This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #493, on the subject of Verser Engagements.
With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first nine 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,
- In Verse Proportion, and
- Con Verse Lea,
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 tenth, In Version, written in collaboration with Eric R. Ashley, 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 ninth post for this novel, covering chapters 97 through 108. Previous posts were:
- #476: Versers Deduce, covering chapters 1 through 12;
- #478: Character Conflicts, covering 13 through 24;
- #480: Versers Think, 25 through 36;
- #482: Versers Engage, 37 through 48.
- #484: Characters Maneuver, 49 through 60.
- #487: A World in Space, 61 through 72.
- #489: Battle Worlds, 73 through 84; and
- #491: Verser Ventures, 85 through 96.
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 97, Kondor 244
Chapter 98, Slade 238
Chapter 99, Beam 185
Chapter 100, Brown 270
Chapter 101, Kondor 245
Chapter 102, Slade 239
Chapter 103, Beam 186
Chapter 104, Brown 271
Chapter 105, Kondor 246
Chapter 106, Slade 240
Chapter 107, Beam 187
Chapter 108, Brown 272
Eric wrote more of this relief effort, and set up a cliffhanger in which Kondor was beginning to use psionics to address the problems.
I noted after the fact that the railroad company would have equipment to clear tracks of such debris, but they could get away with two such blockages. I also suggested that we could use a broken train trestle and a hike across a valley, with memories of the log crossing in the first novel, which Eric agreed would be good.
Eric marked this for Slade, and I decided that it should start with Derek describing the experience of visiting the Ichthoi, and Slade rejecting the notion that it would be at all desirable to feel at peace like that. That led to the notion of what happens after Ragnorak, and perhaps the first doubts Slade has ever had about his faith. Having the robot cook Chlorophyte food just seemed obvious.
Quite a few of the aliens had essentially cameo appearances; the Ichthoi were among these.
Some of this was discussed before I drafted it. Eric had suggested that on the way Beam should bless a child and have a lock of its hair turn white, but I objected that it is part of the team dynamic that Beam doesn’t do anything magical or indeed have any special abilities other than organizing the others. Still, some sort of “magical” display seemed to be appropriate, and I decided that Beam could have Bob snatch the arresting officer and levitate him, and no one would know that Beam wasn’t doing that.
Eric wrote this with a view to moving Derek toward my hope that he would obtain a trumpet. I changed the ending because I thought the Brown chapter should have Derek raise Slade’s notion about gladiator games meaning that there was war somewhere, but it was fine to delay that.
The ‘Iorg was a name that Eric wrote because he liked the look, but I took issue based on the fact that I don’t like words in sci fi and fantasy books that the reader couldn’t pronounce. We discussed the opening symbol and whether the letter I was a vowel or a consonant, and came up with a click followed by two syllables, as described in the text.
Eric had set up the situation in which a bird was trapped under the center of a very large debris pile, and I assumed he intended for them to use psionics to rescue him, so I wrote this. I was as it were interrupted by the realization that this was going to attract attention, so I covered that, and then decided that for story purposes it would be better to complete the rescue in Kondor’s next chapter.
I struggled a bit to write this from Slade’s viewpoint; I was going to start with Derek talking to 1942 in the limo, but realized Slade wouldn’t see that part. Gradually, though, it came together.
Eric’s backstory for the universe includes that there is a threat of intergalactic war, and the emperor in this galaxy has been trying to prepare for it. Part of that included building this huge artificial planet and relocating all sentient beings to it; part of it was initiating the gladiator games to help identify and prepare great fighters.
We discussed several of the ideas in this chapter. It was Eric’s suggestion that Ashleigh would offer to assassinate Norax, and mine that Beam would choose a propaganda campaign. Eric put it together and brought it to the point where Beam had hacked the system and was ready to speak, when I realized that Beam couldn’t speak alien, so we had a cliffhanger into his next episode.
Eric wrote all of this with only a bit of input from me. After this first shot at the preliminary we discussed a bit about how the main competition would go.
I picked up the story of rescuing the parakeet with telekinesis and finished it.
I started this chapter, but realized Eric and I hadn’t discussed how big this contest was so I wasn’t sure of how to rank the versers. I made a rough suggestion, and Eric agreed with it; it assumes there are between forty and fifty thousand fighters in each division.
Eric took over and wrote the arrival and the fight.
This is the cameo appearance of the Tso race, and everything decided about it appears in this section.
I started this chapter with three proposed solutions to the language barrier problem, but then suspended it to get Eric’s input on how to do it and jumped down to write the propaganda speech and the court martial of Norax. When I thought of the step of removing Norax from authority by delisting him from the computer roster it seemed he should do that before he made the speech, but since I didn’t think of it until he was writing the speech I decided Beam didn’t, either.
Eric punted, putting the decision back with me, and I returned to make the choice. Although Bob’s solutions had been reliable, I decided that there was a story advantage to having Sophia solve this one, so figured out why Beam would go that way.
At this point we gave some serious discussion to where the book was headed and what would be in the next one.
The question coming into this chapter is whether to have Derek watch Slade’s fight against the Tso or fight his own primitive weapons battle and come back to Slade later. I suggested that if Derek were to face a Parakeet he might feel the suppressed anger of the battle he fought against the spy.
I had also realized that Derek had several psionic skills which could be used in combat if needed. I checked, and was disappointed to find no force shield, but decided that the telekinesis would be useful.
This has been the ninth behind-the-writings look at In Version. If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with more behind-the-writings posts and another novel.