Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Shrine And The Scrolls

When in doubt, make use of your surroundings.

With the bulk of my book taking place in Israel, of course at some point, characters are going to have to go out there and take in the place. In the last couple of chapters, Stryker and Devon have been, in effect, tourists, shown around by their Mossad counterpart Sabra. While the Covenant have been busily preparing for the Very Bad Thing (no, I'm not telling you! Stop asking!), they've been seeing the sights. I've written them at the Masada, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Temple Mount, and now at the Israel Museum.

It's meant paying attention to a lot of detail. And for a few days, that kept the writing process a bit slow going. Mixed in with some personal issues I've been dealing with, the writing ground to a halt for those few days.

I had an epiphany of sorts in recent days. The dilemma was bringing that period of showing the sights to an end, with a chance meeting between Stryker and one of the leaders of the Covenant. I had always intended it to be a brief moment, but where? And how could it be done so that the meeting didn't feel forced?

It involved two things: the creation of a minor character, and realizing I could make use of the Shrine of the Book.

This is the resting place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It's on the campus of the Israel Museum, and you can take a look for yourselves with this virtual tour:

Just click on campus and galleries; the instructions are very easy to follow, and you'll get to have a good look about at the interior and exterior of the building. It makes you feel like you're there, and it was very helpful to me in writing the sequences set there. I'm a bit puzzled as to what to properly call the black structure that looks rather like a top, though, in the rotunda. I doubt I can get away with referring to it as a "black top-looking thingee" in the book, right?


It's an unusual structure, home not only to the Scrolls, but to other artifacts. The dome itself mimicks the jars the Scrolls were found in, and the displays of ancient parchment rotates (apparently a single parchment might spend three to six months on display before being set aside in archiving for a rest).

It felt right to set my scenes in there. Stryker is, after all, an archaeologist, albeit one who's left that world behind. And surrounded by all this history is the same sort of experience as a kid in a candy store, as Devon puts it.

Writing the scenes worked; the meeting, as brief as it was, made sense for both Stryker and his adversary (though the adversary has not been revealed as such to the agents). It's something of a point of no return for the Covenant. At this point, they're within a week of unleashing the Very Bad Thing (No, I will not reveal it, even at the dire threat of the greatest peril!). They have suspected who Stryker and Devon work for, and to see these two in the Middle East... well, it's an unnerving prospect.

As far as the writing process is concerned, it's another turning point. From here on in, the Very Bad Thing is dominating the narrative. The calm before the storm is over, and there's no turning back.

Besides, I still have that black top looking thingee to get a proper name for....


  1. I'm embarrassed. I've seen this before, I know what it's called, and yet I can't remember....

  2. I'm sure the museum will get back to me.

    Buffy Summers would call it a black top looking thingee...

  3. It looks like one of the handles on the end of a scroll. That would explain the circular display beneath it, to look like one end of the scroll itself. It looks more clear on the opening shot of the guided tour link.

  4. That's exactly what it is, Karla...the handle on which a scroll is normally spooled. I found references to cult symbols, etc., but it's just a representation of a scroll....

  5. As fate would have it, I believe it's officially referred to as a "ez hayyim."


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