This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I did some preliminary planning for Act III and the end of the book. I looked at the “scaffolding” like number of chapters, and the topics they have to address, as well as the tone of the ending.
Upper Management for an Immortal
So far, I’ve created two characters to serve in God-Speaker’s inner circle, because these two were important for Act II. They’re not the most rounded characters yet, because they were designed to fit a plot purpose. I also need to figure out what other characters are in this inner council.
God-Speaker understands that one of the best ways he can protect himself is by minimizing the number of people who know or suspect that he exists. He built Razor Mountain to hide himself from the outside world, and he built the internal mythology of Razor Mountain to hide himself from the people within the mountain. However, he is obsessively controlling. He wants a constant feed of information coming in to him. He wants to project his influence across Razor Mountain, and when necessary, the world.
To do this effectively, he created a small group of carefully vetted people who can act as his liasons, bringing him information and carrying out his orders. They necessarily know more about him than anyone else, and he knows that they are the only people likely to betray him. Because of this, he keeps the group as small as possible, and watches them carefully. He develops tools and strategies to discover and weed out disloyal people in the inner circle (which work well up until Reed’s betrayal.)
What Does God-Speaker Need?
What departments does this council have?
- There must be some amount of management and governance for Razor Mountain itself: the facilities, the people and the goods generated and consumed by those people.
- The mountain is largely self-sufficient, but trade with the outside does happen, and this needs to be handled in a secretive way.
- While God-Speaker keeps Razor Mountain hidden, he still sometimes needs to manipulate events in the world, he needs a few carefully trained people to send out and accomplish tasks.
- Razor Mountain society is largely built around a military hierarchy masquerading as a part of the U.S. Army. The illusion of that hierarchy has to be maintained. It makes sense that a military-style justice and policing system would also be incorporated.
From those needs, I can begin to decide what the positions on this council might be. The term “council” doesn’t particularly fit the actual function of these people. They don’t deliberate – they are more like cabinet heads, or political ministers or secretaries. They serve at the pleasure of God-Speaker, and he can ultimately allow or overrule their decisions.
- Building and Works Department – Cain Dolus (loyal)
- Economic Department – New character?
- Intelligence Department – Reed Parricida (traitor)
- Military Department – New character?
- Justice Department – New character?
I think those positions might also sometimes have a senior secretary and an undersecretary who is effectively in training to take over. While God-Speaker is missing from the mountain, a secretary might also die or be deposed, and their positions consolidated under other secretaries.
What Follows God-Speaker’s Death?
As soon as God-Speaker is gone, Reed knows that he is up against the other secretaries if he wants to actually take control of Razor Mountain. He hides his treachery by planting evidence that incriminates one of the other secretaries. This also provides him an opportunity to create an opening that he can fill. The Military and Justice departments would probably be the most useful to a budding new dictator.
So, Reed kills God-Speaker, but God-Speaker manages to transfer his consciousness into baby Christopher. Reed plants evidence and accuses the Secretary of Justice. They deny any involvement, but the rest of the cabinet decide to imprison them. There is an Undersecretary, but they are a weak-willed pushover who easily falls under Reed’s sway.
Cain, however, finds the entire situation suspicious. He believes that the Secretary of Justice may have been framed or working with another member of the cabinet. He sometimes talks to them in their jail in hopes of gleaning some new information (and out of pity). Cain is also close to the Secretary of the Military, and the pair effectively block Reed and his puppet Secretary of Justice from taking too much power.
Even worse for Reed, Cain has more of a knack with the artifacts. He discovers that God-Speaker isn’t gone, and can be brought back if they find Christopher and bring him to Razor Mountain. Reed knows this will be disastrous for him, but can’t act overtly. He helps Cain plan to bring Christopher to the mountain, but plans to dispose of him before he can come back and reveal that Reed was the traitor.
I didn’t get as far in this session as I was hoping, but I honestly underestimated the work that had to be done here. I came up with a list of departments in God-Speaker’s cabinet. I’m going to need to flesh out characters for the deposed Secretary of Justice, the weak Undersecretary of Justice (who takes over and allies with Reed), the Military Secretary (who allies with Cain), and the Economic Secretary (who probably ought to play a lesser role just to limit the cast of characters.
Next time, I need to sort these characters out. I think I’ll be lucky if it only takes me one session.