And it occurred to me that, while the main story of Shayara is a big sprawling thing on grand epic themes, the side stories and before-our-story-begins stories are very focused and intimate. An organic process, I think. I've lived half my life with these characters, and they've grown until there's no room in the main story for great swathes of their individual stories.... and I love people, fictional or not, so while I tell stories of revolution and redemption, I make room to tell you about lost loves and broken hearts and the fractures that shape these people. I have a bad case of the "why"s, you know. An estimated 20K of "My Empire for Ashes" is because, the night before the big battle that closes Act Two, Katrina comes to the castle to see her abandoned daughters - her sole return to the city after she left thirtyish years ago to join the Council's breeding program - and, when she is dismissed, she and Telenias see each other on the balcony -
and they both pause.
And I thought Huh. Why?
They have a history, that's why. Why? He was the first person she met when she stumbled into the city. So wait, why did they break up? And why did she go to Stephen? Ah, now that's a story. And one that the main arc is too packed to hold.
And Jessa is one of my favorite characters - and you never get to see her in the main arc. She dies five years before our story begins. But she's Important, in that there might never have been a revolution had she not stood up first. And she's Important to many of our characters - you never meet Jessa in the story proper, but you see her light reflected everywhere. In her daughter, in her best friend, in people who respected and admired her, in one who was obsessed with her and one who had her killed.
And Fenris (in icon), the aforementioned best friend, is one of my favorite characters as well. Him, you get to see plenty of! But he wouldn't be who he is had it not been for her being who she was.
And they have a story, oh yes. That would never really be told in the course of the main arc, because, well, she's dead.
And I find that telling these stories that happen thirty, twenty, ten, five years before our story begins - it gives you so much more of this world and its evolution. It gives you the Council getting more and more malevolent. It gives you backstory and worldbuilding.
And it gives you these people. These big complex people who, alas, cannot be my primary characters, but who I still love.
The problem with writing in this world is that it is so large. And so by narrowing the focus, you lose so much. And by going from comics to straight text, you lose a lot, too - I can't paint characters with color and scene and movement as vividly as I could with comics. What I love about comics is that you can tell so much more of the story in them. No ham-handed descriptors - the visuals are right there. And you can hide things - Jeramie's facial expression in this scene, the object on Fenris's desk in that scene. Things the eye skims over on a comics page sometimes, that on your second and third read you'll go "Oh. OH. Holy shit, dude, that was right there."
So I'm sculpting instead of painting; I am cutting away everything that is not this story. But - I honor and love people. And I want to tell their stories, too.