This is the eleventh entry in my Birth of a Novel series of posts, where I talk about the development of my new YA urban fantasy.
I had just completed chapter seven of Mythos, when as I read Scott G.F. Bailey's excellent piece, Some Thoughts on Middles, it struck me that this is exactly what I'm up against. A middle. Act II. Act I of Mythos is really about setting up the conflict (plot), whereas Act III resolve the conflict (plot climax and denouement). Act II is the bridge that should do two things. First, the plot has to evolve--the chess pieces have to move--until the characters are ready for the climax. Second, the characters have to develop further-- Zydeco, Blaine, Tameina and everyone else.
Certainly Zydeco changes as a result of the events of the book. That's got to be a given. Scott makes a fantastic argument, though, for treating Act II to its own beginning, middle and end. What does it mean? It means that Zydeco should change as a result of the events of Act II. He needs to show up in Act III different than he was in Act I. How he reacts during the penultimate scene may vary from how he would have had the same thing occurred in Act I.
I've gone off and rambled myself silly, haven't I? Jay! What about chapter seven? All you've done is talked about what happened after you wrote the thing? I mean, really!
Okay, okay. So, chapter seven. It's back to Zydeco and Blaine, and carries over from the slight cliffhanger of the prior chapter. I really do love these characters, and there are really two relationships I get a kick out of exploring. Zydeco and Tameina - it's fantastic to develop those two as a couple, especially because they're friends first, and because each of them is ever so slightly damaged in their own peculiar ways. Zydeco and Blaine - total best friends, and they're like a well oiled machine. It's like they riff on one another. One could finish the other's sentence. They're funny.
We get to see Blaine's bedroom, which I found fun to describe. In chapter two, I showed one of Zydeco's mythological skills. As a former griffin, he has enormous strength. It is my conjecture that a being, part lion, part eagle would be, well, strong. So there. I've decided. It's fantasy. My book, my rules. In chapter seven, I got to write about his acute hearing. I alluded to it in a prior chapter, but came right out and demonstrated it here.
I held a hand up and leaned across the desk. “Need to concentrate.” Pressing my ear close to the screen, and my eyes shut, I let all thought drain away, focusing on the noise three stories below. I imagined myself as I had been, seeking out prey. The irony wasn’t lost on me that Hunter was now the hunted, but I let it go. I listened. And after a few moments, I heard.
“How many?” said Hunter, his high-pitched voice carrying over the light Sunday traffic.
“When?” Another beat. “Right. Okay. And the cockatrice?”
I opened my eyes. This confirmed it. They knew what Octavio was. But, how?
The boys set out in search of Hunter and his crew--there's bad tidings afoot in the park. I get to take them out of their apartments and school, and into the big city park. I get them moving. I get them snooping.
I'm very careful not to set Mythos in a specific city. At least in first draft, the fictional city does not have a name. I may name it later, if I think it's worthwhile. But in my head (and on paper), there are pieces of New York City (my home base), Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco. The outside of the library in one of the earlier chapters is very much a re-imagined NYC Public Library. This park is a combination of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park and New York's Central Park. I even threw in a seemingly bizarre landmark - an ancient obelisk -- that does really exist in Central Park. Interesting history behind it, I must say.
Within minutes, however, Malice and company were gone, and Blaine and I were alone on what looked like a road cut through an underground forest. Birds chirped, likely from the overhead canopy that blocked out the sun. A family of squirrels chattered and chased each other around the base of a tree along the edge of the road.
We slowed to a jog and then a casual walk.
“Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh, my,” said Blaine.
“A Griffin, a gnome and some squirrels, you mean.”
“Ruin all my fun, why don’t you.”
Chapter seven, we hardly knew ye. Before I move on to chapter eight, which continues the events of seven, I need to go off and sketch out Act II as a beginning, middle and end. The three acts of Act II, if you will. By doing so, I think the rest of the "middle" of Mythos will just FLY by.
By the way, I'd love feedback from anyone who's been following this thread. As you write, do you face the same questions? Do you have the same fits and starts? Does what I'm writing sound remotely interest?
Thanks for reading and stay tuned! Now, on to the next chapter!!!!
To read about the last chapter, shimmy and shake on back to the previous entry.