Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday Update - Plotting and Dreaming

Clarion Write-a-Thon Update

My goals are to finish an episode every one of the 42 days of Clarion this year.  The first day of the challenge was Sunday but they are going with GMT time, which means that it started late Saturday -- and I work at night -- so I'm counting from then:

  • Sat: Episode 15 (posted Jun 25)
  • Sun: Episode 16 (will post Jun 28)
  • Mon: Episode 17 (will post Jul 2)
  • Tues: Episode 18 (will post Jul 5)

I still need to do art for 16-18.  And I've got stuff to do Thursday night, so I'm kinda behind. But not too much.

Notes on Writing the Story So Far

Pantsing, Plotting, Pulling The Story From Dreams

Okay, I'll admit to you, when Rozinshura found the slip of paper in Monday's episode (or, actually, the end of the previous episode) ... I did NOT see that coming.

I mean, by the time I wrote it I did see it coming.  It's not that I had carefully plotted out something different, or that I'm an extreme pantser who was surprised to read what I've written. (I've always been ambidextrous on the pantser/plotter front and I am a strong believer in developing both sides of those skills.)

It's just that I was sure he was just going to lurk around the background making sardonic comments now and then.  And if I needed a deus ex machina at any point, he could limp in and do something.  (Or, alternatively, if the badguys were being too stupid to create a real obstacle for my heroes, Rozinshura can handle that -- he's ambidextrous too.  And being a bureaucrat, he can obstruct with the best of them.)

I only put him in there because he's one of the founding characters of the world, and it seemed like it would be a good idea to introduce him on the fringes.  But he didn't wanna stay on the fringes.  And I guess I don't blame him -- I do have a bunch of stories about him floating in my head, but they didn't fit in the other arcs of this particular series. So he's sort of relegated to the bench.

This story is also somewhat outside of the main story arc.  I came up with it as a way to into the series and the world.  Maybe he saw he could push it into being set up for some of his stories to be told.

So I've been trying to remember where he came from, and how this particular story got started...

Nearly all my stories start with dreams.  Dreams and playing.  When I was very young, I was always playing.  When I took a nap, I was the injured princess in a coma from an assassination attempt -- and when I was awake, I was the detective tracking the assassin.  This all blended together in dreams.

Some of these games were a form of fan fiction -- that is, I played the stories I read or saw.  And I'm thinking, given the name and the pseudo-slavic accent, that Rozinshura might have been born of The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming: One of my all time favorite pictures, and it came out when I was six.  A perfectly impressionable age for creating archetypes.  Alan Arkin got a best supporting Oscar nom for his portrayal of Lt. Rosanov -- a guy with a mustache who is desperately trying to hold things together while the world goes crazy around him.

There have been a lot of influences since then, but I think the main thing that stuck (aside from the mustache, which grew bigger) was the concept of the enemy who was an ally.  That's all over WWII pictures and stories -- especially post-war when anti-communism grew so strong, and the Soviets could no longer be portrayed as just allies.  But I discovered that theme in a lot of WWI era pulp stories too.  And, well, just about all war stories have some "frenemies" themes.  Even up through things like the TV show of M*A*S*H.

A more conscious influence, I think, is Louis Renault from Casablanca. Like Renault, Rozinshura is a survivor in a corrupt and dangerous world, who has morals but has learned to guard them and not take them too seriously.  The difference is that Rozinshura doesn't blow in the wind quite so easily.  He does't need anybody else to influence him to do right.  But he's also a staunch revolutionist/communist.  He may make ironic jokes about it, but he believes in the principles even if he knows -- and has always known -- that the world never lives up to them.

I think that's where the limp comes from.  It represents a certain dogged stoicism.  There's just a touch of Javert or Marshal Sam Gerard in him too.

This is only the second time I've written him -- the first was an unfinished YA I may tell you about later -- and it's an odd experience.  Putting words to what's going on inside his head makes him seem more flappable.  But maybe that's a part of his secret plan.  Maybe he wants to force me to give him an arc -- show how he got to be more unflappable than now.

Maybe next time, I'll talk more about the evolution of Alex, who is not only more recent, but also more nebulous right now.  He started as quite a different character, and he has quite an arc ahead of him too.

See you in the funny papers.


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Interesting stuff about dreams...I often think that dreams spark some of my creations.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Laurel!