Yesterday, I was talking to my friend, the lovely and talented J. Elizabeth Hill. (I’m not sure what the “J” stands for, since she always has it abbreviated. I think it might be “Julie.” But I always call her “Owl,” because the cover to her book, Bound (which you should totally go buy and read), looks like a horned owl to me:
But I digress.)
Owl and I were talking, and we somehow got on the subject of angels. I’m not really sure how, but this type of conversation is normal for us. While we were talking, I started thinking about an old character of mine, Minori Tsujino. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, the characters Gabriella Palladino and Tock Zipporah were both originally written on collaborative writing and roleplaying sites. Minori was another character I wrote on the same site Gabby and Tock started on. She was rather unique, and I always enjoyed writing her.
Back when I first started this blog, I intended to have a wider variety of characters than just Gabby, Tock, and Dr. Caldwell. What ended up happening was that these characters basically took over, and I found myself with so much to write about them that I never had time to develop the other character ideas I’d started with. The story didn’t “need” the other characters I’d thought up, and I eventually discarded most of them since I never really developed them beyond a basic concept.
Minori, however, was well developed long before all of this. She predates Tock, even. I struggled for awhile trying to think of how to fit her into the world of “Manifestation.” It’s a bit complicated, since Minori is an angel. Specifically, the Angel of Truth, Mithriel. Her concept is loosely based (read: I took a lot of creative interpretation) on the Angel of Truth from Christian mythology. The original setting I developed these characters on had a storyline where many angels had “fallen” from heaven (literally), and were trapped on Earth. That concept, however, doesn’t really fit with the mythology I’m developing for “Manifestation.” As a result, I wasn’t quite sure how my angel would fit into this world.
My chat with Owl yesterday made a few ideas click into place. As a result, I figured out a perfect way for Minori to fit into the world of “Manifestation,” in a way that matches perfectly with the concepts of magic I’ve already developed. Everything is based on belief. Belief, in fact, is a core theme to “Manifestation,” and one which is crucial to the storyline and how magic works in this world. I was able to tie the concept of belief, with regards to how magic works in my world, to the concept of religious belief, with regards to things like God and angels.
I won’t say any more, since further detail might lead to spoilers. But suffice to say, once I’d come up with these ideas, I had to sit down and write them out. The result is a new early chapter for the second book in the series, “Contamination.” It introduces Minori in a way that connects quite beautifully with the events surrounding Gabby and Tock.
Because of this, Minori is going to become a major character in the series. My mind has been buzzing already with the possibilities. None of this fits with the story structure I’ve had in mind so far, at least, not without a lot of adjustments. But the ideas I’m coming up with are beautiful and I’m totally running with them. They don’t require me to change or discard any of my previous ideas; I just need to make some room for this new branch of the storyline to fit into place.
I don’t have any idea what the end result will be. But I’m still going to go with it anyway. People familiar with the “Plotter or Pantser” philosophy will know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t familiar with these terms, a Plotter is someone who plans out every step of a story in advance. A Panster is someone who just writes as they go, and lets the story take them where they will.
I’m sort of half and half. I have a basic outline for the next two books in this series. I know certain key events that HAVE to take place, and I’m building up to them with how I’m guiding the story. However, I’m also taking certain things by the seat of my pants, since my current plans didn’t account for adding an angel as a main character.
Everyone has their own methods, but I definitely recommend going with ideas as they come. It doesn’t mean you need to discard your outlines or stop plotting things out in advance. But it does mean that your plots don’t need to be fixed in place. Things can be fluid; nothing is “canon” until the day the book hits the shelves.
And remember, if it doesn’t work out the way you like, you can always revise.