Every Inside Turned Out
No, this is not a record. That would take a few more days and I’m about out of things I have on my mind for the blog, so I doubt we’ll see another 7-day-long posting string. But then again, you never know. I certainly don’t. Anyway, getting back on topic…
There’s a new sheet of paper on my lessons learned wall. I put it up a few days ago, but I’ve been mulling it over for weeks, perhaps longer. You see, it’s something that’s quite useful as a tool, but the source of the lesson was a little unexpected. I got it from a character in someone else’s novel. Strange source of wisdom, but I can live with it. The lesson itself is that there is always another secret. It’s something Kelsier, a character in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy says and I see it expressed in many ways in the story of that trilogy as I’m reading slowly through the third book now. As I said, I’m finding it a good tool in character, world and story-building. Take anything at all in your characters, your world or the story you’re trying to tell and peel back a layer, hell, peel back two. There’s always something lurking behind it. That stupid thing they do that serves no purpose? Peel it back a bit and you’ll find there’s something to it that you didn’t expect.
I suppose this dovetails a bit with my post about the biggest and smallest things, but to me, it’s a bit more than just that. It’s not just going until there’s no more detail to find, or until you can find the big picture that lets you see the general trends of the story. It’s about actively looking for that secret that your character is keeping from you (and probably from themselves) that is driving the story in ways you didn’t understand and being able to use that to write better. It’s about figuring out why the world changed a long time ago so you understand what’s going on in the present of the story.
I used this idea a fair bit in developing Possession, and even more in The Nine, but now that I’m building a whole new sandbox, um, I mean fictional world to play in and tell stories within, I’m seeing how I can use it to make more than just my characters more real. Yes, it’s leading to a fair bit of notes on backstory, but they are things that I know will affect things in the future of Necromantic (and its eventual companions that don’t even have code names yet), so I’m fine with that. In fact, it’s of great help to me in getting a general sense of where the overall story of the trilogy is going. I suppose it will end up being another exercise in maintaining balance, including the necessary backstory parts without putting everything in just because I thought it up. I’ve done fairly well with that so far in the Mirrors trilogy, so that’s an encouraging sign. I guess I’d say that my yardstick is whether it’s there just to be cool. Those are the kind of things that get turfed. If it’s part of the context of the scene, interaction, whatever, it’s okay because it blends, but just being a neat factoid doesn’t even work that well in real life. It definitely doesn’t work in written fiction, where things should have a point, at least in this humble reader’s opinion.
I suppose I should mention that I’m sort of outlining a bit of the beginning of Necromantic at the moment, as I’m making notes, if only to capture some of the more vivid stuff that’s come to mind. I’m really not sure what I’m going to do this weekend. I know I’ll work some more on Necromantic, but I really hear Possession calling me for another round of editing. So many things to do, and in so many ways, I want to do them all. Whatever I decide, I think we can all agree that you’ll hear about it later.
And finally, tonight’s picture. More proof of my obsession with lilies, and one that I wanted to share with the Hotspur, who mentioned loving them before. This pic has always spoken to me in a sweet voice.