Imagining Through the Holidays

I’m at a difficult point for laying out this story, because I feel like I want to terminate what I’m working on now for Act Two and back load four or five parts into Act Three.  Which would be strange because Acts One and Two have consisted of three parts each, and I don’t want to make it feel as if Act Three is so much bigger than the others.

However, this is just planning, not the actual novel.  I have to keep reminding myself that I did some major chances to A For Advanced after I started writing, including introducing the Three Act Structure, and moving/adding/removing parts, chapters, and scenes around as I went.  I think I was several months into writing the first novel before I was confident I had it as I wanted it, and even then, most of the Kansas City chapter was modified not more than a few days before I started writing.

What do I have as of last night?  This:

More of the same, only different.

More of the same, only different.

Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen are all about the holidays, and they could expand as I think about those times more.  Chapter Fifteen is all about the kids being home, which we already know they are because of the preceding chapter.  As I have it now, there are two discussions between the kids and their mothers, and then . . . well, it would seem that I may have the kids getting together in their dreams.

I was going over the “discussions” between Annie and Kerry and their mothers, and I came up with a sort of dynamic between them.  It would seem that Annie’s mom has reasons up her sleeve for why she does some of the things she does with her daughter, and Kerry’s mom–well, that one is a little trickier to work out, because, deep down, I feel Kerry’s mom isn’t really conscious of why she does some of the stuff she does to her son, she just does them.  The thing is, I know why she has such a conflict with Kerry, and I can’t talk about it in this novel–or even the next.  It’s something that won’t come out until Kerry’s ready for his D Levels, at which point it should make sense.  Should.

Then they come back, and Goodnight Vienna is something of a trick for me, because Kerry returns to Salem with Annie, and there is a possibility that Annie’s father will be there to see her off.  Which means–does he get to finally meet the Boy of His Daughter’s Dreams?  Or do I save that?  I’m in a bit of a conflict here, and letting them meet sets up a scene much latter in life–not this book, nope, sorry, but in another–that would really press home something that Papa suspects.

And then something happens, because you don’t have a scene titled Telling Annie unless there was something to tell.  I worked that scene out last night, and it hurts, it really does.  Not for the reasons you may think, but . . . it does.  Gotta go with me on this one.

Now to decide what to do tonight, because I’m way behind on my editing . . .

Back to the Beginning of the Beginning

How did I start writing my current work in progress, The Foundation Chronicles?  It started with designing buildings.

The main characters in the story, Kerry and Annie, were originally created for an online role play.  I made Kerry, and a good friend of mine created Annie.  We played these characters for a few months, but with most good things the role play came to an end and the characters were shelved.  In the process of building the game there was a great deal of material the two of us developed, both characters and world-wise–

However, I was always pushed to show the buildings, to show the grounds, the show the towers.  My partner in crime kept after me to make maps and building layouts, and being that I was the sort of person who loved doing that kind of thing, I obliged.

It was from there that the Salem Institute of Greater Learning and Education was built.  It was from there that we named our covens, and the buildings, and figured out where everything went.  It was a great learning experience for that fantastic summer of 2011.

Over the next two years I thought a great deal about writing about these character’s adventures.  Even while working on other projects, the story of Annie and Kerry was never far from my mind.  Kerry I knew, but Annie was always a problem for me, because I wanted to get her right, and she wasn’t my creation, at least not at the beginning.  So it took a lot of thinking to get where I wanted to be with her, and I probably tortured myself for a year thinking about her motivations, her feelings, what she wanted the most.

So after I’d finished publishing Her Demonic Majesty in May of 2013, I decided it was time to tackle the tales of Salem.  I didn’t want to start right in on Annie and Kerry, but rather I wanted to do something else that would help build The Foundation World, but at the same time introduce a number of characters that would end up in their world.  I decided that for Camp NaNo, July 2013, I’d write The Foundation Chronicles:  The Scouring, a story of a traumatic event that occurred just before the end of the Twentieth Century.

While speaking to Annie’s creator about the upcoming story, we started talking about Annie’s Lake House.  This is an important location, a place that plays in a lot of scenes not only in my current book, but will have a place in the hearts of both children in their future.  And I wanted to see what it looked like, inside and out.

So it was time to get into the software and design.  I used a program that would allow me to make floor layouts and then show the building in three dimensions.  I could even place furniture inside and imagine the scenes that hadn’t been written yet.

The building that launched a couple of hundred thousand words.

The house that launched a couple of hundred thousand words.

And there it all was, the house that little spoiled Annie pestered her father to build.  With living room and dining table and kitchen, a library and a private bedroom, and the loft guest area overlooking the ground floor below.  And the wall of windows facing to the south, keeping the house illuminated from morning to nightfall.

I showed it to Annie’s creator and she loved it, even going so far as to say it was perfect.  To hear those words made me feel wonderful, and empowered me to prepare to get my world ready–

Because if I was going to write the story I wanted to work, I needed to build something else:  my Great Hall.  I knew it in my mind, I saw it in my imagination, so it became necessary to lay out with floor plans that would display it as I’d displayed Annie’s Lake House.

I wasn’t able to created it fully, because my computer couldn’t handle all the rendering needed.  But I did most of it, and . . . it was so worth while.

Because if you're going for "Great", you best go all the way.

Because if you’re going for “Great”, you best go all the way.

I had building all created:  I had my Atrium and Rotunda, the Library, the Security Center and the Instructor’s and Headmistress’ Offices.  There was the Clock Tower and the Transepts, the Hospital and the Dining Hall.  It took me about a week of work, but when I looked at this building, I saw my Great Hall.

I was just about ready to write.  Except–

I needed a school.

There and Back to the Big House

Oh, did you notice this is coming out late?  These things happen at times, trust me.  The delay is due to getting up at five AM, driving one hundred miles for a thirty minute interview, then driving home.  A little lunch later, as well as the fixing of a screen door has kept me off the computer for about two hours, and then–

Here we are.

It’s so far made for a long, tiring day, but at least I don’t have to cook tonight, because I’ve done enough of that for the last two days.  Kick back tonight, maybe pizza tomorrow.

Right now, we’re talking Great Hall.

The last two days I’ve been running about in Blender designing.  I should say, “Building,” because what I wanted to do is taking the build I’d made for my current story, and sort of see what it would look like if you turned into a three dimensional model.  I know, that’s being a bit obsessive about something that isn’t real, that’s just a part of my imagination.

There is a point to all this, however:  having a designed floor plan allowed me to figure out where some of the action in the building occurred.  I know there are those who may feel that’s a little too much work to put into a project, that it’s getting down into the metadata a little too much, but screw them.  It’s my story, and it’s one I want to publish one day, so I put work into my background.  Hey, it’s either this or spend twenty years on some fan fiction that will never see the light of day, right?

Originally I started with what you see on the right:  a building Main Hall 518layout rendered in 3D that showed as much of the inside as I could dream up.  I still have this, and the information came in handy when I started writing about battles and running and flying going on inside.  Visualizing these things came about from working with someone else, and I’m thankful that I listened to them on this matter.  (As for the rest, I’m still working on that . . .)

But I wanted to see more.  I wanted to see the area around the Pentagram, I wanted to feel the size, the enormity of the area.  It’s a big school:  everything here feels enormous, or is at least should.  Therefore I need to model the outside and the grounds, and I couldn’t do it in the program I used for the floor plan.

So off to Blender, and . . . Pentagram SoutheastBehold!

It’s not much to look at unrendered, but that’s what I’m building.  I have the Pentagram walls, the Coven Towers, the Clock Tower, the covered walkways, the older South Part of the Hall, the transepts, and the newer, more modern looking Library with the curving windowed wall that I couldn’t do the proper way in my floor plan program.  I figured out the scaling for this monster so that it’s not taking up a whole lot of virtual space, and it leaves open the possibility of modeling some of the other buildings.

If you want to get a feeling for scale, look at this:  Pentagram Main Gateit’s the main gate of the school going through the fifty foot high and eighteen foot thick walls.  And there, standing in the arch, those little sticks?  Those are two students, each five foot tall, catching sight, for the first time, of the main entrance some two hundred feet away.

With the story almost finished, I’m ready to move onto the next project.  But come November, when I may or may not do NaNo again, I’ll start in on another novel, and that novel will build off the little novel I wrote this month of July.

Maybe, in four months time, I’ll have even more to see.

 

 

Lady What’s Tomorrow

The tent with the fire over on the Camp NaNo page says there are two days and fifteen hours left before the mid-summer insanity begins.  Said insanity being writing, but why should July be any different for me?  I’m always doing that, though this latest stretch of three weeks without actually writing anything new is one of the longest I’ve gone in a while.

As for my own story, the first two floors of my Great Hall are complete.  It’s a thing of beauty, with it’s old class rooms and dorms and storage areas, the library and its archives, the private rooms and collection areas–and the bathrooms.  At this moment it’s a real place for me, not just something I dreamed up.  I still have a third and a fourth floor to add, but they won’t take up much space.  I may get those in place today, or maybe tomorrow.  But I will get them.

Though now, with the rendering required to produce the 3D version of my structure, my poor computer is working overtime to give me something I can’t view as well as before.  But no matter:  I’m able to get it built, and I can always shut down a lot of other things in order to see what I’m creating.

The thing that has happened as I build the structure is that I’m also building history.  There are a great many empty rooms in this building:  the majority of the first floor is sealed off, the doors locked and the rooms dusty.  Why is this?  Why have such a huge, unused building in the middle of this school?

There is a history building in my head.  It’s been there for a while; in fact, I know how the school started, and who laid the foundation.  I’ve known a little of the early history of the building, and now that I’m seeing it appear, brick by virtual brick, the history is becoming far more clear.

As with the characters, the buildings have their history.  They have a presence, and it helps to actually bring it out and write it down.  Which is what I’ll do, either today or tomorrow.  Since I already have a timeline started for my characters, why not add the school to that document as well?  Then when I need to see when a particular event occurred, and who may have had a hand in it, then I know where to go.

I’ll also write it down inside my Scrivener project, so it’ll be there as well when writing time comes.

All this work has made me happy.  No, really, it has.  It’s freeing to allow your mind to break loose and find things that have been hidden, or even repressed, for a while, and to get them out and make them real.  Even if there are things I never use in any of the stories that would revolve around this school, I know their story, and they have become a part of me forever.

It’s only a matter of time before I pass this feeling to others.

Designing the Unseen Imagined

Though the book is up, there are issues–things I should have seen, but didn’t take care of before hitting the “Upload” button.  Never fear; I’ll have everything sorted out this week.  I hope.

In the meantime I’m playing with other things:  concepts, story setups, that sort of thing.  I need to get a Scrivener project set up for my next story, but as one person told me, I should take it easy least I burn out.  Ha!  I laugh at burning out–don’t I?  Already I’m starting to feel like a lazy git because I’m not really working on anything.  That’s a bad habit to get into, because you end up beating yourself up for the silliest things, and before you know it you’re obsessing over every damn thing that comes your way.

Must.not.do.

One of the things I’ve been on about is trying to imagine a school I built for one story–a story that could be called fan fiction of a sort–and how I can bring it over into a new world that it completely mine.  There will be a number of changes to the layout and functionality of the joint, but the one thing I want to keep is a huge, grand building that sits somewhere between small castle and grand edifice.  For now we’ll call it the Grand Hall, and when it was originally conceived, it was part cathedral, part meeting place, part protected school.

It’s really big, is what I want to say.

I’ve always had this image in my head about the building, and the layout.  Entryway; central hall in the middle; Hospital on the second, third, and fourth floors on the left, administration on the right; library to the far end; basements below.  It’s a huge building, though probably not much bigger that most modern buildings.  It’s just that in my mind’s eye, I can see it being a very shadowy place, full of darkness and light beams, and during the evening, enduring silence.  (Not to be confused with The Silence, who may be there anyway.)

As much as I’ve seen this place in my head, I should be able to lay out the floor place, right?  Guess again, Gilbert.

I started a layout last night, starting with the central meeting hall.  That place it meant to be huge, about one hundred fifty feet by fifty. Then I moved outside that point of reference, and . . .

Nothing.

I got as far as laying out where the staircases are–and, now that I think about it, shouldn’t be–and then I looked at the plan on the screen before me and thought, “Shit, man, this place is huge.”  That was as true as anything gets, because it is a big building.  With all sorts of things hidden in its black corners.

And I’ve not even thought of what the basements look like.

Everyone gets those moments when they realize they have hold of something that might be a bit too much for them to control, and this is one of those moments.  It’s not that I won’t figure out the design, it’s just that it’s going to be something that takes a bit of time–just like when I was doing three dimensional designs of spaceships.  Or writing a huge novel.

Don’t rush the scale.  Like a mountain, you climb it slowly.

You’ll get to the summit eventually.