First, I’ll admit that I’m not 100% certain of the terms I’m using. I sat here trying to figure out the big difference between Windemere stories and Crossing Bedlam. This is besides the characters, setting, and just about everything within the pages. I’m talking the structure style here, which is very distinct in my head.
Windemere stories have a central plot and the chapters tie into that with various scenes that are part of the whole. Bedlam is the same, but Windemere chapters are unable to stand alone outside of the book. If I took the chapter where Lloyd and Cassidy are handling rhinos and a sniper, it can hold up better. Not perfect since you would lose some context, but you can see it as a single episode with a beginning and end. A chapter where Luke is talking about something that happened then fighting a mysterious enemy and Nyx talking to someone else doesn’t have that. At least not as cleanly, especially with those descriptions.
This might be why some people said that Bedlam could work as a comic book, graphic novel, or television show. Not that I would know where to go with that. Anyway, the format is very much like that. I want Lloyd and Cassidy to come in, bash through the obstacle, and leave within 3-4 sections. Big ones will require 2 chapters, but every season has a 2-parter at times. This makes more sense for these characters who aren’t getting involved in events that are bigger than survival. I hate to call them simple, but their desires are rather basic when compared to the champions who are out to save all of Windemere.
I have to admit that there is a disadvantage to this type of storytelling that goes against my usual habits. I love flushing out supporting characters and having them gradually take form in a story. You can easily do that over the course of a book like Xander in Curse of the Dark Wind and Kalam in Allure of the Gypsies. They were only around for one adventure, but they had some depth and entire books to show that. You don’t get this when you’re doing an episodic adventure that involves traveling. I need to give the Bedlam cast personality right from the beginning, which means a lot of flashy personalities and big actions. For example, Katie’s ‘complaint’ about one of her men messing up her tea shows that she isn’t as prim, proper, and sane as one would think.
From the writing perspective, there is less pressure here in terms of continuity. It’s still important, but it’s much easier to maintain it. Conversations don’t carry over to new chapters unless it’s between Lloyd and Cassidy. The characters that they meet don’t go with them and only come up in conversation, which means I have less to remember when continuing the story. Honestly, it’s just central conversations, gear, injuries, and how frustrated Cassidy is with Lloyd. This means I can take a break for a day or weekend when working on a Bedlam book as long as I make the proper notes. This doesn’t work with Windemere where I need to have stuff fresh in my mind and editing runs are a combination of Hidden Object Puzzles and the Telephone Game.
I can’t really choose one over the other. Each one works for the stories that I’m telling, so I’m enjoying both rides. Though, I will admit that Bedlam works best when my schedule is up in the air.