Character Development And Strategical Writing Essay, Research Paper
Marion Zimmer Bradley, a book critic, says The Skystone is “one of the most interesting historical novels that I’ve ever read, and I’ve read plenty”(Front cover). In writing, success is generally a direct result of an author being able to keep a reader interested. Jack Whyte is an interesting and successful author throughout The Skystone and The Singing Sword because of his development of characters and his ability to write strategically. Character development is an important element in a story because if readers feel strongly about the characters, they are interested in reading further, and are more apt to enjoy the novel. Jack Whyte effectively develops the characters Caius Britannicus and Claudius Seneca through their words and actions in The Skystone and The Singing Sword, creating a strong impression of these characters in the mind of the reader. Another crucial element to Jack Whyte’s success is his strategical writing. His ability to seize the attention of a reader immediately, and to maintain that level of intrigue throughout the novel until his climactic ending is reached, demonstrates a well planned writing strategy, and is a significant contribution to his success. In The Skystone and The Singing Sword, Jack Whyte’s character development and strategical writing create and maintain the interest of the reader, exhibiting a basis for his success.
In Jack Whyte’s novels, he develops his characters effectively, sparking the interest of the reader. In The Skystone and The Singing Sword, one of the characters that Whyte develops well is Caius Britannicus. Throughout these two novels, Britannicus’ development is seen through the eyes of Publius Varrus, the main character, and Britannicus’ eventual lifelong friend. From the very beginning of their friendship, Publius recognizes the qualities of Caius as a person, and as a leader, and describes them in The Skystone when saying,
From the outset of our relationship Britannicus invariably treated me with
military correctness, slightly warmed by courtesy and consideration. I found
him to be just, temperate, and dispassionate in his dealings with the men under
his command. But he could be awesome in his wrath when provoked by
incompetence or malfeasance. A rigid disciplinarian, he was implacable once
he had decided that punishment was in order. And never, at any time, did he
show any capacity for suffering fools gladly(37).
Although Caius does not initially strike the reader as a particularly amiable character, Jack Whyte continues to develop Britannicus and his friendship with Publius, revealing a more compassionate character. This side of Caius Britannicus is uncovered when in The Skystone it says, “Britannicus, it was observed, put the welfare of his men – their food, their equipment and their billets – above everything else”(49). As Caius and his friendship with Publius continue to develop throughout The Skystone and The Singing Sword, the reader comes to an understanding of Caius’ character, and realizes his positive role in the novels, valuing everything about his personality. The realization of the appreciation of Britannicus’ character comes at the end of The Singing Sword when he is murdered, and the reader shares the mourning of a lost friend with Publius. The strong feelings that the reader develops for Caius Britannicus in The Skystone and The Singing Sword demonstrates the effectiveness of Jack Whyte’s character development.
Another character Jack Whyte develops effectively in these two novels is Caesarius Claudius Seneca. Before his character is even introduced into the story, the Seneca family is established as detestable by Caius when he says to Publius in The Skystone, “Humph! You must be a man of great subtlety, to bring out the decency in a Seneca”(34). Publius meets Claudius Seneca for the first time when Seneca begins ordering Publius and his friend Plautus around while they are relaxing at a mansio. Whyte’s development of Seneca becomes clear quite quickly in The Skystone as Plautus describes Claudius when saying, “The face of a god, the personality of a pit viper and a lust to be famed as the most degenerate swine in history”(138). Seneca’s development as a villain progresses as he picks a fight with Publius, resulting in a victory for Publius, and the accretion of a lifelong enemy in Caesarius Claudius Seneca. As a result of this conflict, Seneca later kills two of Publius’ friends while searching for him, adding to the malevolence of his character. To avenge the deaths of his friends, Publius Varrus arranges for Claudius Seneca to be kidnaped. Publius is certain he has killed Seneca once and for all when he says in The Skystone, “I jerked my arm back hard, wrenching my blade from his chest, and watched as he fell, first to his knees and then forward onto his face”(346). Jack Whyte develops Seneca as a villain that seems superhuman when he is discovered to have survived the stab wound. Seneca commits his final deed of treachery when he goes to Publius’ house and kills his friends Caius, Plautus and Enid. In that room of death, Publius describes how he kills Seneca in The Singing Sword by saying, “I raised Excalibur high above my head and swung it down with all my strength, striking Caesarius Claudius Seneca’s head from his body”(599). The dislike the reader has for Claudius Seneca throughout The Skystone and The Singing Sword, and the lack of remorse the reader feels during his death demonstrates how effective Jack Whyte is at developing Seneca as a villain.
Jack Whyte is effective at catching the attention of the reader because of his ability to position particular parts of the plot strategically. An example of his strategical writing is how he begins both books in the midst of a very exciting moment. The Skystone begins as Publius Varrus describes in graphic detail the ambush which he acquired the injury to his leg that forced him to retire from the military. The Singing Sword begins in a similar fashion, as Publius receives a wound below his elbow in a battle against some Scots, who had been pillaging a small village. To begin with such an intense moment is an effective use of strategical writing because of the interest the reader immediately has in the book. Furthermore, Jack Whyte has Publius Varrus receive a wound in both fights, so that Publius Varrus, as narrator, can tell the reader about the events leading up to the battle, exhibiting Whyte’s ability to write strategically. Whyte’s strategical writing is also demonstrated in his endings of The Skystone and The Singing Sword. Near the end of The Skystone, Publius Varrus is in an exciting fight with Claudius Seneca, where Publius believes he has killed him. At the very end of The Skystone, Publius presents Caius with a statue made out of the skystone he found, and when asked by Caius if he will make a sword out of it, Publius replies, “I believe this lady may have one great sword in her”(349). By ending the story with excitement and foreshadowing the forging of Excalibur, Jack Whyte shows his ability to write strategically, as he leaves the reader fulfilled with the death of Claudius Seneca, but also interested with what will happen in the sequel. The Singing Sword ends as Claudius Seneca enters Publius Varrus’ house and kills three of his friends before he is decapitated by Publius wielding Excalibur. Once again, Jack Whyte ends the story with an exciting fight, and the comfort of knowing Claudius Seneca is dead. Additionally, the fact that the sword Publius spent much of his life making is the sword that kills his nemesis, Claudius Seneca, shows that Whyte’s strategical writing covered the entirety of the two novels. Through Jack Whyte’s exciting beginnings and climactic endings, it is apparent that much thought went into the organization of events in his novels, demonstrating his ability to write strategically.
In The Skystone and The Singing Sword, Jack Whyte is an interesting and successful author because of his character development and his ability to write strategically. Whyte is effective in his development of characters because of his ability to make the reader feel strongly about the characters. His ability to write strategically immediately gains the attention of the reader through detailed combat, and his endings leave the reader feeling satisfied knowing the villain is taken care of, and the plot has come together. Jack Whyte’s competence in capturing the interest of the reader through character development and well planned writing has been the key to his success.
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