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August 13, 2012
Posted at 12:41 pm


Some people may come into the Carpenter series (the current installment of which is Do Not Despise) out of sequence, and thus not run into every detail about Darvin Carpenter's life (I phrase it thus because we see Cecelia and Darlia, as well as everyone else, through his eyes; I've written one or two pieces in the third person, but most of it's first person narration). I'm not writing for publication, and therefore can dispense with some of the things that are due more to the way publication works than to how people write or read.

One of these things is recapping. I've read authors who in the first few pages synopsize everything that's happened in the character's life up to that book. Others aren't a tad bit more subtle - they scatter such summaries throughout each installment of a series. And others do it in dribs and drabs here and there. I don't.

When in the ordinary course of telling the story Darvin finds it advisable - in accordance with his character and habits - to bring in information from the past, he does so. Otherwise he doesn't. And therefore there may not be, in any given book, his struggles to reconcile the demands of his work with his religious convictions, or his views on disciplining Darlia, or his theology relative to the TULIP, or any other particular thing. If it comes up naturally, he'll talk about it - and if it doesn't, he won't.

And when I put the responsibility on his shoulders, that's not just a figure of speech. I don't know how others write, but for me it's a matter of peering into someone else's life and recording what I see and hear. I am the author, yes - it's my name on the title page (though I don't, in fact, post my title pages, nor my epigraphs). But I can't make my characters do what they don't want to do. If it's not in their nature to do or say a thing, then they don't. I could no more force Cecelia, for instance, to speak an entire paragraph in Darvin's sloppy style than I could use the Sheewash Drive. (If you want to know what I'm talking about, you'll want to read a novella called "The Witches of Karres," by James Schmitz IIRC. I highly recommend it as a piece of humorous science fiction.) She insists on speaking proper English, and I don't possess the strength of will to force her out of that path. If I tried, the result would be wooden, dry, dull, and worth nothing more than the trash.

So if you don't find the piece of information about Darvin's life or thoughts in one story, don't fret - it's probably in another. :)