This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #91, on the subject of Novel Mysteries.
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 the previous ones, 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:
- #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),
- #78: Novel Fears (which continued with coverage of chapters 10 through 18),
- #82: Novel Developments (which continued with coverage of chapters 19 through 27),
- #86: Novel Conflicts (which continued with coverage of chapters 28 through 36),
- #89: Novel Confrontations (which continued with coverage of chapters 37 through 45).
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.
Quick links to discussions in this page:
Chapter 46, Kondor 57
Chapter 47, Brown 16
Chapter 48, Hastings 59
Chapter 49, Kondor 58
Chapter 50, Brown 17
Chapter 51, Hastings 60
Chapter 52, Kondor 59
Chapter 53, Brown 18
Chapter 54, Hastings 61
I conceived this idea of bringing Kondor back to a future version of the world he had saved, perhaps in part from Lauren’s adventures, perhaps in part from the idea in Sherwood Forest that I had ignored, of creating a future world based on past actions of the character. I started with the idea that the Vorgo would be stolen, and he would again recover it, but the details would have to be devised on the fly.
Eventually I found a way to turn this into a playable world—I created a mystery in which there were six possible solutions, each with a unique clue set that excluded all suspects but one. I’ve run it once, but of course to run it you have to have a player who at some point in his past recovered the vorgo.
I repeat the comment about why Joe is nervous around cemeteries because not every reader will have read the first book, and it might be important to understanding him in this world.
The idea of a statue that recognizably resembles Joe is perhaps a bit of a leap, but it is not unlikely that such a statue might have been made in his honor shortly after his departure from the previous vorgo world. This one was probably based on that one, to serve as a display stand for the vorgo itself.
Derek takes Bill’s backpack at this point. He incidentally acquires the tent and sleeping bag in the process.
Derek has decided that once more he is in a horror movie, and he wants to get out of it because even though he has recovered from death several times already, he does not want to die again.
The misdirection pointing to Ralph was part of the process. I’d left this possible solution open for the reader, and for Derek, and wanted them to close on it at this moment. It was not at all certain that Ralph was not the killer, and would not be for some time.
How to walk the “between” (given many names in the stories so as to avoid giving it any particular name) was described in the first book. It needed to be explained in the second book so a new reader would have some clue about it–although I did not yet know the ways I would use its function in the chapters ahead–but it could not be overdone.
When Lauren comments about Sagrimore being housed and fed for free, I originally wrote a short rant about the innkeeper overcharging others to cover the cost. After I wrote it, it seemed unlike her, inappropriate to the situation, and completely undirected; and it never came up again. So I cut it.
In Dungeons & Dragons™ games, a lot of people complain that they don’t see any reason why their fighter can’t learn magic, or their wizard can’t be a better fighter, or similar cross-class ideas. I’ve never had a problem with that, as it always seemed rather evident to me: in the mindset of the age, you could not be two things. Sagrimore objects to learning magic because it is not knightly. He doesn’t think there something evil about it, or too difficult for him. He just thinks that it is inappropriate for a knight to use magic. Lauren is different; she’s a twentieth century girl, and as such she doesn’t see any reason why she shouldn’t learn a bit of everything.
It’s my impression that most people who worry about getting on a slippery slope to something they view as wrong are not in any danger of doing so; but that’s a bit of a Catch-22, since if you think you’re not in danger because you’re worried so you stop worrying, the evidence that you’re not in danger has just vanished.
At some point in writing this book, I decided to use italics for telepathic thought; it was not done here until I came back and changed it.
I realized I might be creating a difficulty at this point. Eventually Camelot would fall, and Sagrimore would have to be there to defend it; but he now had the ability to contact Lauren and she the ability to travel to him. I couldn’t bring Lauren into that battle, because it would interfere with the telling of a known and popular tale. But I was going to have to let that go for the moment. I didn’t know how I would handle it, but at this point it was entirely possible that Lauren would not survive so long.
The fainting security guard was in part a way to motivate Kondor out of the room. The expression “his own graven image” comes of course from the Ten Commandments, putting forward the idea that statues are in a sense a way of worshipping people.
Pernicans was a shift of the word Pernicious. Aurons was borrowed from Star Trek. Verdi was the name of the composer, although it only means Green.
Again, bits of the story of the first novel had to be sketched so that a reader who had not read that would be able to handle this.
I think it was around this point that I began to recognize that this book would be longer than the first.
I was guessing that the “other set of connections” would be the ones the reader had noticed as well.
The blood on Michael’s hand isn’t really a giveaway; he had to pass John’s body on the way up the steps, and could have touched it then. Yet it does shake the scenario and shift the attention away from Ralph.
Lauren is ambivalent about the use of magic even now; she cooks because she hesitates to use magic, but then she does other things by magic because she wants to be good enough to be able to use them in a pinch.
Lauren’s suggestion about finding unique landmarks to target when traveling the between was something I’d only just considered, but it made good sense overall and fit well with a lot of other things. It also gave me a way for the skill to “botch” by delivering the traveler to the wrong destination.
I’m not sure at what point I’d decided to create a theft of the vorgo mystery, but by this point I knew that I was headed that direction. At first the idea was to bring the character back into the future of a world in which he had been a significant figure in the past, and see how he handled that. Now I had a plot; I just had to figure out how to make it work.
The notion that Joseph Wade Kondor is named for his grandfather yet is not a “junior” is not that difficult. “Joseph”, as mentioned, is my middle name; it was my grandfather’s first name. It is entirely likely that Kondor’s grandfather was Joseph something Kondor, or Joseph Wade Smith, or Wade Joseph something, and that he got his name or names from him.
I’m not sure why it made a difference whether Bob was hit with an oar or a paddle, but they are really very different objects, and Derek would not know that. It does demonstrate that Michael was aware of the object on the dock, though.
When I was a schoolboy, I was one of those constantly targeted by those who thought they could prove themselves by attacking the weak kid. I probably relate most to Ralph here, but also to Derek, to the unathletic bunch. People would tell me they wanted to fight me after school, and I would tell them I did not want to fight. Then they would ambush me, and I would kick and scratch and bite, and they would beat me anyway and then complain that I fought like a girl, as if they had the right to make the rules for a fight I did not want. Anyway, I figure both Ralph and Michael are that kind of kid, and so neither of them has any notion that they should obey the rules in this fight—particularly as it is probably life and death for both of them.
I had to think of an “appropriate” weapon for killing the Dungeon Master, that would also be available somewhere at the camp. A chain was a stretch on the latter point, but I thought I could make it work. It also had the advantage of being so entirely out of place in the cabin that it would shock Derek’s sense of order and give him what he needed to know.
As it turns out, Derek saves Ralph, dying in the process, but gets to tell the world that Michael did it. We of course don’t see what happens after that, but we have good reason to think that Michael will be punished for his crimes.
The idea that Lauren has these abilities because she needs them for her battles was fairly obvious; the related argument that those who do not have the same abilities can be thankful because they will not face similar battles is an interesting corollary to it.
The “brief shining moment” is of course drawn from the lyrics of the musical Camelot.
I think it was at about this point that I determined Tubrok would return in the third book, and that Merlin would be there. It gave me an overarching theme to carry the three books into one grand story.
I had wondered and worried at this point about how to bring Derek and Lauren together. I had decided in my preliminary notes that they would meet after Derek had been through several horror stories, and now seemed the time for that for Derek. But Lauren had much to do. She still had to find and train Bethany; she had to be killed by Horta and by Jackson. It made sense at this point that I should find a way to remove her from Wandborough and send her to meet Derek; but for the moment all I could think to do was get her lost so she would not be in the battle at Camelot (a battle in which vampires would have no part) and let her help while it fell.
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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