#113: Character Movements

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #113, on the subject of Character Movements.

With permission of Valdron Inc I am publishing my second novel, Old Verses New, in serialized form on the web (that link will take you to the table of contents).  If you missed the first one, you can find the table of contents for it at Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel.  There was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; the last of those for the first novel is #71:  Footnotes on Verse Three, Chapter One, which indexes all the others and catches a lot of material from an earlier collection of behind-the-writings reflections that had been misplaced for a decade.  Now as the second is being posted I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look definitely contains spoilers, and perhaps in a more serious way than those for the previous novel, because it sometimes talks about what I was planning to do later in the book or how this book connects to events yet to come in the third (For Better or Verse)–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them, or even put off reading these insights until the book has finished.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

These were the previous mark Joseph “young” web log posts covering this book:

  1. #74:  Another Novel (which provided this kind of insight into the first nine chapters along with some background material on the book as a whole),
  2. #78:  Novel Fears (which continued with coverage of chapters 10 through 18),
  3. #82:  Novel Developments (which continued with coverage of chapters 19 through 27),
  4. #86:  Novel Conflicts (which continued with coverage of chapters 28 through 36),
  5. #89:  Novel Confrontations (which continued with coverage of chapters 37 through 45),
  6. #91:  Novel Mysteries (which continued with coverage of chapters 46 through 54),
  7. #94:  Novel Meetings (which continued with coverage of chapters 55 through 63),
  8. #100:  Novel Settling (which continued with coverage of chapters 64 through 72),
  9. #104:  Novel Learning (which continued with coverage of chapters 73 through 81),
  10. #110:  Character Redirects (which continued with coverage of chapters 82 through 90).

This picks up from there, and I expect to continue with additional posts after every ninth chapter in the series.


History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in those earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 91, Hastings 73

The early obstacles to teaching Bethany may illustrate the principle that the more clearly God indicates His intended direction for you, the more problems you are likely to encounter along the way. Lauren is pretty sure that she is here to teach Bethany—she even told Pack Mother Ferenna as much—and so she realizes that she is ill-equipped for the task, Bethany’s father is resistant, and Bethany knows very little initially.

Chapter 92, Brown 31

I wanted Derek to leave the compound, but I had no idea where he was going to go.

Meesha was, I think, based on a character of that name (or one very like it) played by Margaret Morano in the Gamma World game from which Starson and Qualick originated. It was with Meesha that we learned the limitations of the game’s version of telepathy—she could not “speak” to us without being “heard” by anyone within range, but if we sent her ahead to scout she could not call to us once out of range.

I got the name Holger from someone who wrote to me about time travel theory in the early days of the temporal anomalies web site. The character was invented. We had had the practice in those early games that humans always had given names and surnames, but mutants, whether human mutants or animal mutants, had single names.

The name “Cavalier” was probably because we played a Gamma World adventure in which we sought, found, and captured a compound known as “Samurai”. It, though, was partly under water, and the name was a pseudo-acronym for something I no longer remember.

Chapter 93, Kondor 73

I found my next step for Kondor: his raygun got attention, and he was being investigated. It was a hook to move him forward into something else, which still needed some detail.

I think I had some vague notion that “N.I.B.” stood for something like “National Investigations Bureau”. The thing is that FBI agents never identify themselves as “Federal Bureau of Investigation”, so all I really needed was the letters that the agents would use assuming that anyone would know what they meant.

Chapter 94, Hastings 74

I had a side problem. In the first book, Bethany implies that she and Lauren had fought vampires in the past, and now I was in that past and had to make that a reality—but Bethany at this point is the teen daughter of a widowed father who wants to see her live an ordinary life, and Lauren doesn’t know where the vampires are. I did not see them attacking Wandborough—apart from the fact that I would be repeating a scenario I’d already run, there was no logic to the raid deep into werewolf country, and less with rumors of the famed sorceress in the area. I also had to stage an encounter that Bethany would survive, even if Lauren were killed. So I was exploring options, trying to work out for myself where the vampires were and how to make this happen.

The comment on the verse about the fool is another of those that I included because people get it wrong. The psalmist did not mean that all fools are atheists or that all atheists are fools. Rather, some people are foolish enough to act like there is no God because they don’t really believe that there is a God, or that God matters, or at least that’s what they think. Thus they do things God would condemn, because they don’t really think He knows.

I knew by now what was going to happen with Merlin, in the broadest sense. I did not know when, where, or how it was going to happen, but I knew the major pieces.

Chapter 95, Brown 32

None of the creatures in the encountered group came from anything I remembered. Gamma World had a multi-legged horse, which is the nearest thing to a source for the six-legged bull. The “porcuperson” was my own idea here.

Again, as I did with the magic coin in the first book, I buried the one item that mattered in a batch of others—this time the porcuperson. The others are all mutants, but I gave them very little thought, using them primarily to fill the group.

I might have ended Derek’s time in this world here, but it would have felt like an abrupt interruption and I wanted to resolve this part of the story, not merely make it feel as if I’d moved him out of the school so I could kill him.

Chapter 96, Kondor 74

The “blue card” was based on a “green card”, which I assume has a different name but is generally just known by its color. I figured they would have something like it in this world, but that it would defy the odds for it to be the same color.

Federal investigators pursuing a claim by a military surplus store manager that someone showed him a ray gun was a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but I tried to accept that it seemed unlikely and give it some plausibility.

Chapter 97, Hastings 75

There were a number of things that were in the first novel as things Bethany learned from Lauren, or things Bethany knew that she must have learned from Lauren, and now I had to find a way for Lauren to pass them to Bethany. The anti-aging spell is first.

This is also when Lauren tells Bethany to meet her in Philadelphia. It’s a predestination paradox, but it works.

If memory serves, the part about Lauren blocking memories was back-written. In a later chapter Lauren causes someone to forget she had entered a room, and she does it casually and easily; I needed to lay the groundwork for that, so I found a reason for her to learn and use that ability.

The road trip was created to give me some action in this story, and to move Bethany to the Camelot area for the longer story arc concerning Merlin.

Chapter 98, Brown 33

I had thrown some new characters into the story, and I needed to characterize them. I decided that Holger, the crack shot with the laser rifle, would be the kind of person who objects to attributing something to luck that was the result of good planning and skill.

Gamma World had sects of various kinds with their own philosophies about the world. I don’t remember the names, and invented this name, “progressivists”, to fit the philosophy of those who think mutation is the path to the future.  I was not writing political articles at the time, and did not see a connection to the “progressives”, the liberal wing of the modern Democratic party; I leave it to the reader as to whether such a connection might be made.

When I gave Derek the darts, I wanted him to have another weapon for the final scenario; I did not realize how significant the darts would become in the third novel.

Derek was also going to need tools, and a compact futuristic toolkit was just the thing.

I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned Derek using the tent and sleeping bag he got from Bill; it suggests that he used it regularly on this trip, though, and this really is the first chance he’s had to do so.

Chapter 99, Kondor 75

Kondor’s simple explanation for having gotten the gun on a spaceship and then wound up here omitted the part where he was the one who picked up the vorgo all those centuries ago; that was a complication he had not considered when he went for the short and simple version.

It might be stretching the concept, but it seemed not unreasonable for a government agency sending a team to investigate the possibility that someone had a ray gun to include on the team someone who might be able to recognize such a device if he saw it.

I decided to give Einstein’s work in this universe to my artist friend Jim Denaxas (who did the cover of the first novel) because I needed an uncommon name. The names “Sabrins” and “Cordikans” were created to sound like nationalities.

If the government really believed someone had been in contact with technologically advanced aliens, that would be a security concern and they would be at least sequestered until some determination could be made of what they knew. Thus I think it reasonable that they would take Joe into custody here.

I hope these “behind the writings” posts continue to be of interest, and perhaps some value, to those of you who have been reading the novel.  If there is any positive feedback, they will continue.

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