Writing the story is more fun than writing the outline.
By now I know very well that I need an outline in order to keep my story in check. If I don’t it just runs off in some random direction with some random idea and then it never comes back to where it should. That might work for some people, but not for me.
I need a strict outline, but even then, there is room for improvisation.
While writing today, one of those great unexpected reveals wormed its way into the story. It’s nothing major as far as plot or character goes, but it adds quite a bit to the world and it deepens my understanding of Summer Fylk culture. I will also be able to use it in a conversation towards the end of the story – hopefully to great effect.
During today’s writing session I got to the point where I introduced the fact that there’s a bear near the village and that the villagers haven’t been able to scare it off. I had to have Emma reflect on this, and I had to reveal something about how they’d attempted to do it.
Turns out they’re using holy chants.
The villagers, in a big group, gathered outside the hollow where the bear is holed up and started chanting. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. This could be due to a number of reasons, but the method itself being wrong isn’t one of them. Had the villagers gotten it right, the chants would have had the power to scare the bear from their lands.
I’m thinking that the main reason it didn’t work is that it’s winter. The villagers are all Summer Fylk and their chants are from the Summer Practicals (this is not to be confused with The Book of Summer, which is their holy book). It stands to reason their chants will be less powerful when it’s not their season. On top of that, there aren’t all that many of them, and the bear is pretty stubborn.
The chanting matches up fairly well with how shamanism – or spirit magic – works in the setting. It’s not the individual shaman that performs the desired magic. Instead, they try to influence the spirit of the land into doing it. The spirits of the land are immensely powerful, but they’ve got no mind or will of their own.
The chanting itself isn’t going to scare the bear away, but it will – if successful – convince the forest and the hills that the bear shouldn’t be there. This in turn will drive the bear back to where it belongs.
In practice, this isn’t a very big deal for the story itself, but it felt great for me, as the story’s writer and the creator of the setting, to come up with all of this. It’s one of those little things that adds more depth to the world and which makes it feel just a little more real.
Having new ideas feels great. :)