AUTHOR-CHARACTER SYMBIOSIS

I once read an interview with Meg Ryan after she’d done Proof of Life.  

I like her as an actress and generally enjoy her movies though I haven’t seen everything she’s done.

In the interview she spoke of taking roles that fit with where she was in her life at the time.  I imagine doing so makes for a better work all the way around since you identify with the whole of it.

Even if the movie isn’t of a genre that finds its way into the Oscars.

I’m coming to think there’s a bit of that philsophy in my writing.

Like Perspective, Timing is Everything

Though I do have somewhat of a flow chart that represents the timeline of various writing projects, I have always allowed for a great deal of flexibility.

I learned early in my tech career that if you don’t bake flexibility into the equation you not only introduce incredible stress when the unexpected throws things off, you back yourself into a corner.

One example I have passed on to other corporate weenies is to try to keep Fridays open for the unexpected.  If the unexpected doesn’t happen? Use it to catch up on administrative tasks.

Like filling out reports that justify to your boss there was a reaason he hired you.  I think that barbaric resource sucking time sink is a thing of the past though I wouldn’t swear to it.

When it comes to writing projects I allow that a variety of factors can throw off best laid plans.

A sudden passion for a different book that keeps you up night after night til you move it to the front of the line and finish it for instance.

This technique was working brilliantly. So brilliantly in fact I was unaware of a variable messing with it.

It was, as Christine reflects in  Analysis, Book 12 in the Metatron’s Army series, the phantom known as Time.

While I was busy rearranging deck chairs on one aspect of my life – hoping writing would distract me – time passed.

Inside and Out.

The passage of time, if not events that transpired in the duration, brought fundamental changes.

To author and character both apparently. 

It wasn’t until I sat down to write Messenger of the Gods that I understood how the symbiotic relationship between author and character can fundamnetally change the story arc – not only of a book but of a series – if the rhythm is thrown off.

By Time.

It Ain’t All Bad.

My initial reaction was Now What?  Sitting at Urgent Care with a sick family member gave me time to consider the opportunity within this bit of irritation.

The irritation being – in part – that I waited so long to finally get to Jake’s book that I  was – um – stuck.

It was while staring at a wall of medical instruments used to evaluate patients that I understood the problem is that I couldn’t stick with the original idea for the simple reason not only had I changed since hatching the plot – Jake had too.

He is too mature for it.

It isn’t that he’s aged beyond the plot.  I came to realize sticking with the original idea would paint him in a less-than-stellar light as a hero and this was the last thing I wanted.

Adversity faced between (and including) Cauldron of the Gods and The Isle of Future Past had changed him. The original plot, conceived while I was in the middle of Shadow of the Gods, was not reflective of experience – and thus maturity – gained in the other stories.

The problem had been circling around the edges of my consciousness for the past weeks and while I tried different methods to inject a bit of life into the inertia it wasn’t until today that I truly understood.  Because of a quote.

I include quotes I feel serve the overall story at the beginning of each book.

BEFORE

It is vain for the coward to flee; death follows close behind; it is  only by defying it that the brave escape.

– Voltaire 

AFTER

Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery.  Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice.  The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.

– Morihei Ueshiba

Either would work.

And yet…

One leans more toward the main character, the other his complement character, both of whom are central to the plot.  

It was looking at them side by side that let me know that while the overall theme to the story is solid it’s the execution of it that’s changed.

Because my perspective of emotion in the face of adversity has changed.

I guess that’s what happens when life throws nuermous curve balls, one after another.

The Silver Lining

Understanding brought a profound sense of relief.  It also brought a sense of anticipation as I considered the opportunity I have to learn about this new more seasoned character.  Specifically, how he looks at life and love.

Because of what he’s lived through.

Author Benefit

In so doing I get a glimpse of that world.

Ah, the beauty inherent in being a novelist.

I suppose I could have said “He grew up” but I think my explanation is more fun.

If you can believe, this is progress!

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