Monday, November 24, 2008


Elephants and mahouts

I was uncertain about what to title this blog. For myself, in the last weeks of not being able to find time to write, I was uncertain about if I'd finish by the end of the year as I'd hoped. But my classes are over now and my time freed up. So I'm back at work on the novel and in the last two days I've finished another chapter and perhaps today will complete one more that had already been partially written. This means, if I stay on track perhaps I will achieve my goal.

The other uncertainty has been this nagging thought I've had ever since I was at the writer's conference and sat in on several workshops. Most authors emphasized the importance of point of view in your novel. Well, mine is a multiple point of view. It was suggested that I have a singular point of view throughout that is more important than the others, a main protagonist.
Well perhaps Roxana is the one to fit that role, but there are others just as important who were the key players in the fall of Alexander's dynasty. So I've tried to give them equal voices throughout the novel. Will this work? Will an editor turn down my story because there isn't a strong main protagonist? I refer to the work of Mary Renault, in particular her "Funeral Games" which is the same period of history that "Shadow of the Lion" is, with most of the same characters and events. In that novel she has done what I'm doing in Shadow. There is no singular main character -- unless you say it's the spirit of Alexander -- which in Shadow is really the case. Alexander is the 'shadow' throughout the story from page one, and the entire plot hinges around him and his dynasty even though he is dead. So that's my dilemma. And will that work?

I guess I can only wait and see.

And there's uncertainty facing my characters in this part of the story, too. They've been trapped inside the fortress at Pydna for the winter and many of them have died, including the old mahout Sadu. In this chapter segment, little 7-year old Iskander has witnessed the death of his beloved friend and the full horror of what is happening in his world. It was a grim chapter to write and there's more to come, so it's been a slow process to get the right emotion in the text.
This is new writing that hasn't been workshopped yet, but you'll get the gist of it.

He straightened his shoulders. Tears shone on his cheeks and a sob escaped from his chest but he lifted his chin bravely. All his life he had been touched by death, stalked by the dark Shades who wait beyond the River. He had witnessed it more times than he could remember -- men fallen in battles, the Chaldean Magus who had been like grandfather to him, the aged Regent Antipater who had called him to his deathbed.. He was haunted always by the Shadow his invincible father, the prowling lion of his dreams, who had died just before his birth. Now, the mahout, Sadu, who taught him how to ride on Old Pearl’s neck, and told him stories about Rajah Porus. And soon, he knew, Old Pearl would die too.

The sun had gone down in the west and there were blood streaks in the sky. He glanced once at the wood pyre where they would burn Sadu’s body and walked away, forcing himself to look stonily ahead. Spitama tried to reassure him but no amount of reassurance could banish the truth. The gods had deserted them. His Mama and Grandmama had lied. The ships would never come, neither would Polyperchon and his army. They were all going to die here.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting Ruth . Bella