This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #280, on the subject of Versers Reveal.
With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first four novels, Verse Three, Chapter One: The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, and Spy Verses, 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 have posted the fifth, Garden of Versers, 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.
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.
This is the third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 25 through 36. Previous web log posts covering this book include:
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 25, Brown 164
Chapter 26, Kondor 141
Chapter 27, Beam 7
Chapter 28, Hastings 144
Chapter 29, Slade 140
Chapter 30, Brown 165
Chapter 31, Beam 8
Chapter 32, Hastings 145
Chapter 33, Kondor 142
Chapter 34, Slade 141
Chapter 35, Beam 9
Chapter 36, Hastings 146
The moment I launched the hawk, I knew this scene had become inevitable. Therefore I had a couple of chapters of time to let the scene coalesce in the back of my mind.
This was chapter 19 before we added James Beam.
The grammatical error “a friend of Joe’s” was added in the edit to replace “a friend of Joe”, because I thought it was more like what Slade would actually say, and Kyler agreed.
This discussion of Clarke’s Third Law fell into place because I needed an aftermath from the meeting with the Caliph before I returned to Lauren. Zeke is proving quite useful as a staging tool, as I can get Kondor’s thoughts into the open and challenge them to force him to explain them considerably more naturally.
I started this chapter and was interrupted by a twelve-day hospital stay, second in two months, so somewhere in the middle I had to pick up where I left it and finish it.
This was chapter 20 before we added James Beam.
Originally Kyler wrote a chapter in which he introduced the idea that Beam was afraid of snakes. He scrapped the idea and deleted the chapter, because he realized the character already had some challenging weaknesses with the addictions and substance use.
Bron was an important character in Kyler’s version of the scenario, the blacksmith who dabbled in magic who would create the ring. The ring struck me as a very challenging piece for the story, but he had done it in play and thought he knew how to make it work.
Kyler had made the distance one hundred paces, not being aware that a pace was a double stride measuring about five feet and making the length around a hundred sixty-five yards. We discussed the size of the interior at length, and agreed that one hundred steps long and half as wide could be two hundred by one hundred feet, a large two thousand square foot interior; internet research suggested that that much table space comfortably seats one hundred sixty patrons in a decent restaurant, which this is not, and so a couple hundred could crowd into it.
I was working my way up the skills I had listed for Lauren, mindful of several points. One was that she wouldn’t clearly know what was easier and what was harder, what was more likely to be biased in or biased out, and so her track couldn’t perfectly match her paper. Another was that she couldn’t always succeed at everything that was possible, despite the fact that for many of these skills she had put in decades of practice (not reflected in the numbers on the sheet from which I was working). This chapter let me include a failure and explore other skills in an order in which they might occur to her without prejudicing what she might be able to do.
It keeps occurring to me that I’m working from character sheets updated to the end of the second novel, and need to push those forward through the end of the fourth, but I’m currently moving forward well with the storylines and don’t want to disrupt that.
This was chapter 21 before we added James Beam.
Obviously credit goes to the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, which used something very like this (the princess is surrounded by other girls one of whom is dressed as the princess while she poses as one of her own bodyguards). My fourth son Evan brought to me the fact that this could make for some really complicated storylines connected to a kidnapping–do they grab the fake princess, and what does the palace do in response to this? If they grab the real princess, did they know which one she was, or was it an accident? Do they know who they really have? I decided I wanted to do one of those scenarios in this book, but I honestly had not yet decided which one.
It is also the case that with this chapter I had adequately created the setup for that, but it was much too soon to launch it so I was going to have to develop a diversion, something for these characters to do that would be interesting and worthwhile, before we moved into that mystery.
This was chapter 22 before we added James Beam.
This became mostly a way to slow the story a bit and focus on the idea that Derek was using the time to practice. It started mostly because I’d established a pattern, and Derek was next in line, and as I considered what to write about him it occurred to me that between fighting vampires and being a spy he had not really had the opportunity just to be Morach since he had lived in Morach’s world, and that his aerobatics were not only useful but fun, so I started with him playing, and being noticed playing, and then stretched it into practice in his other bodies which needed to be explored a bit, and then extended it to the psionics.
This was chapter 23 before we added James Beam.
Kyler warned me that this chapter was graphic before I saw it, and it is, but not I think over the line. We already know that Turbirb’durpa cracks open skulls and eats the brains, so it’s not a shock when he does it.
I had by this point decided that Lauren was going to be assaulted by the large orderly, and would injure him defending herself; but because she will have already been tentatively diagnosed as delusional she would wind up in restraints. He would return for another attempt, and she would have to use her limited psionics to stop him, primarily her force shield, probably also the telekinetic pulse. I’ll have to consider what else she might be able to do.
This was chapter 24, and as far as I had written; I was looking at a heading for Kondor 142, chapter 25, and had several things cooking in my head, and finally managed to do something I had been wanting to do for more than a decade: I got my number two son, Kyler, to agree to collaborate with me. As part of that, I proposed creating a character under the name James Beam and modeling him significantly after player John Walker. Kyler liked the idea of creating a verser character who would wind up an antagonist, and so we put together the notion of beginning the character in this book with his own solo worlds and then bringing him into the Twin Rivers in the next book, along with Lauren, for a significant confrontation of some sort. We agreed that he would draft a first chapter introducing the character, and we’d go over it and integrate it into this book so that the character would be established by the beginning of the next one.
This was chapter 24, and the last chapter written before we added the James Beam character.
We debated whether to leave the mangled Hamlet quote as is or correct it, but the connection to heaven and hell was significant in the dialogue, and she did admit she didn’t know the quote well, so we left it as it was.
While I was trying to figure out what to write in this chapter, Kyler produced five chapters of the James Beam story–the entire first world.
I knew I was heading into an adventure that would take the characters out of the city, but wasn’t certain how I would get there–but that it would have to be Slade who led that transition, because the Sheik viewed him as the leader of the group, whatever they thought of themselves. Ultimately, I decided that Kondor had to think about their situation and recognize that they were threatening to abuse the extended hospitality.
I had decided that there would be a short adventure involving a battle against bandit raiders before my main story here, and this was the launch point.
I made something of a hierarchy mistake, casually using the word “sheik” with reference to the Caliph, and almost immediately knew that was wrong. I had some Dungeons & Dragons™ reference materials on hierarchies, and looked up how “caliph” fit. It was at this point that I came up with the other titles, notably Amir and Amira and Calipha, for the other characters, but we retained “Princess” for convenience on the theory that it was a reasonable translation for the English-speaking guests.
By the time this chapter was written and in place, all the other characters had been drafted through the end of the book. I was pressing Kyler to produce written versions of the stories he had spun verbally.
The introduction of Miralla threw me, because I was anticipating something else that this was going to complicate. Kyler explained that Miralla was not going to be part of Beam’s troop in the present book, but would be scriff-infected as an independent verser, borrowing a trope from another player character who has women stalking him through the verse to exact vengeance for infecting them.
The player on whom Beam is based at some point decided to introduce himself by the name of a character in a movie, who masterfully demonstrates that people only know what you reveal about yourself. The character used the name “Kaiser”. In this chapter, the shire reeve entered and said he was looking for someone called “Chiser”, and it took me several minutes to make the connection. We discussed whether to backwrite the story to include the name, but in the end just dropped it.
I had been so busy with the Beam chapters that I lost track of where I was in the other stories. I had a mental note that this was the chapter in which Lauren would be attacked, but when I went to write it I thought there wasn’t enough foundation for the subsequent claim that she was delusional. I had completely forgotten that she had brought up the multiple worlds theory in her previous chapter, and so felt that I had to bring that to the fore. Then when I’d finished writing the chapter, I went to put the summary in the book outline I keep to help me find things, and saw the entry for the other chapter and realized I’d just duplicated my effort. However, I was very pleased with what I’d written, and it only took a few tweaks to make it seem as if it were more on the same subject. From that position, I decided that it would strengthen the case for the doctor concluding she was delusional, and give me the narrative basis I needed for what was to come.
This has been the third behind the writings look at Garden of Versers. If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue publishing the novel and these behind the writings posts for it.