Even more than I enjoy Author’s Notes (and oh boy do I love a good Author’s Note), I love when authors provide behind-the-scenes commentary on their writing. If I’m going to be releasing Krisis out in into the wild, you can better believe I’m going to do a commentary track.
Perhaps three chapters is too small a denomination to dive deeply into, but the entire point of my posting this novel is to expose my process – and this is all process.
on the “Issues”
The impetus for me to finally write this novel was Eric Smith and his audiobook for Textual Healing. In fact, I was originally writing quite specifically with creating a full-cast audio play in mind as my means of distribution.
That meant I was concerned with having a number of smaller chunks of rising and falling action throughout the plot that could be digested separately from the whole. As I was in the beginnings of my X-Men acquisition quest at the time, I was struck with the idea of “issues” of the novel. Each issue would consist of a trio of chapters, always setting up, rising, and then pushing the narrative forward. While I wouldn’t offer quite as much exposition for new readers as an issue of a comic book, each issue starts relatively cleanly after a point you could easily summarize in a quick “The Story So Far” recap.
It was as much to keep potential future audio-casts interesting as it was to give me a series of small goals to conquer in the course of my writing. I remain enamored with the issues, since that’s how I’ve been writing it this entire time. We’ll see how they stand up for you, the reader.
on first impressions
Ever since the first day of National Novel Writing Month in 2010 the first line of this book was:
“Nathan wasn’t a man of faith or of ritual, except for on April tenth.”
Then, in a fit of pique just before I posted the chapter, I changed it to:
“Everything felt different on April tenth.”
I changed it for two reasons. First, the “wasn’t a man” version was reliant on playing off of the next line being “He wouldn’t even tell you that he was a man, necessarily.” Having the first two lines of a book tell you all about what a character is not seemed like starting on the wrong foot.
That had bothered me for a while, but the other, more subtle problem was that Nathan is a man of faith or ritual on days other than April 10th! All throughout this chapter he talks about the little rituals he has with Ella. And, saying he had no faith is me being an obstinate agnostic rather than saying something useful about the character.
“Everything felt different on April tenth” is a much more fitting first line, considering everything that occurs to Nathan in the following week.
on white not being the default
It’s obvious (and will become more obvious) that Nathan is based on me and that Martina is based on Gina. The main character of Krisis was always a personal stand-in stretching back to the earliest drafts I wrote in eighth grade.
Relatively late in the editing process (three years in?) I realized that while Nathan started as me, he wasn’t me anymore. In fact, he had became equally connected to E’s little brother in the little details of his backstory that took up residence in the crannies of my brain.
Essential to that, he was no longer a white character, but a mixed-raced character. [Read more…] about Book Notes on Krisis, Issue #1