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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Focus In An Infinite Universe

One of the things that I find fascinating about writing is Point Of View (POV) and focus. This has been highlighted for me in the Light Warrior series because I've written four books now in the same world from the POVs of eight separate characters (plus a secondary character or two). Different characters notice different things. Different characters react in different ways.

The Gineal world of my Light Warriors is a great example of this. Their world is here and now, but they have the ability to travel between dimensions and those are nearly limitless. It also means that there are inhabitants of these other dimensions who are able to come to our world. What this means is that this fictional world is extraordinarily vast and open to an infinite number of possibilities. It also means that the sheer expanse of this world could overwhelm a story and that's where POV and focus comes in.

My heroes and heroines have largely been Gineal which helps greatly on narrowing things down to the story at hand. Think about it. When you walk into your house, do you notice the cream walls and the black marble counter tops? No, because you're used to that--you see it every day and you're inured. That's human nature.

It's the same way with my characters. They grew up using magic, it's not something they particularly notice or think about, it just is--the same way our everyday world just is for us.

This makes it easy to focus the book on the story at hand. In the first book, In the Midnight Hour, Ryne has two goals: Defeat her former mentor and restore Deke to his life. She's not thinking about Twilight Time, the Gineal prophecy about the final battle between good and evil. Why would she? Yeah, she learned about it, but it's there the same way some topic we learned about in school is there, but unused and unnecessary. For me, that would be something like algebra. :-) As I'm going about my day to day life, do I suddenly think about equations or story problems? No. I have no need to think about it. Now if someone mentions their most hated school subject, then yes, math and story problems about trains leaving stations does pop into my head.

Twilight Time doesn't come up at all in book 1 because it's not something Ryne cares about or needs to know. That changes in book 2, In Twilight's Shadow, because Creed, the hero, does have an interest in the prophecy. In fact, he's studied it extensively and it's safe to say that he knows as much (or more) about it as any member of the Gineal. Because of his fascination, it comes up even though the story doesn't revolve around it. Character and perspective.

Book 3, Edge of Dawn, has Twilight Time mentioned in one scene, when the hero's brother tells him that the appearance of the mage is part of the prophecy. Which Logan immediately discounts because the mage has appeared every couple of centuries and those weren't Twilight Time.

In the Darkest Night, the fourth book in the Gineal series (April 2010) has nothing in there about Twilight Time at all because the characters have no interest and nothing happens to trigger the memory of it.

But guess what? Twilight Time, whether it's mentioned or not, plays a role in every book. Most of the characters have no clue about this and that's why it's not a part of some of the stories. In fact, somewhere after the end of Darkest Night is when the Gineal Council first begins to suspect that pieces are coming together. It's not in any of the books and it won't be. Because as Seth (a villain) says in one of the books: "The council didn't always tell its foot soldiers everything." Or words to that effect.

And if the characters don't know about it, and if you're doing POV only from their heads, the reader can't know either. The only way this information comes out is if I do omniscient POV (which I try my best never to lapse into) or I do POV from a council member after they begin to realize something is going on. Which they don't know during the first four books.