21 March 2007

Snow, and a summary

Spring isn't coming anyway. Well, not this month at least. It's been snowing for a few days now (or rather; it has been sleeting, lol).

Does anyone know where I can reach the weather gods? Because I'm not at all happy with their work...

Anyway, I promised you a summary of my novel. It is, as you know, about the Batavian revolt, which took place in 69-70 AD in the Netherlands. I didn’t find out about NaNoWriMo until mid-October, so there wasn’t much time for research and planning. As a result, this ‘novel’ is a bit of a mess. At one point I even had John F Kennedy and the Pope showing up in a UFO during a battle (that was a fun scene to write), and I had to give Civilis a ninja bodyguard because my Roman main character insisted on killing him.

But hey, that’s what editing is for, isn’t it? Just for the record, it was 2 AM when I wrote about the UFO, and I’ve cut it out already, along with the ninjas.

The story pretty much follows the events as I’ve described them in my essay about the revolt (which you can find under the “Links – Blog posts” section to the right). However, my main characters are fictional. I’m describing the revolt from the Romans’ and from the Batavians’ point of view, because I don’t really want to take sides. As a result I have two main characters, one Roman, Marcus Fulvius Scaeva, and one Batavian, Geravan.

Like I said, I didn’t have much time for research, so for my Roman MC I just picked random names from the NovaRoma website without bothering to check if they ‘fit’ together or not. For my Batavian MC I picked a name from this website. It’s a name from the 9th century, but it’s better than calling him Bob I guess (I already have four people called Bob).

But I digress. Marcus (yes, I call him Marcus in the narrative; he is the main character after all) is a military surgeon stationed, well, I’m not sure where. At one point he’s in the Fifth legion, then he’s suddenly in the Fifteenth, but for some inexplicable reason he is at Traiectum (modern Utrecht) when the revolt starts. Never mind. I wanted him to be a normal legionary at first, but he insisted on being a surgeon, which is rather annoying because I’ve had to check all these medical websites to find out how you amputate legs and other nice stuff.

I’m not sure what Geravan does before the revolt, he just *is* there. When the Romans are looking for more soldiers and come recruiting, he is almost dragged off, thus giving him a nice reason to hate everything Roman. He believes just about everything Civilis says about wanting freedom and happily kills every Roman in his path (though he is rather pro-Roman in the beginning). His older brother Thiadulf is some sort of commander in the Batavian army, so he hears from him what’s going on.

The battles go as described by Tacitus, with Marcus fighting on one side and Geravan on the other. Marcus eventually makes it to Castra Vetera and is there during the siege. Because I did so little planning the story is full of walk-in characters. I didn’t mind very much at first, since I was lacking characters and some of them are quite fun to write. Like at Castra Vetera there’s a rather insane, nostalgic surgeon who enjoys rambling about how everything was better in his days (good for my word count, lol).

Well, while Marcus has to listen to all his rants, Geravan has gotten himself a new enemy; namely Embric, a rather nasty walk-in nobleman. He’s either Frisian or Bructerian (he was Frisian for two chapters and then he suddenly became a Bructerian), and for some inexplicable reason he detests Geravan. And the feeling is mutual. During battle of Gelduba (December 69, when the Batavians lose), Thiadulf dies. Embric says he deserved it, and Geravan almost cuts his throat in anger. Then of course *I* had to get him out of trouble…

The siege of Castra Vetera is briefly lifted when Vocula arrives with his army. Then the whole Gallic Empire business starts, and that was perhaps the most difficult part to write because there was no one to tell Geravan what was going on. Because he had threatened to kill one of their most important allies (namely Embric), Geravan was not made a commander. Instead the umpteenth walk-in character, Riold, becomes commander. This guy was apparently Thiadulf’s best friend though he doesn’t appear until *after* his death… (Some friend, lol).

Back at Castra Vetera the Romans are all starving, and eventually they surrender. During the following ambush the mad surgeon and Marcus’ best friend (another walk-in character) are both killed, along with just about everyone else. However, Marcus somehow manages to escape.

At the moment the story is somewhere between the little battle against Claudius Labeo at Maastricht and the conference in Reims. During the battle Riold got killed, and I could finally make Geravan a commander. He is now slowly starting to realise that Civilis might have personal motives for revolting, and Marcus, well, he’s currently starving to death in a forest not far from Castra Vetera.

I’m not sure how this novel is supposed to end, but I guess I’ll find out eventually. My characters have completely taken over so I’ll just have to wait and see what they do. It’s fun though, because even I don’t always know what’ll happen next. Though sometimes the unexpected things can be rather annoying, or weird (I found out last week that Geravan is a bit afraid of the dark…).


Gabriele C. said...

Oh, that one looks like being a total fun to edit. *insert ironic grin* My first novel was like that, too, characters just doing stuff and some guys walk in and one character dying on me ....

I think Marcus and Geravan should meet at some point to connect the two plot threads. I work with MCs on both sides as well and they always have points where their stories connect or intertwine. When you get into the editing stage, you should consider joining Forward Motion (I linked to it in a previous comment) and maybe get one or two books about editing your own work. I'm sure there lurks a really good story among those rambling surgeons and walk-in nobles bend on revenge. Embric sounds like good villain material, and the drunk surgeon could make a comic relief character, for example. :)

Celedë Anthaas said...

Yeah, it's a mess alright. It's fun though.

I guess I should connect the plot threads sometime or other. So far the two storylines have met once, very briefly (Thiadulf went to Castra Vetera as a messenger of some sort) but that was about 70.000 words ago, lol. I had a vague idea of letting Marcus and Geravan meet at some point, but I dunno. I'm not in control anymore so I'll just have to wait and see what they do:P And Marcus has to survive first (he was half dead when I left him).

Oh, the surgeon is just insane, not drunk (though that *is* a good idea...;) )

Gabriele C. said...

Half dead again? What did he do this time? Keep him away from sharp and pointy things. :)

Celedë Anthaas said...

Oh, it's not sharp objects this time, lol (but I took all sharp & pointy things from him just to be sure).
He's just starving, and also freezing, to death. Plus he's in enemy territory and hardly speaks the language... But I'll see how it goes. The last month I've been writing about Geravan and I want to finish that chapter first (17 k now) so Marcus'll just have to wait.