In Which Bramble Finally Starts To Figure Out What Happened On Page 228

Posted: August 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

So, August is actually here, and now it’s put up or shut up time. That means I actually have to start doing all the things I listed on that giant-ass outline over the last week. And that’s a lot of stuff.

To that end, we’re going to focus on certain things more than others for the first week or two until all of this is second nature. Kay and I’ve downloaded a nice new app to help me with the household stuff, and I’m going to spend some time today putting August Project items on it. It’s nice because it gradually fills in little stars as you do more stuff. I think that if I get five stars in a day, I get a 1-up.

The number one priority this week, though, is to get Nine Dead Suns together, and that’s going to be the gist of today’s post. If you’re not a Reader, you can skip to the end… unless you want to know ALL SORTS OF EXCITING SECRETS about my series. Imagine if, back in 1996, you had this opportunity on J. K. Rowling’s blog when she was posting about trying to figure out horcruxes… just saying…

Okay. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that those of you who are still with me have taken a little time and read the draft of NDS (acronym changed because whenever I type 9DS I expect that I’m going to have to write Worf into the series) that I sent out. If you did so, you noticed the 10,000 word hole at page 225 or so… this is the goal for this week. To figure out how to fill in the hole. The whole  goal hole. LOL.

Earlier I talked about JKR’s hypothetical plotting for her Harry Potter series, and that’s a metaphor I’m going to belabor. The NDS book is intended as the first in a series of five or six books about Bramble and his adventures in parallel earths. As such, I’d like to have elements in the first book that tie in to the series as a whole. The main one of these–and the one that’s causing me trouble here–is the specific nature and goal of the antagonist in the series. It’s like JK was 90% done writing Sorcerer’s Stone and all she needed to figure out what who the guy on the back of Quirrel’s head was and why he hated Harry Potter so much. Most of the story in NDS doesn’t deal with the Ubervillain, but I do have a few scenes where he/she/it/they have a role to play… primarily the attack on FBI HQ and in the Vampire Sun.

The things I do know about the Big Bad:

1. They have something to do with the spirits of the dead suns. The myth attributes feelings and consciousness to the suns that Yin shoots down, and those consciousnesses live on in some way, the mind(s) behind the Big Bad.

2. It’s some kind of society, with an army of minions that doesn’t necessarily know what the eventual goal is. I really need a cool name for this society of dead sun evil, so I’m fielding suggestions.

3. The “real world,” the one remaining living sun, where Bramble was born, is the target of the Big Bad. When all is said and done, the real world needs to be a dead sun, and hopefully, if they can work it out, the dead suns won’t be quite so dead anymore.

4. They really really really really really want to kill Yin, the Archer, who is, of course, still alive.

5. They attack Caniff at the FBI HQ because they know Bramble is going to be there with him at that moment. How do they know? Are they trying to stop him from getting the socks? (Seriously, folks, if you read the book this stuff really does make sense!)

6. They have been besieging the Vampire Sun for some time now… but why? What do they want?

See, even when I tell you what I know, I still ask questions. There’s still a lot of time (like, as long as it takes me to get the second novel, The Tenth Arrow, started…) to figure out some of the big picture stuff about the Society of Dimensional Evil (not final name.) The really important things for this novel to get done are:

1. Develop enough details about the minions to put consistent description in the attack on Caniff at the FBI and to portray the attack force coming through the rift in Bayonne. There should be some kind of cool iconography somewhere on the attacking army’s uniform or whatever. They’re all human, btw, no monsters or anything… but there’s no reason there can’t be some kind of alteration to them…

2. Choreograph Bramble’s battle with the invaders at the Bayonne rift. This is the first time that he’s going to use his own dimensional powers, which are detailed in the scenes *after* the goal hole.

3. Edit backwards for inconsistencies with the stuff I figure out above.

4. I’m not entirely happy with the plot trail that runs through Duke’s Eclectica (the pawnshop.) I need to look at that whole section (including how the Articles end up there and why) and tighten it up a lot, so it all makes sense. If you guys can pay particular attention to that part, I could use your feedback, even if it’s just questions.

5. Anything else you guys come up with that I need to address.

So, we’re going to take this week and bang loudly at these points until they get worked out. For that, I need you. I need questions about parts of the book you don’t understand. I need commentary on which parts you liked and which parts you didn’t. We’re not at the line-edit stage, I just want big picture stuff. Also, don’t worry about offending me or giving negative commentary. I need negative commentary. I wouldn’t mind if you have positive comments to go with it, or even your idea of what might fix the part you don’t like… but even “I hate so-and-so” or “I couldn’t follow a thing that happened in Chapter X” is great.

Thank you. I know it’s work, but if you don’t do it, I’m going to have to get Corwin to help and the interdimensional evil will end up being a giant butt.

Finally, if you didn’t sign up to read and comment, but it sounds kinda fun and/or interesting, just drop me a line (, or Douglass Barre on Facebook) with your email address and I’ll send you the draft copy of NDS to read so you can join in the fun!


Tomorrow: It’s the boys’ first day of the new school year! We’ll see how that goes…

  1. MHPayne says:

    I mostly have:

    “Small picture” notes from reading the draft–things about how the action of chapter 2 should happen during the banter of chapter 1, for instance–but since you say you want “big picture” stuff, I will instead focus here, of course, on the anthropomorphic question: Is the big ball of gas at the center of our solar system sapient?

    I would agitate for a “yes” answer to this question and advocate making the suns actual characters in the overall storyarc, but they’re your books and all I can do is state my preference.

    But you can then say that Sun Eight has broken with his furious dead brothers and is trying his darnedest to nuture the vampire planet to show that he’s sorry for what he did, and the others are attacking him either in anger or because he’s found something they figure they need to get back to life themselves. And our sun–would he be Sun One or Sun Ten?–you could either have him doing what he can to help Ben from the very beginning, or you could have him still so terrified by the deaths of his brothers that he’s catatonic or just plain afraid to interact with the folks on his Earth in case he might do something wrong and get killed himself.

    Anyway, count this as one vote for making the Ten Suns actual characters with motivations and throughlines and dialogue and everything.

    That Mike Guy Again

  2. Kristie says:

    You might want to read through some of this to see how other cultures looked at the origin of the Sun:

  3. Kristie says:

    A few small things to think about while you recover (again)…

    Having a vampire named Fenris is misleading. I found a reference to the X-Men when I googled it, but most other origins have a wolf involved. Perhaps you are nudging at Twilight, but it felt off to me.

    How do you define your audience? I know enough about comic book culture to get the occasional Jack Kirby reference. I’m not clear on the quest references – accepting the challenge or however it’s phrased. Do you want to limit yourself to those who already role-play, play video games, read comics – your peers? You could but I think you find a wider audience if you limit the inside jokes.

    Why are the pants too short? In the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants they always fit all four girls, no magic charms and no explanation. I think magic pants should fit.

    I’m half done…

  4. Kristie says:

    I’ve been thinking of your problem about what/why the vampire planet is being attacked. I haven’t thought of a good character motivation. I’ve been trying to think of a somewhat scientific explanation for what could be happening. Rifts in the universe aside, what if the Vampire Sun was a red giant?

    I pulled this from a website-the universe today or something:

    “A red giant is a star in the process of fusing helium to form carbon and oxygen. If there is insufficient energy to make this happen, the outer shell of the star will shed leaving behind an inert core or oxygen and carbon – a remnant white dwarf. If enough energy is involved in the casting off of stellar casings, a nebula can form. If said white dwarf is in a binary system, it could become a type 1A supernova, but this is very rare. Instead, it is thought that a white dwarf will eventually cool to become a black dwarf – in theory because there are no white dwarfs older than the universe, black dwarfs are theoretical only because there hasn’t been enough time for one to form.”

    What if the vampire planet has developed in the light of a red giant, and now the bad people are trying to peel/suction off the outer layers. A white dwarf would be left behind, too bright and hot for vampires. Why do they need the helium layer? Could they be trying to restart their own dying Sun which is further along – already a black dwarf or a red dwarf? Do they breathe helium and need to add to their atmosphere? Are they using helium for fission power or to blow up party balloons? I’ve read that the Earth will eventually have a helium shortage because most helium comes directly from the Sun.

    I haven’t thought about a mechanism, yet. A black hole/worm hole could be employed. I had the idea stuck in my head that in a binary star system, when one star goes supernova, it will pull on the energy of it’s partner star. That’s how they found the black hole Cygnus x-1. If there were multiple suns in a system, what would the dynamic be? Did all of the dead suns end up close to one another? Are they in pairs, triples, more? Alcor and Mizar in Ursa Major is a binary system, but there are an additional four visual binary stars in the group. They’re not near. They just look that way.

    Are the bad people taking advantage of a natural process to take over the vampire planet because their planet is dying or they just want to do that? Or have they somehow jump-started the process? We had an otherwise terrible planetarium show where the bad guy sucked up the atmospheres of planets with a huge vacuum truck, just because he could. Could someone shoot enough nuclear warheads into the red giant to pull off the outer layers? Since you’re not bothering with real space/time rules, it could happen.

    Your helium-suckers could wear a clown holding a bunch of balloons as an emblem. Creepy clown!

    One other bit that bothered me. When the bad dad/good dad battle is happening in space (I do get the Superman punch reference here), how do you account for the lack of oxygen and temperature control? Are there other magical mechanisms? Can we assume that chaos has a temperate climate? I would push for some sort of protection charm, although it can’t protect against punches.

    • blackflak says:

      See, this is exactly the kind of really awesome science explanations that I never would have come up with! I don’t know quite why they would want to alter the nature of the dead sun, but it’s a brilliant–and scientifically viable–idea. I’m totally tossing it into the giant brain lotto spinner to see what it connects to! Thank you!
      (Oh, and as for the dad battle, I envision that the Primal Chaos zone isn’t actually vacuum space, per se, it’s more a transdimensional state of nonreality, and as such, people bring an envelope of their own reality with them. This is actually something that’s going to be explored later on, but good eye!)

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