The writing of Magdalene was not without its false starts. In my early plot skeletons, I used Jesus’ arrival as the inciting incident, then realized that I needed to go back further. Miryam’s story didn’t begin when Jesus entered her life, and her goal wasn’t becoming a Christian. The inciting incident was when the Romans destroyed her family, and her goal was justice/vengeance. Once I realized that, the rest of the story fell into place.
Another challenge I faced during the writing was how to deal with familiar Bible stories. Most of my readers will be familiar with the stories of feeding the five thousand, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and many other situations. My problem–do I tell those stories again and run the risk of boring my reader? Or could I tell those stories from another perspective and present them in a way they’ve never been presented? I tried to do the latter, but there were some scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Cutting is painful, believe me. So I kept a file of “cut material,” knowing that I could always open the file and pull up anything I cut if I needed it later. Truly, though, most of the material remained cut.
Another problem I had to conquer was giving Miryam wisdom beyond her time. For instance, we contemporary believers are familiar with the concept of the Trinity–one God in three persons. But first century Jews were befuddled by that idea, and it wasn’t clearly explained in doctrine until the Council of Nicea, 325years after Christ. At one point post-Pentecost, I had Miryam realizing that Jesus was God, and so was the Holy Spirit, but her realization may have been a bit premature. The idea of the trinity does date from the time of Christ, but it wasn’t clearly set down until much later.
Once I had the plot skeleton formed, the story shaped up. I used a framing device–a woman in present story time carries the reader back and relates her history–and I think it works well to tie things up and carry the story to its conclusion.
Tomorrow: The Editing