This is part of an ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain.
You can find my spoiler-free journals for each chapter, my spoiler-heavy pre-production journals, and the book itself over at the Razor Mountain landing page.
For this chapter, I did some research into Proto-Inuit and Proto-Eskimoan language in order to come up with the character names. I already knew what I wanted the meaning of each name to be, so it was a matter of scanning through research papers and websites to find words that fit the meaning and also sound good to my ear.
It’s always a little harrowing writing anything in a language you’re not proficient with, because it’s very easy to miss bad connotations or grammatical rules that alter the meaning. This is a pretty mild case since each of these names are simple phrases and the languages are ancestors of modern languages with relatively small speaking populations. Getting something wrong in French is much more likely to be caught by readers and pull them out of their immersion than getting something wrong in proto-Inuit.
I still like to get it right though, for the sake of craftsmanship and out of respect for the language and the people who spoke it, regardless of what it is.
One of the challenges of an effectively immortal character is that you have such a large span of time to populate, and then such a limited number of scenes to actually show. Act I showed God-Speaker’s origin and how he came to Razor Mountain. Act II is jumping through time specifically to showcase particular formative moments for him. Hopefully this will give the reader not only an understanding of who he is, but why he is that way.
Some of the reader feedback I got for this chapter was that we know almost nothing about the relationship between God-Speaker and Strong-Shield, so it’s hard to care about their fight. That is a valid concern. On the other hand, Strong Shield only lives in this one chapter. I have to limit the amount of words I spend on him. What really matters to me in this scene is that we see what God-Speaker is doing and the state of Razor Mountain.
These chapters will end up being a sort of slide-show, little moments from a long span of history. They will mention or hint at other things that happen in the mountain, but there will necessarily be a lot that is left out. Novels are full of choices like this, and I chose to go a particular way. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was the “right” way or the “best” way (if such a thing even exists).
Chapter sixteen ended with God-Speaker seeking immortality. While this chapter isn’t explicit about how much time has passed, it does reveal that he is in a new body.
I thought spending more time on this resurrection, but I decided against it. His new body is mentioned in passing, and this keeps an air of mystery around the process. We know that the voices in the mountain are somehow involved, but we don’t know the exact mechanism of it. The reader understands that God-Speaker can live beyond a normal human lifespan, but there are still questions to string us along. I like this kind of partial answer as a way to dole out information without completely giving up the mystery.
Going by my outline, there are three more God-Speaker chapters in Act II. However, next time, in Chapter 20, we are back to Christopher, who is having his own bad times in a prison cell under Razor Mountain.
2 thoughts on “Razor Mountain Development Journal — Chapter 19”
I’m generally too cowardly to try anything like that, I figure the chances of me getting it right are too small.
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If I were using a non-dead language, I would probably seek out a native speaker willing to help me get it right.
There’s also the complexity of trying to portray a culture you’re not intimately familiar with. In this case I’m emboldened because it’s a culture so old that most of what we know is from a small amount of archaeological evidence. Plus I’m tacking on alternate-history nonsense to further stray from reality.