Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Ones chapter eight notes

Wow, was this a tough chapter to write. The end product is very different from what I initially conceived of. Originally, it was going to be Rei watching over several different fronts of the war, including Maya’s in particular. I quickly realized that merely watching is kinda dull, and I was losing focus on Rei in favor of the other characters. That, plus some comments from shelter (who also assisted in proofing this chapter) led me to spend more time trying to explain Rei’s situation and to keep tighter focus on her.

One of the big consequences of this shift is that Rei is more proactive; once she’s done merely watching in the Sakai battle scene, she’s able to do things, which is rather important whenever you write a character. A character who cannot act or affect his situation is challenging to write at best.

Another consequence is that this chapter covers less territory plotwise than the originally conceived chapter did. Had I followed through with my initial idea, the war with Eisheth would’ve ended with Rei’s sacrifice. There were some logical issues with this notion. First, just because Rei occupies Eisheth doesn’t mean that Eisheth’s children will stop coming for mankind. I toyed with various ideas to approach this problem, in particular with Rei’s remarks that Eisheth constantly speaks to her children and permits them no free thought. If I had gone ahead with a big battle as I intended, with Rei’s sacrifice being the only act that could end it, perhaps I would’ve stayed with that idea. Here, Rei is driven to take action to keep the situation from getting worse, but it’s not rock bottom, and it would’ve been very anticlimactic to end the war at this juncture.

Writing a seemingly omnipotent and omniscient character is very, very trying. Long before I wrote this chapter, I had ideas about the kinds of limitations Rei needed to have to be relatable and writeable. She couldn’t be all-powerful while in conflict with Eisheth. Hence, there are rules. Those rules are necessarily detailed in the text, despite my misgivings about doing so, because I feel knowing them is key to understanding Rei’s decision-making and dilemmas. A lot of exposition is always dangerous; it’s an easy trap for a writer, but here, I could see no meaningful way to avoid it and still have Rei’s thought process be understood.

One of those key elements is the set of rules that governs Rei and Eisheth’s conflict. I had some specific ideas about what these rules were from the very beginning: the concept of balance between the two forces, of some abilities being “free” and not subject to limitation (communication with one’s side in particular), of other abilities implicitly allowing the opponent to perform the same action at any time and place of choosing. It was this last point in particular that formed the thematic backbone of the chapter: that Rei would be punished for the mistakes she had made in using too much power. This element actually ended up weakened in the chapter as written, for Rei made the choice knowing the risks, where before I had imagined her horror at this point stemming from feeling pressured to act (as she had in chapter six).

Some new elements are introduced here, in particular some of the other Seeds of Life: Agrat Bat Mahlat and Naamah, the other Lilith-like Seeds. To complete the Hebrew mythology theme, I imagine the other two Adam-like seeds would have to be something like Cain and Abel, but I have no plans at this time to directly mention them. Still, they exist, and we can see that somehow, some way, Eisheth managed to merge with all of them. The children of Agrat and Naamah are discussed as well, but only those of Agrat are directly seen in this chapter.

Part of what makes this story about Shinji more than other characters is that he has a continuing role in each chapter, even when others like Asuka, Nozomi, Misato, and Rei float in and out based on whether the focus comes to them. Shinji’s continuing journey toward standing up as a paragon of humanity is on track. It is, perhaps, the only continuing storyline that really remains of the original idea that this would be Shinji’s story primarily, and his story would intersect with these other characters’ from time to tiem.

It is, perhaps, telling that Shinji and Rei’s relationship has received at least as much focus, perhaps more so, than Shinji and Asuka’s. I must admit I’m quite a fan of those two, but it was much more interesting to me to write Rei as looking in from the outside on Shinji and Asuka’s relationship. There is, of course, much more going on for Rei, and she can’t afford to merely worry over that. Is it love that Rei feels for him? In one sense, yes. But this is about something more fundamental than two people living their lives together. This is about connection. I’m not sure I even see it as a romantic love. There are good reasons it lacks a physical element, after all.

Originally, I planned for Rei and Eisheth to confront each other directly throughout the chapter, using a setting that was more like something out of The Matrix, or like a chess board at a park, with Rei and Eisheth playing on it. I went from this to the idea of a ribbon of time that Rei gazed into, but I eventually settled on the portrayal seen here: where Rei can choose to appear at a place and time, but otherwise, she sees as much as possible (subject to the agreement with Eisheth) but doesn’t exist at any one particular place. Indeed, the only way Rei and Eisheth interact is through their avatars.

I had a slightly different ending scene in place, with some explicit imagery of what it meant for Rei and Eisheth to become divorced from the rest of space and time. I eventually decided against this, for similar reasons to the above. It seemed, ultimately, more effective to see what a person would see: Rei disappears, with no sure sign that she’s gone for good, but the feeling that she must be is unavoidable.

The role of Kaworu in this chapter was originally to be more like a mouthpiece for the reader’s disdain and dislike of Eisheth. Where Rei would be quiet and focused on the conflict at hand, Kaworu would’ve had the luxury of openly calling Eisheth out. But this all played into the “park” setting that I originally envisioned the mind-games taking place. With the removal of that aspect, I tried to keep Kaworu as someone to give Rei advice and refocus her efforts. I don’t think this stands out quite as much, unfortunately, but it fits the needs of the story better.

Overall, this has been Rei’s arc throughout the story: trying to balance what she must do against what she wants. That discrepancy isn’t resolved so much. Rather, she comes to terms with the notion that she has taken on responsibility, and she always had a choice in doing so. She is reclaiming her ability to affect change on the world, shedding her previous helplessness. And yes, that does require some sacrifice, but the benefits are worth it. That sacrifice isn’t totally a cost.

Anyway, unless something changes, there should only be two chapters left. The end is near.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Unhandled Exception notes - Chapter One: Forked Process

After a long hiatus from writing Haruhi, I at last decided to start this piece.

It was a bit of a process, and it took me a long time to figure out just what kind of story I wanted to tell. I posted a couple outlines on Soulriders for people to pick over and criticize. I got a lot of good feedback about the problems those outlines had and how to address them, but even after I felt I had done so, I was dissatisfied.

Those early outlines were, for the most part, centered on something more like the novels—written from Kyon’s perspective, with more development for Kyon and Haruhi and, ironically, less for Nagato. That, I realized after many months, was the big issue: this piece was supposed to be my Nagato piece, the same way The Coin is my Haruhi-centric piece. As those outlines were constructed, I really wasn’t focusing on her enough. This was an easy mistake because Nagato is so subtle as a person and a character.

So I put those outlines away. I shelved some nice scenes I had imagined, like Haruhi shrugging off an otherwise mortal wound and mistaking Kyon for John Smith while confessing her feelings. Will I ever use that scene? Perhaps not, but that’s part of writing: murdering your darlings.

Instead of those pieces, then, I decided to write this one. I came up with the idea almost entirely from scratch in just the short bit of time before actually writing the first chapter. It actually came quite quickly, and I was relieved that it was so uncomplicated I didn’t feel the need to present an outline for it. It’s not one of those plotty stories that requires a lot of attention to internal consistency and continuity. It’s a character piece, and I’m excited with the prospects of writing it.

One of the big challenges in writing this piece is the first-person POV with Nagato as a narrator. I actually considered writing the piece from Kyon’s POV as a future narrator who sat down with Nagato to write her memoirs, so it would be Kyon telling the story but with insight into Nagato’s thoughts. I eventually dismissed the idea as cumbersome, but I was sold on the idea of a first-person POV.

I spent a lot of time reading Nagato’s writing in book 8. This was what really made the piece click for me: she’s not robotic in her writing. She’s very fluid, and she has a solid emphasis on figurative language. With these points in mind, I could write Nagato as considerably more capable with language than one might otherwise expect. I also made the decision to have the story be told from a future Nagato’s perspective, which gives me even more leeway to tell the story with a less artificial voice.

The use of epithets (the Witch, the Man, etc.) was also inspired by those poems in book 8. Kyon speculates there that Nagato was referring to Asahina as a “Ghost” there, and I chose to extend that system to the rest of the cast, as well as to offer simple explanations for those choices in epithets. I feel it contributes an otherworldly quality to the piece and to Nagato’s narration. You may notice that (unless I’ve made mistakes) only Nagato is referred to by name.

That Nagato would be separated from the IDSE was a recurring element in several outlines. The difference here is that this is pursued as a mutually agreeable course, rather than something forcibly taken up by one side or the other. This, to me, deemphasizes conflict in favor of Nagato exploring her humanity.

I wanted that exploration to be about something different than just discovering emotions. Thus, Nagato is well aware of her emotions in-story.

Kuyō’s role in this story so far is merely as an inciting event, but I plan to visit her again and to explore her motivations and how they are similar to Nagato’s.

The extended metaphor of the Choir was actually more substantial in an initial draft, with Haruhi being compared to a conductor. It is, unfortunately, also rather coincident with the metaphor Brian Randall uses in Kyon: Big Damn Hero for Kuyō’s people.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with this first chapter, and while the rest is as yet unwritten, I hope Nagato’s journey through life, and her exploration of humanity, is something that will prove entertaining and touching.


Identity rewrite notes - Chapter Five: "Promises"

I posted this chapter quite a while ago and meant to write up notes for it. Oops.

Compared to the original version, I trimmed the whole journey to Dōtonbori considerably. Konatsu is no longer present. It’s more focused on just Ukyō and her father. This is important to me; I felt Ukyō didn’t get enough focus in the latter half of book 1 in the original version, and her relationship with her father is something I want to keep touching upon.

Some details are slightly different. Ukyō is on better terms with her father here. She hasn’t ignored his letters. That makes the conflict over why she’s refused to come work with him something they’re both already aware of and can confront.

The scenes taking place in the Amazon camp are expanded. The battle scene in particular, in which Akane is lost, was just a short prelude scene in the original version, where here it’s a big freakin’ battle that goes all the way up the mountain. Expanding on how and why the springs erupt was a big goal of this fleshing out, and I hope it seems more reasonable and logical here.

This also gave me the opportunity to investigate Akane and Ukyō’s relationship. They are generally on good terms, in part because of Ukyō’s promise.

As part of trimming Ranma and Ukyō’s rooftop discussion (which was part of the original version), I had Ukyō visit Ranma after the fight with Shampoo instead, in this flashback. This resulted in moving forward her promise to him compared to the original version (where that took place at her shop). It seemed the most natural time, however.

Another scene in which Ukyō had searched for Akane in the flooded springs that was present in the original was cut.

Unlike the original, Ukyō learns of Ryōga’s curse here. Given the circumstances, I felt it was simply unavoidable that she would learn of it, and while she may consider keeping that to herself, I think the conflict she faces in whether to reveal it immediately and jeopardize Ryōga’s chances with Akane or keep it secret and be complicit in the lie opens up opportunities to develop her character.

Better developing Ukyō’s character in future chapters is a major goal of the rewrite. I hope this will be just the beginning of doing that.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Identity rewrite notes - Chapter Four: The Matriarch's Burden

Part of the process of streamlining the story in the rewrite was cutting out some of the slower buildup chapters. In the original, Kunō escaped to Japan, and that was how anyone found out about the Sorcerers’ awakening. It gave a good opportunity for Akane to regret her hand in Ranma’s flight to China, but there are plenty of chances to do that in the story already. So that meeting, as well as the subsequent journey to the Amazon village, I cut pretty dramatically. Am I going to be perfect in making the story streamlined and tight? Well, no. I don’t expect so. But I did see an opportunity here.

Another goal I had here was to reveal a bit more about the history, about the story of Ceruse, Bailu, and Yi. I felt I was too cagey about this in the original, giving these details away in too many small chunks. Presenting this much of the story now makes Cologne’s motivations more concrete.

Now, the natural question will be, why Cologne? Why give her this story? In part, because her role as a mentor and observer means that she can see the mistakes Shampoo makes in pursuing Ranma from a more objective position. She is, in this sense, less susceptible to being hated or disliked, when otherwise we might be confined to Shampoo’s perspective, forced to digest her thought processes that may not always conform to the audience’s sentiments. Her limited knowledge of the situation (though a little forced, I admit) also lends itself to discovery in the same time and at the same pace as the audience. I feel that the audience learning things as the characters do is an important and useful technique.

In the short introductory scene, we get a feeling for Bailu’s personality prior to the battle with the Amazons. He’s a nice guy, amiable, dedicated. This is him before the horrors of war claimed him.

Much of this chapter is freshly-written material, even though it largely mirrors the original story in spirit. Some of the subtleties that had to change to fit the plot include the use of the Last Right (here, something Bindi gambits Cologne into using), how Bindi learns that Shampoo isn’t in good standing with Ranma, and how Akane, Ukyō, and the rest enter the picture.

There were actually quite a few drafts regarding how to tell this part of the story. I originally did something much more like the original story, with Akane being approached by Cologne in Japan, and so on. Those ideas were more focused on Akane, in the hopes of going to her first to establish her as a main character, but I just couldn’t find a way to do that that seemed natural, that seemed to fit.

As a result, the overall construction of the chapter has spaced out details about what happened to make Ranma come to China. We get a glimpse of that in one flashback scene here, told from Shampoo’s perspective instead of Ranma’s or Akane’s as the original scenes were. This does lead to the somewhat convoluted backflips I had to do to make it so Cologne didn’t know what Shampoo had done.

Some of the speeches before the Council are lifted from the original, but the differing circumstances demanded that some of that scene be written from scratch. With the change to Marula’s character, she’s already been captured, and we can skip an elaborate return of Amazon scouts to the village to announce that their people (or Ranma) have been taken. Indeed, I spent a good bit of time with this chapter just playing with the timing of it relative to the previous chapter. At one point, the Amazons didn’t get word from Ranma and Kumkum until Shampoo had already been censured. The current timing is much more logical and easier to follow.

I also opted for a private confrontation between Bindi and Cologne, which seemed a better fit with the sensitive nature of that encounter.

In the end, though, this chapter is very similar in spirit to the original content. Cologne’s regret over what happened to Ceruse, and her fears that Shampoo is walking down the same path of putting duty ahead of self-fulfillment, is still present.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Identity rewrite notes - Chapter Three: "Pride"

“Pride” is a big rewrite and expansion of the original chapter 3, act 5: “Occupation.” Just for a bit of sense of size and scope, the last scene in this chapter is as long as “Occupation” is in total.

This chapter is called “Pride,” and for good reason. I wrote the bulk of this chapter almost a year ago, but part of putting publication of the piece on hold was to figure out the role of Wuya. Now that I’ve done that, I was able to look at this chapter with fresh eyes. I realized that the chapter didn’t have much going on thematically. Ranma struggled with “making a connection to the outside world” and some vagaries about being in touch with feelings. I was able to improve this somewhat by making his struggle more about his overwhelming desire to escape and overcome captivity, to the point that it masked his fear of failure. This point is not overwhelming—sometimes, I fear there’s a tendency to make such thematic elements too much like a hammer that hits the reader at every opportunity—but it’s definitely there. Every time Ranma tries to use powers, the thought of winning is close behind. This theme also plays well with how Ranma manipulates Henna into giving him information: by appealing to her pride.

I redesigned the character of Henna here to be more distinctive from Sindoor. She’s shorter, less imposing, and has that characteristic baldness. I felt it was important to introduce her now, rather than later on in the plot as was done in the original story, because it helped hint at her motives and the motives of the priesthood.

One of the major errors of the original, as well as even in this chapter as first outlined, was the existence of the Guide’s house, which is actually destroyed in volume 38. I missed this despite reading the volume repeatedly because we only see the house destroyed while Ranma and company are inside it, so it’s not even clear that was the place except by exclusion and comparison of exterior shots. This necessitated a major rewrite of the action in the last third of the chapter.

By introducing the Amazon angle earlier, I hoped to set up the fates of Marula and Kumkum (who wasn’t named in the original) a little bit more. The character of Marula still eludes me somewhat, but here I’m able to give her more of a defined role. I like how Kumkum turned out. He’s enjoyable and competent, and that’s a big relief to Ranma.

There are some obstacles toward presenting Ranma’s struggles with learning magic because of the background we don’t yet have, background that will soon come in chapter four and will complete the connection with the original work. The overall process of Ranma learning magic is fleshed out a bit more here, and I like that I ultimately made it so Ranma struggled and struggled until he found the breakthrough, the way of thinking about it that allowed him to do something more sophisticated than merely throwing ki bolts around.

I feel overall this chapter is a little more modest, more focused on action-reaction than the previous two, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s good to settle in a bit and read with a bag of popcorn, so to speak, every once in a while.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Ones notes: Chapter 7 - A Noble Piece of Work

One of my prereaders has intermittently given me grief for not leaving chapter three as a Nozomi perspective chapter, particularly since my intentions of writing the whole story through Shinji’s perspective were dashed in chapter four. I knew this chapter would eventually come, though, so this is, in many ways, a bit of an apology to him.

This is actually the original ordering, with Nozomi’s chapter coming first and Rei’s planned for chapter eight. I briefly considered switching them (I even wrote about 2000 words of the Rei chapter) before going back. Rei’s chapter conclusion makes for a much better ending to the war between humanity and Eisheth. However, as a result, some of the themes and scenes of this chapter, which I had outlined to go in Rei’s chapter, were merely reused here instead. They always had to do with Nozomi (for instance, her persistent fatigue and her battle with the walker and flying Angel) but they’ve just been shifted.

I actually did find myself a bit wondering about what Nozomi’s lesson should be here. I realized at some point that I’d written a very independent, solitary character, and as such she stood to learn to trust in others to help her. This is similar to Misato’s lesson in her chapter, but Misato’s was more about losing faith and personal vendettas.

The style of storytelling here is not really amenable to seeing the bigger picture of the war against Eisehth on Earth. This ultimately works to my advantage, as I can introduce details only as they become relevant (i.e. it’s a massive cheat). Still, I would like to be better at capturing the large, sweeping scale of things in future works. Most likely, I would have to abandon tethering to a specific character’s POV to accomplish this.

There are legitimate questions over how much leeway Misato gives to Nozomi despite the latter’s obvious struggles with the stress of piloting. I had hoped that her forcing Nozomi to sleep might seem like enough, but given that Nozomi completely breaks down, it’s may not be enough.

Shinji’s role in this chapter was a lot of fun to write. This is what I always intended for him: to be a mentor, to see things from a perspective like Misato must’ve in the series. Such is the transformation from a boy to a man, to training a new generation or replacements.

Nozomi’s scene with Eisheth is intended to be an analogue of Shinji’s train scenes. She’s experienced this many times before.

The character of Sasaki I alluded to in chapter three. He actually turned out to be a bit more of an arrogant jerk in this chapter than I anticipated, but I didn’t want to make him just this perfect guy whom Nozomi should be intereste in. Interacting with people means some clashing sometimes. Sasaki genuinely finds Nozomi interesting and admirable, and he’s definitely aware that she has a different (a more personal, and perhaps more romantic and emotional) approach to creating art. He aspires to be like her, to work with her. Well, you know, as much as a kid his age could be like that. I was tempted to have him touch Nozomi at one point, after her battle with the three Angels, but Nozomi would’ve had a strong negative reaction to this, and I felt it was inappropriate.

I had a lot of fun coming up with new Angels, especially so many. One thing Eisheth is able to do is deploy several Angels at once, giving a new dimension to these battles compared to the original series.

I wanted to make sure Nozomi had some interaction time with her family. Originally, I had planned a meal with the whole family, but I couldn’t work it into the final draft. So instead they each get a turn at Nozomi’s bedside, and I really enjoyed Horaki’s story about the Koshien tournament, which is based on an effort by Matsuzaka that I referenced in “Direction.”

The final battle is something that, while perhaps not as action-packed as the first two, thematically ties the chapter together. Resistance to Eisehth is something that each character can’t just go about and do; they have to find their own personal reasons for doing so, and this is Nozomi’s. She already learned to find comfort from her family, from people she cared for. Now she has a reason to be less of a loner and more of someone who can interface with other people.

Finally, there’s a character of Major Freeman who, alas, serves only a functional role here. I usually hate to give such characters names, but here, he serves an important purpose in representing American interests in Japan, and he’ll be making another appearance in chapter eight.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Identity rewrite notes - Chapter Two: "The Village"

I originally had this chapter written several months ago, but between other projects, I had little time to review it for publication. I’m trying to get several projects back on track here, so here we go.

I’ve made several major changes to this chapter compared to the pre-rewrite version. Most notably, the chaaracter of Kohl, and his position as the Advisor, has been cut. Those who you who know of the original version will probably understand when I say that Kohl and his position really served no purpose from the standpoint of the plot. What was interesting was the character development he went through, but that can be handled in other ways.

So instead I decided to focus on just Ranma, Wuya, and Sindoor. I felt this simplified and tightened things up considerably. We actually learn quite a bit about Wuya and her sense of honor, of debt. She is less overtly hostile to Ranma in this version than in the pre-rewrite. I originally had her written as a prideful person, and a little of that sneaks in when she boasts about her skills, but I felt it better here to conceive of her more consistently with how she will come off later: sympathetic and reasonable, a counterpoint to Sindoor, who is colder and very driven. Wuya is doing what she must, not because she likes it but for, in her opinion, the greater good of her people. There is a disregard for Ranma’s wellbeing that she acknowledges, but she hopes that this ends up being little more than an inconvenience for him. His help can save the village, after all.

That’s not to say Ranma and Wuya get along. Wuya is a serious person; Ranma is, at times, anything but. Ranma has this perpetual knack for getting on people’s nerves and irritating them. It’s not wholly intentional—he surely mustn’t want to insult Akane at some times that he ends up doing so—but I think he lets himself speak a little more freely around Wuya knowing that he will grate on her and keep her off balance. Ranma’s displeased with the situation, and he’s going to let Wuya know it even when it would be unwise to throw a punch. That said, I think Ranma can sense there’s a core of honesty within her, of nobility. Even when Wuya lies, it’s not out of an inherently sinsiter nature or maliciousness. The same cannot be said for Sindoor.

One of the major goals of the rewrite is to streamline things, and that’s accomplished here by cutting out two big sequences: Ranma’s walk around the village (which is condensed into his single foray to the market after speaking with Sindoor) and the ritual at the spring. The latter in particular had set up the revelation of another way the Sorcerers tried to combat their uncontrolled magic, but I wanted to keep this chapter from getting too complicated. To be honest, I contemplated cutting out that plot point altogether—the story would be much different then! But I couldn’t do that. One of Wuya’s main character conflicts is exactly that. It’s what makes her more like Ranma and more of a foil for him. Even though the Sieve ended up being much more of an important aspect of Sorcerer life than what the ritual at the spring does, what the “bodies they were born with” signify, it’s something I just couldn’t bring myself to remove.

I spent a lot of time struggling over the problem of Ranma’s logical thought process in this chapter. It was always something that bothered me in the pre-rewrite version. I tried to pin down his logic as best as I could. He tries to escape; that’s fair. Wuya catches him and he reasons he can’t escape, so he might as well try to hear them out. That’s fair. He listens to Sindoor’s story and tells them Saffron is wounded, but he doesn’t tell them he killed Saffron. Why? As written now, it’s because he senses the importance of the question, and also because he doesn’t really want to admit that he killed Saffron at all, not even to himself. It represents the unbridled rage in him that came out that day, a rage he’s not totally comfortable with. But I really gloss over that point; it’s not the time to focus on it. I really, really had to tweak everything to get Ranma’s logic here to be believable. Even then, is there a good reason for him to visit Tilaka? To see what the Sieve is, perhaps. This might be when Ranma’s sense of morality, which he tends to downplay even to himself, comes out. Ranma doesn’t tend to go around talking like a self-righteous person. He doesn’t usually get in other people’s business. But if you thrust something in his face and he has to deal with it, he’s not going to let it go if he doesn’t like it. That, to me, is Ranma here: the idea of the human Sieve creeps him the hell out. He doesn’t like it, and he wants to see what it really means before he makes his move.

Without the revelation of “bodies they were born with” in this chapter, I let the big reveal be that Wuya is the one Tilaka was talking about. I like this moment a lot; it makes Wuya’s sense of personal responsibility and honor really shine, even as she stands for something so obviously immoral and repugnant. It is what will make her a worthy foe for Ranma in the chapters to come.

Lastly, I improved the scene with Ranma going to stop the channelers by rewriting it mostly from scratch. Again, the significance of the water and what it does to Sorcerer magic is hinted at but not fully explored. That will have to wait for chapter six. When we end this chapter, compared to the pre-rewrite version, there are several subtle differences: Ranma knows exactly what the Sieve does to people and how “soulless” his presence makes the villagers. And while he’s not explicitly opposing the Sorcerers for that reason, for what is right vs. what is wrong, it’s a big part of it. He cannot suppress his distate for what they are doing, and with no other options, he strings them along, hoping for an opportunity to escape and not be a part of their madness anymore.