Still have writer’s block

Published January 16, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I just can’t figure out how to continue book 2 of the trilogy I started with this year’s NaNo novel.  I mean, I know what needs to happen in the scene, and the following scenes, and I’m looking forward to much of what’s to come later on, particularly the scenes between Sondra and Eddie (aka Cassandra and Odysseus), but somehow I just can’t find the way to get that one scene moving.

I think there are two reasons I can’t get it to move:

1) I don’t really know the characters very well.  Their mythological counterparts (Agamemnon and Iphigenia) haven’t really played much of a role in any of my directly myth-based fiction.  (Well, technically they have, but indirectly in Agamemnon’s case, and in Iphigenia’s case…she was a very different character then.)

2) The type of scene–behind the scenes power play as a minor battle is taking place on the front lines–is one that I’m particularly alien to, not only in my writing, but even in reading and watching.

There’s not much I can do about reason two, but I think maybe if I work on reason one, I can jump-start the process.

Tomorrow, or maybe later tonight, I’ll try writing a short story about these two characters, not the original myth versions, but these new versions.  Something before the book started, to delve into their relationship with each other, and with the other characters in the book.  Maybe once I know them better, I’ll have less trouble with the scene.

Hmm, not much of a post, is it?

Well, I’ll go ahead and say a little about the book I’m working on, since I’m not sure how much I’ve said in previous posts that touch on the subject.  Originally, the book was going to be called “Helen of Space,” but that was before I realized it was merely part one of three.  That title is probably going to be the title of the third book, but I’m not sure what to call the first two now.  The series title is something like “The Ganymede War,” since it takes place on the moon of Ganymede.   Well, with some of the first book being on space stations in orbit around Jupiter, and probably at least half of the third book being in space around Ganymede and/or Jupiter in one way or another.

It’s very anime-inspired, particularly by shows like Gundam and Macross, so it involves–among other things–giant robots, though they’ve played a surprisingly small role so far, and will be all but absent from book two entirely, due to the structure of the story.  But most importantly, it’s not actually a re-telling of the Trojan War in space, though the original title might make you think so.  The characters are in fact the reincarnations of the various figures from the Trojan War, and over the five thousand years since the original war, they’ve been reincarnated repeatedly, and each time the war has played out essentially the same way over and over again.  Minor variations due to events outside the characters’ control (like the eruption of Vesuvius) and of course massive changes due to different historical circumstances, weapons technology, cultural conventions, et ceterea.  But always it’s started because Alexander/Paris seduces/abducts Helen, and the same people always die at the hands of the same foes.  (With a few variations.)  This time, however, Alexander/Paris is killed before he can meet Helen, so it looks like the war is off, until it’s stirred up for other reasons.

Naturally, no one remembers their past lives.  Except Cassandra.  But she’s still treated as insane, in part because she sometimes slips into other languages when she’s talking.

At first, I had hoped to make it unclear as to whether Sondra was really insane or not, to make it a point of mystery about whether or not the whole reincarnation thing was really going on, but as I started writing, I realized that there was no way of making Sondra seem insane to the reader.  One of the ways she sounds crazy to other people in her world is that she’s always referencing their past lives, things that are long forgotten two thousand(ish) years from now, but well known to us.  (For example, Sarpedon and Glaucos are named Sullivan and Gilbert this time around…so when Sondra meets up with both of them together, she starts cracking jokes about The Pirates of Penzance.  Modern people get that, but those around her don’t…and that makes it clear to the reader that she’s not actually insane.)

I’m not sure if I want to go ahead and ever get inside her head, though.  Well, okay, technically I’ve done that already; I wrote a short story that started out with the 20th century go-round of the war (where it was much smaller, needless to say, just a blood feud) and then had her waking up later in book 2 than I’ve gotten.  I could work it into the book itself, but…I dunno.  Doesn’t feel right.  It’s more about the relationship of that version of Patroclos and Achilles anyway.  (I’d come up with their story–more tragic than the usual Achilles-gets-his-friend/lover-killed-via-his-own-selfish-actions version–and wanted an excuse to write down at least part of it.)

The real question that I don’t have an answer for is whether or not Helen remembers.  Her name is always Helen, even when they’ve lived in places where that’s an impossibly weird name (Japan, China, Inca Peru), and Cassandra is so convinced that Helen remembers that for centuries she was sure that Helen was actually immortal, and kept re-starting the war intentionally.  She probably doesn’t fully remember, but has glimmers and glimpses of her previous lives.  Probably.

That’s something I can worry about later.

Right now I gotta find a way to get the story moving again.  This time last year I was writing up a storm.  It’s annoying that I’ve been spending far more time gaming and customizing dolls lately than I have spent writing.

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