Sunday, 20 February 2011

"Played!"


Finished the Chapter of Snares in Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland. My heroes have wound up on the wrong side of too many of the traps and counter-traps that snapped shut there. Now begins the fierce rush to the climax. Every hope seems either lost or clinging on by its fingernails. Worse, the clearest remaining one looks remarkably like a deep-down betrayal, if you forget to squint hard and take the better view of it.

Most of my characters don't feel much in the mood to do so - and squinting to view things in the Correct Light is not something I like to be asked to do as a reader, let alone to demand of my audience. True, I don't much care for a story where the author chases their characters into a stinking moral quagmire and then ambushes all the margins to stop them getting out. I prefer the arrangement of wild grace or inspiration or chance, whether pitiably missed (as in classic tragedy) or most gloriously seized (as in the high comedy or tragicomedy I love best). But even in heroic comedy, the characters ought at least to get the chance to show what path their feet were set on otherwise.

Grant them that. Then the author's defining the less-evil-seeming road they began down as, by Word of God, the good one, is for me a corruption of taste if not graver things. Giving characters a 'hard choice' and then having the good or wise ones take the author's road, whilst the bad or foolish ones take the low one, is an easy authorial choice which is almost always to be resisted. If it's a morally hard choice, then good and wise characters who are genuinely different from each other will probably divide around it like a river around a rock - quite irrespective of whether one of the channels be also more attractive to bottom-feeders or not. Characters in their capacities as heroes and as bottom-feeders are judging by wholly independent criteria!

So now I have some Good Guys sticking to faith and hope and heart, and one major Good Guy going with reason and romance and a heart in certain ways yet wider. They leaning on principle, she on likely consequences. I have my own opinions that way, but I'll fail on my terms if I demand the reader share them. The fact is, either way could work famously or fail infamously, but the odds aren't looking good whatever happens.

Which is where, choices being cast now, the glimmer of grace comes in.

Since the Gods of the Kateverse are those lovely laddies and lassies who smirk down from Olympus, we know it isn't coming from them. No, my battered and broke-hearted old terror Kate is going to have to roll her own, beyond hope or reason or heroism itself. This is the day, even before I knew it would come, that she of all people was made for.

To get that right - is my modest work for the next chapter.

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