Update: Developing ideas and moving forward

Developing Ideas:

I actually was thinking a bit more about the potential novel with the bodyguard, the stab-stab-story — maybe the working title will be STAB, who knows. Anyway, I thought I would tell you a little bit more about that one, even though I don’t expect to write it for a while.

a) I now know how to get into that scene with the stab-stab-stab speech. I know why the young woman has to fight, whom she has to fight, and how she winds up unexpectedly winning this fight. She doesn’t have to come out of it unscathed because I’ve established that medical care can be quite good, so if she gets hurt, that’s fine. It seems like it would be difficult to avoid injury in a fight like this.

Anyway, I’ve got some of the stab-stab-stab speech in my head. It’s a fun scene! I’m looking forward to it.

b) I also now know how Aras cuts that particular Gordian knot. I think! I won’t actually know for sure until I get there, but I think I know how that COULD work.

c) Now that I’ve got all these plot points in order, how about the characters?

“A young Lau woman” is all very well, but she can’t be a clone of Keraunani or Lalani. Ideally, she shouldn’t be too much like any of my female characters in any of my other books, although I have now written a lot of female characters, with personalities ranging from … hmm … let me think about this range.

Okay, on one end of the normal curve of personalities, we have Lalani, say, who is friendly and cheerful and accepting. Then we range through good-hearted responsible young women such as Kehara and Keri; to clever and perhaps rather manipulative, like Oressa and Leilis; to Keziah in the Black Dog world, who is a killer by inclination AND avocation; and then Tenai, who is, or can be, terrifyingly distant and cold.

So, how to come up with a woman who is different from all of those characters? Not necessarily totally different in every possible way, but different enough?

Naturally, I pause to consider other female characters I’ve recently loved. Oh, I said to myself. El! Of course El Higgins is very specifically set into that particular world, and she is the way that she is because she’s born to be The Ultimate Dark Queen. Also, her voice is unique. I don’t think I could write a character with that voice even if I tried, and if I could, that voice would be seriously out of place in the Tuyo world. But now that I’ve though of her, who else does she remind me of?

Tremaine! The voice is totally different, and in fact everything is different, but I still thought of her immediately. She’s much colder and more ruthless than El, though of course that’s not super obvious to the people who surround them. As a matter of fact, “cold and ruthless” would suit my Lau young woman very well. But maybe not really. Maybe what would really work for my young woman would be a cold and ruthless façade developed as a layer of self-protection — terrible family, remember — and you know what, maybe my character is a savant of some kind. That would explain why she was useful to her terrible family, and once she was useful, that explains why she was used in some terrible way. And how and why she broke away, and why her family might be after her, if I could use another source of tension in this story.

You remember Tehre in the Griffin Mage series. Oh, look, Hatchette has once more dropped the price of the complete Griffin mage omnibus to $1.99 on Amazon. They do that rather often, and that’s the price right now. Just saying.

Anyway, Tehre is of course a genius. She was incredible fun to write. Maybe this young Lau woman is also a genius, though not the same kind. This new character couldn’t be nearly as distractible. She would be dead or worse if she hadn’t kept her head. She’s probably furious and bitter about that, not to mention terrified if her family is actively hunting her.

So that’s what I’m kind of thinking right now. A young woman, very intelligent, with unusual genius of some kind, exploited by a terrible family. A young woman who is extremely self-protective and has developed a hard, cold aura. Probably she feels deep guilt over things she’s done and she’s certainly very angry with people in her family.

And that may not be how she turns out, but that is more than enough to start with.

I know something about the male lead, but not as much. I think I know his background in enough detail to justify making him competent as a bodyguard and also to put him in the way of a young woman who needs a bodyguard. But I don’t know a lot about his personality.

Although “can’t let her hire that thug” is a pretty decent starting point.

However, this potential story is, as you know, not what I’m moving ahead with. I’m hereby going to stop thinking about this for the present.

Moving ahead:

Okay, so, for right now, I’m moving ahead with the Tano novella. When I’ve got something on the page there, OR if I get stuck, then I’ll switch to one of the SF revisions that are also waiting for attention.

I don’t think I’ll get (badly) stuck. I think I have the plot clear enough. I was actually slightly stuck yesterday afternoon, but I started typing hesitant notes about what might happen next and boom! A great idea occurred to me. Now I think I know what scene I’ll be working on today.

I think now I have sorted out the tricky part in the middle. The situation there was tactically difficult. Tano is, as you know, intelligent, so it would not be sensible to have him walk into a situation without realizing it was going to be tactically challenging. He really needed to think ahead. I think now I have come up with reasonable alternatives as far as the action goes. Then other things can go wrong, but not anything that should reasonably have been anticipated. The thing to go wrong was where I was mildly stuck. As I say, I am now unstuck, I think.

I do see a terrible dilemma in his relatively near future. I’m not really sure how to resolve that. I don’t think I’ll know what happens there until it happens. That won’t be until the end of the week at least.

Regardless of the action, the relationships in this story are going to be both the fun part and the difficult part. How does Tano feel about people and about situations, given his background? How is he going to move toward Raga and Arayo and the other young man, the ex-inTasiyo, whose name is Vayu, by the way. Of course Tano spent time with Raga and Arayo in the starlit lands. But I didn’t show that interaction, or almost not at all. So, what was that like?

So, yes, I have had to step into Tano’s head. As I said, that’s both the fun part and the difficult part.

It’s not actually tricky separating Tano’s voice from Ryo’s voice. There are syntactical similarities in how they phrase things because they’re both thinking in taksu, but they are nothing alike. I don’t want to be too specific, but I will say that Tano has already surprised me in how he thinks about various things compared to how Ryo thinks about the same things. Just this morning, he looked at a particular situation and the moment I looked through his eyes, it was obvious how different his view would be.

Anyway, moving ahead with this novella. Or whatever length story it turns out to be. If I write 5000 words a day, I may be close to wrapping it up by Christmas, or at least before New Years. That’s startling to realize. But I’m hoping for 75,000 words or so, and that’s how the math works out.

Either way, busy week ahead!

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11 thoughts on “Update: Developing ideas and moving forward”

  1. A young woman, very intelligent, with unusual genius of some kind, exploited by a terrible family. A young woman who is extremely self-protective and has developed a hard, cold aura. Probably she feels deep guilt over things she’s done and she’s certainly very angry with people in her family.

    The name that sprang to mind upon reading this was the heroine(?) of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Series.

  2. Really? I think of Breq more as defined by her total inability to understand her own motivations. I mean, along with rage at Anander, among others.

    Though now that you suggest this comparison, I can see it. That anger is certainly very important.

  3. Your discussion of female characters sent me looking back over my reading for the year. I am going to have to think about this. My reading was really heavy in mostly or entirely male ensembles, including a number of queer romances. Female characters I liked in what I read this year: El Higgins. Bishop Beartongue (secondary character but I adore Bishop Beartongue). Dr. Mensah in Murderbot and others of the secondary characters. Pat & Fen in KJ Charles’s Think of England and prequel. Clorinda Cathcart. Sediryl in MCA Hogarth’s Peltedverse. Multiple characters in Mirabile by Janet Kagan, does a nice job of a range of women competent in different ways. Marra in Nettle & Bone and some of Kingfisher’s other heroines. Niko in You Sexy Thing.

  4. Honestly, I really like reading about nice, kind, competent, good-hearted leading ladies.
    I don’t quite get the push to write ‘edgy’, at first glance rather unpleasant protagonists, though it seems as if I’ve seen more of them in the last years than I used to.
    If you want the new Lau woman to be different from any female protagonists you’ve written before, I don’t quite get why starting from a Tenai & Keziah point would create a much more different character to those previous ones, than would starting from the basic mindset of the kinder competent ones you’ve written.

    The hard, cold façade, constantly/deeply angry and guilty-feeling protagonists that are unnecessarily unkind at first impression may grow on me when I find out more about them and their decent core. But they aren’t attractive to me as a person to spend time with, and if I don’t know the writer and that I will enjoy most of what they write it might create a bit of a barrier to engaging with an unknown book.

    Maybe I’ve become too critical of unpleasant protagonists, as I’ve also moved on to more lower-stress books. But the Griffin mage books aren’t ones I reread, and Tenai put me off reading her books enough that the 2nd and 3rd are still on my TBR pile, though I know I will probably like them when I do get to them. Book 4 did make them move up the pile :)
    You write the books you want to write, no writer can write to please all their fans. I will still buy all your books, and I really enjoy most of them, so you needn’t pay any attention to my babyish plaintiveness – it is just something I noticed in the books I’ve run into these last years, and how I react to them.

  5. Oh, Hanneke, you need to read Tenai 2 and 3, because you get to see her moving beyond cold, angry and guilty, and her progress is believable and really touching. And because Daniel and Jenna are the POV characters, and you’re going to love Jenna! (Completely fits the “nice, kind, competent, good-hearted” bill!)

    I get what you mean about “edgy” characters—El is why I still haven’t gotten into the Scholomance series (though I will try again). For me, it helps when a character is trying really hard to accomplish something impossible but worthwhile (in their worldview): sometimes, to achieve what you think is necessary for your own redemption (or even survival), you think you have to be harsh and cold; and I can live in that pov for a while if I have confidence the author is going to bring the character to a better place.

  6. Thank you, Kim!

    Hanneke, Tenai was emotionally disfigured by her backstory, but Daniel really does help her move on from that. Keziah is a different case because she’s a black dog as well as dealing with a terrible childhood.

    This Lau woman is in a very different place. She’s drawn a cold facade across herself, but only for a few years, not four hundred years. It won’t take nearly as much time and effort for her to move past that self-protective armor. And the whole motive that drives the plot is a solid push against her awful family.

  7. OtterB, competence and confidence is all through that list.

    Have you read Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells? Because I bet you’d love Maskelle.

  8. Eric, everything but the homicidal sewing machine is going to get integrated into that speech! It’s going to be tons of fun to write that scene.

  9. Kim–
    El *is* trying to accomplish the impossible: fulfill her looming Dark Sorceress fate without actually becoming evil. And with her fearsome aura, it really does loom.
    Plus, everything is foreshadowing, even the
    figurative chocolate cake. (That one cracked me up.)

  10. I do in fact love Maskelle in The Wheel of the Infinite. Several years ago I went to a conference where Martha Wells was a GOH and I had her autograph my read-half-to-pieces copy of that book.

    Competence and confidence, yes. Usually compassion. Often humor.

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