolwriter said...

Not so much a plan as a happening.

Carmen Webster Buxton said...

Carol-- put two writers in a room and you will have at least three ways to write! Your characters are always interesting, so whatever you're doing it's working.