Sunday, April 3, 2011

When The Characters Kidnap You (or This Is Not The Book I Thought I Was Writing)

You start with an idea, a premise, the inkling of where you're going and how you're going to get there and then BLAM!  Somewhere about Chapter 15 you realise that your main character has definite other ideas and hasn't bothered to let yo in on any of them. 

Sound familiar?  Well, if you're writing from the aspect of the third person omniscient narrator who knows all, sees all, and generally plays God in the world being laid out in words, probably not, but when it's all first person and you're more or less taking dictation from your character, it's bound to happen sooner or later.

In the first volume of THE GLASTONBURY CHRONICLES, "Uneasy Lies The Head", Stephen Windsor gave me my first taste of that.  He was a bit wilful, arguing with me that yes, in fact, that was the way the story went, and more or less ordering me to shut up and take down what he was telling me, as it was his life, his story, and he knew better than I what was happening.  He also assured me I would see why it had to be that way later on.  Damned if he wasn't of the things of which I had voiced the most ardent criticism turned out to be a major subplot in the next book. 

I had learned my lesson and was content to let him take me along his merry way, often having no idea what was to come next, as he had not yet experienced that part of his life, and often the surprises were very fortunate and very important to the growth of the character and all around him.  Sometimes the fate and future of an entire world hinged on his decisions.  It all worked out.

That was that series.  That was Stephen.  He was telling the story as he knew it, from the point of view of one man, one of several lives, pretty much contained within the framework of one story.

And then there's Dubhghall, the narrator of the second series, TALES OF THE DEARG-SIDHE, whose appearance was first made in last year's "Son of Air and Darkness".  The second book of his saga "The Great Queen's Hound" will be out in June and is all nicely finished, edited and tucked away.  It's the third book that I am working on now that is literally keeping me up at night.

Did I call Stephen Windsor "wilful"?  Compared to Dubhghall, he is a lamb willingly being led to slaughter!  (Well, I guess that is is an apt description, all things considered.).

Dubhghall is infuriatingly immortal and defiant, with a continuous life spanning centuries.  This book was supposed to, for a giggle, open with the first chapters set in one place, and then jump a dozen or so years and spend the rest of its time and plot in another country.  No, Dubhghall likes the English countryside too much to go to France just yet, and has found his real niche with the group of characters who had captured him in the beginning of the story.  They're as thick as thieves, and that's saying a lot.  And he's saying a lot, so I guess I'll just sit back and listen and let him take me, and hopefully the reader, where his story leads him.

I can hardly wait to find out how it ends.

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