What’s What

Out of what I am, what I read, what I know, imagine, and think, come thoughts that I didn’t know, things absorbed which now push up out of my mind’s mantle of thinking and into the novel.

The characters develop sympathies that I didn’t expect. Vulnerabilities and phobias that I’ve never known are introduced. Their attitudes harden. The new attitudes shape their directions and decisions, flexing the story’s direction.

I play catch up with my thinking, but I’m always falling behind. The characters and I go through the story together, seeing what happens and catching our breath.

It’s been a good day of writing like crazy, but it’s left me somber and reflective. After all that’s happened so far, the main character now faces a large metal door. It seems to be brushed steel.

We’re both waiting for it to open.

Even as I contemplate it, the door sneaks open. Whispers of the next conversation float out. “Who are you?”

“I think that’s my line.”

“How’d you get here?”

“That’s also my line.”

So it begins unfolding as doubt and confusion wrestles with truth and expectations, and story forms.

Another day of writing done and gone, at least one more time.



Back When

Back when I needed  a new character, I cast a net for who they were. I found he was male, and a scientist. I named him Professor Kything in honor of the communication technique L’Engle employed in “A Wrinkle In Time.”

I didn’t know much about my new character. I’m an organic writer. I knew he would grow into something, but when I introduced him, he was a minor character, essentially a cardboard prop at the moment.

He grew, though, as my primary hero encountered him. As I developed a description, he became based on a person I used to work with. A senior research and development engineer, my co-worker managed to be smarmy, arrogant, and condescending in almost every encounter with me, usually with a smirk. Since my new character was evolving into a major villain, remembering this former co-worker was very helpful. He was supposed to be a deep thinker, but the certainty of his own knowledge kept him from thinking too deeply. He was dismissive of others instead of working with them to advance ideas, and he was conceited, a womanizer, and a liar.

Most of my characters aren’t based on one person. They’re typically composites of others I know (including me), so this guy, being based on one person, is different. When using composites, I generally think about how one of the composites that I know would react in the situation. That helps me stay consistent, even when the person I base them on is inconsistent and unpredictable, which translate to the same for my character and their behavior.

My cultured dislike for the fellow behind Professor Kything works well for this villain. I’m posting about him today because he was active and smug yesterday, crowing about how much smarter he is than others, and he’s going to be exposed today for the fool that he is.


Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Playing With A Full Deck

I’m riding on last week’s epiphany. To explain, only now exists. How now takes place and the scenes associated with it can be treated as a deck of cards. This has empowered my writing imagination. The principle isn’t mentioned in the novel, except one person notices it and treats it like a metaphor, but for me, understanding that each scene is another card permits more intelligent thinking and treatment.

The characters’ and their traits also open up. Pram’s decisions surprised him. He always thought he would put his team first. That it’s a challenge for him to do it opened up a window onto himself that he didn’t know was there. From this, he discovers weaknesses that he hid from himself but also grasps the observations others made about him. It’s a struggle to be stronger and more idealistic. He admires his team members even as he ponders betraying them. Exploring the scenes and permutations, I play with the frequency in which decisions are not value based or driven by logic or principles. Emotions, whims, weariness and frustration color and shadow choices. Sometimes our nature is stronger than ourselves. The battles with ourselves can be deep and endless.

None of the characters are inherently evil or good. Each seek to make the best choices they can, sometimes demonstrating callousness about others’ welfare, but justifying it through logical and philosophical acrobatics. Things happen fast. They make mistakes, and as now collapses on them, what’s going on isn’t always clear for them. Brett, in the center of this, is more removed from these debates and decisions. Being in the center puts him in a bubble where he can rarely see past the impacts on him and his existence.

Handley has been great fun to write. She surprises me. Her role grew. Her metamorphosis and the development process drove her into new territories. New skills were discovered, as was greater strength and determination. In all of this, I ended up asking and pondering, do we have one core person who dictates our behavior? One true being? 

Back to the Wrinkle, River Styx, Avalon, Lucky Gypsy and Mo Faux. Back to Handley, Pram, Brett, Richard, Forus Ker, and Philea. Back to the Travail, Humans, Sabard and Monad. Back to space.

Back to writing like crazy, at least one more time.

Where Do They Live?

Just as I had to address “What do they wear?”, I’m now addressing, “Where do they live?”

My Travail and other intelligent species have evolved far beyond my initial glances. I can liken it to glancing at a cat and thinking, “Oh, look, a cat.”

What’s the cat’s sex? Male.

Does the cat have a name? Yes, we’re calling him Meep.

What color is Meep? Um…Meep is a ginger, a blotched tabby ginger with broad swirls on his side, white whiskers, amber eyes, pink nose.

Good. What’s Meep doing when we first see him? He’s sitting on the fence. He’s displaced a half foot of snow from the fence top. No other snow is disturbed so he must have jumped up there from the other side of the fence. Flurries swirl around him but he’s not forlorn looking. He looks relaxed and in command. His attention is fixed on something in the pines, something that I can’t see or hear.

Does he get along with the other cats? Meep doesn’t trust other cats and goes on instant alert, ready to warn, fight or flee, when another cat approaches. He prefers to warn them away. If they attack, he will fight back. Fleeing is the third choice. He considers it the smart choice but knows from practice that fleeing is better as a theory because other cats will chase him. So he stands his ground until the situation is dire.

I’m going through this with the Monad, Sabards, Milennial, Humans and Travail, especially the Travail. Part of that is because I already did a great deal of this with the Humans, but also one main character is a Travail, and their part of the story and activity is told through his point of view. This has forced me to delve into the Travail history, social structure, architecture, behavior, agendas, sex…everything known about Humans on Earth is required to be known about the Travail.

They have a complex structure. Their names end up reminding me of Russian naming conventions out of Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn. But I didn’t want to just slap some Human expressions — or cats or other animals — onto my other civilizations. I wanted them to be unique.

They’ve responded to the challenge. I argue with myself about changing the naming convention and simplifying them for the reader.No; the book, the characters and the writer in me all resist this. Screw the readers. I think it was James Tiptree, Jr (Alice Sheldon) who said, “Let them catch up, if they can.” Okay.

Another big challenge was how and why did this species develop the technology to advance into space? Why did they want to go into space? That forced a deep dive into their history, as well as the history and development of other races.

It’s all challenging, daunting, and intriguing. It all builds the novel far beyond my first glimpses of it. That’s how it often goes. When you pursue a destination, details, paths, choices and accidents emerge that you never anticipated. Thinking it through enervates me as brain cells cry for mercy but afterwards, I sit in pleased satisfaction with what’s been developed and written. Each plot arc has its own beauty that touches me.

But now, yeah, my butt’s numbness informs me that time has passed. Mocha remains but it’s cold, cold, cold, with a skim of clotted chocolate like small clouds dotting its surface.

It’s been an excellent day of writing like crazy. Time to chug the mocha, take a walk and prepare for the next session. The words are already bubbling up. Were it not for my numb rear-end, I would pursue them.

But the words will keep until tomorrow, and another day of writing like crazy.

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