This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #465, on the subject of Characters Wander.
With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first eight Multiverser novels,
- Verse Three, Chapter One: The First Multiverser Novel,
- Old Verses New,
- For Better or Verse,
- Spy Verses,
- Garden of Versers,
- Versers Versus Versers,
- Re Verse All, and
- In Verse Proportion,
in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book). Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages. Now as I am posting the ninth, Con Verse Lea, I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights. This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed. You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them. 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.
This is the third post for this novel, covering chapters 35 through 51. The first, covering chapters 1 through 17, appeared as web log post #460: Versers Reorganize, and the second, covering chapters 18 through 34, #463: Characters Unsettled.
There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.
History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.
Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 35, Takano 68
Chapter 36, Beam 135
Chapter 37, Hastings 242
Chapter 38, Takano 69
Chapter 39, Beam 136
Chapter 40, Hastings 243
Chapter 41, Beam 137
Chapter 42, Takano 70
Chapter 43, Beam 138
Chapter 44, Hastings 244
Chapter 45, Beam 139
Chapter 46, Takano 71
Chapter 47, Beam 140
Chapter 48, Hastings 245
Chapter 49, Beam 141
Chapter 50, Takano 72
Chapter 51, Beam 142
I needed to begin organizing the camp, and there was a lot to cover, but I didn’t want to overburden the chapter.
I had thought about how Beam would be able to settle into a place for a while, and so the strategy he followed developed. Again I am uncertain what to do with him, but I have to connect him back to the outlaws, I think.
I got to the middle of this and thought Lauren again needed to borrow a knife, and I knew that one of the team leaders had one, and knew which one, but couldn’t at that moment remember the names of the leaders. But I had pressing errands, so I dropped the effort and saved everything. It was over a week before I managed to return, during which time I wrote or prepped quite a few other projects but did not resolve all my issues here. After I had written it, I realized that Lauren had a knife–it just wasn’t listed as such on her character sheet, instead being one of her “cooking utensils”, so I went back and changed the text to reflect that.
I knew that I would be bringing in the lake and the bathrooms, but wasn’t sure quite how, so this was that.
I originally marked this as a Beam chapter, but wasn’t sure where he was going next. Meanwhile, I had a lot to cover for Lauren and Tommy, so although I had to this point avoided two in a row in the same world, I decided this was a good place for that.
The bathrooms were loosely modelled on those at Camp Lebanon, but that I removed the showers and didn’t give them hot water. The shower is very like one I saw at Philmont Scout Ranch, although I didn’t actually use it so I’m working mostly from descriptions.
The rifles were a late decision, but I decided Beam would think it wise to use weapons for which he could replace the ammo.
The realization that Beam’s revolvers were .45 caliber came as I was writing. I realized that it was possible that the .45 caliber bullets used in that world might be too long for his gun, but since they were used by the outlaw semiautomatic pistols, I concluded they would be short enough.
The lake was always in view here, and was in fact the first thing I had decided she would find. She had lived by a lake when she learned all her camping abilities, and she was applying them in the new world.
I had labeled this chapter for Tommy, but then in the time between writing chapters I had been considering what I was going to do next with Beam, and so this changed to cover him.
I had to have Beam pick up some equipment here, but it seemed reasonable for it to be here and for him to recognize the needs.
I pondered the problem of what Tommy should paint on the bathroom and shower entrances to mark them, thinking of several of the ideas I include in the text, and then asked Kyler. He suggested the Mars and Venus emblems, which of course would be completely unfamiliar to the people but recognizably different and something they could learn.
The question about the shelter was essentially filler, because I needed to extend the chapter meaningfully.
I debated whether Ashleigh would take a vest, but decided against it. She’s probably unhappy with the rifle, but pleased with the bullets, which fit her pistols.
I was getting bogged down in the details, and didn’t get as far as the spear fishing lesson, but I was not unhappy with it.
I realized early that the Mars and Venus symbols would have an astrological connection, and that this might be discomforting for Lauren, but not terribly particularly given that no none else would recognize it.
I wasn’t sure how to get Beam onto a track I wanted. I needed to get him on a ninja mission, but he was on the move such that it would be difficult for them to connect. For the moment, I just needed to figure out what was logical for him to do.
I had learned from a Viet Nam veteran that soldiers in the field in Southeast Asia quit smoking because the locals don’t smoke and can smell soldiers who do. That seemed a reasonable point to include here.
I wasn’t sure that this wouldn’t bore my readers. After all, Lauren was spearfishing in the beginning of Old Verses New, and I was repeating detail covered there. But she has to teach people, and that includes Tommy.
It occurred to me when I finished that I didn’t include teaching people to clean the fish, but I figured that could come later.
I had come up with a reason for the outlaws to contact Beam, and a reasonably credible way for them to find him, but it required that I keep him moving for a bit to establish some time passing.
It was probably not a good time for me to write–there were multiple distractions, and I was just a bit tired and unfocused–but I wanted to push forward a bit, and knew a bit of what had to be done.
The notion that six people were going to have to carry enough fish to feed a hundred had been bothering me, but I figured I didn’t have to show how they did it.
I had written between a third and a quarter of this chapter when the power flashed and the computer crashed. The autosave managed to restore about half of what I’d written, and I tried to recreate it, but it was after midnight and I wasn’t really focusing well–complicated by the fact that I wanted the chapter to be longer than I had thought through, and to end with something that I was going to reach too soon.
I was concerned that I not make my setting too North American, but had no idea whether there were any large game animals in Japan. A search for “japan game animals” gave me a lot of links to video games, but I managed to refine the search (adding “hunting”) and get a short list that included brown and black bears, several game birds, something called a shika deer, and wild boar. This isn’t actually Japan–for one thing, the territory is too big, as the entire known civilized world is part of the empire–but I had avoided deer precisely because I needed to distinguish Lauren and Tommy’s woods from Beam’s.
I was going to end this with the ninja arriving, and have the problem open the next chapter, but I decided there weren’t a lot of ways to bring him into the picture and I needed to do more to make this chapter long enough.
This was my solution to the problem of getting Beam back into action, given that he was a bit over the top for the ninjas.
At this point I was trying to figure out how to cover the skills quickly without either the feeling that I was glossing over them or the sense that the story was bogging down in the details. Thus I’m trying to cover things briefly but with enough detail to make them real.
As I was reaching for a name for Ashleigh’s father it struck me that making him a gunsmith would make sense. I had to go back to Beam 125 and change a bit of text so that Ashleigh wouldn’t seem to be denying that, but decided I didn’t need to include that there because she probably didn’t need to tell the blacksmith that her father was the gunsmith, and secrecy is part of their lifestyle.
Looking for that name, the first I came upon was Warren Buffet, and I decided I needed to drop the Buffet and come up with a more appropriate surname. Then I decided peasants did not have surnames but were identified by other details, such as parentage or trade. I didn’t want another Smith, and didn’t see him as a blacksmith, but it occurred to me that if he were a gunsmith he would secretly make the pistols for the outlaws, and would have a high status in the group; it made sense for the outlaw leader to be a gunsmith.
I ended this chapter somewhat abruptly because I had half decided there should be some kind of impediment at the exit. A portcullis was what came to mind, as primitive as it is, but I wasn’t certain, so I decided that would be the point of the next chapter.
This has been the third behind-the-writings look at Con Verse Lea. If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts and another novel.