Do we have our plots ready?
It’s a bit early for it, but with National Novel Writing Month a bare month and a half away, I thought that I’d outline my project and a few of the details. Anyone participating in NaNo is welcome to add me to their buddies list– [my profile].
The Artificer’s Angels
POV: Third person omniscient. Currently out of fashion, but nonetheless holds promise.
Rating: PG – PG13. I’m in the mood for something lighter.
Sub-Genres: Magical-steampunk, action/adventure, romance.
Most grave robbers take the jewelry. This one stole the body.
On a tour of a mechanist’s laboratories– her brother’s workplace– Merrily Soarin wanders off, peeks into an ajar door, and discovers a boy in a glass tube. Just before Merrily is caught, she could have sworn that he looked at her. As if he were still alive.
Enter master artificer Maxwell Gallows, once famous, now infamous. He’s been looking for his son’s corpse for a long time, and meeting Merrily Soarin was the best thing that had yet happened for his search. But there are a few problems.
Maxwell Gallows would rather kill Merrily than repay her for her help. The mechanist is an old enemy, and won’t back down from a fight. Resurrection is illegal, and protocol dictates that the recipient be destroyed. Leo, the artificer’s son, is so damaged that his next death will be his last no matter how brilliant his father. To make matters worse, in an attempt to steal some of Maxwell’s old projects, the mechanist accidentally activated one.
Leo Gallows – Leo has a good, level head on his shoulders, and unlike his father, he has a strong conscience. He’s unbearably shy around girls, and doesn’t take well to Merrily’s constant hugs. He’s on his way to becoming an artificer in his own right.
Maxwell Gallows – Manic, driven, brilliant, but also self-centered and elitist. He doesn’t take well to being helped by a farming family, much less a religious one. He’s killed Leo twice in lab accidents.
Merrily Soarin – Cheerful, impulsive, accepting, and the bringer of hugs. Merrily spent half of her childhood working on the farm, a quarter taking stupid dares, and another quarter trying to resuscitate injured animals. The family has a little graveyard beyond the garden where Merrily buries the ones that don’t make it.
Paul Soarin – One of Merrily’s five older brothers, Paul bears the nickname of ‘Shadow’ for his tenancy to conform and follow.
Abraham Gennyson – A strong mechanist, Paul’s boss, and one of Maxwell’s old rivals. Abraham is brilliant at clockwork, but does not understand biological engineering or magic.
Uriel – The prototype Maxwell used before he tried to rebuild his son after his first death. Maxwell pulled Uriel out of a hospital morgue, but in the process of resurrecting him, erased his memories. Maxwell thought it was ironic to give him the name of an angel.
So, my last post about being slowed down at the end of writing a novel didn’t get the responses that I thought it would. I expected thoughts on procrastination and being a perfectionist. Instead, everyone else seems to hate middles.
I remember once having trouble getting through the middle of my book. The first two drafts of Blue Crystal might have sunk the book if it weren’t for friends that talked me through the plot points. The middle of this draft gave me no trouble at all.
Personally, I think it’s because of the type of book that I’m writing. Even so, I thought I’d share what I’ve done, in case it helps anyone else out.
Halfway through Blue Crystal, a man is executed because of the heroine. Someone that she had decided not to trust because he was keeping secrets from her. The heroine is attacked, the hero goes out for revenge (not successful). A crooked judge is brought to light, and the king’s lenders are angry. There’s simply no time here to let the plot sag– there’s far too much going on. (And that’s less than half of the events in those middle pages.
When writing teachers diagram plot, they tend to use a rising mountain, a sharp climax, and then a drop off that curves to a nice resolution. It looks like this:
With no offense intended to creative writing teachers everywhere, this diagram really never did it for me. These were characters and situations that you cared about– not a graph of overall anxiety. And from a compositional standpoint, one has to wonder if this chart is even misleading.
Instead of thinking of the story as a mountain hike, I think it does better if seen as a series of beginnings and endings. One problem is resolved, and another rears its nasty head. One character takes an interest in one aspect of their troubles, another looks elsewhere. Perhaps both are aspects of the same source. Maybe they’re unrelated, but the conflict of interest between characters creates a new conflict.
Something more like this.
Try not having a middle. Try having little climaxes everywhere.
A post partially inspired by listening to Tarja (formally of the band ‘Nightwish’– I adore gothic/classical crossovers in music) on the drive home from work yesterday. This month so far has done exactly what I intended it to do, completely re-examining my plot from the antagonist’s perspective. Sometime between the tracks ‘Poison’ and ‘Damned and Divine’ it occurred to me that everything would be better if the ‘romance’ between the villain and the heroine was genuine, not a set up at all, on both sides.
First off, if I do this it would mean that I’m missing a good part of the story focusing on the heroine. I would have to display their relationship as aside while dealing with a bigger problem. I’d have to come up with another plot to thread in with the two I’ve already got going. But it makes the story stronger, it makes the ending even more powerful, and it gives me the chance to really focus on some of the important characters that I’ve neglected.
Villains, I’ve discovered, subscribe to the principal that hate is not the opposite of love; that’s indifference. Give the audience good reason to love your villain, and it’s easier to twist. His betrayal of the protagonists is also his betrayal of the audience.
Also, I’ll be starting my first weekly ‘Villain Month’ showcase on Saturday, linking to everyone’s projects!
Today’s writing is a fine example of why my nice little chapter-synopses have little or no bearing on reality.
I spent days working out how the rest of the book was going to go. A few chapters ago, I started deviating. It felt right. I don’t argue with my characters, as a rule. At the end of Chapter Seven we were almost on track. Now? Not only did the kidnappers not be the mercenaries I’d expected, I also introduced a new important character. And he’s a cocky little bastard that won’t hear of leaving my plot.
I did, however, write a line that I’m very fond of. I thought I’d share.
“Rylan du Jadis, it is an honor. My lord wishes to commend you for your bravery, congratulate you for your performance, and condemn you for your idiocy.”
Didn’t I say that this guy is going to be trouble? Hmm?