One of the advantages of having no illusions about ever being a great success (as opposed to dreams and wishes that is) in writing is one is able to experiment and not be afraid whichever what-way matters go. Once more, dear reader and fellow writer, feel free to take out notebook and notate either ‘Hey I must try that’ or ‘No, must avoid that’ or ‘Oh boy that is so not going to work for me!’. To repeat my blog is all about pitfalls, wrong turnings, but best of all ‘Wow! The blessed thing actually worked! Who’d thought it??’ So gentle follower let us take another sojourn, shall we?
Many successful and also good writers (the two do not necessarily go together) will hold fast to the idea of there being at least one strong protagonist. To have a hero or central character who forges though a book with no particularly effective opposition is not going to work. (unless the writer might be the latest Commercial Thing- which we are not are we?) This is a good point and is undeniable.
Once more I have to admit, villains are my weak spot, they are there to be humiliated or slaughtered. Morally, elastic types who drift between ethical and legal borders, not so bad with those. Real fearsome, terrifying, evil folk…..not going to have a good time in my pages, if they do hang around it’s only to suffer…So sue me.
Anyway, a solution to this dilemma and to give my characters more to do than just than having a fun time or a challenging romp? Ah there was the rub! (Pause for Shakespearean interlude of silent staring off-stage).
Now speaking for myself I read a history, mostly military, and after reading a lot of this it began to dawn, very little every goes to plan. In fact, after many amendments to the original we have the military saying, ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’ (the original is much longer and slightly turgid). Thus, it occurred to me in the real world would you have a seemingly all-powerful and cunning protagonist whose plans went along so smoothly until the last few heroic efforts of the central characters?…. Nah! Great military geniuses and shrewd political operators were often wrong footed by the unexpected and had to adapt… if they were that good at their job!
To get around my prejudice (yes, it is a prejudice, must admit it) I thought about the many events in history and how these overwhelmed the participants maybe permanently, maybe temporarily and set the protagonist as The Situation the world was in.
To re-cap or to introduce. The World, which is ours set in a future at some stage was overwhelmed by a force which has many names (Ethereal, Stommigheid to name but two). Its true nature is not to date revealed, however can be utilised by machines, mind or physical effort, but NOT, NOT controlled. Think of an ocean or a river, think of water. Now in this future the World may be split or have given rise to other satellite worlds as a result of the arrival of this force, which is subject to its own relationships to the Universe and using the Water analogy there are tides (aka tydes- just liked the ‘y’) and storms. The stories are taking place at one of these junctures.
The first volume……..
(See Amazon Kindle for your copy of ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’)
(if he does that again, I swear….)
set up the central characters, a familiarity on how this force affects the world and also an insight into some of the life forms other than what we might think of as human. This second volume looks into how the coming turbulence is affecting the plans, strategies and intentions of disparate folk, organisations, and races. The principal theme here is that no one is control, there are no superior beings, everyone is in the same boat, most just don’t realise it, they are floundering, or adjusting all the time.
Thus my central characters are working in constantly shifting states, whereas they remain true to reach other. The often comic and wacky Karlyn is drifting or being driven closer to learn about her background; Every Soldier Arketre is being shunted up the ladder of responsibility and getting some tough orders. While Trelli is still continuing her journey of discovery and adaptability to her new ‘powers’ although her journey parallels her two comrades she has a more ethical dimension to cope with. Not that matters are any easier for Karlyn and Arketre whose actions are decisions are always overlaid by their emotional and physical love for each other. They, all three are facing the ramifications of actions by several agencies and individuals, who themselves are linked in some case.
Yeh, great fun. The challenge is to keep the whole business fairly easy to follow. No one cares for a book which has them going ‘Huh?’ and then flipping back through a few chapters to find out who was what, doing which then. Nor do they like to read a narrative interrupted by a brief resumé of that character’s actions another few chapters back. Nope it all needs balance. AND making sure the central characters aren’t swamped by everyone else’s business.
In fact, at times writing this novel seems to have parallels to writing a history. The basic facts have to be there, the important characters must be given their full due, but attention must be given to those lesser folk who turn up and spoil everything AND there are always circumstances outside of any player’s control; usually weather. (smart folk should always take into account weather, it happens)
This makes for a degree of flexibility too, as you never know who will rise to the occasion and who will get overwhelmed and fall out. The only spoiler I have three is the continual presence of the three centrals Arketre Beritt (solider), Karlyn Nahtinee (adventurer and enigma) and Trelli (Professional Name Currently Trelyvana Waywanderer, and she’s regretting choosing it. The Everyone of the saga).
The best part is, there I am wandering about the house doing my share of chores, when suddenly I get a ‘Hey! ‘They’ would do ‘that’. Of course ‘they’ would,’ interlude, which was not planned, but bubbled up from the whole brew.
I just love writing by the proverbial seat of my laptop. The first draft was OK, but now the real fun has begun.
So I thus end with a familiar refrain. You can think about this approach. You can shake your head in sad despair at my hapless ways. You can recoil in horror and sprinkle your laptop screen with sacred coffee (or tea) at such heresies. Your choice. Just do me one small favour.
Keep writing. Never, ever give up on your writing.
Wishing you Good Journeys People!
Winning Back Your Novel (Adventures in the Writing of “Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire”)