And now I get it. Finally. The whole damn novel is almost finished, and…
This is going to be rather incoherent, just some random observations about how I write. I don’t think I’d necessarily recommend writing this way, all I can say is that this seems to work for me.
Okay, so, Strongest Ties as it is right now does not have a central antagonist. I think I have said before that I am pretty much a pantser (that’s as writing by the seat of your pants. Love that word) as a writer, I get the characters and then I do usually get some key scenes before I start to write, and there may be some preliminary idea of a plot – the hero gets into trouble, there is a girl and a planet with a bad repressive government, big class divisions, and an underground movement fighting against the status quo – but I don’t have anything even vaguely resembling a real plot, I just sit down and try to dream up the first scene, and go from there. And then I start to dream up reasons why things should go where I feel they need to go. I have the key scenes I want to write, but I don’t write them first, I do write in sequence, and the writing involves trying to figure why that key scene – and it may not even be key scene as in ‘important to the plot’, just something that came to me, I feel needs to be part of the story, so I end up building the story around it – happens, how things lead to that, why things lead to that, why it happens the way it happens.
I have tried to plan the plot first, and then go at it in a well organized manner, but that seems to give me rather lifeless stories. I have a couple of shortish novels in the drawer, but they read badly. The bones are there, but no meat, and if I plan a character they become total cardboard.
So, Strongest Ties started out as an escape story. The heroes end up in a bad place and have to get out of it. And due to some complications the main burden of getting them out of it falls on Rahan, the younger and more inexperienced guy, and more so somebody who has gotten into the habit of relying on his Shemasharra super soldier companion. The other is so much better that Rahan kind of automatically just thinks he is going to solve all their problems, only now the Shemasharra guy gets incapacitated and Rahan, for the first time of his life, finds himself facing a responsibility he can’t duck.
And at first the antagonist was just the situation as a whole. Two, no, actually three sets of bad guys, but they are these monolithic blocs, no single person stands out in any of them. Kind of like having something like a storm, or an earthquake, or maybe a volcano as the antagonist – something bad happens, but there is nobody you could defeat, you just have to live through it.
And that never felt quite right, only I could think of no way I could lift any single person out of those blocs in way which would fit the story.
Although there always was this one guy who kept trying to push his way into the front. Rude fellow too. No manners.
As I said, I don’t plan the characters, they walk into the picture pretty much full grown. Damn if I know how that works. Busy subconscious, I guess.
Well, the main reason why I kept pushing that persistent villain back into the background was that the way the story seemed to unfold at first I just could not figure out a way to get him into a final confrontation with Rahan. And without that having a single person as the main antagonist can make for a story which is rather frustrating to read. If it’s just ‘and then the hero escaped from the minions while the villain was in his home drinking tea, the end’ – okay, most times that just doesn’t do. It is going to feel as if somebody offered you a meal, and then dragged you off in the middle of the main course.
So I felt I could not use that character, except in a couple of throw away lines.
Only now I seem to have walked into a part of the plot I didn’t see earlier which gives me a setting for that final confrontation. It’s still not completely perfect since it happens a bit early in the final part, for this to feel perfect it should happen closer to the end, and there is still risk everything after that is going to feel somewhat like the ending of the final movie in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy where the director kept having an ending, and then another ending, and then you got the third ending… But while I think this is not going to be, well, perfect, I do think it’s still going to be something that should work well enough.
And now I can give in to that villain character, and finally allow him to get his moments in the limelight.
Well, this means that it will be a little bit longer before I can show the third sample chapter, I will need to play with it a little first.
(Ghoddamnit, now I will need to write several new scenes for the earlier parts of the story and then fit them in… you just watch, villain, you wanted this, and now I am going to make you suffer for it. Bwahahahahahaha!)
I did say I’m not particularly organized as a writer, didn’t I?