Anyway, onto the point of this post! I recently started following Knitted by God's Plan and discovered Kendra's Character Encounters link-up/writing challenge. It sounded like fun; essentially, you write a short piece about how you meet up with one of your characters in a certain location. Better yet was this month's location: my character's own world. This works out very nicely for me, since I've managed to do that in-novel multiple times, canonically even. Well, a character based strongly on me has, but as the main differences between the character and I are that the character spends more time writing and less time staring at the computer and doesn't freak out quite as much about talking to people (mainly because she knows almost all the conversations are happening on her terms anyway), it comes out to about the same thing. And yes, I do have an excuse for putting in a self-insert character! What is it? Well, the best way to answer that question will be to tell you a little about my Camp novel, starting with the synopsis.
Tuira is a land without an Author. It has been for two hundred years, though the bards and bardesses insist that the land’s stories will be written once more. Now, however, the waiting has come to an end. A new Author has been appointed- but she’s not like anything the people of Tuira ever expected.It was inspired by the argument I had with a certain bardess in my Berstru Tales and another thought: what if characters in a story knew that their world was controlled by an author, and what if those characters could actually interact with their author? At first I thought it would only be certain characters . . . but then it became more interesting to have everyone in that storyworld know . . . and then it kind of turned into its own religion (which was rather interesting to make- it’s something I’ve never tried before now). Anyway, it’s been pretty fun to write.
No one was more surprised than Rinna when the new Author appeared to her, of all people- especially not since Rinna has been denied entrance to the Order of the Pen multiple times. However, that didn’t even begin to cover Rinna’s shock when that same Author informs Rinna of a threat to Tuira and to her position as Author. Before long, Rinna finds herself on an adventure that will not only decide Tuira’s fate, but challenge everything she ever believed.
Of course, since this novel is pretty much one big character encounter, I have a lot of options on what I could do for this post. I decided to do a certain conversation which I'm particularly (perhaps unreasonably) fond of. Keep in mind: it is still the first draft and therefore rather rough.
"Oh." Rinna adjusted her bag's strap again, trying to find the most comfortable position for it. "But . . . why walk? Why not just appear there? Why bring me along?"
"Official reason: this seemed more fun and I wanted to test my theory. Unofficially . . ." Sarah looked slightly sheepish. "I'm not sure what determines which Fourth Walls shatter when I appear and I don't want to take any risks. I mean . . . there's a lot of Fourth Walls in the High Temple."
"Oh. True." Rinna winced, imagining the crash if they all shattered at once. "Couldn't you just appear outside the Temple?"
"I could." Sarah shrugged. "But like I said, I'd rather do it this way." She glanced at Rinna. "You don't mind coming, do you?"
Rinna hesitated before shaking her head. "No. You want me to do this, so I'll do it."
"That's very kind of you," Sarah said, a hint of wryness in her voice. "Also, from a completely logical standpoint, somewhat foolish, since Authors tend to land their characters in a sea of boiling water."
"But not doing what you want would be worse, wouldn't it?" Rinna recalled what she'd heard the Bards say on occasion. "You'd force me to do it anyway, or manipulate me so I had no choice."
"Force you?" Sarah shook her head. "Never. I mean, I could. But outright forcing a character to do anything usually doesn't work very well. They resist and make the scene nasty and clunky and it's easier just to think of a different option . . . or, yes, manipulate them into taking the path I want them to and thinking it's their idea."
Rinna eyed Sarah suspiciously. "Is that what you did today? Manipulated me so I thought coming with you was my idea when it really wasn't?"
Sarah's gaze remained fixed on a point in the distance. "You were entirely free to say no at any time you liked. You can still say no now and I'll send you home. You can tell your parents that you found out I was crazy or not a real Writer or whatever you like. I'll go to the capital by myself."
Rinna shook her head. "But saying no would be out of character for me. You're my Author; if you ask something of me, I do it. And you told my family you're a Writer offering an opportunity for me to get experience and a better chance of joining the Order of the Pen- again, saying no would be out of character and you, my parents, and I all know it."
"Ah, true." Sarah assumed what was supposed to be a wise, learned, Jedi-esque expression but which really just looked silly. "However, you also fear protagonist-dom, and you recognize that this quest is a good sign that you're going to become one. Thus, you do have a certain amount of motivation to say no. It was just a matter of whether your rather misplaced devotion to me and not-misplaced desire to be a Writer would outweigh your fear."
"Which you counted on them doing." Rinna glanced to the side with a frown. Was it just her imagination, or did the rolling hills and groves of olive and cedar trees seem to be passing so fast they blurred?
"Well, of course. What kind of Author would I be if I couldn't predict what my characters will do in a given situation?" Sarah's walking stick swung and tapped faster, creating a rhythm just slightly out of sync with their footsteps. "But that doesn't mean I manipulated you. You still could've said no."
"But it wasn't very likely." Yes, the trees were definitely blurring, and when Rinna looked down, the ground whizzed by unnaturally fast as well. Rinna's stomach turned, and she looked up again, focusing on the horizon to fight the sensation of nausea.
"If you offered your brother your dessert in return for his doing the dishes for you, is he likely to say no? No. He's not. Is that manipulation?"
"Well . . . no." Rinna couldn't help but feel that there was something wrong with that comparison but she couldn't figure out how to put that wrongness in words. "So why did you want me to come?"
"As I said, I'd like your company and your help." Sarah shrugged. "The latter in particular- I need a native who knows who I am to warn me when I'm acting too odd." She smiled an odd, sly smile, almost a smirk. "Besides, I have a feeling about you. My stories seem to go better when you're involved."
Oh no. Rinna tried to keep the dread out of her voice. "You've decided you want me for a protagonist, haven't you?"
Sarah didn't answer- at least, not how Rinna expected her to. "You're not going to die, Rinna."
"That's not answering the question!"
"It is, just not the question you asked. I answered the question you should've asked- the one you're really asking- and the answer is now." Sarah's stick tapped faster, and the blur of the landscape increased. "No, you're not going to die- not by my pen, anyway. No, I'm not going to elevate you to some high rank you don't want or put you through a war or something like that. I'm not Sanderson or Martin or anyone like that. I said I'd do what I can to keep you safe and help you achieve what you want, and I meant it. That doesn't mean you'll never face trouble, or that the path I choose to get you where you want to be is the same as the path you'd choose. It just means I'm not just doing those things for my own amusement." She turned to look at Rinna, her expression for once completely serious. "You said you wanted to trust me before. So do it now. Trust me that I'll keep my word, and trust the Great Author who guides me. Can you do that?"
I think that gives you a pretty good look at how my storyworld operates, as well as how the relationship between Rinna and me works! (Though, neither one is usually quite so meta as this conversation was . . .) Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading that, and that you'll join in the Character Encounters link-up as well!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)