Diagramming Babel (Part 8)

(Originally Posted Wednesday, October 10, 2007)

Diagram 8. You may have noticed that I’ve been hesitating at the liminal point where Will enters Babel for the first time, plotting out the section to come in greater and greater detail. That’s because the novel wasn’t working. It was stalled, and I was trying to find out where the problem was.

From Right to Left:

When the shopkeeper saw what they were doing, he came out and gave them half their money back.


2 dragons

Hanging Gardens — ill at ease sees Alcyone

3-card Monte

HERE “Everyone knew what to do”



Bulls & Lancers

“a scale for weighing your heart”



Insecurity leading to a brief acceptance of Babel


The shopkeeper incidentwas dropped entirely. It was part of the “2 dragons” scene which by now I had realized was the problem. I needed the dragons. They didn’t work. It took me a long time to resolve that one.

Alcyone finally has a name! She’s no longer just “woman.” Now her rather extraordinary personality can begin to develop.

“Everyone knew what to do” was shorthand for a passage I needed to insert early in Will’s career in Babel, establishing how it feels to be new and alone and friendless in a strange city. Everybody else has a place there. They all fit in. Everybody knows what to do except for you. Man, I have been there.

The Bulls and the Lancers are separate though connected incidents. I identify them as an “initiation” not literally but figuratively. By the time Will’s escaped them (which comes sometime after he thinks he’s escaped them), he’s a creature of Babel, a true urbanite.

“a scale for weighing your heart” is a lovely image. That scene never got written, and now I don’t know what it would have been.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: