Posts Tagged ‘plot changes’

A Challenge: Plot changes and do they work? Then, “Devil’s Revenge”…Chapter 26, Part 1

March 23, 2009

A fine writer friend, in the UK, has been writing a novel in public.  How this goes I am not exactly sure, but he writes and then asks for suggestions on plot, character, etc.  This is risky business, but it also is a very interesting way to include readers right in the beginning, or at least at points where advice could be helpful.

All novelists get into a rut. Life intrudes.  Or perhaps, we allow our characters to run away with the story/plot/action.  Sometimes I will read something I’ve written months ago, maybe years, on a WIP, and I think…where and how did I come up with THAT?

Perhaps that is the fun of writing, but we have to take control of our books.  Not overly so, where we have no surprises (for ourselves) or we gag, mute our characters…but we have to drive the carriage.

The character Garrett sprang full life onto the stage: I know where he came from…a previous WIP,  but he was so different.  He was fully fleshed out and took control of the book early on.  I ‘allowed’ this because I was curious as to where he would take it.  Well, I thought the book would hit the wall, but it didn’t…it just took a sharp detour.

And this is where it stands.  Garrett, Abigor, Madame Gormosy, the other devils, and Betsy, are being shifted into another plane.  Another dimension apparently.  A suggestion was made by Abigor somewhere that Garrett reach back in history (way back!) and consolidate his power with ancient kin:  9th Century Wales and the dribbles of Druids left, to be exact. Apparently, Obadiah has his own legions on earth, and Garrett needs to consolidate his from where he can find them.

Confusing?  Yep, to me too.  I haven’t a clue why and how this happened…but I wrote it.  It’s there, and then it made sense.

So, I am warning  readers that this shift from 1820s to 9th Century Wales is going to be a bit strange.  Dragon lines, Ley Lines, energy lines, horned gods and goddesses, magic of a very different kind than devil’s magic.  But still magic.

So much of the research I did then centered around ‘anima loci’ (the place personality or ‘place-soul’) a concept we have lost and should rediscover.  Our gridded out streets and litter filled parks and constant concrete doesn’t satisfy something primal in us at all.

This chapter is one of the first where plot changes are pointed out.  Where there are going to be some big shifts in the reality of the characters and the story.  Any ideas are very welcome because I can be as confused about where this novel is going as anyone reading.  And, I haven’t changed the tense of this chapter yet, and might not do so, but sorry if it lends to some confusion.  There’s plenty enough to go around.

Lady Nyo


Chapter 26

Madame Gomosy has made herself scarce.  This is welcome because I can spend just so many hours playing faro and waving a fan.  My Demon disappears behind his books during the day, and frequently leaves the house, to return by dusk.  I am left to myself, and fill my hours with trying to finish my novel, the event that brought me here to this place.

We have an unspoken agreement.  I will not trespass on his time with his books, and he will not bother me when I am writing.  I now see that regardless how I end the book, things have spiraled out of control, and there are forces at work far beyond what I have imagined.

This dream of Cernunnos bothers me for more than the obvious reasons.  I am beginning to think this ‘fancy’  was not so random at all.  Perhaps it has a deeper meaning, unrevealed as yet, and it was ‘placed there’ by some unknown force, leading a way to some answers. Although my Demon claims control,  I have come to think that even he is unaware of what it portends.  Madame is a tricky devil, but she claims that my demon comes from a royal line, and is no common demon.  I have called him a ‘demon’ because I have no other way to define him, my knowledge of mythology scant.  Of course, magic confuses the picture, and devils are known for their trickery.  They can be too entertaining.

As my Demon leaves the house, I go into the library and look for some clues.  There are enough books, all of them old.  I think about the libraries at Alexandria, destroyed by barbarian hordes.  There, surely, with the combined knowledge and wisdom of Persian and so many cultures, would be the answers I seek.  But that is dust and this is just dusty, and I am left to find what answers I can.

As I remove books from a high shelf over my head, one large book is unbalanced, and falls at my feet.  I stoop to pick it up, and it is about Celtic Mythology.  I am not one who is superstitious, but this seems as good a place as any to start.   The dream of Cernunnos runs parallel to this book in my hand.  Upon opening it, the first words I read  express a dichotomy that runs through my present existence.

It seems to Bran a wondrous beauty
In his curragh on a clear sea
While to me in my chariot from afar
It is a flowery plain on which I ride

What is a clear sea
For the prowed craft in which Bran is,
Is a Plain of Delights with profusion of flowers
For me in my two-wheeled chariot

Bran sees
A host of waves breaking across a clear sea
I myself see in Magh Mon
Red-tipped flowers without blemish

Sea-horses glisten in the summer
As far as Bran’s eye can stretch
Flowers pour forth a stream of honey
In the land of Manannan son of Ler

Speckled salmon leap forth from the womb
Of the white sea upon which you look;
They are calves, bright-coloured lambs
At peace, without mutual hostility

It is along the top of a wood
That your tiny craft has sailed along the ridges,
A beautiful wood with its harvest of fruit,
Under the prow of your tiny boat.

Here is my confusion!  Here is an answer, though partial.  My Demon and I live in separate worlds, but occupy together the same.  He floats through mine, and I step into his. This poem is spoken by the Otherworldly Manannan, attempting to explain to the mortal Bran how their differences in perception lie at the root of their divergent realities.
This speaks to the bafflement that runs through our existence.  This speaks to my frustration with him.

As I read on, I begin to understand the symbolism of the dream, as it is reflected in the world of the Celts.  The natural world surrounds these people on all sides.   They were aware of its presence and their dependence on its balance and fertility for their basic nurture and comfort.   Nothing bypasses this dependence, whether the soil, their crops or the animals.  The hunters go out to the forest, to bring food for their families.  The wolves and bears stalk the settlements for their own.  Nature, in fang and claw, in blood and gore, would have shaped days and nights and filled dreams.  It would have seeped into every hope and fear. The satyrs were symbols of the fusion of humankind and animals, and part of the magic and religious system that they carried in belief.  And Cernunnos? Ah! He was the embodiment of the fertility that was necessary for the seasons to turn and mankind and all else to survive.  I was, in that dream, very much part of that ritual of life. I was a vessel for that seed,  from Cerunnos’ loins, planted into the soil, to be fruitful and nourish new life.

There was much more of this same theme as I read on.  The foundation, the building stones of what I was reading, and this Celtic culture, was called animistic thinking.   I came across a dramatic example of this in the poem  Cad Coddeu, or “The Battle of the Trees”.  A mythical battle between two forces, one mortal against the forces of the chthonic deities, dwelling beneath the earth, where a wizard Gwyddion transformed a forest of trees into a writhing, hostile army.

“…Alder, pre-eminant in lineage, attacked first
Willow and rowan were late to the battle
Thorny plum greedy for slaughter,
Powerful dogwood, resisting prince….
…Swift and mighty oak, before him trembled heaven and earth…”

Perhaps my Demon, though I could no longer think of him in such terms, but my Garrett, would call forth such an army for battle.

This was a time, a period, and a culture, where shape-shifting was part of it all.  It was part of the ‘dna’ if you will, of a culture that remembered the totemistic myths of previous ancestors. Clans seemed to arise around a particular animal.  There might be bird-people, or wolf-people, oak-people and river people.  Each clan would feel a strong kinship to a particular animal or element, and it would be taboo for them to violate these totem creatures in any way.  These spirits, these ancestral spirits protected the clan from disease and violence.  To harm any member of the clan would provoke the wrath of this daemonic spirit. I thought perhaps, considering his courting manners, that my demon Garrett, …was part of the Goat Clan.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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