Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nowhere Near Where I Started

Two and a half years ago, I came up with the idea for the Madison novel that I'm now querying with agents. I wrote it shortly after the idea first came to me, within months really, of that first spark of an idea. What emerged was a lighthearted urban fantasy that pokes a lot of fun at the main character in her quest to appear up for the task of defending her postage stamp of northern California suburbia from minions of evil.

I've been working on Madison for so long now, that the final story it became completely replaced the idea that it began as. I was looking back through my early notes, and what I found was not a rookie enforcer trying to stay alive while she learns the ropes. Instead, I found something infinitely darker, grittier, and all in all, vastly different than anything I've ever written, period.

When I first got the idea, I did a freewrite from the main character's perspective (way back before she even had a name). Here's a sample of that darker world:

I am a Nightseer, though we weren't always called that. Wife, mother, and sister were probably our first titles. Then witch, of course. There's always that to fall back on. I'm sure the first few Nightseers never made it beyond that odious nomenclature. It was only later, after people got over their "shoot first, ask questions later" philosophy, that we became named Nightseers. As far as I know, we're rarer than white buffalo, and not nearly as cherished.[I originally was going to call Madison a Nightseer, but I decided instead on illuminant enforcer, which fit the role she became much better. Her talents have nothing to do with the night. Also, she's now one among thousands, not a rare breed at all.]

Of course, the title is, like much of what is believed about us, a misleading fabrication. I can see in the dark no better than the next person. But it serves our purpose to have people believe that is all we can do. I've absolutely no desire to garner more interest than that. It is bad enough to have the military and every law-enforcement agency in the country try to recruit you, thinking to use you as a secret weapon. I've never found glory or comfort in the idea of being a living, breathing weapon. If they knew what we could really do, I would never be safe. Not from the fanatics, the miracle-hounds, the greedy, the fame-seekers; namely, I would never be safe from the scientists.

I've never met a Nightseer who feels otherwise, either. Granted, I've met less than a handful, but none of them confessed burning desires to be cut open, poked, prodded, injected, examined, or explored in the name of science or any other religion. If anything, the things they told me made me want to find the smallest, deepest hole in the ground and bury myself forever with my favorite canned goods, a few good books, and possibly a nice comfy teddy bear.

Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury.

I haven't been able to sleep much in a long while. Not since Charles told me about the hunters. I sighed at the thought. When I was a child, I thought I'd been given a gift from God. I used to think that God had chosen me to judge all His people, to see their light and darkness and tell Him who was good or bad. When I grew up, I knew it as a mutation of my DNA, and all my childhood fantasies had burrowed deep into my soul, as if they fled the very knowledge presented by scientists. I no longer believe in God. I don't even know if I believe in good or bad.

I still like this character. She's haunted and hunted. She's right smack dab in the middle of her problem. Madison bumbles into her trouble, but this character has already found it, is already fleeing it, and just needs to be pushed a little to put her back to the wall and make her fight.

I haven't taken this freewrite file from my Story Idea folder. This isn't Madison. This is almost a fresh idea. There are a lot more plot points in the freewrite that are too close to the Madison that is to use, but this voice, this scared, on-edge character still appeals to my muse. If I decide to go a darker direction, this is the first file I'll turn to.

No comments: