Merlin thoughts (up to ep 2.11)

I had a long Thanksgiving break and little or nothing on the DVR to watch due to Thanksgiving week hiatuses, so I decided to start in on a new show (new for me) that I had read about on my flist.

One thing I think about now when I watch a show is, “Is this just something to pass the time (Dexter, True Blood), or is this a show I want to share with the Sculptor (Lost, Being Human)? Merlin, so far, has definitely fallen into the latter category.

Spoilers to 2.11


Finished Season 1 of Merlin. This will probably be one I eventually purchase on DVD.

It has lots of things that hit my story kinks: destiny, myth, inborn traits that must be kept as a dangerous secret (wonder where I got that one from), an ugly duckling/Cinderella protagonist, magic, legendary creatures, strong women characters, fabulous medieval décor (I want to redo my living room to look like that castle), and bonus Anthony Head!

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NaNoWriMo Day 23

New words: 1,670
Total words: 38,730
Goal: 50,000

38730 / 50000

As my story fleshes itself out, I see myself taking an approach that I can only call the fantasy equivalent of “hard science fiction.” Hard science fiction attempts to bring scientific accuracy to the speculative elements of a story, either by basing them in actual contemporary scientific fact, or extrapolating from that fact to theoretical ideas that are likely to be confirmed in the near future based on what we know now.

The “fantasy equivalent” of this, for me, is to have the fantasy elements in my story–whether it is strange beings, their powers, or the “magic” humans do to interact with/effect these beings–be, not supernatural, but natural phenomena. I am only straying from the “hard” line by saying these fantastical elements are natural phenomenon that scientists at present just don’t have the theoretical concepts or observational techniques to deal with yet.

I sort of can’t help this naturalistic approach. Although I am perfectly comfortable with the supernatural in fiction, there is something I want to say with this story that makes taking this approach important to me.

But as a result, it is feeling a bit like I’ve sucked all the sense of wonder out of my novel. I did a Harry Potter marathon this past week since I got the final movie on DVD/Blu ray, and the thing that makes HP appeal to so many people, I think, is you can see and do so many fascinating things in his world, whether it is turning a loathed relative into a human balloon, or riding over a lake on the back of a half-bird, half-horse, or visiting someone else’s memories inside a sink full of mist. Magic is afoot in his world, and there is so much more to his world than an ordinary muggle ever suspects.

Similar case with Buffy, or the Dresden Files, or Star Trek, or anything like that. There is an element of each of these story worlds that is beyond escapist and actually transcendent, because, for a short time, these stories allow you feel as if you are touching something beyond the mundane. They do this by starting very much in the mundane, and taking you on a gradual journey to fantastical places where you can do and see these amazing things.

I have to figure out how to do that, to make my world more interesting, without turning it into a cartoon version of itself.

I don’t want to write “just another fantasy novel” with elves and magic and evil sorcerers and whatnot. I need to find a way to take my more “serious/rationalistic” approach and imbue it with a sense of magic.

NaNoWriMo Day 12

New words: 2,762
Total words: 19,524
Goal: 50,000

19524 / 50000

I finally made it through the entire draft doing the dialog. Of course, I haven’t written all the dialogue. If I wasn’t sure of something, I skipped it. Now I plan to go back through and figure out the parts I like best, and make sure those get supported and expanded before I really dig into adding action and blocking bits.

I am starting to have an image of the ending of the story, one that is both interesting and wraps up the immediate conflict, but leaves enough hanging for there to be plenty of material for the next novel.

I have also been experimenting a bit with writing from an omniscient point of view. Something that would allow me to get in the heads of characters as I choose, or not. It’s REALLY hard.

I’ve always preferred Alternating Third Person Subjective, with a clear delineation in the text (marked by a paragraph change and a symbol, like a centered – or ***) when the point of view changes. Point of view has always been a conscious element of my stories, in which I could show different characters reflecting on the same thing and explore their totally different perspectives on that thing . It is one of the more Artistic elements in my writing.

And my third person has always been as close to first person as you can get without actually writing in the first person. The “voice” in the narrative is the point of view character’s, I write the way they talk when I’m in their head.

Changing that style to a more omniscient POV is going to be a challenge, especially if I want to keep the intimacy of third person subjective.

There is a form of the omniscient view point that is kind of like a screenplay, where you never get into any character’s head. Everything is the “camera-eye” view, but you have the freedom to go anywhere, show any character doing anything.

While I found writing in screenplay format rather freeing while working on the Destroyer, doing it in a regular narrative format lacks intimacy. I think readers want to be with the character, living the story through them, not just observers, and for that, a story needs introspection.

Another form of omniscient viewpoint switches between character’s heads within a single scene, sometimes within a single paragraph. There are so many ways to screw that up and confuse the reader. But I think that’s what I need to figure out how to do.


We interrupt this NaNo…

Agh, this is driving me crazy. I have a story that is essentially an unfolding mystery where clues must dropped, and certain characters must speak and act cryptically so as not to give the answer away to the reader. But I am writing a novel from a third-person subjective point of view, which means every scene is written from inside one character’s head or another.

There are some scenes I need to write to give clues to the reader in which the participants in the scene just know too much.

It makes no sense that you, the reader, are in their head, and they are just conveniently not thinking about certain things I don’t want the reader to know yet. But I either have to write elliptically like that, or I have to write the scene from the POV of some random nobody who is also present. But if I do that, the reader might think this random character and their trivialities are important when they aren’t. The third option is to just leave the scene out, in which case part of the story just isn’t getting told.

Now am I wrong to think it’s the sign of an amateur to write elliptically, scene after scene of characters “just not thinking” things I don’t want the reader to know?

If this were TV, where everything is pretty much done from an external POV, you can have multiple scenes with cryptic characters with secrets. X-Files, for example, thrived on those “mysterious Deep Throat/Mr. X is mysterious” scenes, or the darkened hotel room where the stone-faced Consortium sat around talking about the Conspiracy.

Those sorts of scenes are frustrating for viewers, but they also make them want to piece together the clues and anticipate revelation of the answers.

My Trickster/Guide character has just fizzled into nothing, for example, because I’ve had to chop away at the things he knows one by one until he doesn’t know enough to be a guide at all, just because he is one of the central characters and we have to be in his head once in a while. There was a whole scene that was to take place from his POV where you learned of many of his feelings for the other characters, and I had to rewrite the whole thing from someone else’s POV instead because it made no sense for him to act certain ways and not have the reader privy to why he was acting that way because he was acting on knowledge I don’t want the reader to have yet.

I can’t think of a solution to this, but it is starting to seriously compound, the further I get into the story.

InsaNoWriMo Day 1

New words: 1,749
Total words: 1,749
Goal: 50,000

1749 / 50000

InsaNo because work is nuts, and has been nuts for over a month, and I work weekends as well (both days! Uphill! In the snow!) and there’s family events to attend (stop having birthdays, people! This instant!) and a girlfriend to pay attention to, and when am I going to write?

And yet just by starting to do that writing today, I know NaNo is going to give my story a kick in the pants it needs. I have been working pretty steadily on it this year, having just finished chapter 7 in mid-October. And handing each chapter off to the Sculptor for her unwaveringly supportive feedback is helping a lot. But working in such a linear fashion, each chapter in sequence, has its drawbacks.

It’s hard to establish things in current chapters you’ll need for future chapters if you’re not sure how those future chapters are going to play out themselves. And outlining doesn’t help, because invariably when I’m writing the actual chapter, I think of something better. So NaNo is my chance to write ahead. To flesh out future chapters without the Sculptor chomping at the bit about when the next installment is coming out. And to flesh them out without commitment. I am not handing *them* off to the Sculptor in December, they will just go on the hard drive to wait their turn. If I decide they’re dreg or that details need to be changed, no harm, no foul.

There will be some cheating. Specifically, if I have a place to put a blurb I’ve already written in the actual text of the story, I will put it there and count it. I did a smidgen of that today, and honestly, such blurbs end up being revised to fit the spot I’ve designated for them. So.

So, on InsaNoWriMo!