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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Steven: Hi. The Covenant chronicles are great works; thanks for writing them. I would like to ask a question about the Theomach, or should I say Kenaustin Ardenol? When Linden meets him in the era of Berek Halfhand, he tells her that she already knows his true name. She later finds out that he becomes the guardian of the One Tree encountered in the Second Chronicles.

This appears to indicate that he already knows he will achieve his ambition of becoming the guardian. If he were not to do so, it seems unlikely his name would have come to Linden`s attention. I assume this is because he has already watched himself do this, before he travelled into the past to start on the path towards doing it.

Do you think this would take some of the excitement out of his adventure, knowing that he was compelled to succeed by the law of causality?

Struggling to write stories that are packed with narrative challenges that I don't know how to meet, I do from time to time use my own dilemmas as models or guidelines for understanding some of my characters. (If memory serves, I've mentioned this in relation to "Creator" questions.) So consider my position today in relation to "The Last Chronicles" as analogous to where the Theomach stands in relation to Linden in "Fatal Revenant". I know the whole story. In its broad outlines, I've known the whole story for decades. In its details, I've known most of the story for months or years. And I'm the sole authority. So where's the excitement? Where's the suspense? Surely writing "The Last Dark" is just a matter of connecting the dots?

Yet I'm positively *sick* with suspense. For at least three reasons. 1) Self-doubt. Knowing the story and knowing HOW TO TELL the story--knowing that I'm a good enough writer to tell the story--are two very different things. On this level, knowing the story makes the suspense *worse*: failing at something you don't know doesn't hurt as much as failing at something you *do* know. 2) Sole authority. In fact, I'm not the sole authority. Mortality has more authority than I do. (Death is one form of mortality. Inadequacy is another. Illness and disease and bereavement are others.) On this level, knowing the story is not at all the same as actually carrying out the story. 3) Intrusion. (Perhaps this is a sub-heading of sole authority.) There are other forces at work in "The Last Chronicles". From time to time, my unconscious mind intrudes on my conscious intentions. Sometimes the results are miraculous. And *sometimes* the results force me--forgive the cliche--to go back to square one and rethink EVerything. "Against All Things Ending" presented several such crises.

So perhaps the Theomach experiences similar concerns. Being both human and intelligent, he can't possibly believe that his will is the sole arbiter of the Land's future (as that future pertains to Berek, the One Tree, and the original Staff of Law). And Linden's presence is a vivid demonstration that intrusion is possible. If you believe that she has any form of free will, then all she has to do is make *one* mistake, and everything that the Theomach "knows" about the future will disappear.

Maybe he feels so much suspense that he's literally "beside himself". <grin>

(07/13/2009)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is such a brilliant answer!

Knowing what's going to happen doesn't necessarily take out the suspense, tension, joy, pain etc - how it happens can be the key...
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ask Dr. Manhattan about knowing your own future but still being surprised by it.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

... or any of those pesky Atreides.
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