17 March 2014

Webs And Those Who Weave Them

Viking Loom. Culturally, the
sierrens from Aorea are similar
to the vikings from Earth.
Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.
~ Chief Sealth

As I have discussed before, whenever I begin a project, I begin with the bones. In sculpture that usually means I first create a wire frame; in art, a pencil sketch. In my fiction writing I begin with a different kind of sketch: dialogue.

Because I am a perfectionist and can never be satisfied with the state of my story—if you’ll recall, I recently announced finishing it and sending it out to a second round of readers—I have started changing things again. Drastically. The story some of you have already read will still be there, largely unchanged, but it will now take up little more than half of the novel’s overall weight. There’s so much mythology and backstory and a whole slew of interesting (at least, to me) characters that make the “modern” day journey necessary, that when I go back and read my story as a stranger would—without knowing all the backstory of the world of Aorea—it seems very thin and contrived to me. Sure, some of my characters explain bits and pieces of the history, but I’m a writer; I’d rather show the readers that history than have someone else tell it, even if they’re using my words.

Thus, I have started writing new scenes, a whole army of new scenes, that I will splice throughout the story such that the end result is almost two stories comprised into one book, alternating between the “flashbacks” (the history and mythology of the world itself that leads up to the journey being necessary) and the “present day” story that is already written. I have written thirteen dialogue sketches so far. Thirteen. I have about ten or so more to go, and then, of course, I have to flesh them out, edit them, put them in order, figure out how and where I want to cut them in to the main narrative. I think the final product will be significantly better than the first and even than the second, and although my novel will be much longer than I originally intended, and although I will be introducing a shitton of semi-new elements, I think the final product will ultimately make more sense and convey the main theme I’ve been trying to convey from the very beginning: we’re all connected. Everything is connected. Decisions made and actions taken generations ago affect the outcomes of actions taken today.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

I have always tended to borrow heavily from traditional mythology (with a twist) to supplement my own stories, whether through world-building or just by having my characters familiar with certain mythological themes that help them in their own quest. Some of my characters will look quite familiar to those versed in Slavic mythology, even down to derivations of their names; however, I tend to pick and choose those aspects of a particular myth or mythological figure that best fits my needs, except for those instances where strong cross-cultural similarities exist. In those instances, I keep the predominant traits as well.

One of the central histories from the world in which my stories take place—Aorea—involves a retelling of the myth of Arachne mixed with various versions of spinning Fates, granted I use a very different cast of characters. The central myth binding my created world together involves a woman weaving at a semi-immortal loom and watching the fate of multiple worlds unfold upon the cloth. While the first of these demi-goddess women weavers (there will be seven total) was quite the mage in her own right, as was her heir and daughter, nevertheless the magic of the visions is tied to the loom, not the Spinner. The visions in the loom, in fact, stem from the powerful soul trapped within it whom the Spinners are truly there to guard; watching the visions unfold across the cloth is just a fun side-gig.

Thus, I present to you a snippet of dialogue sketch from one of my newly written scenes. Without giving too much away, in this scene three siblings from the world of Daem have found their way through Earth and into Aorea, where they are plotting their next move from a room in a sierren inn. The two brothers are Dimeldor (oldest) and Derrien (youngest), and their sister is Antiln (middle).

Dimeldor: These creatures are little wiser than the last.
Antiln: I feel there is much we can gain here, much to learn.
Derrien: Have you had another vision?
Antiln: Not since we left Daem, but the path I saw on that day is beginning to unfold. Our journey will not go unrewarded.
Dimeldor: I tire of your empty prophecies, sister. I would rather take what is ours and leave.
Antiln: Caution, dear brother. We must first observe, and then our path will be made clear.
Derrien: You speak of paths. I thought this was our path?
Dimeldor: You told us if we joined you in your quest, we would find magic of our own to take.
Derrien: You promised us we would become like gods and rule our world.
Antiln: And now I promise you that we will rule not just Daem, but all three of these worlds. One will reign over our home with all of our brethren bowing at his feet; one will rule the land we left with those primitive tribes as his servants; and I will reign supreme over this rich, bright, shining land we have just found.
Dimeldor: Why do you get to rule this place? I am the eldest. The best world should be mine by birthright.
Antiln: I will rule where I will because I have the power. Do not forget that you are nothing without me. You would become but ash in the wind were it not for my aid.
Dimeldor: Empty prophecies, empty threats.

***Antiln taps into the magic of the land and causes Dimeldor’s blood to sear and boil in his veins. Writhing in pain, he falls to his knees and yields***

Antiln: Pledge your loyalty to me, dear brothers, and I will let you live and even rule over Daem and that second, wretched world. Betray me, and you will know agony, misery and despair before I finally grant you the release of death.
Derrien and Dimeldor: We will serve you, dear sister, until our dying breath and beyond.
Antiln: Then you will know power greater than you have ever imagined. The magic here is a gravity, drawing all things to its center. I will find that center, and I will make it mine.