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 came up with a list of departments in God-Speaker’s cabinet. I thought about what happens among this small group after God-Speaker’s death. I began to navigate the internal politics that develop in his absence.
Rethinking the Cabinet
Coming into this session, I’ve been rethinking my plans from the last session. I initially wanted a very small group of people under God-Speaker who know who he really is. The justification is that he would minimize his exposure and the number of people who could realistically pose a threat to him. It also limits the cast of characters that need to be introduced and developed in Act III.
However, I began to think that the very small group I developed would not be enough to run everything in Razor Mountain. I also realized that as long as the group was small, it would require me to do a certain amount of rounding-out all of the characters. They become important by virtue of how few of them there are.
Now, I’m leaning toward a slightly larger group: something like ten to fifteen people. The unimportant characters in this cabinet can be mostly treated as a loosely-defined crowd, while I provide more detail for the characters that matter in the narrative. These flatter characters make the governance of Razor Mountain a little more believable, and a web of alliances and rivalries helps to explain why it’s difficult for the more powerful cabinet members to simply take over. It also makes it harder for the suspicious loyalists to discover who was really behind God-Speaker’s death.
I’ll probably take cues for these additional cabinet positions from the US presidential cabinet – Razor Mountain does maintain a facade of secret association with the US government. I can include secretaries of agriculture, commerce, labor, health, energy, education, science, etc.
I have also been thinking about how the plot unfolds in Act III. I think it starts with Christopher being led into this inner sanctum, where only the cabinet and perhaps a small guard corps are allowed to enter. He is greeted by Cain, who tells him, “Welcome home, God-Speaker.” That strikes me as a good line to end Act II on.
Cain’s first order of business is to bring Christopher to the place where the artifacts are housed. This begins the process of “unlocking” God-Speaker’s memories and personality. Christopher doesn’t realize what’s being done to him until he starts to have flashes of God-Speaker coming through. At that point, he realizes that he’s on a slow, inevitable road to death, or at least something very similar to death as he is subsumed in God-Speaker’s vast, long-lived persona.
Once the process is started, Cain convenes the cabinet and reveals Christopher to them, framing it as a long-awaited return to order.
It’s only after all of this, in private, that Cain really answers some of Christopher’s questions and warns him that the murderer may still be looking for a way to finish both of them off before Christopher remembers everything that happened.
Christopher remembers things piecemeal, and has access to a wealth of records. He worries about the seemingly imminent attack while also struggling with his transformation into God-Speaker. He questions the cabinet officials, gathering information.
When Reed finally makes a second attempt on his life, perhaps through proxies, Christopher already has accurate suspicions and is prepared. His memories of the first attack awaken. I still need to work out exactly how this happens. He stops Reed.
This easy victory feels strangely hollow (to Christopher, and hopefully the reader, since it’s intended to be a bit of an anti-climax). Even though Christopher has now regained control over Razor Mountain and gotten answers to the mysteries that plagued him through the whole book, he is fading away. He is turning into God-Speaker, and discovering that even God-Speaker isn’t excited to be God-Speaker. He’s just propelled onward in an endless malaise by a gnawing fear of death. In one sense he won, but he really had no path to any outcome that feels like success.
The cabinet is relieved that the long interregnum is over. They have spent their lives in Razor Mountain, they believe God-Speaker is a nearly infallible leader, and they were at least partly selected for their acquiescence to his authority. In short, most of them are relieved that they have him above them to be ultimately responsible for the functioning of their little society.
Christopher can feel when the end is near. He knows that within hours he will be just another tiny sliver of God-Speaker. He weighs his fears, and he talks to Cain. He tells him that he thinks Razor Mountain was a mistake. Cain doesn’t understand and disagrees. He tells Christopher that he’ll feel better when he’s back to his old self again.
Christopher then goes to the place where the artifacts are, and sends himself backward through time. He stops young God-Speaker from entering the cave, sending him slipping down the rocks to his death.
I made some changes to God-Speaker’s cabinet, and I was able to roughly outline the plot beats in the third act.
Next time, I need to decide exactly how Reed makes his final, desperate attack on Christopher, and how Christopher stops him. Once that’s settled, I think I have everything I need to work on the chapter summaries for Act III.