Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yet another writing update

Well, I'm slowly inching my way forward with the writing. It's a bit of a wrench, I admit, since I've forbidden myself from looking back and editing anything. And, since I'm a terrible perfectionist and obsessive self-editor, I hate pressing forward and knowing I've left an unedited mess in my wake. >.< I expect I'll spend most of August tearing everything I've written in July to shreds and rewriting it all over again.

Things are finally beginning to heat up now that Calgacus has travelled to the Novantae capital and found that their king is just as keen as him to see the Romans ousted. Enjoy it while it lasts, mate, they won't all be as easy as that. Especially not your ex-foster-brother up in Orkney.

Truth be told, I have more trouble with the Calgacus POV than I do with anyone else's, and I think that's because I haven't got as good a grip on him yet as I do the others. I haven't found out yet what makes him tick. As I see it, MCs have two journeys: an external one, and an internal one, interconnected. The external one is the quest, the journey to save the world (or whatever). The internal one is how the external journey affects the character: what do they discover about themselves? What inner demons do they have to battle? What, in personal/spiritual terms, do they get out of it?

With regards to my four other POVs (Marcus, Gairea, Cathal and Agricola), I have both the external and internal quests established. With Calgacus, I only have the external quest. I know he wants to unite the tribes to resist Rome, out of both a genuine desire for the freedom of his people - and also that dark little part of himself that likes being the king of the strongest tribe in Caledonia and doesn't really fancy the idea of giving up his leadership to any Roman governor. That in itself provides a demon for him to grapple with: knowing that his motives maybe aren't entirely as noble as he makes out.

But what else? What does he hope to gain - personally/mentally/emotionally/etc.? What will he discover about himself? What other flaws and demons are hindering him in his endeavour? These are the questions I still need to answer.

I think it's probably harder when you've created a character who has already proven themselves, as my Calgacus has. In TAC, he's already established himself as a great warrior and statesman, king of the most powerful of the northern tribes. It's not the same situation as with, say, Gairea, whose story involves her realising her potential and proving herself. Agricola, too, although with twenty years of military and political experience behind him, is still working now towards the high point of his career. I suppose the formation of the Caledonian confederacy will be the high point of Calgacus', with a trip and a fall at the end (ie, the defeat at Mons Graupius).

In short, I still don't know how he's going to grow as a character, and until he does, his chapters feel flatter than the other characters'.

Maybe... maybe, having already established his skills and reputation, his bid to unite the tribes will test all of them to the limit. Like, "Okay, so you're good. But are you really good?" Has he allowed himself to believe all his own hype? Perhaps his first attempt an alliance with the Novantae (which is beaten by Agricola), will lose him credibility with the other tribal leaders, and he'll be forced for the rest of the book to re-prove himself? Will he be stalked by self-doubt for the rest of the book, begin questioning his own convictions, ever contemplate surrender?

What is it, in the end, that compels him to make the disastrous decision to face Agricola in a pitched battle? Arrogance? Desperation? A need to vindicate himself?

Buggered if I know, that's all I'm saying. But we shall get to the bottom of it, yesss, preciousss, we shall...

And now it's onto the next Marcus chapter. Marcus is a strange combination of wry, self-deprecating humour, angst, and hormones, and a lot of fun to write. :)

In other news, it's a long way off, but the ending continues to look more and more solid. I think it's going to be good - when I finally get there. I'm a bit surprised at some of it, but it all makes sense, and wraps things up very nicely, while leaving the way open for the Antonine novel. :)


Gabriele C. said...

Damn, I should write faster, and write only one book at a time, or yours will be out and a bestseller when I submit mine, and then no publisher will buy it.

Calgacus is giving me trouble, too. I've got a grip on Arminius by now so his POV in A Land Unconquered is fun to write, but Calgacus' POV in Eagle of the Sea sucks.

And I'm getting distracted by Fantasy plobunnies again. No, make that VORPAL Fantasy plotbunnies. That series is so becoming my Song of Ice and Fire, if not Malazan Book of the Fallen (10 volumes à 1000 pages). *sigh*

Kirsten Campbell said...

Wow, Calgacus just won't play ball, will he? I'll hold him down; you get the thumbscrews. ;)

Nah, knowing the way we write, we'll be looking for agents and publishers about the same time.

Fantasy plotbunnies are awful for that. I was thinking about my old one just the other day and realised there was some real potential hidden under all the crap. Damn. I'm already worrying about the page count for TAC; it looks like it might easily run up to 1000 pages. >.<

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