I don’t know where this recent idea came from that fiction has to be perfectly healthy anyway. Fiction is not inherently healthy and never has been, its not real, its for exploration and imagination. Fiction is separate from reality and that is why we like it. What you write about is not what you condone, Stephen King is not serial killer for writing about murder. People are not being “abuse apologists” for shipping two characters in a less than healthy way.
I’m sick of this new trend.
You don’t have to like a ship but you want to know what is actually hurting people? What is not promoting healthy behavior? Harassing shippers, telling them they’re disgusting over fiction, that kind of shining behavior antis exhibit.
I can’t tell you what my favorite quote is, because it’s the last line of the series.
The Raven King is my thirteenth published novel, and you’d think — I thought, anyway — that novel-writing would get easier with practice. But in reality, it feels like a magic trick. Every time.
It’s not that I don’t know now if I can finish a novel. That knowledge, grounded in repeated success, at least conveys from project-to-project. The rub is this: I am absolutely certain that I can get to an end of a book. I’m just never sure if I’m going to get to the end.
Why are you writing this story?
I have to know the answer to this question before I begin drafting. It’s my mission statement. My endpoint. It’s how I know I’m done: I’ve written the book I intended to write. It means I often have to write several other books that are not the real thing on the way to it. And it’s getting harder, not easier, now that I know more about building stories. Before, I would get stuck when my subconscious stabbed the brakes. I’d be forced to circle back and ask myself why I couldn’t move forward — oh, because you’re telling the wrong story, Stiefvater.
But now! Nice try, writer’s block. I can strong-arm a set of characters through a properly structured set of tasks to create a beginning, middle, and end.
Just not the one I intended to.
It’s a tough problem, because only I can diagnose it. I can send a draft to my critique partners and editors and they can sign off on it, but only I can decide if the novel I sent them was the one I set out to create. It becomes even more complex when looking at a project like the Raven Cycle — four novels written over nearly a decade, a series begun when I was a teenager. Back then, the story asked a question that I didn’t have an answer for. That was the why.
what am I tell me what I am
Which brings me to the last line of the Raven Cycle. From my fraught inbox, I know readers are looking forward to very different things in the conclusion of the series. They have dozens of different priorities for what constitutes a happy or satisfying or logical conclusion to the series, depending on what they believe the story is about, depending on what their priorities are for a good story. But for me, the why are you writing this story has always had a pretty simple answer, focused around that question that teenage me had no answer for.
When I wrote the last line in the Raven Cycle, I knew I’d written the story I had intended to. I’d pulled off the magic trick again — whether it’s a trick that anyone else finds diverting is another thing. I wish I could hand a copy to teen-me.
“Read this, you asshole,” I’d tell her, “it says everything you need to hear.”
She wouldn’t have believed me — I wasn’t big on believing in people back then — but she would’ve come around, I think.
While there are probably a lot of people who could do this better than me, I haven’t seen any posts yet so I’m going to do a chess analogy/analysis of the characters! Wow. I haven’t played chess in a few years, so bear with me here.
Honestly, it’s hard to NOT think of chess symbolism after that last episode…
Anyways. While I’m sure that Bill likes to believe that all of the others are his pawns, he’s wrong. They all play a crucial role in the game, and that’s why Bill has to take them out, one-by-one, to get to the king.
The King: as an anon so kindly pointed out to me, the king is the rift. It’s the most important thing - the protagonists having it VS. Bill having it is literally what will make or break the universe. In chess, if you take out the other player’s king, you win. If Bill gets his hands on the rift, he wins.
The rift is of the utmost importance and it needs protection, but it’s unable to protect itself. In chess, the king can only move one spot at a time, making it practically useless. It’s up to the other pieces to protect it. All of the protagonists will have to work together to keep the rift safe.
The Knights: Mabel and Stanley. Based on this chess symbolism site, the moves of knights require both the head and the heart. Mabel and Stan both showed examples of this in DD&MD.
Only a knight or a pawn can make the first move in a game of chess. By breaking Ford’s science project (and even though most people believe this wasn’t actually the case, they still think it was), he set Ford’s life into motion and, therefore, also set Bill’s plan into motion. Ford went to college on his own, found Gravity Falls, and befriended Bill because he no longer had his brother and didn’t have anybody else on his side.
Now what makes Mabel a knight? Well, knights are also known for their ability to make a move that not even the queen (the most powerful piece) can make. And since I believe that Dipper is the queen (see below), it’s important for Mabel to be a knight. The twins have very different abilities, but they compliment each other’s very well. What Dipper lacks, Mabel makes up for.
The Bishop: This one is a toss-up for me, but I believe it’s Ford. The bishop can move as far as it wants in one move, but only in one direction (diagonally). This means that he has a lot of power and is important, but is still limited. Obviously, Ford is very powerful - he’s a genius, a fantastic inventor, and honestly deserves like a dozen Nobel Prizes. But he’s still lacking in social skills. Part of this is from being an awkward kid growing up who never made any friends other than his brother, and part of it is from being out of out this dimension for thirty years.
So obviously, Ford messes up a lot. He told Dipper, a child, about the rift and told him not to tell anybody. He gave Dipper the mind control tie. He gave Mabel a crossbow. Seriously, what adult does that? Not one who’s as great and powerful as you’d like to think.
Ford needs the other pieces if he wants to accomplish anything. He needs Dipper, the queen, to help him protect the king - the rift. He needs Stan, the knight, to make up for how horrible of an adult he is.
Plus, you know what an actual bishop, as in the person, does? They worship.
The Rook: Bill. What?! Bill’s not a queen, the most powerful piece? Sorry, no. Like a rook, Bill is limited in his abilities. A rook can move as many spots as the player wants, but only along the four cardinal directions. It can’t move diagonally, like the bishop (Ford) or the queen (Dipper).
Rooks are known for being the most effective when they’re working with other pieces.
The Queen: As stated earlier, Dipper is absolutely the queen. While every character is important to Bill’s final plan, Dipper is the most important one - he’s the one who will do the most. The queen is the piece with the most abilities, being able to move straight in one direction for as many spots as the player wants (as long as it doesn’t knock out pieces from its own team).
Dipper is the one who found the third Journal, making it possible for Stan to complete the portal and bring Ford back. Dipper is the one who makes the plans, solves the mysteries.
Dipper is the one person other than Ford who knows about the rift. He’s the one who has to protect it with his life, even if that means he loses allies or puts himself at risk along the way.
The Pawns: I believe that the pawns are everybody else in Gravity Falls. Bill explicitly states this at the end of TLM, when he claims that his “next pawn will have to be on the outside.”
Pawns are simple pieces, only moving one spot at a time. They’re disposable.
It is that, she forever said, but also something more. The phrase had come to live in Henry’s head. Something more explained perfectly why he could never say what he meant — something more, by its definition, would always be different than what you already had in your hand.
Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!
So I’m at that scene in book 2 when Neil is going off on Andrew at Exites for not caring about himself or wanting to save himself, you know, right before The Moment of Intense UST?
Anyway that triggered the memory of Andrew’s ‘this could be a problem’ moment from Nora’s extra content so I went to look for it and this is what it says:
“The first time Andrew saw Neil without his medication blurring his judgment, he thought, This could be a problem, but he did not take it seriously then.”
And so I had my normal reaction to it (nioce, nioce) until I realized something. I’ve assumed this whole time she meant this at the start of Kings Men but it says 'THE FIRST TIME Andrew saw Neil without his medication…’
The FIRST time.
Do you guys know when that was? Chapter 2. Of The Foxhole Court. Book 1.
I want you to imagine Andrew Minyard waiting in that airport for Neil and seeing him for only the SECOND TIME and thinking 'this could be a problem’
Just think about the level of frustration he felt being attracted to this mysterious guy while also being incredibly suspicious of him.
P L E A S E THINK ABOUT HOW NEIL WAS INTERESTING TO HIM WHEN ON THE MEDICATION AS WELL.
So what I’m saying is, Andrew wanted Neil wether on the drugs or not, he found him endlessly frustrating and incredibly stupid and he liked him oh so very much and he really hated that.
He never stood a chance.
Churches: Please don’t be silent about what’s happening in
the world. I don’t believe we’re primarily a political venue, but
people come to church for healing and strength and to know The King
who’s above all things. If you’re scared of alienating people, you were
never going to please everyone anyway. Be thoughtful, but please don’t
play it safe. Say something. To say nothing is more harmful than