Sunday, February 23, 2020

In The Beginning

The inception of War of the Maps was, okay, its world. Specifically, as mentioned in an earlier post, an odd kind of star-wrapping Dyson sphere. But that was only the seed. An unsprouted potential. The real beginning of the story was a character and a situation. Everything followed from that. The complications of the narrative; the unfolding of the character's world, and what he found in it. I had a beginning, and an idea about an ending, but the protagonist's path through the world was mapped by his needs, desires and beliefs, and his interactions with other characters.

My previous novel, Austral, elaborated itself in the same way; so is the (as yet untitled) fable of the post-Anthropocene I'm presently working on. I had problems with the beginnings of both: in Austral, failing to understand that the protagonist should be in narrator; in the current work, starting it in the wrong place. As far as I'm concerned, the trick isn't building the world or charting the topography of the narrative before beginning; it's finding the character's voice, and the right situation. But War of the Maps was one of those lucky books where I had the character and the situation right at the beginning, and with only a few wrong turns the rest (to borrow an image from Robert Frost), like a piece of ice on a hot stove, flowed with its own melting.

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