For the last month I've been busy with business, which involves writing web applications and other software, and that's a good thing. I need something to support the writing habit.
I've also been reading Roger Zelazny's Amber series, and since that's ten books, it takes a while. At least individually, they aren't long books.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that my upcoming project is an ambitious one. I'm hoping to create a rather epic story involving dozens of characters on two sides of a 'war' with each other. I'm hoping to develop compelling intrigue along with a rather complicated flow of plot and character interaction.
The problem is that before I decided on this plan, I wrote almost three characters in first person. There will have to be a lot of action that occurs outside my main character's ability to witness. So how to do that?
My mind quickly went to the Amber series, which is all first person (although in the middle, it switches from one person to another), contains numerous characters vying for dominance, lots of intrigue, and a lot of action "off screen".
I had an idea of how Zelazny accomplished that, since I've read the series two or three times, but the last time was several years ago. My memory was essentially correct, but it was helpful to refresh my sense of his techniques.
For the most part, other characters tell the MC very interesting stories. They experience the off screen action, and become narrators. Intrigue is accomplished by making them, as often as not, unreliable narrators. The MC also experiences a few mystical encounters, which often serve to foreshadow events he may not witness, or reveal history he did not witness.
He also experiences mysterious events. The reader is anxious to at some point get an explanation for those events, so further "characters as narrator" doesn't intrude, it satisfies.
Of course, I have to finish that series once started. It's one of the most brilliant fantasy series every written. You don't stop reading it in the middle. But, gladly, I've accomplished in terms of research what I sought to learn, and sometime, hopefully by late August, I'll continue writing a book I produced three chapters of several years ago.