From The Narrator, Chapter Twelve


“What are you doing?” she hissed through her smile. She refused to allow the court see how upset she was with him. “Why did you challenge Brindon of all people?”

“Because Tarell doesn’t use a sword when he fights.” Endar snatched up his waterskin and guzzled half the contents.

“But Brindon is lame,” she reminded him. “You can’t humiliate him in front of the entire court like this.”

“Why not?” he demanded. He dragged his hand across his mouth. “You think he’s going to start his war because I hurt his pride?”

“Certainly won’t help matters.” She glanced back at the crowd, easily spotting Pennington where he leaned on the yard fence’s top rail. Her stomach lurched and she turned her back on him. She didn’t have time to deal with that right now. “This is a mistake.”

“Mine,” he said. “Not yours.” He tossed the waterskin on the ground and picked up a small leather-bound book.

Arianna eyed it warily while he turned it over in his hands. “What are you doing with that?”

He idly flipped through the pages. “I need a second wind. I’ve already had two duels, Brindon’s had none.”

“For good reason!” She moved to his shoulder, blocking the book from the court’s view. “If I can’t talk you out of stopping the duel, at least promise me that you won’t use magic.”

Endar met her determined stare. He wore an easy smile, but she noticed faint lines of strain along his jaw and around his eyes.

Slowly, he ran a finger down the page. As it passed each line, the sharp handwriting billowed and curled in its wake. His back straightened, the lines on his face disappeared, he seemed to thrum with new energy.

He snapped the book shut and handed it to Arianna with a smirk before striding back into the middle of the yard.

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

Don’t Split the Party — No, Not Even Then

clipart-tabletop-rpg-dice-set-ii-256x256-9f70If you’ve ever played D&D, you’ll be familiar with the joke. Terrible things happen when you split the party — and your perfectly balanced team can’t take advantage of all its cool bonuses when the members are spread out across the fictional countryside. For example, the wizard is awesome at magic, as long as the fighters keep enemies from punching him out while he casts the spell. But if the fighters are across town, well…that wizard’s SOL.

Now, in writing a novel, I didn’t think I had to worry about this. My characters are going to run into problems whether they’re together or not.

But of course, I didn’t think about my problems. As soon as my characters split up for the chapter, I got stuck.

On every. Single. Storyline.

Calder’s part for this chapter is really cool — but I hadn’t yet figured out why it was happening. So that took some brainstorming. I’m on the right track, but I still have some things that need to get resolved.

For Eustace, I had already written the meat of his portion, but I got stuck on how to end it. My original ending was pretty dumb, so hopefully the new ending where he meets everyone’s favorite character is better. He’s done for this chapter, but I already know I’m going to have a re-entry problem when he catches up to Calder. What does he conceal? What does he reveal? I don’t think even he knows.

I knew how to end Saydie’s section, but beginning it? Sheesh. That went off the rails real fast. While trying to get un-stuck, I brainstormed about Pennington’s plan and the novel’s structure. Ended up learning something cool about Saydie’s history with Pennington, but I’m still stuck.

Then there’s Arianna. To be fair, she was already separate from the others, so my getting stuck on her storyline was for a different reason. I had over-complicated the crap out of her storyline. It took a while to figure out what I could throw out and what was actually necessary for where I wanted Narrator to end up. (And also so that I didn’t have to throw out everything I’d written. Because yikes.)

So…now I know where to go with everyone’s storyline, I just have to actually do it — and trying to write these next scenes is like when I was depressed. I know what I want to write but I can’t make my hand spell out the words. Hopefully I can manage to write this week, get Calder’s party back together, and move on.

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.

The Two Calders

Prince Calder, ready to go on an interesting adventure.I’ve been re-watching the first few seasons of Murdoch Mysteries lately. It’s set in Victorian Toronto, with a detective who uses cutting-edge science to solve crimes. Of course, a lot of that science is commonplace today, including x-rays, ballistics, and recreating the likeness of a person from their skull. Murdoch’s interest also extends to the social sciences like psychology. I just passed one of my favorite episodes, where the suspect has Dissociative Identity Disorder — and it reminded me of Calder.

No, he doesn’t have DID. A person with DID has two or more distinct identities (or personalities). In the show, Murdoch and the doctor he consults observe that the suspect’s identities are vying for control, and she switches back and forth. One minute she’s a meek young lady, the next a confident, angry woman.

Calder, on the other hand, has two identities that are hardly distinct. They’re more like two lives that he lived simultaneously. One life is that of a Crown Prince, the life as it was supposed to be. The other life is that of a younger son. These two identities also vie for control, but it’s much more subtle. (I love my subtleties.)

In fact, it sounds pretty similar to what WebMD lists as an effect of having DID:

Identity confusion or identity alteration. Both of these involve a sense of confusion about who a person is. An example of identity confusion is when a person has trouble defining the things that interest them in life, or their political or religious or social viewpoints, or their sexual orientation, or their professional ambitions.(emphasis added)

Each Calder has his strengths and weaknesses, in addition to his own memories. But as the novel progresses, the lines begin to blur until Calder has trouble knowing which is which.

Disclaimer: I have not studied psychology. I did not throw much research into this. I just made a cool connection while watching a tv show and wanted to share. 🙂

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.