Ink-Stained Scribe

On steam and writing

In case you were wondering, this is not about the kind of steam that issues from a tea-kettle, rises from the streets during the rainy season in Japan, or--most unfortunately--fogs the windows of a car during a particularly satisfying make out session. Rather, this is the kind of metaphorical steam that powers the intangible locomotive called "progress," and if I can't have the make-out session, I'll settle for this. In general, make-out sessions are more likely than progress of a significant kind, though that says little about my love-life and even less about my current progress in writing.

Unless, of course, you count the past few days. Love-life set aside to do what it usually does--strive to reach even a pitiful simmer on the backmost burner of my life-stage (read: stove)--the little engine that could apparently still can.

At three o'clock this morning, I finished the outline for The Mark of the Sun, the second book in the Markmaster's Trilogy. Considering that, two days ago, I had no idea even quite what my next scene would be, I consider this trans-continental progress. I've been workin' on the railroad, folks, and it looks like it's actually heading somewhere. Though I'm still not quite sure how many chapters there will be (and knowing me the number will increase alarmingly) , I've got a moderately detailed outline through chapter fourteen. After that, there's a break during which I skip a good year and a half of Shiro training, Bay kicking back in the castle library, and Arianna...becoming more of a young woman than a teenager. When we meet the characters again, our two younger heros have undergone significant changes, though I won't elaborate on them here. After that, I've outlined the vague progression for the rest of the book. I don't know details, but at least I'm not wandering aimlessly through the forest ala Mark of Flight or Fellowship of the Ring. I've even got the title of the final chapter of Sun--"The Fall of Castle Rizell." Sorry for those of you who would rather not have known that.

Another important thread of progress was something that had been bothering me for quite a while now. I understood Arianna's motivation for falling in love with Shiro, but only on the level of an innocent fourteen-year-old girl who finally feels understood and appreciated for who she is. I had never really analyzed their mature relationship--why, in the long run, does Arianna truly fall in love with Shiro? Why did Shiro (mature enough at 17 to truly be in love, I think) fall in love with Arianna, though she was still not quite a fully developed person herself?

I asked myself what Arianna looked for in a mate. Obviously, confidence could not fall into that category, since Shiro's insecurity is a constant throughout the rest of his life. I don't think he will ever truly take off that collar. But Arianna is not me--she doesn't need confidence to be a quality in her life partner. Arianna recquires courage, and the willingness to give one's self entirely to doing what is right, as well as the ability to judge what that rightness is. Arianna is an intense person, so she would need someone sensitive, who can both absorb her emotions and tame them with kindness and honesty. Those qualities were right on the mark (no pun intended) for Shiro.

I asked myself the same question for Shiro. What made him fall in love with Arianna? Unlike Arianna, Shiro's love is mature from the start. He has none of Arianna's innocence, and is in general a much more realistic person. He has experienced suffering in ways she has not, and is more mature in many ways than she is. However, though she is still not yet fully developed, Shiro can sense the person inside her. Like most 17-year-old boys, his initial infatuation was with her beauty. But he placed himself beneath her socially and only allowed himself to look at her as a sort of idol. As their journey progressed, however, he fell in love with her passion and determination, with her idealism, which he wishes he could still posess. Her generosity, her desire to become greater for the sake of her country gives him a lot of respect for her. Later, when they meet again after nearly two years of separation, his feelings are validated by the young woman she has become.

It was obvious to me that Arianna looked for someone like her father, and the superficial similarities between Shiro and Warylin caused her to imagine him as much more like Warylin than he probably is. I had to know for myself where they were different. Why Shiro is better for Arianna than he would be were he exactly like her father.

Shiro is by far the more intelligent. Warylin is a sensitive, gentle man, but he doesn't possess any great intelligence. His sense of humor is better than Shiro's--lighter. Also, while Waryling was a servant, he was never a slave, and never experienced the kinds of trauma and oppression Shiro underwent at the hands of the Innkeep. Warylin is a shade handsomer, far more vain, and not as easily angered. That, however, may be because he is much more confident than our beloved stableboy.