Those of you following this blog probably know that I am writing a pseudo-historical fantasy novel set in pseudo-Ancient Rome. (All the pseudos are because I’m far too lazy to write a straight-up historical novel, and even if I weren’t, my brain’s too crazy not to invent things like magic systems that use ink written into flesh.)
But what I wanted to talk about today was the Priest. You’ve met him, you people currently reading my chapters-in-progress on Goodreads; he’s the guy who showed up rather suddenly seeming as though he should have had more history than he did. The reason for that is, he does. He has lots of history, you just don’t know it. And you should, and I’m sorry, but that’s the thing about reading this writer’s first drafts – you don’t get the whole story, because often I don’t have it all until toward the end.
I’ve known since the beginning that I wanted another viewpoint character besides Arassa. It was suggested to me that I use Pullo, and I really thought I would….except that Pullo never really popped into my head that way. He never seemed interested in talking to me, the mere author, he’s too busy saving that frustrating woman he’s in love with. So I let him be, and was content with writing only from Arassa’s POV.
But about a month ago, I discovered there was someone new inside my imagination, who did want to talk to me. His name’s Warre, and he’s a Priest of Minos, and Arassa’s sworn enemy. He’s a little peeved with how I’ve been representing his homeland, and wants to set the record straight. What’s more, he knows what happened in Minos when Pullo went there to reclaim the royal treasury, and he knows what’s really going on with the gods and Arassa’s new powers…he even knows what’s been happening with Sulili while she was in the Minosan camp. He’s perfect as a viewpoint character, because he knows the exact opposite of what Arassa knows, and he believes exactly the opposite things.
But, unfortunately, we’re already in the homestretch of the first draft, and I don’t feel I can stop the story dead while I go back and rewrite all the previous chapters and insert his POV. My readers (who are still waiting for that kiss), might send a few brutal little gods after me.
First drafts are strange that way, when you write completely out of the right side of your brain, like I do. No outlines, only a few grand ideas for what’s coming a few scenes ahead of where I’m currently writing, and few more scribbled notes of cool dialogue, character names, and description. If I’m really, really lucky, I know the ending before I begin, or at least have a feeling for it. For Arassa, I had nothing but the beginning, and that scene where Pullo kneels to Arassa and cuts his hands on his sword as a sign of fealty. I had nothing else. I didn’t know about the Arcane, the magic system, the secondary characters like Micah or Aenius, or what would happen at the end. Luckily, everything’s been pulling together pretty well, and luckier still (since I’m writing chapter-by-chapter and posting each one as I finish), I haven’t written myself into any plot dead ends or serious technical difficulties. It’s been great fun, if constantly a bit nerve-wracking, and the feedback and comments from my readers (besides being helpful in content) has really helped keep my nose to the grindstone. I feel an obligation to those readers now, and I feel really bad if I can’t get a new chapter posted at least once a week.
The worse thing about writing chapter by chapter and inventing as I go, is that the story isn’t as cohesive as it should be. Since I often only find out important plot points as I write them down, I can’t fore-shadow as well as I should, and I leave dangling sub-plots longer than I should because I don’t know all the answers yet myself. The perfect example being Sulili’s sudden return from the Minosan camp. She went, she returned, and there wasn’t much said about it, because everything that happened, happened between her and the priest. Arassa doesn’t know, so the readers (at this point) don’t get to know either. If it’s any consolation, I don’t really know what happened yet myself. The priest and I are going to have to sit down with a cup of tea and have that long talk, one of these days!
The good news, overall, is that I can feel the ending to Arassa’s story quite close now. I’ve written over 100,000 words – longer than I thought this one was going to be. Silly me. I thought this one was going to be a short book, maybe even a novella.
If you’re reading this and don’t know who the heck “Arassa” is, and would like to, feel free to check out my novel in progress on goodreads.