Writing is the ultimate act of self-trust. At least for me. (per yesterday's discussion.)
I often have props and sets in my books that make some readers go "Wha??" And I can't answer their question. I just have to smile and nod sagely, as if I know what I'm talking about. (I'm a fair to middling liar.)
One of these is the opening to SCAR, which I just had a lightbulb* moment about today. In it, Trinidad is walking across his churchyard to stand pulpit guard over a Bishop he knows is about to launch them into a war based on a lie. It's not even a very good lie, but the truth is out there, and he's emotionally invested in preventing people from knowing the truth. So that's his dilemma; we learn that in the first scene.
Well, other than that, he's walking. He sees his parents' gravestone, marked with a pentacle. He sees adults giving him side-wise glances. He sees kids playing in the labyrinth. And he stops and tosses coins for them. They scramble for them of course, but one falls on... well. You'll have to read it someday. But Trinidad picks up that coin and keeps it.
Some people have said it's a slow start. And it kind of is. He's only walking and tossing a couple of coins. (To be fair, the scene only gets a page and a half.) But I'm married to the scene. I don't have a lot of that in my life. Usually I can throw out stuff at will. But not this scene. This is The Opening to my book. I wrote it a loooong time ago, before I really knew what the book is about.
And yet, had I paid it proper attention. I would have known what my book is about.
A pentacle in a Christian graveyard. It's Trin himself, right, a converted Wiccan turned Christian soldier. A clear example of how he doesn't fit in.
He tosses coins, all of what's in his pocket, to the children of the church. That is, literally, the man Trinidad believes himself to be. He is willing to give all he has to the church, to the children. The children like him but the adults don't trust him. He's good at heart, even though we're about to learn he's done some nasty things. Both observers are correct.
The labyrinth could be his own mind and the winding path of his personal history that brought him to this moment. And yet he stops to pick up a coin from a memorial brick on the side. He does not enter the labyrinth (actually, he strides through it, but I think I'll change it upon thinking about it. Either would work, though.) Trinidad doesn't examine his past and how the present came to be. (In a later scene, the black moment of act one, he breaks through the wall around it. Symbolism, anyone?)
I've agonized over that scene, struggled with should I? or shouldn't I? After all, I wrote it nearly two years ago. ** (Okay, I added the gravestone about a year ago once I realized something about the book.) I had no idea what it was all about, just that it felt right. It just felt like Trinidad and his story.
Fuck if I wasn't right.
* Lightbulb moment courtesy of Alexandra Solokoff.
** And I plot, too!