This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #472, on the subject of Versers Vanish.
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 fifth and final post for this novel, covering chapters 66 through 85. Previous behind-the-writings posts for Con Verse Lea include web log posts:
- #460: Versers Reorganize, covering chapters 1 through 17;
- #463: Characters Unsettled, covering chapters 18 through 34;
- #365: Characters Wander, covering chapters 35 through 51.
- #470: Verser Turnings, covering chapters 52 through 68.
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 69, Takano 78
Chapter 70, Beam 151
Chapter 71, Hastings 250
Chapter 72, Beam 152
Chapter 73, Takano 79
Chapter 74, Beam 153
Chapter 75, Hastings 251
Chapter 76, Takano 80
Chapter 77, Beam 154
Chapter 78, Takano 81
Chapter 79, Hastings 252
Chapter 80, Beam 155
Chapter 81, Hastings 253
Chapter 82, Beam 156
Chapter 83, Takano 82
Chapter 84, Beam 157
Chapter 85, Takano 83
I was very uncertain how to handle this, but I began at the beginning and let it unfold as I went. The song is one I learned as a child, elementary school aged, which eventually enabled me to recall the order of the books before I reached college.
I decided to give a fair amount of the sermon, but to spread it over a few chapters. I have not yet decided whether the next part will be from Lauren’s perspective or again Tommy’s.
I came to this with a complication. In my mind I had played out the key events of the rescue, but I realized that it was all very much from Ashleigh’s perspective, and Beam wasn’t there. It took some work to figure out how to tell the rescue from Beam’s perspective and make it interesting.
I gave serious consideration to writing up the rescue from Ashleigh’s perspective and posting it for my Patreon patrons; I put off doing so because of concerns that I finish the book in a reasonable timeframe.
I was going to write the Genesis passage from memory, as I had the John passage, but decided that since Lauren was reading it and I was to some degree relying on the idea that God had provided the same translation to her as to all the others, I went with the updated New American Standard Bible, which I have generally treated as Lauren’s preferred translation, and copied it from my copy.
I also copied the John passage; although I didn’t need to, having memorized it in Greek since having memorized the English in an earlier edition of that translation, I thought I’d better be careful to have it right.
In doing this, I really had very little idea what I was going to cover in this first sermon, and as I proceeded I recognized the technical problems, like the system of chapters and verses.
On my first pass I consciously chose not to use secondary quotes for the passages she was reading aloud, as it would be a tremendous amount, I thought, of clutter. However, on a read-through edit I decided that when she cites the first words of Genesis as matching John, “in the beginning”, the flow of the text was confusing enough that the reader would be unlikely to realize that it was a quote instead of a statement about the text, so I used the inner quotes for it, but only for it, to clarify.
When I started this chapter I had no more idea of where it was going than that Warren would be awaiting them at the cave. The rest of it was filling in answers to questions that were rattling in my head, and moving the story forward. It is almost unfortunate that I can’t follow Warren and Amanda, because I’ve a pretty good idea where they’re going and no clue what Beam does next.
Again, I came to this chapter with nothing, and as I started to write I decided to segue out of the sermon with Tommy’s reaction to it. From there I just filled in details of ordinary life and wrapped back around to the significant change. It was short, but I think it was worth including.
The part about having disowned the gem and so being unable to track it was pretty much all I had when I started this chapter, but as I started to type I thought of how to lead up to that, and went from there.
I figured out the trick to figuring out which way Warren and Amanda went–or rather, didn’t go–while writing it.
I originally had said Beam fried up some eggs to go with the rice, but on the read-through I deleted that, because again they didn’t do any cooking in the cave, and although I hadn’t said they were there that was the stated meeting place so I was assuming as much, and thought the reader would also assume that.
For a couple days I was more focused on finishing the setup for In Verse Proportion, and indeed I more than once forgot whose chapter was next–I had been thinking that it was Tommy, and I would do Tommy and then Lauren to make it feel like a longer time before Beam arrived at his destination. Still, when I got to it, I was pressed for time and wrote the first paragraph, and ran off to other chores.
I still had trouble figuring out what to write, and wound up with a rather short chapter.
I had started this chapter, but was stumbling forward, so I went back to re-read everything from the beginning. As I reached chapter 10, I realized I had a continuity problem: at that point, there were battery-powered electric lights in the outlaw caves, and they built no fires and did no cooking there. Yet after Beam rescued Warren they retreated to the cave, where they ate and slept, and there was an oil lamp in the bedroom. I was going to have to fix that.
I made a couple decisions about the book by the time I’d finished the re-read. One was that this was going to be a short book, that I was rapidly approaching the end. I decided that Beam was going to be ambushed, and worked out some details about how that might work; I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a world in which Ashley and Sophia would find it difficult to kill each other, but which also would create an interesting place and restore some of Turbirb’durpa’s abilities. I am currently thinking about a zombie apocalypse world, and of course there are multiple kinds of zombies. I was trying to decide whether these would be magic or tech, and Kyler suggested bod-based, some kind of parasite, which is probably what I will choose.
Meanwhile, I am more and more thinking that Lauren will get in a fight with a bear. I had a player do that once. The problem is that Lauren probably could defeat a bear–but I think I’ve got the answers to that. I also gave some consideration to formally retiring her, having her enter heaven–but decided instead to leave her out of the next several books and have the other characters wonder what happened to her. That way I could still bring her back in some future book if I wished.
I realized I had to have a Beam chapter in which they were traveling, and this, although short, accomplished that. I expected to have one more chapter in this world, and then probably would need to have the first chapter of the next world before the end of the book, but I wanted several more chapters in total, so I was going to have to stretch things.
I knew I was bringing the book to an end, and needed to figure out how to bring all three stories to a reasonable resting point. This was mostly an effort to convey that Lauren had taught Tommy pretty much everything else she could about wilderness survival.
Again I needed to draw the story to a close without it being abrupt, and so I focused on Lauren’s concerns for the days ahead.
I made sassafras tea as a boy. I used the roots, and although I drank it, I never much cared for it because it had no sugar. After I wrote the chapter I checked and learned that sassafras is no longer commercially available because it contains low levels of some poison, but I decided Lauren didn’t know that.
This was my exit strategy for Beam. I decided that if the soldiers were thinking that they had to kill the demons, Bob wouldn’t recognize that as a threat to them and wouldn’t give the alert until too late, and enough individual soldiers shooting at Bob and Dawn would kill them both. Bron was an afterthought, since he was there and I wasn’t certain how to handle him.
The important thing was that Beam should be killed. I included the discussion about sparing Ashley mostly to give a bit of tinge of evil to the soldier.
I had been sitting on this as a Takano chapter for a few days, unable to move forward. I was struggling with the fact that I wanted to verse out Lauren and Beam, establish the new world for Beam but not for Lauren, and close with Tommy leading the Bible teaching. I couldn’t find a way to write an interesting chapter here that was about Tommy.
I once had a player’s character pick a fight with a bear, and he fancied himself an excellent martial artist but realized after the fact that he had severely underestimated the bear. I don’t remember how that came out. I did recognize that a few things had to go against Lauren for her to lose, but stripping her of armor and weapons and having her fail to get the shield up in time were enough to tip the balance, I thought.
I was trying to get as much of the new world into this as I could without making it feel contrived. In some ways I succeeded, but I didn’t get as far as the confrontation between Sophia and Ashley. I thought I was going to have to bounce that to the next book, but then I had similar trouble covering everything I wanted to cover in the next Takano chapter, so I needed another Beam chapter so I could have another Takano chapter after that.
I knew I needed to start with Tommy noticing that Lauren was gone, and I wanted to get as far as the Sunday morning meeting—but I realized I couldn’t reasonably include that unless I kept Tommy awake all night or somehow covered the night, so I needed another chapter to complete it.
I had to look up Clark’s name. I’m a bit uneasy about exactly what equipment Tommy has collected while here (particularly whether she has a bow, a quiver, or arrows), but I’ll piece that together when I do the character sheet updates so I’ll have it ready before she returns, which I think will be book eleven, although I haven’t decided whether she or Beam will be in book ten.
I managed to get quite a bit of what I wanted into this chapter.
I have been struggling with the fact that Beam really ought to curse, but I won’t have it in the book; but I decided that I could give Sophia the ability to curse by creating inventive invective for her. Thus I decided that she could say “in the dregs” as an insult.
This is a zombie apocalypse, and it’s still taking shape in my mind, but I’ve decided that there is a parasite that takes over the body and kills the brain.
This end came together in pieces while I was writing the previous several chapters. I knew that I was going to have Tommy pick up with something from the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus. I also knew that she was going to have to say something about Lauren’s disappearance, and that she was going to want to meet with the leaders. It took a bit of coalescing to get that in the right sequence, and I thought it an excellent conclusion to finish with the quote from John.
This has been the fifth and final 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.