Sunday, July 25, 2010

A new improved "Bad Guy"

I just had an amazing week. My antagonist is totally re-worked, humanized and fleshed out, and I cant believe how much energy it's added to the story.

It was always going to be tricky working out the King of Jericho - someone we know very little about. On the surface, he simply defended his city from an invader. Simple enough - so why is he the bad guy?

One of the underlying themes of this story is the clash between judgment and mercy, law and faith, pride and grace. So I had to build his character around those foundations. In essence, he had to be the anti-hero, the exact opposite of Joshua - who Joshua would become if he didn't conquer his inner demons.

So in the end, its all about theme, and characters that support the theme. A well written screenplay or novel ends up become something like poetry - its so well rounded and tight that you couldn't imagine it any other way. Like Rudyard Kipling's "If" poem, tinker with it at your peril - it's perfect poem, based on a consistent theme that speaks to so many people (men obviously).

So who is this King of Jericho? Here's a quote from my rewrite this week:

Elam nodded and paced slowly around the room, carefully considering what to say. “Judge a man by what he does, not what he says - especially when he has something to lose. You’ve alway had a thing for Rahab. I just want to be certain you’re not in this with her.”

“You want me to do it?” asked Giddel.

“Power has a price. You make choices, and your choices make you. I don’t care how you do it. Enjoy her for one last time if you wish, but before Joshua attacks you must kill her.”

“You think she’s a traitor but you want to show her our biggest secret?”

“At least she’ll know I”ll win this war. Whatever faith she has will die before you kill her.”

“What if she’s innocent?”

“There is no innocent or guilty, just power!” Elam ranted. “There’s no God. No judgment. There are just the strong and the weak, an end and a means. So we lose a whore? They are plenty more in this world.”

He's Machievelli, Hitler and Nietzche rolled into one. Now he is worthy of judgment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Things not spoken are fascinating.

One of the little gems I've discovered while writing about Joshua is his encounter with the Captain of the Lord's Army. Commonly thought to be a pre-incarnate form of Christ (because Joshua would never bow down and worship an angel), this being said so much with so few words. What's more, what he didn't say was even more fascinating. consider the following:

1. The Manner of Jericho's Demise.
God chose to destroy the wall, yet he makes no mention of Rahab, whom he knew lived on the wall. This would have freaked out Joshua, perhaps even causing him to question whether he made the right decision to honour the spies vow to protect Rahab.

2. The Ark of the Covenant.
God told Joshua to march with the ark at the back of his troops, the exact opposite of what Moses did, and a very symbolic gesture. Big shoes to fill and a tough call to make - Joshua had to have faith to obey this unusual request.

3. The Sabbath.
Joshua was asked to march seven days - it had to include a Sabbath. Again, a big call for a new leader with big shoes to fill.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Character, Less Plot

As I write more of my second draft I am constantly reminded of the well worn adage "more character, less plot." It's inescapable, even in big (yes EPIC) historical dramas. In fact, probably ESPECIALLY in this genre. The last thing I want is another "Robin Hood" (sorry, the latest incarnation of that story did nothing for me).

Back to work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'm going to keep blogging.

After some consideration, I've decided to do a little more blogging. My original intention was to post the first act of my book - as a way of getting some feedback. However, writing a 90-100,000 word novel is such a loooooong journey I figured I need a little company along the way. So I'll take a risk and post a blog every couple of days just to keep up the dialogue.

I try to write every 5-6 days a week for a couple of hours. I could write more - alot more, but I'd like to have a healthy marriage and be involved in the lives of my amazing children.

Why could I write more? I find it fascinating how stories can improve through the process of re-writing. Its true what they say; writing IS re-writing. Now, about three quarters through my second draft, I'm thinking of all sorts of ways to improve the story.

I'll talk more about it in my next blog. Bye!