When I wrote Miserere and decided to use Christianity, I had to make some decisions on my world-building. One of the most important decisions had to do with magic.
How would my Christians perform the magic necessary to hold back the Fallen? My answer was prayer.
So what does this have to do with the movie Gangs of New York?
One thing I noticed in Gangs of New York was Martin Scorsese's use of violence. During the first half of the movie, ears are torn off, people are maimed and mutilated, and the viewer can't watch for five minutes without seeing someone bludgeoned in graphic detail.
During the second half of the movie, there is still violence, but Scorsese tones down the more graphic aspects. He does this because the violent nature of the men and women of Five Points was well established in the first half of the movie. To continue (pardon the pun) beating the viewer over the head with graphic violence isn't necessary. Our imaginations fill in the blanks so that Scorsese can build tension toward the real plot: the show-down between Amsterdam and Bill the Butcher.
I tried to use the same technique with my Christians and their use of prayer in Miserere. I wanted to establish not just Woerld, but the magical laws, and how the Katharoi interrelate within the Citadel. To do this, I relied on the use of prayer in the first half, then trusting my reader to use his or her imagination to fill in the blanks, I eased up as the novel progressed.
It was a risky move, but I knew if I could strike the right balance, I could create a Woerld that people would remember and hopefully talk about. Whether I was successful or not is up to you, the reader.
I think Douglas Hulick said it best in his excellent post On Reviews at A Dribble of Ink (and thanks to Courtney Schafer for pointing me to the post). Douglas talked about the ownership of a story once it's been published. He said:
But once I send the story out? Once it’s in the reader’s hands and then in their head? It’s not my story any more. Oh, I wrote it, but I can’t control how they read it. The novel is as much the reader’s as it is the writer’s at that point, and by the end of the book, I’d argue it belongs more to them than it does to me anymore.
So I guess that's it for now. Miserere isn't mine anymore, it's yours. I hope you enjoy it.