Plot: Gladiator Style

Posted on 19/01/2012 by


I am trying to figure out what happens in this book. I have at least six different ways it could all go down. And they’re all good, but at this point no single one seems truer or stronger. The problem is, I don’t know my characters well enough yet. I have the voices of the two leads clearly in my head, of course, but the rest are a lot fuzzier because I haven’t really spent any time with them yet.

I can theorise all I want, listen to them burbling in my head, but characters never seem to quite crystallise properly until I’ve written them down. I need to see how they going to interact with each other, the little details of how they function together, listen to them talking.

Normally this isn’t a problem. Normally, somewhere in the first twenty thousand words of the story everyone gets the chance to wander about the stage and trip over their own feet if they so desire. But the thing with Wizards is the first half of the book takes place over a ridiculously short period of time. Like three or four hours. Which means to all intents and purposes the rest of the characters just don’t exist yet. So I’m theorising in the dark about who they are, their role in the story, their trajectory as people. And, well… six different possible answers. All of which seem like they’d be fun to write. All of which make sense if I spin the story and these characters in the appropriate direction.

I’ve tried talking it through with a couple of people but they just go from, That doesn’t sound very likely when I propose the idea to, Oh, of course it has to happen that way! after I explain it. To every version. Which is what my head is doing. So, not helpful.

I think I’m going to have to write a little of each version, walk into the dark a little way and see what’s there. And then — as this is not a choose-your-own-adventure book — I’ll slaughter the alternate versions until there is only one.