#35: Quiet on the Novel Front

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #35, on the subject of Quiet on the Novel Front.

This is about the creation of my book Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, now being posted to the web site in serialized form.  This “behind the writings” look definitely contains spoilers, so you might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  That link will take you to the table of contents for the book; links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.  There were also five similar previous mark Joseph “young” web log posts:

  1. #18:  A Novel Comic Milestone (which provided this kind of insight into the first six chapters),
  2. #20:  Becoming Novel (covering chapters seven through twelve),
  3. #22:  Getting Into Characters (for chapters thirteen through eighteen),
  4. #25:  Novel Changes (chapters 19 through 24),
  5. #27:  Novel Continuation (chapters 25 through 30),
  6. #30:  Novel Directions (chapters 31 through 36), and
  7. #33:  Novel Struggles (chapters 37 through 42).

This picks up from there.  All the character stories have slowed a bit during this stretch.


There is some essential background to the book as a whole in that first post, which I will not repeat here.

Chapter 43, Slade 14

Omigger’s search for immortality was barely mentioned, and Slade made a point of avoiding him; but when I later decided to bring the wizard back into play the fact that he had tried to study Slade gave me just enough of a point of contact to get the basis I wanted.

The count of twenty-three years is based on the fact that it was a year after the adventure that Torelle married, and the following year that the baby was born, and the traditional age for a squire to become a knight was twenty-one.

Chapter 44, Hastings 16

It occurs to me that my character’s robe was royal blue, trimmed with scarlet.  I made Lauren’s crimson trimmed with gold because I’d read something recently about how women preferred to wear purple but men generally thought women looked better in red.

I could see that robes were easily destroyed in combat, and wanted Lauren to have enough that she could use them until such time as she could use some means of repairing or duplicating them.

I could not remember the word Ed had used for the insane vampires, but I suspect it was something taken from the White Wolf game system.  I took mine from a South or Central American deity I had gotten from a Dungeons & Dragons™ sourcebook, but never looked it up to see how close I was to what was there, as I just wanted a name that would sound ancient and foreign.

My editor thought I was harsh on humanism, so I had to find ways to express the problem that would make sense within the context of the world:  you needed faith in God to fight vampires.

Cherry Hill was regarded as one of the wealthier Philadelphia suburbs, and since this had echoes of scientology it made sense for it to be headquartered somewhere wealthy.  I had also driven around the place a number of times, so I had something of a feel for some of the neighborhoods.

The Speedline, a train that becomes a subway in the city, does not run through Cherry Hill, actually, but south of it through Audubon and Voorhees.  However, Camden County has a fairly decent public transit bus system, so from Philadelphia you could reasonably take the train and transfer to a bus to reach most of the shopping areas out there.

I enjoyed writing the dialogue about Lauren riding in a taxi driven by a werewolf.  The overlap of her words against Father James was fun, and I can hear it as I read it.

Versers have to be mindful that they are going to be living somewhere else quite unexpectedly at some moment, so one of the things to keep in mind is to get things you might want when you can get them.

I was moving toward a major assault on The Pit, something that came from the game, and needed to bring the priest into the notion of working with the wolves, so it started here.

Chapter 45, Kondor 15

It was at this point that I decided Kondor’s adventure would be much more interesting as a doctor than as a highway bandit, and changed direction.

“Bias” is a tricky thing in Multiverser, as it makes things work better or worse or not at all.  The “technology” or “tech” bias is relatively low in Sherwood, so some of Kondor’s high-tech devices won’t work well.  It was tricky getting that into the story without making it seem artificial.

I had not realized how very American Lincoln Logs were; my Australian editor had no idea what they were, and equated them to Lego Blocks, which he said he was certain could not have taught anyone how to build a real building.  I did not exactly ignore him, but I provided more description of how the toy worked.  I actually have seen a real log cabin, and its construction is not all that different from Lincoln Logs.

Chimneys and smokestacks had not yet been invented; generally houses were heated by a large firepit in the middle of the ground floor and holes up through the roof for the smoke to escape.  Kondor couldn’t get a stonemason to build a chimney, but he could get a pipe that would work as a flue.

When I was young enough to use Lincoln Logs, roofs were constructed by putting triangular blocks with notches at the bottoms on each end and then filling with planking.  These often slid off when jarred, and could be frustrating.  Kondor, though, was from the next generation, when planking had been replaced by one-piece angled plastic roofs.  These were clearly more stable, but less instructive.

I think I got the concept of a sod roof from watching a documentary that included descriptions of sod houses used on the American prairie.

Chapter 46, Slade 16

“Vesting” is a legal term for the moment when someone’s inheritance officially becomes irrevocable.  In feudal times it did not happen before a child was twenty-one, partly because children were so frail and could die before that, and partly because they were not often wise—a boy who chose to marry before he was of age could be disowned to prevent his bride from claiming his inheritance.  Today the term is mostly used in relation to trusts, and the determination of when the trust attaches to the beneficiary in such a way that the benefactor cannot alter it.

There is a connection between vesting and bar-mitzvah, in that both are rites of passage into adulthood; however, vesting only applies to the heir of the estate.

At this point, Shella is nineteen, getting past marriageable age.  It would not seem so to Slade, but Torelle would have been seeking a match for her for several years.

Chapter 47, Hastings 17

I had placed Lauren in Philadelphia because I knew something of the area; the newspapers that were commonly read was one item that I got from that.

Riding in the back seat of a cab, you don’t always see where you are or how you’re getting somewhere.  Werewolves in this world had the ability to move out of normal space into some other space and back again somewhere else, and one of the conceits of the driver Ed gave me was that he was particularly good at this.  It wasn’t something I remembered having explained to me in character, so I was looking for a way for Lauren to notice it.  The absence of crossing a bridge (the Philadelphia bridges are quite noticeable when you are on them) seemed the simplest way.

I’ve long been intrigued by the fact that for all of us, we are our own baseline—whatever we can do, we assume everyone else can do as well as we can.  What others can do which we cannot is special, particularly when we are talking about abilities animals have that we do not, such as flying, or breathing underwater.  Thus if someone asked you what humans can do that makes them different, you might be hard-pressed to come up with a good list, and particularly if that someone were an intelligent humanoid, such as a werewolf or elf or alien.  Knowing that, I turned it around, giving Raal the task of trying to figure out how he is different from humans.

In-game I attacked The Pit during a lunar eclipse.  It just conveniently happened that there was one.  This was not in-game, and I wanted an eclipse, so I searched an online almanac and discovered that there was one not too far in the future from the dates I had used, and not another for quite a long time thereafter.  This meant I would have to scramble to get Lauren and company ready for the attack, but that was good, because it made it feel a bit more real, more like she was timing her efforts to match the eclipse instead of that I was planning the eclipse to correspond with her attack.  Incidentally, the eclipse was not total in Philadelphia, but I figured I could stretch it slightly, since this was a different universe.

Chapter 48, Kondor 16

I wanted to keep Kondor’s medical practice credible, which meant limiting the medicines to things I knew could be gotten in the world in which he was living, if you knew what to seek.

At the moment that I ended the chapter with the soldier at the door, I did not know what was going to happen next.  I simply needed a cliffhanger, and had long been wondering both how to keep Kondor’s rather routine story interesting and whether the shire reeve was going to find him.

Interest in these “behind the writings” continues, so I’m still thinking they’re worth producing.  Feedback is always welcome, of course.  Your Patreon support is also needed to maintain this.

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