Thoughts on Shades, Sept. 30, 2008 – Present

Posted by nightphoenix on August 12, 2009 in Novels, Output |

I discovered that I had a whole lot of little snippets of thoughts on Shades, scattered throughout my witch’s blog. Making separate posts of all of them would be tedious for me (and tedious for anyone to read), so I’m just going to dump them all into one.

Sep 30, 2008: My stories write themselves sometimes…my fingers type the words, but it’s my characters that pen their own lives, loves, deaths. I had made Raphel do something terrible to Saeli, but now in the story she’s swinging back around to him. He makes you ache inside, in more ways than one, and I feel it like she does when I write him. I was afraid that he was going to be too unbelievable on paper, not human enough, but then I thought wait…this is Saeli’s story. This is not about Raphel the man…this is about how Saeli sees him, which is different. And that’s half the point…in her head, he is a bit more than human. The man and the mental image of him disconnect, but see, that’s the backbone of the tragedy…the blind sight of love. You see someone and yet, and yet…you don’t see them at all.

Jan 15, 2009: Shades, my current writing project, is coming along pretty well. I’m about halfway finished with the story. I’ve written 37 chapters now, and my husband and I did a little calculation. If I spend at least two hours writing every day, I can get through a chapter in about three days. So, if I’ve already written thirty-something chapters and I estimate I’m about halfway through the story….if I continue to turn out a chapter every three days, I could have this thing done in three or four months! Likely it would be more like four, to account for days when I can’t write or when I’m working on the more difficult sections of the story, but even so…that isn’t nearly as long as I thought! I would have some serious editing to go back and do, but getting the story out in the first place is the hardest part.

I’m getting to a crucial part in the story where my heroine has to come to terms with the fact that she is in love with the man who killed her best friend. She’s been fighting it tooth and nail, but it is necessary for her to accept this about herself. She has to face down her own dark side if she’s ever going to free herself from his. I don’t remember exactly what I dreamed last night, but I’m quite certain he was in it, somewhere.

Perhaps it’s just as well I don’t remember.

Edit: As you might have noticed, those calculations didn’t pan out at all. A large part because as I got closer to the end, the scenes began to get longer and more complex. They became harder to write. And thus, they began to take more time to write. That is why it is now August, and I’m still not done.

Jan 27, 2009: I had an important realization come to me during one of the talks, just out of the blue. Saeli needs to screw up. I like my heroine, and thus I had been reluctant to let her make any real mistakes. Everything that has happened to her so far, even though she played a role, none of it was really her fault. But if she doesn’t make a big mistake, the climax just won’t happen. I am not particularly looking forward to this, for her sake.

Feb 13, 2009: 41 scenes so far. I’m hoping 20 more will take me through the end, but it really might be more like 30. Ugh. Right now I’m kind of pulling things out of a slow couple of scenes, and pretty soon I’m going to have to cover some time in a few terse paragraphs, just to keep things moving. Just to get things moving again. Writing what happens between major events is hard, because you have to know what happens but you don’t want to dwell on it too much. I should be writing right now, in fact, but I’m just kind of stuck.

Edit: Thankfully, that number is turning out to be more like 15 scenes left after 41. I am glad of that. The book is bloody too long as it is.

Apr 19, 2009: Raphel is my ultimate foil. He is the one person that, were I ever to actually meet him, I would be head-over-heels in love with him, and it would be the worst mistake I’d ever make. He has all the qualities I love in a man, but at the same time, he possesses all the ruses that would pull me in and make me overlook his controlling, abusive personality. He’s beautiful enough that even knowing the truth about him, I’d still be standing there spellbound, wishing I didn’t know. Almost willing to not know. Maybe anyone else in the world would see right through him, but Raphel could single-handedly destroy me as a person.

I should know…I created him to be that way.

Within Temptation - Angels

When I dream about him, and it doesn’t happen often, he’s usually in the dream pulling everything along in his wake, and I’m following desperately behind. Trying to catch up with him. Trying to do something worthy of his notice…even if he’s up to no good (and he’s always up to something). See? Something in me blinds me to his mechanisms. In my dreams, I’m the naive girl who is particularly susceptible to his charm. I am Saeli.

That’s a usual dream. This one was different.

I’m currently engaged in writing the darkest point of the story. The scene with the biggest tragedy, and where Raphel moves from the role of antagonist to the role of outright villain. It is a pivotal moment, obviously.

In this dream I had, Raphel was there with all his charm, all his scheming, trying to control everything. But this time, he was my personal adversary. We were taking some sort of magic test, which is kind of ironic in a way. I knew he was out to sabatoge it, and I was out to stop him. He knew it, I knew it. Oh, he was still beautiful, and I still loved him, but this time it didn’t change anything. I’ve never really faced him as the enemy before…it was exhilarating, in a way. I think that’s really what woke me up.

Apr 22, 2009: I killed a god the other day.

Not a light thing to do, even in fiction. Even though I knew it would come to that, it was still a sad moment.

Now I’m in the process of turning my villain into a god himself. And that will not be pretty at all…he is not the type to handle the burden of godhood.
Flowing Tears - Kismet 

Jun 25, 2009: I’m excited about the ending. I’m going to make it look like everything falls apart, and Saeli is about to lose everything. I want the reader to think she is giving up, when she’s actually pulling the card that will doom Raphel. (Actually, it will be something in the nature of giving Raphel a test, and he will fail it through his own pride…and doom himself). It will be sweet. Goodkind did it at the end of Wizard’s First Rule, and it was brilliant.

I’ve been reading a number of books on writing, and one of them gave me an important insight on the story I’m writing now. It talked about a story’s main character (who the story is about), protagonist (the good guy), and viewpoint character (who is telling the story). Now, in most stories, these three are one and the same: the main character is the hero, and he or she is telling the story. Usually, at least the viewpoint character is also the protagonist (you don’t get too many stories where the villain is the storyteller).

Saeli is my viewpoint character. She’s also my protagonist. I’ve been saying, up until now, that this story is about her: her journey, her trials, her redemption. There’s sometimes a discrepancy between the story you plan to write, and the story that actually comes out. I think I just found mine. I really didn’t want the story to be about Raphel. I wanted it to be about Saeli, and Naeth, and this incredible relationship between them that ultimately changes the world. But the problem is…the story I’ve actually written, it’s all about Raphel and his downfall.

He is the main character. He is the focal point. Better I recognize that now, rather than keep trying to change it or ignore it.

(Raphel continues to surprise me with his knack for making himself the center of attention. I think I wanted to keep thinking Saeli was my main because I instinctively knew that Raphel wanted the spot…and I was afraid to concede it to him.)

Up until now, I thought that the viewpoint character had to be the main character. But if that’s not necessarily the case, that gives me the freedom to let the story be what it is. Raphel’s status as the main character doesn’t have to diminish Saeli’s importance. I think I have it right, in having him as the lead and her as the viewpoint. He’s driving the story: everything that happens, happens in response to his decisions. However, Saeli is the character who is impacted the most by him. She has the most to lose. Your POV character should almost always be the one with the highest stakes.

But see, now I have to rethink where I was going thematically with this. If I recognize that the story I have written is about Raphel, then Naeth isn’t quite as important. It’s not that I can’t end it the way I planned…it’s just that the things I thought I was going to be focusing on the most, aren’t quite so important now. Naeth will still save Saeli, but the biggest emotional impact is going to come from Raphel’s fall. I can see that this is where my momentum is taking me…and if I try to manipulate that, the story is going to go screeching off the tracks.

Maybe this is all for the best. Raphel is one of those characters that won’t go down easily, so you have to take him down hard. It is fitting, then, that the greatest emotional moment of the story would come at his downfall. Naeth’s return becomes more of an extra little perk at the end, instead of the emotional crux I had planned to make it.

Saeli and Naeth’s story may have to wait for a sequel. I already have the glimmerings of one…isn’t that terrible?

Aug 12, 2009: Currently, I’m about 2 or 3 scenes away from the ending. I’ve been working on the climax scene, and it’s been going….well, frankly rather badly. I’m at a point where I just want to be done with the story so I can start editing, start cutting, start rearranging and making the whole thing come together. Not to mention I’d like to start working on some other things. I’m also a little cold on the story right now, so everything I write sounds pretty stupid to me once it’s on the screen. I don’t think it actually is any worse than my usual standard, but it’s hard to keep going when it feels that way, you know?

I’ll get it done. I think I just need to get back into a groove.


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