Links and Choices

I’ve been having quite a few “Well, duh!” moments lately: I figure something out, I start to describe it to myself … and I realize as I do that I’ve ‘discovered’ something I’ve heard about since the beginning of my education as a writer. If that’s not a “Well, duh” moment, I don’t know what is.

Early this morning, I figured something out that wasn’t a “Well, duh,” moment.

I finished Duchess By Night last night, so I’ve read the first three books in the series in less than a week. Reading them so closely together allowed me to notice something rather structural that she’s doing. The opening scene of each book after the first is connected somehow with the end of the book before it. So if Book C ends with a scene at a costume ball, Book D begins with a different scene at that same event. I think this is a very clever linking device (beyond having characters in future books either mentioned or used as secondary characters in previous books). I also think it’s very subtle — I don’t know that I would have noticed it if I had read the boook as they were being released.

I’m not sure whether or how I’ll use that, but it’s good to have in the toolbox in case I need it.

~*~*~*~*~*~

I’ve been wrestling with the scene that introduces Prince Kerlis, my fourth POV character. He does something in the scene that is, for someone in his social position, rather rash, but you have to know what the rules are for him to know how “not done” his behavior is. Trying to convey that while introducing him and having the scene move forward has been a frustrating, maddening, disheartening struggle.

Then, yesterday, I decided to stop working on the text, to stop trying to fix the scene at a micro level. Instead, I decided to step back and consider what the scene was supposed to accomplish. What is it for?

The answers came pretty quickly. The purpose of the scene is to A) introduce Prince Kerlis and set his story into motino; and B) show the moment his life intersects with Ilsabet’s (since that’s what sets his story in motion). Looking at those two items (because I was writing my thoughts down), I heard a little voice in the depths of my mind ask, “Why does it have to be in his POV?” and then I thought about Ennevel, who’s introduced through Ilsabet’s POV before she appears in her own POV. This shoes who Ennevel is before we get into her head, so all we need to do when we’re in her head is learn what it’s like there and what’s going on from her perspective.

So I’ve decided to tell the meeting between Ilsabet and Kerlis from Ilsabet’s POV. Her surprise at what he’s doing will provide the “not done” context and we’ll know who Kerlis is before we go into his head and start seeing his world.

There’s an argument to be made that the scene should stay in Kerlis’s POV, because this, for him, is the day that is different. It would be a good argument, too. I just think that the logistics of that don’t work in this instance, and what I lose in trying isn’t worth what I gain.

I think it’s always a trade-off: with every choice you make, you give up one thing to gain another. Most of the time, the so-called rules are all about making the most of that — give up this shiny thing because what you gain is much greater than what you lose. Sometimes, though, what you lose following a “should” completely overwhelms what you get from it. And I think part of learning to to write is learning the difference between a genuine loss and your ego or fear telling you it’s a loss.

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