The Heroes’ Council Revisited (and) Adding Scene 3.5 After Scene 9

I’ve come to discover that the “no comments” link here on the blog is a little misleading.

I have the blog set up to post directly to Facebook; sometimes friends comment there. Just as often, readers email me comments or suggestions instead of posting here.

Several people have gotten back to me with advice about the Heroes’ council. Some advice was to cut it out; others suggested tell it from a POV that would be more interesting than just listening to a bunch of old guys talk, or add another twist.

All of the suggestions combined boil down to one simple goal:

Make it interesting.

Of course, putting it that way is rather vague, but the crux of it is to add a character, or agenda item, or twist, or perspective to make it interesting, because on its face, a bunch of old guys debating political action isn’t necessarily by itself all that fun to watch.

I had already written most of the scene, but disliked the “I’ve seen it all before” feel. Last night I redressed it a little bit. The interesting angle (to me) was Damek’s ability to hear the thoughts of those present. And yet I didn’t want to fall into the trap presented by third-person omniscience, where the narrator seems to bounce from person to person so rapidly that the reader becomes disoriented and disconnected.

Many of other men’s thoughts/feelings are generalized, summarized, or grouped together when they are similar so that I can rattle off the description more quickly and move on to the dialog again.

I was also able to give the whole scene what I thought was a sharper impact upon conclusion, in not just one, but two angles of dialog. But I’ll have to wait until I’m ready to preview it here (I don’t think it’s ready yet) for you to tell me if I’ve succeeded.

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Part of my struggle to move from amateurism to professionalism in writing requires me to embrace new methods I haven’t previously used.

One such method is writing non-chronologically. I’ve always done the traditional thing, starting a novel on page one. I spend about a week on the first sentence, another week on the first page, and then dive in more fully. Whatever happens next is whatever I write next.

This is not necessarily the best method for completing a novel. One of the critiques I’ve gotten for Perfect Justice is that the beginning doesn’t entirely set up the ending.

Well, “no duh” as I used to say; when I started writing the story, I had a different ending in mind than I did when I got to the end.

This is why some people write the ending first — not only do you have someplace to go, but you know exactly what it is. You can then insert a clever turn of phrase or choice bit of dialog 300 pages earlier which directly impacts the conclusion.

I haven’t written the ending for FRAGILE GODS yet (though I have outlined it), but I have a pact with myself that if a scene jumps out at me before I reach it in prose, I will dive in and write it without waiting one, two, or fifty chapters in the interim.

What I didn’t expect was to apply this in reverse…having already written 8 or 9 consecutive scenes, it became clear to me that an idea I had was far more appropriate as scene 4 than as scene 10. It’s a scene about the Jek’s farm after the tragedy in Scene 2. As far away as Scene 10, it was just distracting, whereas after scene 3, it helps build suspense.

OLD SEQUENCE:

1. Damek (A)
2. Jek’s Farm (B)
3. Damek (A)
4. General Shoji (C)
5. Damek (A)
6. General Shoji (C)
7. Damek (A)
8. General Shoji (C)
9. Damek (A)
10. Jek’s Farm (B)

Viewed that way, I can tell the return to Jek’s farm is a bit jarring so late in the game. Plus it introduces a new character, one who plays a huge role in story later. Introducing her earlier allows me to weave three story elements together like so:

1. Damek (A)
2. Jek’s Farm (B)
3. Damek (A)
4. Jek’s Farm / Issia¬†(B)
5. Damek (A)
6. General Shoji (C)
7. Damek (A)
8. General Shoji (C)

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