Birth of a Novel - Part 4

This is the tenth entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.

Yeesh. (Once in a while, start a blog post with Yeesh.)

This chapter took a while to get started. I made the mistake of thinking too much about the plot as I sat there staring at a blank page. My plot outline in Mythos is much lighter than it was for The Children of Midian. It's really driven by the characters, which is kind of fun. The problem was that my next major plot point could not possibly take place at the current point in the story.

I stared at that blank page for one heck of a long time before deciding to go back to my character notes and my trusty green sasquatch notebook. Lo and behold, I found this big 'ol pile of stuff about my characters I wanted to get on the page. There was also some back story I wanted to slip in. Off I went, excited as can be. I wrote one tiny little scene with Zydeco stopping by Blaine's place at night, only to find his slightly kookie grandmother, Ava, at the door, and Blaine not home. Cute scene, but a massive disappointment in terms of progress.

Fine, I said to myself. I'll make up for it next time. Oh, and while I'm at it, I thought, I'd best add some tension to this chapter. You can't just have people jabbering on about stuff forever, or you wind up with one of those chatty, but yawn-inducing "tea scenes", as Don Maass puts it. So, next time came and I jammed out this good scene outside Zydeco's apartment building with Mr. Patel, and my favorite character, Dr. Tension.

Good, good, I thought. Now, I wanted a scene upstairs with Zydeco and Magenta. And with me laying on Dr. Tension's couch, I began this crazy scene with Zydeco walking in on Magenta as she hacked away at something on the kitchen counter. There were rivers of blood flowing onto the linoleum, and Magenta looking around wild-eyed. You see, I thought it would be neat if, instead of buying from a butcher, she bought whole animals from a supplier and slaughtered them herself for the meat. I mean, she was a dragon and all. Dr. Tension was furiously taking notes from his chair while I typed away on his couch.

The scene began to spiral out of control and added all kinds of complications and unnecessary loose ends I was completely unready to deal with. Here's a lesson. Tension for tension's sake isn't a good idea. It was then I decided to bail for the night and go read The Lost Symbol. The next night, I tossed that entire scene and wrote a new one, that I'm genuinely pleased with. We have a bit of tension, and some chuckles courtesy of Magenta. Sometimes, she's Costello to Zydeco's Abbott. I also add some back story, revealing the name of the "world" from which all these mythological creatures came: Parable, and the world to which they thought they were headed: Fairway. I like those names. No idea why. Anyway, there's no blood flying through this scene, but there some pretty good cursing. Here's a sample:

Magenta shook me awake.

The lights were on and she stood over me with her hands on her hips. “What are you doing all slumped over on the wall? You’ve got a perfectly good bed, I thought.”

“Yeah, um….” Using the back of my hand, I mopped up the drool that ran from the corner of my mouth down my chin. I dragged myself to my feet. “How was the movie?”

She slid into her red wing chair. “Unbearable.”

I rubbed my eyes. “Why? What did you see?”

She sighed. “Eragon was playing at the second run theater. I had no idea. If that little bugger tried to climb on top of me, I would’ve eaten him, bones and all.”

I'd also been meaning to write Zydeco at Blaine's apartment with his family. Blaine is a gnome who lives with his family of gnomes, you see, and in my book, gnomes have an English accent. I have an eccentric grandmother, and the uptight cousin of Blaine's who she picks on mercilessly. I wrote that scene last night - long one, too. The entire time, bits of Fawlty Towers were playing in my head, but I don't think it really mattered. I actually kept thinking of Ron's Aunty Muriel in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. It was a brunch scene, and no tea was served. What do gnomes eat for breakfast? Omelettes, heavy on the mushrooms. A tiny sample (Aidan is Blaine's older cousin):

Aidan turned to me. “Didn’t you used to fly by the garden and snatch our Blaine up into the air?”

This brought me back and I nodded. “Yep, it’s true. I did.”

“I kept thinking, here’s this griffin come to snatch my little cousin. He’s done for. But then a few hours later, there you’d be, descending from the sky, with little Blaine clinging to your back, laughing his bloomin’ head off.”

Blaine was smiling, his eyes distant. “Great fun, that was. Nearly fell off once or twice.”

I need to do a little more plotting on the next few chapters, and continue to work on Zydeco's voice so that he brings that "mythological creature" perspective to life as a human. Good thing I'm still writing the first draft!

On to the next chapter!!!!

To see what I thought about the last chapter, slide on back to the previous entry if you like.

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