No writing done today, instead I attended three workshops hosted by the esteemed James George. I’ve never read his books, but he teaches writing up in Auckland and is a font of knowledge, whilst also being extremely personable.
The main problems with my WIP, Tail of Two Scions, is the balancing of the two protagonists: Aurelia and Rakoto. Now, Rakoto is more of a potential antagonist – or possibly an anti-hero (but I hate that term) – than a protagonist, at least in this book. And this IS his book. The first showed Aurelia’s upbringing, and the effect that being raised by the gentle fisher-maky, away from the politics and conflict of the capital, affected her. The second shows how being raised in the capital, being manipulated and moulded, transforms Rakoto. And how the two will be brought into conflict, both shattering the peace that Aurelia has made for herself and shattering Rakoto as he realises what he has become.
Rakoto’s thread is written, more or less. It does need some refining: he is quite a passive character, and I need to have him playing a more active role in the shaping of his life (more than just that decision he made in the extract I submitted to the Bloody Quill). I need to show, somehow, that he has a mind for tactics and puzzles – which I think will result in a, failed, attempt to escape from Noir’s captivity and rescue Mephistopheles. In his interactions with the other Hunter-apprentices, I need for Noir’s training to have had a profound effect on how he relates to them – and how they relate to him. So, whilst it is written, it does need more drama and Rakoto needs to take more of a role in mastering his own destiny.
Aurelia’s is the quandry. She’s in a safe place, for the moment, but stories in safe places are never particularly exciting. I have some mild conflict organised for her: her rivalry with Simone, her internal conflict of having to quell her adventurous spirit. But this is more Establishing phase, and does not really hold up to the level of conflict required in the Development phase. What I think I need to do, instead, is having the external events set up as the Turning Points for each act.
Whilst the Inciting Incident is different for both characters (and I’ve yet to determine Aurelia’s), the II for the “ghost narrative”, the chronological one that the other two relate to, is probably set up in the Prologue: it’s the Queen beginning to establish her army, by forced recruitment. Why she needs an army I have never entirely clarified, obviously there is some dissent about her usurping of the throne, so there are likely pockets of rebels springing up all over the kingdom, and not just in Bemaraha.
The effect this has on Rakoto is subtle, but the flow on effects leads to him being attacked in the marketplace by a dissenter, and beginning to realise that his mother is perhaps not the nicest of people.
The effect it has on Aurelia is restrictive: she cannot risk leaving the safety of the stone citadel, lest she be found and hunted down.
So…. Instead of having Aurelia’s Establishing phase after Rakoto’s, I think I need to start setting it up before, and keep it brief. I have decided for this to expand on the one chapter I’ve currently got, giving Aurelia (and the reader) a glimpse of Bemaraha. Then I can spend her second Act focusing more on showing her the effects of the Queen’s regiment. There is a six-month gap between Aurelia’s Act I and Rakoto’s Act I (as Rakoto is basically born in the Prologue). Potentially, I could use a series of interconnected events to “fill in” these six months. But they need to relate to the main plot, and keep the tension rising. What parts of Aurelia’s Act II can I appropriate? (May need to change some characters for others to make the narrative work). Can I lose any of the characters?
So many quandries! So much to puzzle out!