ramifications of plot and temper

Chapter Six: Bloody Hands

I’ve managed to dig my protagonist into a great deal of trouble. I might, might be able to pull him out again if I can keep the king from rigging his trial. Which would be out of character. King Kanichende leaves nothing to chance, and Rylan has just handed me a very good reason to kill him at at my 30% mark.

Here’s the problem.

Rylan has a temper. Announce that you’re going to hurt or soil his lady in any way, and if he believes what you’re saying he will almost certainly try to kill you. The response isn’t that out of place in his environment; it’s ruthless, brutal, and courtiers really are going out of their way to manipulate his mistress, or stop their rivals from doing the same.

Partway through the chapter, Rylan visited a mercenary leader who hated nobility and just completed a job for them. The mercenary found out that he served nobility. Rylan was let go, only because the last job worked against the secret police. The mercenaries now know the lady’s family crest and have threatened/promised to find her identity. On the way back, one of the king’s favorites provokes Rylan’s temper. There’s a fight, and the king’s lackey escapes. When Rylan gets back into his mistress’ apartments, he finds a common guard has broken into his lady’s bedroom, rummaging through her desk. The lackey tells the king that his hostage’s slave attacked him, and king, lackey, and troupe walk in on Rylan just after he’s killed the intruding guardsman. Who also served the king. Rylan is lead to a prison cell to await a trial.

Sometimes I feel as if my villains aren’t harsh enough, that my heroes are getting away with too much. How far can an important hostage get away with? How much is the king willing to bend the rules to get what he wants?

Does it ever feel as if the villains and their agendas are only present when it’s convenient, and how do you avoid that?

chapter six: bloody hands

I like this chapter so far. It’s been slow going– I had wanted to have 30,000 words written by today. Instead I have just over 26,000. But this chapter has good pacing, and the plot is finally starting to show signs of life. Things are happening, and the characters are finally attaining the active role I’d wanted for them! The first forty pages felt as though life was just throwing itself at Rylan, who struggled to keep on the surface of things. Now one thing is leading to another, and the characters are partially responsible for that.

It’s a good feeling. What concerns me now is why this hasn’t happened for the first five chapters. They certainly weren’t dull. I’ll have to address that after I finish this draft, hand it off to my test-readers, and hear what they think.

dead, dead, dead

I’ve decided on starting ‘Blue Crystal’ that no character was going to be safe. My first chapter starts with a dead character, and two more die in a gang-style fight on the way up to the surface. There’s talk of a plague that had killed a percentage of the working class population, and at the end of the second chapter my main character comes close to dying of the same plague.

I’ve just finished the end of the fifth chapter of my first draft, and I’ve killed the first of my important characters. Funny thing was, I wasn’t expecting it. In the 0-draft he made it through to the end and wasn’t particularly important.

i think that we’ll be good friends

I meant today to introduce an NPC to take a message for a character that was being called on. Said NPC performed wonderfully, but felt that it would be rude to offer a message without making an introduction, and named himself Maeche (“Mye-sh”) Mersii, brother to an already established character. Rylan, my protagonist, likes him already and is now inquiring as to why he can’t have a social life, because he’d love to go to the arena with this guy…

I still haven’t figured out why minor characters plant their feet so strongly sometimes. Even so, I think that I’ll keep him.

sub-genre

In an attempt to distract myself from work (or clock-watching– it was almost lunch) I did a quick search on fantasy sub-genres to see where Blue Crystal fit in.

Low Fantasy: (grabbed from wikipedia) downplaying of epic or dramatic aspects; includes de-emphasizing magic; real-world settings; favoring of realism, cynical storytelling; and dark fantasy.

That… fits in with what I’m doing almost perfectly. Normally I’m not this happy to tag my work, but… it works.

climactic ending

I had some thoughts about endings while I was driving home from work last night. To warn you now, I was listening to Metallica’s ‘King Nothing’ as I pondered.

In my 0-draft I had an semi-decent idea for a climax, but the setting was nondescript and it lacked the drama that I was seeking. It came to me that if this was a movie, if I was really shooting for a visual effect, what I should do is to set it in a place where the characters have been before instead of just another tunnel in the city. And instead of the main character ‘knowing’ that what he does is going to break the villain later down the road (and out of sight of the camera, which is perhaps a little more realistic) I ought to move elements around so that all parts of the confrontation happen at once.

The applicable part of all this is that I should reconsider the imagery of the scenery and manipulate it to include more interesting elements, not exactly the ‘logical’ elements. I’m used to sculpture, but novels are so movable, so fluid, that it seems strangely rigid to confine fantasy to a perfectly realistic straight-lines style when you can give important scenes more meaning by tweaking the lines just a bit. Perhaps this is an argument why making maps isn’t always helpful, because once you create them you feel bound to what you’ve filled in.

sleep and despair

I’m beginning to think that trying to write after coming home from a forty hour per-week job isn’t really that viable of an option.

Last night I went out for dinner by myself with a stack of papers– my printed first chapter, first draft of Blue Crystal. I went over the lot with a red pen, and managed to pick out a few portions that need to be rewritten: a fight scene, the handling of exposition and setting, some slight spacing issues, and the introductions of characters at the end of the chapter that I know remember I did rush through. When I was reading over it, I was surprised that it wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered it being. I managed to rewrite a portion of it before I grew so apprehensive of re-envisioning that fight sequence that I stopped there, and spent the rest of the night working on the beginning of my fifth chapter.

Perhaps I was tired. Perhaps I’m under too much stress and I’ve become too much of a literary perfectionist. I went to bed with a sick feeling in my gut that I have no idea what it is that I’m doing, that the conflict and the characters are uninteresting, that not enough really happens. Where’s all the drama? Why are we going to a dinner? I know that the character needs to be introduced at about this time, and that’s almost certainly where you’d first hear of him, but…

But. But, but, but…

More sleep is in order? I didn’t feel quite miserable this morning, though not waking up at five in the morning might have been a plus. And then I read Neil Gaiman’s pep-talk essay that I originally saw during NaNoWriMo, and it made me feel better. Hail, Neil Gaiman.

Author Things - Courtesy of Neil Gaiman