February 17, 2010

THE WRITE STUFF: CHAPTER HEADINGS ARE KIND OF IMPORTANT (PART THREE)

And now a quick run-down of the pre-ultimate chapter of It Takes A Wizard, before I'll be dealing with all those interesting things that come down to me from people in Los Angeles

Anyway, to the next chapter.

CHAPTER EIGHT
TRUTHS TO BE TOLD

The chapter title is based on a figure of speech that I thought would fit nicely here. Truth to be told is one of those sentence openings that tells you there's some major revelation coming, which will in all likelihood blow your head.

I do hope I at least came close to achieving that.

One of the biggest problems in writing a book about magic is that magic screws up everything. As I have Nichole say during this chapter, our brains are based on electricity, which in turn makes them a machine (I'm sure that theology scholars will have a hissy fit reading this), and magic screws with even the most basic electrical things, thus distorting and warping reality. To quote Nichole again, I wish my brain was like yours, made of fairy dust and wicked wishes.

Isaac's standoff with Everett is also not going quite as well as intended, which allows me to do two things, (a) break with the convention of the final showdown that ultimately always deteriorates into a stupid hand-to-hand fight, and (b) delve a bit into the past and do an explanation of what magic actually is.

It was never gone, of course, Everett tells Isaac about magic. It was in the first kiss of lovers. In the smile of perfect strangers. Such was magic, when it's unshaped and raw. Nothing more than a feeling.

Now, why a feeling? Because feelings are the most difficult things to describe with words, to give them shape and meaning requires a lot of thought, and if you look back at the other chapters, Isaac's magic is not based on the magic wand and some Latin recitations.

I specifically didn't want to do wands. Why? Because of J.K. Rowling. It's not like I hate wands, I really don't, but Rowling used them to what I consider to be almost perfection in her Harry Potter books and the movies that were based on them, especially Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix. There, we see a really well-made wand fight, where the wands almost work like magical swords and evoke a lot of the good stuff we know from Errol Flynn.

I could have copied that, but what is the point?

To rip off Miss Rowling? Nah. I have too much respect for her.

Also, going with the whole religious theme of the book, I wanted Isaac's magic to be based on words. Now, this may have slipped by some readers (that's okay), but one of the major foundations of the bible is the notion of The Word Of God.

It is the word of god that shapes the world, and so I gave – after Isaac had recovered his memory – him an actual ancient language that allowed him to reshape reality (but not without a cost).

Words have power, every culture tells us. Words name and define things, feelings and people, and nothing is more powerful than the first words ever uttered by god, "Let there be light" (this will come back to haunt us).

One of the main reveals here is that Everett wanted Isaac to come. He hoped he would come before he no longer could control himself, and the exchange that opens this chapter here is the second time that Isaac meets the Devil. And the Devil is not what you expect to be, he is taunting him, laughing in his face, trying to get Isaac to react, the way only the Devil can, and of course I couldn't resist to turn that a little bit on its head by naming Isaac nothing less than The Morning Star.

The Morning Star, they call you, Everett tells Isaac. Your children. Not mine, mind you. I have wondered so often... in those hours that turned to days... when I was in pain and lost in the dark. How it would feel to be you. At this moment in time. Right now. Forced to face what you have created. Would you be proud? Maybe ashamed? Or just... ah, yes. Just angry. Like a man. That's good. There's hope for me yet. There just may be hope for all of us.

Nichole puts more scheming into place here, and we wonder where that might headed, as Hope is staging the most violent prison break ever, one that has no, uh, hope of succeeding, really, unless Isaac does what he has promised her, to end it all.

I wanted the chapter to end on one of those moments where all appears to be lost, where there is no way in hell, uh, that our heroes might make it out of this situation alive. Isaac is swallowed whole by Everett's darkness, and like we alluded before, Isaac already told Hope that he was too weak, the bastard made me do it, I was too weak. Here we get told what it was that Everett made him.

He made him a star.

And in this day and age of reality TV bullshit, of American Idol and Jersey Shore, what could be more tempting? To become a star? To be told that you are special? To go along with people who only have your best interests at heart?

(incidentally, if some people had read what they had published, they would have understood exactly what kind of a man the writer is. Isaac Silverberg is based on myself, and as some folks have commented, he is rather reluctant to take on and tackle his responsibilities, but once he does, he nearly ends the world. Telling, ain't it? And no, I don't have a god complex)

And it's difficult to walk away from that, it is difficult to forgive oneself for being this stupid, and as Hope shows in the little flashback that fills in the scene from Chapter Three that we had been missing so far, there is a God, it is Hope's God, and he is willing to forgive Isaac if our hero lives up to what he is.

And he is. He is going to live up to it.