Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Judging Angels Finally Finished Again, But for Real
Well, this time is different, and I'll tell you why. I like writing better than thinking. I like to write carefully, in language that can be savored. But figuring out exactly what to write about is a different matter.
Each time the Bear thought he was finished before, he admired his style, but wasn't satisfied with the content. It is very easy to fool yourself into thinking you can get by without hard commitments to characters, their motivations, and where that naturally leads them.
This time, the Bear sat back and created a world. If you just stick supernatural beings into this world counting on the reader's vague notions about them, they aren't interesting, and won't have believable motivation. This isn't a treatise on angelology (or demonology). You have to take artistic license. The nature and methods of these beings, however, can be sharply illustrated even with a comical approach, such as The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
But that's already been written. The challenge is to make supernatural beings into real personalities in an original way. Not vaguely romantic. Not tragically noble. Not slavering caricatures of evil. Not gothic. If you're already writing about supernatural beings, why not go for broke and commit to a complex otherplace that runs by its own rules, and forms the inner world of fears, desires, ambitions and motivations of its denizens, who are interesting because they're a lot like us.
So the Bear started from scratch in world-building, 90% of which doesn't even appear. It is still the same story, with the same characters, doing mostly the same stuff. The body count is still impressive. The fun parts are the specific ways an otherplace interacts with our world. Getting a peek into a world you never imagined.
Now everyone has a history. Everyone has clear motivations. And the flawed characters have a trajectory that takes them to the very end. It was fun to sit back and just watch where they landed. It all comes back to commitment. You won't be left wondering anything at the end. The Bear isn't fudging, isn't playing three card monte with the fundamentals of even supernatural beings, anymore. No forced happy ending; no "open ending." Instead, a real ending that takes a risk. But if the Bear didn't think it would pay off, he wouldn't be writing this.
Is it done, now? The story is done. Each chapter is done. However, the change in philosophy has caused ripples throughout. There needs to be some backfill and smoothing out the seams where the two approaches meet. Everything has to fit, to make sense, at least between the covers. But the Bear does not anticipate it to be difficult or extraordinarily time-consuming. In fact, he's looking forward to something fun and easy.
The Bear knows you want to eat the cake, not listen to the baker go on about how he's baking it. But for whoever has been following this project, the end is near. It has almost killed poor old Bear, but aren't you supposed to suffer for your art, or something?
Thanks again to the beta readers who kept a Bear honest when he didn't feel like being honest, and good when he felt like being mean. You will all recognize your contributions, the Bear hopes.
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