On my relatively brief (12:15 to 2:00) Tuesday/Thursday lunch break (I need to be at college from 8 AM to 3:15, and I commute about 40 minutes to an hour either way), I’ll post some of my general musings about my Arthurian work.
I am THIS close to outlining. I really like all of my characters (Maddie, Bennett, Lance, and Gavin), I like Morgan le Fey as the main villain, I like a lot of the themes and ideas I’m planning to explore*, and I even have a couple of scenes/encounters planned. I finally have a decent idea of who Maddie’s father is and who Maddie is going to be, as well as why she’s important to the team. I have a general idea of how I’m going to end this, and I have an idea of how Arthur is going to come about as well. I even have an idea of how Morgan le Fey’s castle is going to be set up.
But it’s not enough. I’m missing a clear narrative force. Tolkien had the same problem when he was drafting “The Lord of the Rings” until he hit upon Bilbo’s invisibility ring as a possible solution. Star Wars had a similar issue that was solved when Darth Vader became Luke’s father. I need something like that.
I’m imagining the book as a sort of dark, anti-Wizard of Oz where all of my characters come together on a quest to the castle of Morgan le Fey. I just need two things:
- Why do they all need to get there? Maddie needs to rescue her father, who is kidnapped because…not telling. But I like my reasoning. So Maddie is fine. Lance sees a vision (and Gavin goes with Lance), but…a vision of what? Why Morgan le Fey? Bennett see a girl committing suicide…but again, why the castle of the Queen of air and Darkness?
I considered a couple of options, and came up with three:
- They first decide to go seek out the Merlin tree, the legendary tree in which Merlin’s spirit was trapped by Nimue. Merlin, I note, is the one major Arthurian figure noticeably absent from my version…a big deal, considering how much emphasis he gets in other versions of the legend.
But this simple quest for a macguffin, even one who can talk, seems a little too easy. I want something interesting.
- They could be looking for the Holy Grail – though admittedly, i’m not totally sure what it does yet. Same problem as above.
- They could all be looking for Excalibur. This is at least more directly connected to the coming of Arthur, so it works a little better than the Holy Grail – but, again, it suffers from staleness.
So my favorite idea is that they’re all going to the castle of Morgan le Fey. To do…something. There’s my problem:
*I’m specifically planning to talk a lot about the idea of destiny vs. choice. Specifically, I think T.H. White was wrong. He spends a big chunk of the end of “The Queen of Air and Darkness” discussing how Arthur’s tragic fate is sealed when, in a mirror of Oedipus, he sleeps with his own sister. I don’t agree with him, and White his very, very close to the real answer in “The Candle in the Wind”. Sleeping with his own sister, and by mistake no less, did not seal Arthur’s fate. What sealed his fate was when he tried to drown 19 infants to prevent Mordred from growing up.
It was not the tragic formation of the stars that sealed Arthur’s fate, but Arthur’s own choices as a result of his actions.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
– William Shakespeare