Several people have commented in my question post with praise of Corambis
and the Doctrine of Labyrinths. I wanted to say, thank you all very much!
Q: So, then, what advice would you give someone if they wanted to get interested in other points of view?
A: I'm not quite sure what this question is asking, but I'm going to guess that it's a follow up to the last q&a post, where I said I had to teach myself to be interested in Mildmay and Mehitabel.
So. *ahem* My most reliable technique for making a character I'm writing interesting to me
is to do one of two things:
1. Start their PoV off with a big gaudy in-your-face trauma. (That would be both Felix and Kay, for those of you playing along at home.) This is a fairly cheap trick, as tricks go, and should not be used every time out of the gate. (In fact, I think I may have used up my quota.) Which leads us to:
2. Give them a secret trauma in their backstory. Sometimes this works too well, as with Mehitabel, who would not confess her secret trauma to me until the third or fourth draft of The Mirador
. But something that will make the character's reactions a little off-kilter, a little different than what you would normally expect.
Also, make sure this viewpoint character has a story of his/her own: agendas and concerns that have nothing whatsoever to do with your previously established viewpoint character. Bring them into the story at an oblique angle, rather than directly parallel (ally) or perpendicular (antagonist) to the first.
Basically, the trick to making a character interesting is to make him or her or it complicated.
If that wasn't the question you were trying to ask, please ask again and I will try to be less stupid.Q: How, exactly, do you define the difference between omnipresent and 'head-switching'?
A: Head-hopping is when the author switches from PoV to PoV at whim, specifically in order to make telling the story easier. It is most obvious and egregious when it happens within a paragraph, so that you start out in Beryl's head and halfway through switch abruptly into Marius':
"If you love Olive," said Beryl, "then go to her." Her heart was breaking. Marius clutched Beryl in his arms, appalled that his kindness to Olive had been so terribly misunderstood.
Omniscient is a narrative technique which controls how the story is told; it does nothing abruptly--unless it seems good to the author to be abrupt--and if it's done well, you don't realize it's happening.
"If you love Olive," said Beryl, "then go to her." Her heart breaking, she turned toward the window, and thus did not see Marius's eyes widen in astonishment.
For a moment, they both stood frozen, and then Marius approached her. "No," he said, "I don't love Olive. I was just . . . I was trying to be kind." He took her in his arms, braced every moment for rejection. But she permitted his embrace, and did not even mock the idea of Marius de Penthièvre trying to be kind.
This is hardly great omniscient (and Marius and Beryl are clearly a pair of Gothick idiots), but hopefully you can see the difference between Exhibit A and Exhibit B.Watership Down
, btw, is a great example of omniscient.Q: How often do you write, daily? Weekly? Do you set time aside, or only write when inspired? Do you set goals, or only go as far as you can for a particular scene/story/pov before stopping?
A: I try to write every day. Seeing as how I have no other job, there's no reason not to. Honestly, if I, or any other professional writer, only wrote when inspired ... we wouldn't be professional writers.
I have learned that I don't do well with setting time or word quotas. What works for me is to set myself tasks, e.g., "Today we will get Melchior lost in the hedge-maze," or "today I write the terrible argument between Bathsheba and Cornelius." I try to make them smallish and reasonable tasks, so that they can be completed in one day's work, which means that I then am made happy with myself when I do
complete one task. Frequently, if things are going well, I'm happy and energized enough to go onto the next day's task, i.e., sending Silas into the hedge-maze to rescue Melchior. This method works for me because it makes my goal-oriented competitiveness work for
me instead of against me. (When I was doing word quotas, I'd get the quota of words, sure enough, but I was so focused on my word count that the words were frequently not so good. Also, I think that's one reason I misled myself with ( spoilers for Corambis )
. Because it was conventional and easy, it made getting quota that much easier.
Writing as a profession involves a lot of hacking the wetware.Q: How much of your book plots do you plan out in advance, and how much do you make up as you go along? Or do you have a vague idea of where things are going, and build from there? Or, or, or...?
A: In general, I make things up as I go along. If I know the story about ten pages ahead of where I'm actually writing, that's comfortable for me. I do (more frequently now than used to be the case) sometimes know major plot points well ahead of time, which gives me things to write towards. Or sometimes things that aren't major plot points, but that would be really cool to do will occur to me, and I'll point myself toward them.
Q: Do you have a 'soundtrack' for DoL, or any of the characters within it? That is, songs that you associate with the story or things you played to help you write?
A: Unlike many of my friends, I am not a particularly music-oriented writer. I don't do soundtracks, and I don't listen to music when I write. (Except, of course, when I do.) That said, Felix belongs to Depeche Mode, especially Songs of Faith and Devotion
(the whole album, although if I needed to pick, it would be "Walking in My Shoes" and "In Your Room") and Exciter
("Dream On," in particular). Also, Damian Rice, "Woman Like A Man," and David Bowie, "Cracked Actor." Mildmay has two songs that I know of: Nickelback, "How You Remind Me," and Jimmy Eat World, "Get It Faster." Also, for both of them at the end of Corambis
, "By Way of Sorrow," which is a song by Julie Miller, although I only know it in Cry Cry Cry's version.
And I just realized that one reason I may have been listening to "Cold Missouri Waters" (also a Cry Cry Cry cover, this time of James Keeleghan) obsessively while finishing Corambis
is that it is a song for Kay.
Q: What is music like in Meduse? I was a bit surprised by piano lessons in Corambis, since I figured them for earlier keyboards. Then again, they had trains, subways and ( Corambis spoiler redacted ), so I'm guessing they would be at least somewhere around the late Baroque/ early Classical era in terms of technology.
Stylistically, though, any thoughts or generic guiding principles?
Would it have any theoretical connection to the various magic systems? If they weave technology and magic, would they make instruments to work the same way?
A: Oh dear. I am not a musicologist, nor do I play one on TV.
Corambis is a loose reinterpretation of Victorian/Edwardian England, so they're well up into the Classical era. Mélusine is back with Bach and Scarlettini in the Baroque--very delicate, intricate chamber music, for the most part. Harpsichords all the way. Both cultures have thriving folk-music traditions also, and I have no idea what those songs sound like. (I'd love to know the Corambin version of "The Cat Came Back," but I really just don't.)
Q: Cabaline wizardry. Whenever I read that, I'd misread it as 'caballine wizardry'. Was this intentional?
A: Not consciously, although it would have been really clever of me if it had been.
Q: ( spoilers for Corambis )Q: How much time has passed since the first book? I figured that there are 6 or 7 years between Felix and Mildmay age wise. The time flow was a little hard to follow.
A: Felix is 6 years older than Mildmay. And from the start of Mélusine
to the end of Corambis
is (I think) about 6 years. I admit, I left the timeline vague on purpose so as to reduce my chances of COMPLETELY SCREWING IT UP.
Q: Did you ever hear Gideon's thoughts strong enough to want to write anything from his point of view? Or anyone else for that matter?
A: Not particularly.
Q: We know Felix is quite tall, since they're always saying that but, how tall is he exactly? And what about Mildmay?
Also, we know Mildmay has fox-red hair. What about Felix's hair? I remember it being described as "bright red", but what would if be like? Almost blood-red or more coppery-red?
A: Felix is 6'2". Mildmay is 5'8". Mildmay is on the short side of average for Mélusiniens and on the tall side of average for Corambins.
Felix's hair is a brighter red than Mildmay's russet. Um. Think Satine
in Moulin Rouge!
. (Really, in a lot of ways, if you can imagine Satine as a man, that's a pretty good approximation of Felix.)Q: ( spoilers for Corambis )
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