Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All hands on deck, and polish!

I've spent some time revisiting old heroes. Now that I've written a book myself, I wanted to touch ground with some of my favourite stories and storytellers, to steep my brain in their magic before taking another long look at the manuscript.

First up is The Lord of the Rings. It was my first true book love, and I don't care how fashionable or un-fashionable it is. I wrote my Master's thesis on the mapping out of free will and fate in tLotR, so this is not the first time I've held it under a microscope. One of the things that caught my attention this time was this:

Tolkien makes the story flow smoothly even when there are piles of characters on the scene. You would think it was impossible to have good dialogue between nine people or more without jumbling it up. But Tokien pulls it off. He doesn't make his characters step forward dramatically to claim the spotlight musical-style. They simply speak, even when they haven't said anything for a while. Moreover, it never feels abrupt or non-sequitur. Tolkien trusts the reader to keep sufficient track of the players, and it works.

For a long time, I shied away from big crowds for fear that I couldn't be quite as elegant or confident as Tolkien. But for the final chapters, the tying up of many threads and the need for closure both demand all hands on deck.

Clariselyn the Queen, Teodor the Flamewatcher, Eleonora the Hidden, Nikolaus the Master, Trasher, and timid, little Nit: They're are all there at the end. More peripheral characters like Sophie, Lass, Close, Littlebear and Bigbear also get to say a brief goodbye. And then there's Lin and Gwen. Somehow, their story needs to come to its inevitable, sad halt right there, in the middle of the crowd.

Well. I hope I have it now. It feels right to me, at least, and then we'll see what my readers think.

Another thing Tolkien did right was taking his time with the ending. The Lord of the Rings would certainly not be such a beautiful and poignant story if he had left it at the Field of Cornmallen.

Of course, I don't have a hundred pages to wrap everything up in The Child of Ice. All the more reason to keep polishing until it truly shines.

1 comment:

Laini Taylor said...

Oh my god I love your character names so much. There are like sweets. I could eat them. I think I will. Delicious!