In epic form, you start in media res
, "in the middle of the thing," go back to the beginning and then tell the whole story, going up to the place you started and then through to the end. The Odyssey
is the classic example (in fact, the classic Classic example).
Lisa suggested that the problem with The Circle Cast
is it starts off slow. It builds to a bang at the end of the first few chapters, but it's a bang we're familiar with -- Morgan le Fay's being sent away from her mother after Uther Penndragon kills her father. And even then we don't know who Morgan is going to be -- an angry, powerful sorceress bent on revenge on the man who killed her father. The book tells the story of how Morgan became that sorceress.
(I wrote the book because Morgan's teenage years go untold, except for this one line from Malory:
And the third sister, Morgan, was sent to a nonnerie, where she became a grete clerke of necromancie.
Necromancy not being on the curriculum at most nunneries, I thought it was worth investigation. For the record, I utterly reject The Mists of Avalon
. The ladies are far too reasonable. None of those people in those days were reasonable.)
So, suggests Lisa, start the book with Morgan sailing back from exile, ready to attack Uther Penndragon, before she finds out he's dead. She's become the sorceress she will. She's burning with revenge. And she's turned her back on a good man who loves her, because she cannot love anyone if she is to accomplish her revenge.
So, naturally, I thought, why have her just sailing? That's a contemplative scene. A contemplative scene is just as bad in flashforward as it is in chronology. So if she's going to be sailing, why not have her sailing in a storm?
That's much better. Then if she's remembering the events of the book, she's also trying not to drown.
But I already have a storm, when she sails to Ireland in the first place. What's the difference between the storm then and the storm now?
Ahhh, that answers itself. When she's sailing back, she can invoke the powers. She can control the weather.
an opening for a novel.