Mistakes, worldbuilding, and trusting the story

It was once thought that a muse, or a daimon  (genius in Latin), brought fantastic ideas to artists. There’s a great TED talk about it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius?language=en

And it makes sense in a way. Art, while  now we think of it as coming from one person, is also the person’s entire life, various situations, thoughts, emotions, experiences, jumbled up until the brain decides to sort it so someone can write a book, paint a picture, or compose a song.

Our brains are also known for doing many things under the radar. We don’t think about breathing or blinking (until right now when I mention it) nor about our blood pumping or hair growing. It just happens.

And here’s where I want to talk about trusting the story. I’ve written a few posts about how I had to go back and tweak small things in Larkspur because, having worked on the second book now for about a year, there are things I may look at differently. Something small, like a phrase or a name that fit at the time and does not any more. Plwto becoming Thanatos, and then changed to Akhlys as I worked out how the lands of the dead was structured. Not a huge deal, and for the 300 or so people that have an edition with another name, hopefully my books will never be assigned in class and so you won’t get the answer wrong on a quiz.

Then there are the things I wrote it not knowing why, only to find out how they fit in later. It’s your story, your brain, your genius, coming up with a way to make it all work even if you think you’ve written yourself into a corner. All without you knowing.

Sean Platt calls it trusting the story. And it’s helped me when there are large things I sometimes can’t find a good answer for.

Take Pierre’s name. Pierre is as French as you can get, and since Clandestina is heavily based in a French feel that’s great. The problem comes with his second name- Salvador. Not French. And while I play loose with what names come from where, Clandestina has English and Celtic influences as secondary characteristics, not Spanish or Italian (though those are in neighboring realms).

Someone reading my story pointed this out, and how a French noble with a Spanish name in real life would be mistrusted.

I did the whole ‘this is fantasy, some of the names don’t always jive’ but it still bothered me. Whyever would he have a name that was so different?

Then as I was thinking I remember the old legends about how a name holds power, and how fairies in particular were sneaky and somewhat immoral about their tricks. Pierre, having a father who lived in Faery, would have course not tell anyone his real full name. So he, much like I when originally naming the character, picked the name because it sounded cool- not realizing it didn’t fit with the scheme of the land just yet.

So from a mistake came a whole thread to the world that I didn’t know was there before. And it just works.

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