Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bleed the Alien and the Audience, Awaken the Hero

Anne Stuart spoke at our June conference, and at one point stated that an author should not hold back when writing. That they should put it all into the work, not save that passion or agony for something ‘better’ down the road. (I am paraphrasing).

All month I’ve been thinking about Raine, what she wants and what she endures to get what she wants.

In an earlier passage I thought of Raine and Jack:
"She is the bitter ice in the North wind that sweeps down from the ancient realm, meets the fire, and births the storm. She is the steel, and he is the flame of the forge."

All month that was on the back burner.

I have the crux of the opening scene for Nobody's Hero, and have had this scene since ending Immortal Protector. Each time I envisioned it from another point of view but each was a poor fit. Each was a shade of the other, never quite the color of scarelt, the coppery smell of blood, each was an ache, a moan, but not a sorrowful cry or a shout of blinding rage. And then recently, Anne’s words came back to me. And I knew the POV should be Raines. Because to know her, and understand her, I can’t lecture. I can't dilute. I can't start from someone else's head space. I need to let the reader feel pain and alienation and desperation with her, because it’s the only way to make it real.

We have all been the alien at one time or another. We have all longed to fit in, and been the odd man out. We have all experienced a desire so strong we can taste it, and we have all desired something our rational mind, or the external body politic has told us we categorically can not have. We have all worked hard at something, trying to be the best, and endured ridicule and cruelty, and capricious decisions rendering us inferior for things beyond our control.

Raine wants acceptance from people who will never give it to her, and she will do anything to get this acceptance, even sit in a room and listen to bigotry and ridicule directed at her. She will use steel and reason and logic to keep her cool, to maintain her fa├žade, she will use desire to hold back and hide her rage and anguish, but on the inside she will bleed. And I want the reader to bleed with her. I want the reader to taste the bitterness, to know the rage and desire, to feel the pain with every nerve ending in their body. I want to take them to the mat with her, and yet, even this seemed not enough.

Always incomplete, this scene, even in her POV, despite all the power it contained. And then tonight I realized why. Jack needs to be there too. Jack, nobody’s hero, will bleed as well, though he won’t recognize it. And Jack: Trickster, Bad Boy, Iconoclast, Outcast, Demon Lover, the Fire who Meets Ice and births the storm: he will strike back. He does not need to maintain silence, he does not want acceptance, and though he doesn’t want to be champion, he will step into the fray. That single, almost unconscious action, will cast the lot from the get go and drive the story inexorably to it’s end.

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