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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beginning Again

OK, it's time to get serious about The Soul Mirror. For a couple of weeks, in between life and the short story, I've been dabbling with a couple of opening chapters that I wrote WAY a long time ago when I was first developing the proposal for the series. Originally I had thought I might begin the series with this piece of the story. But it turned out there was too much backstory...and so I developed that into The Spirit Lens. But, of course, now that I'm back to these chapters, they don't quite fit anymore. Not so much that the story left them behind

- the narrator is the same person I had envisioned (her name is Anne and she is 21).
- the place she finds herself in chapter one is the same (a graveside in a ravine).
- her "life predicament" is the same (that is, she is very much alone, because her family is scattered to the four winds: one dead, one missing, one held hostage, one confined because of madness. Whew!)

but because...

...the circumstances that underlie all of this are much richer (a euphemisn for more complicated!) I know about spectres, hauntings, pendulums, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), the illicit practice called "transference," and who the bad guys really are. I know the circumstances of her family's dissolution. And I know Portier.

Portier started out as a "device" - a surrogate observer to tell us the story of The Spirit Lens. As seems to happen with me (see Seyonne!) my narrative observers take on an importance of their own in the story. So the first thing I have to do is decide whether I'm going to time share the narrative duties. Which means I have to do a lot of thinking about the coming story... I HATE that.

There are some other reasons I have to give more careful advance thought to a sequel story...

  1. I will have a limited window to make needed alterations in The Spirit Lens.

  2. My hands are overflowing with character threads, mystery threads, unanswered questions, who knows what lists, and other hard little nuggets that have to be accounted for. A first book has infinite flexibility. A middle book is a pipeline between the first and third and must take the outflow from the first and make an exciting and sensible transition to the climactic events of the third (while have its own climax.)

  3. The schedule is tightest for a second book, as I'll have first book revisions to deal with and third book development to deal with all in the same year.

So I've written an eight-page list, including
  1. incidents that have to happen

  2. questions that have to be answered

  3. things that I don't know yet

  4. what has been happening in the four years between books

More later on how it works out!


Anonymous said...

Whew! is right. So many threads, but you are a master weaver.

Anonymous said...

"Which means I have to do a lot of thinking about the coming story... I HATE that."

I don't believe you. That's what makes creating stories fun! :-)

carolwriter said...

Well, OK, I love thinking about the coming story, but I don't like planning it.

Andy said...

Isn't "incidents that have to happen" confining? I mean, like our characters, we are decision-making entities; and decisions are driven by conflict and conflict is good. A decision - to act or not, to pursue one goal versus another - may lead to any number of different incidents within the framework set by the first book.

carolwriter said...

Andy, yes, of course, I want all of the incidents in my books to be realistically driven by character and conflict. But I also know the skeleton of the plot and approximately where I want the book to end. This mandates certain incidents, such as
- character A meets character B
- a particular trauma happens to character C
- the nature of the deeper conspiracy is revealed to character B and therefore to the reader

It is my task as a writer to make sure that these plot points are woven seamlessly into the web of character, setting, and conflict. Yes, they can be manifested as varying incidents, eg. does character A meet character B in the midst of a battle or on a street corner? And I must always question such assumptions. (What happens if character A and B never meet?) But by this time I know that certain things must happen.

Silver Hawke said...

Wow, really viewing all the 'STUFF' that goes into writing these books looks excessively complicated. I suppose this is but a brief and very complex version of what goes on in your mind while you write XD

I'm surprised you really made a list about the 'what's to happen' and such. I find it hard to follow a beaten path I make for myself as the characters grow in the story they defy me and go off on their own ways.

As a person who has only recently found your writing and hunted down a copy of every book you have written for her library, I am forced to sit and clap my hands in ecstatic glee over the knowledge that you have a new book on the way!

carolwriter said...

The reason "characters go their own way" is that you've made them into real people with a real inner life that drives their choices and actions. That's good. But the author's idea of a story has merit as well - "what would happen if--?" So in order to get those characters to get themselves into that situation, you have to do some hard thinking. You have to figure out what could possibly make him or her do such a thing. Example: I knew the idea I wanted to explore in Revelation - no spoilers here! - and I had a hero who would never in a million years do the thing I wanted to explore - so I had to figure out the chain of circumstances that would drive him to it. Ditto in Daughter of Ancients...and actually, in all the books, come to think of it.

Silver Hawke said...

Yeh, that does make perfect sense! And no worries, I've read the Rhi-Kirah (hope I spelled that correctly) trilogy, and just started on Flesh and Spirit. That is very interesting and I'll keep that in mind! Seriously can't wait to see the new book though <3