In Part One of this blog, I covered World Building, the use of a Sacred Force, Time, and Location. Part Two begins with Settings.
Interiors can help establish the mood of your novel and support the emotional landscape of your characters. My novel Time Blade follows the main character, Sky Hunter, through several incarnations. In his present-day life, we first meet him at age eighteen, when he lives in a studio on his parents’ property.
Moonlight shines through the tall, iron-framed windows, casting shadows on the bed—a mattress on the floor, close to the earth. Sky kicks off his shoes and treads on the paint-splattered concrete floors, squishing his toes against cerulean, vermillion, and yellow ochre, paint that overshot Great Grandfather Leo’s canvasses. He sits at the old captain’s desk left over from Leo’s days, the cubbyholes that once held charts and maps now jammed with random articles about foreign lands—places where chance might take Sky—one week from today when he sets out to see the world. Great Grandfather’s watch lays beside his computer—a manual wind from the 1940s, trimmed with yellow gold. Sky had it brought back to working condition. Having time on his wrist brings a feeling of being in control—time in its own encasement, ticking because he winds it up every morning.
This passage shows Sky’s fondness for his great grandfather’s possessions, his fascination with time, and his willingness to cast his fate to chance—the unknown.
In a very different setting, we meet Sky in his earliest incarnation on Earth. Here, he lives as a young man called E’am, during the Age of Jeweled Intelligence.He has won guardianship of Time Blade, a weapon that can cut, stop, or reverse time to prevent disasters that could destroy the human family.
In a darkened sanctuary, E’am approaches an altar welded to the floor. He kneels before the steel oblong, and lays his left hand on the cold surface. “I come to serve.” A seam splits open. Time Blade rests on a bed of black silk, the jewels of the seven kingdoms sparkling in the crossguard. He grips the steel-rimmed handle of the weapon and presses the Blade against his heart. A rush of fiery energy fleets through his body. “Whatever you ask of me, I am.”
This setting is about devotion. The words spoken ignite the sacred force E’am/Sky uses to serve mankind on behalf of Time: I am—his original illumined nature.
The thought of creating other galaxies and universes might be mind-boggling. It isn’t really. Everything your protagonist needs to realize his goal will arise from the depths of your story. Why does he have to travel to another galaxy? What does he expect to find there? How will he get there? What are the atmospheric conditions? How does Earth look from the planet he will visit? As you answer these questions, the alternate star system you need to invent will begin to take shape in your imagination. This is when I start searching the web in reference to cosmic formations. I don’t make a conscious effort to retain my findings. If I do, I tend to try to fit scientific language into the narrative. This can work if your character is knowledgeable in the field of astrophysics. Otherwise, it might intrude upon the visionary voice of your story.
Theme is the universal truth that underlies your story. Time Blade says: follow the call of your heart; it will lead you to all the best things in life. A calling is written on the soul and settles in the heart at birth. Transcendent scenes arise when, against all odds, the protagonist stays true to his calling. It is a wondrous happening—or perhaps a gift from the heavens that float above the master’s feet.
Awakening to pure awareness has been my main interest for many years. I care deeply about the issues explored in the novel—the well being of our planet and humanity. This is an exciting time to be writing visionary fiction. People are seeking enlightenment the world over. Books abound on meditation and mindfulness, and a demand for change smolders beneath the division and dissent that hounds the headlines of our times. Writers can give voice to that call. We can create stories that celebrate the beauty of our many different cultures, promote the sameness of our need to love and be loved, and say it out loud and clear. We are one race: human.