Behind The Monk’s Curse: Chapter Three

Behind the Scenes, The Monk's Curse - Prologue

As promised, a review of the process behind each chapter of The Monk’s Curse. This time, the topic is Chapter Three. In the preceding few weeks I have written of the Prologue (and its heavy historical content) and of the two chapters that set the scene: Chapter One and Chapter Two. I am afraid that there isn’t much to this week.

Once more, it sets the scene. But only very basically.

Instead, the protagonist learns very little more of his past – a past which will come to define his search and the plot – but so little that all it does is set the scene for the ever increasing number of questions that populate his thoughts.

This makes for an interesting journey with the character, because not only does it stay away from any action in the story, but it creates that action in the form that the questions take in his mind. His mind is riddled with questions. And this characteristic leads us to understand his character at an intimate level. A level that will stick with the reader as the fight and search slowly changes from mental to physical.

This chapter truly sets the scene for the unusual aspect of this novel. While most novels are based on actions, this one is based on actions and thoughts. In this way, the characters are understood – they becoming compelling reasons for the reader to keep turning pages. This is the substance of the story. This is what Chapter Three introduces.

So, more than anything, it is a short chapter. It is quite dull. But like every other chapter, it is essential!

Behind The Monk’s Curse: Chapter Two

Behind the Scenes, The Monk's Curse - Prologue

Two chapters in. And well on my way into the novel that had begun to take shape. This, Chapter Two, is the chapter that really set the tone for the rest of the novel.

Like Chapter One, Chapter Two required very little research or historical content. And, being at the start of the novel, it needed no consistency checks. As such, this was one of the most interesting chapters to write. Because unlike the Prologue, and the chapters that would follow, Chapter Two, like Chapter One, was guided solely by where my fingers felt compelled to take the story.

And this is where Chapter Two took the story:

Like Chapter One, this was a vital chapter. The Prologue set the tone for the historical content to come. Chapter One started the mystery and introduced the reader to the protagonist. Chapter Two took this all further. For the first time, the reader is transported to the Yaroslavl Oblast in Russia – this is indicated beneath the chapter title.

And being transported there, we begin to see a glimmer of the events to come, and the events that have been.

To avoid giving away spoilers, I shall remain vague. But the characters introduced in this chapter are three of the main characters in this story. One of them is special. For it is he that guided my hand as I wrote – a phenomenon I had spoken to in a previous post.

I absolutely had no idea what I had envisioned for the story before I began writing Chapter Two. Merging the Prologue and Chapter One (as they had both been intended for two separate novels), I got onto planning the outline of the novel. But even this outline failed to predict what would come with Chapter Two – a character so unique that he would come to shape the entire novel in ways unimaginable.

The chapter hardly has any action. Rather, it follows conversations between the three characters present. As it should be, there is a disagreement (again, I cannot reveal more), and this disagreement not only informs the reader of the past that shaped the present of the novel, but it informs the reader of the characters’ goals, their allegiances, their actions, and the beginning of what would come to be a conflict almost central to the novel, but not quite.

Set in a castle far from inhabited areas, this scene reveals much more of the secret societies that vie for supremacy in the ancient war surrounding a boy, a monk, and a prophecy. It lends a view into the mind of one character – the thoughts of which reflect on this war, on its progress, and on its way forward.

If you have started reading the novel, it is a chapter that I would urge you to reach quickly, and it is a chapter that I would urge you to take note of and remember. It is a chapter that will come to mean a lot more later on.

And with that, thus concludes my rather vague discussion on Chapter Two. I promise that the following chapters will prove to be more interesting topics on which to blog. They are certainly filled with more detail.

Enjoy reading!

The Grand Reveal: More on The Monk’s Curse

Literary Reinvention - The Monk's Curse Banner

Presenting: The Monk’s Curse

From the heat of Arizona to the snow deep in mountain ranges, to Istanbul, The Monk’s Curse will plunge you into a strange world – ever shifting – that will tickle your senses and keep your heart racing.

A few weeks, or was it months, ago, I announced here that I would be redefining my online literary persona. In doing so, I redesigned my website, unpublished all my books, and immediately began working on The Monk’s Curse.

Now, in the beginning, I did not reveal much. To be precise, this is what I said:

One of the things that have sparked this reinvention was the conception of The Monk’s Curse. I can’t say much about it, but I describe it as the riveting story of a boy, a prophecy, and a monk. It’s a story where East meets West and the Islamic Caliphate meets Christendom. Oh no, I have said too much! What I can say is that while writing this novel I have made up the most outrageous of fake histories, the evilest and naive of characters and the most scholarly prose. You won’t find too many action scenes in this novel. It is a political masterpiece with constant machinations going on behind the scenes. If you are anyhow interested in scholarly and political mysteries, keep your eye out for this book.

But, here’s more:

Basically, all I knew when I began writing was what I had told you all. There would be a boy, a monk’s curse (the prophecy), and a whole host of complex characters.

But, as I began to write it, I noticed that I was focussing less on the monk’s curse and more on where the plot was taking me. To be precise, I noticed that my characters were leading my fingers as they typed. Well, what I mean to say is that my words were being guided by the story itself, and not my mind. Now, to seasoned authors, or readers who follow authors closely, this idea would seem quite a cliche. I suppose it is, but I also suppose is that that is what creates a great story.

In the beginning

So, when I began, there was a curse, a boy affected by the curse, and a few secret societies manoeuvring for control of the boy and for supremacy. That was the first chapter.

In the second chapter

Here is where I discovered how intricate the story would become. A minor member of one of the secret societies addresses his masters after committing certain acts. His masters are furious and order him to cease the carrying out of those acts. This is where the antagonist is born – an antagonist I didn’t even know I wanted.

After that

It gets better. I started writing about characters whom I had identified as the ‘good guys’, but as if under a monk’s curse I encountered confusion, in myself and in my characters. I could no longer tell who was good and who was bad. Who could the boy trust? Who could we, the readers, trust?

And this all went on and on. Soon, I started a habit which I had always read about but had resigned as unnecessary: the habit of sporadic note taking. I had to do this because with the twists came brilliant new ideas: ideas of dialogue, assassinations and hidden histories. Right now, I have about ten memos, and I can’t even remember what they relate to. Alas, the note taking tip doesn’t work!

But, why am I telling you all of this?

Readers often don’t care about the creative process, and I must admit, neither do I. I couldn’t care less how J.K. Rowling or J.R.R Tolkien conceived their epics. However, I am telling you all of this, because I wish to pass on one simple message. If this story can surprise me, imagine how it will surprise you. I love to read books that keep me on the edge of my seat, and I can promise you that this one will.

From the heat of Arizona to the snow deep in mountain ranges, to Istanbul, this novel will plunge you into a strange world – ever shifting – that will tickle your senses and keep your heart racing.