Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Machinations and Motivations

So I've now started working my way through the assessor's comments - and officially starting draft 6 of a book that probably won't be called The Ghost of Ping-Ling. I first picked that name as a temporary, working title - but it stuck with me. But I've had too many comments from people saying they didn't understand it, and the assessor said the connection was weak - so I think it will go. I already have a few other title ideas floating around my head, I'll have to see which one bubbles to the surface.

The first task I've taken on in this draft is adding more strength to Dillen's motivation to seek after the mana-lord. This has actually turned out to be much tougher than I thought. In the very first draft a god appears to Dillen and tells him to seek the mana-lord, but that was gone by the time I got to draft 3. I toyed briefly with the idea of resurrecting that, and wrote a few different versions - in one a god comes overtly to the temple and tells Dillen to seek Hallegat, in the second the god speaks to Dillen in a dream. I didn't like either. I wanted to keep the involvement of the gods as a more subtle, background thing - something that may or may not be present. I also tried a version (which is now getting close to the original drafts of Green Gem) where Hallegat comes to the temple looking for a map, and asks Dillen to accompany him on the journey - but Dillen refuses, then the temple burns down - was it Dillen, or did Hallegat set the fire? I kind of liked that, but it had a couple of problems - Dillen would never allow Hallegat to have a map from the temple, seeing as they're all rare and valuable, and he also wouldn't knowingly lead the puk-do straight to the mana-lord, simply so he can join him on the quest (a problem that was present in draft 5, which Margaret pointed out).

So, I thought of something else, and I've been kicking it around in my head all day, wondering if it might work. In this version, Hallegat turns up in Ping-Ling looking for a map of the western province - he doesn't know the area at all, and maps of the west are hard to come by. He comes to the temple and asks Dillen if he can look at one, and Dillen (a little reluctantly) agrees. But when Hallegat asks if he can borrow the map, things get a little heated. Dillen refuses point blank, but he should have known better than to stand in the way of a mana-lord on a mission. When he regains consciousness Hallegat is gone, and so is the map.

Dillen calls together the priest and the magistrate and tells them what has happened. Kaji insists that Dillen must follow Hallegat and retrieve the map - that the contents of the temple are Dillen's responsibility and he must give up his life if necessary to make amends for his failure. The magistrate is more reluctant to condemn Dillen to such a fate, but in the end has no choice but to agree.

So Dillen's quest to find the mana-lord is a quest to find and retrieve a stolen map. That's why Dillen has no qualms about leading the puk-do straight to Hallegat - it's his own fault for stealing. I suspect that may work well - although usually I can only work it out when I start writing, which I'll hopefully do tonight.

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