16 March 2009

What is the order of the ancient backstory

  • ~323BC Ptolemy I takes the throne of Egypt and founds the library. Created the Jinn.

  • ~70BC Antiochus starts (continues?) The underground building at Mt. Nemrud.

  • ~48BC Julius Caesar burns the ships and part of the docks at Alexandria, including 50,000 books.

  • ~300AD Carthage sacks Rome, carries away the Temple Treasure.

  • ~529AD Justinian defeats Carthage and carries the Temple treasure back to Constantinople. Later ordered returned to Jerusalem.

  • 641AD Emir Amrou Ibn el-Ass receives instruction from Caliph Omar to burn the books of Alexandria, saying "As for the books you mention, here is my reply. If their content is in accordance with the book of Allah, we may do without them, for in that case the book of Allah more than suffices. If, on the other hand, they contain matter not in accordance with the book of Allah, there can be no need to preserve them. Proceed, then, and destroy them." (The Vanished Library, Luciano Canfora)

  • ~1460AD Gutenberg founds the typeworkers guild to protect the secret location of the library.

Do I take them in the historical order, or can I pull them up as they are appropriate tot he story? Can I keep the ancient story straight if it is not chronological?

Who else should be in the story?

There aren't enough characters to keep it interesting yet. Who is the betrayor and who is the betrayed? What is the urgency? Is the bad guy destroying a manuscript for every day the library is not found? What about the ambiguity between looking for one scroll and the whole library? When does it change? or does it?

The urgency!

What if The Voice is pushing Peter & Maddie to find the library not only for his own purposes, but because an Islamic sect has targeted the Jinn for destruction because their founding papers show that the Jinn are not a separate creation of Allah, but are an elite cadre of guards created by Ptolemy to protect the library through both stealthy warriorship and cunning. They are to become invisible, striking where there is no sign of a strike, and moving the library as it is necessary to do so. They are to acquire and manage the books secretly. The urgency is to beat the Islamic Jihad to the library to protect it from destruction - the completion of the job that Amrou began.


Jason Black said...

I think revealing the backstory in chronological order may be a) too on-the-nose for comfort, and b) unnecessarily deprives you of opportunities to raise questions. Leave the protagonist wondering what happened between point A and point C for a while. Then, it's fun for everyone when B is finally revealed. But still, when the protagonist finally does put it together, I'd find a way to work a recap in there so that at least at the end the reader can see the whole sequence laid out in verbal bullet points.