Friday, August 6, 2010

Identity 5.0 - Prelude to "Ashes"

The beginning to "Ashes" on FFN

When I originally outlined this chapter, I thought to begin I would start with a very different scene, one of Ranma in the Sorcerers' tower, trying to puzzle out the questions that haunted him from his encounter with Henna and the Sorcerer Priests and, in the long run, figure out some way to fix this mess before it escalated to war. I rejected that scene because, for one, I'd yet to really work out the structure of the first act, and it really belonged there, not here.

I can think of a couple reasons, then, for this prelude to be as chronologically separate as it is. After the end to "Monsters and Demons," you really wouldn't know what would happen next. It's not like the end of "Journey," where you knew there would be a fight, just not how it would unfold. I think it's not a bad thing to tell people what happens in advance (at least, to an extent) and then let them see how it happens (and, in doing so, perhaps reverse their expectations to maintain an element of surprise). I dare say half of writing is anticipating the reader's expectations and either fulfilling them, surprising them, or leaving them wanting more. But in this case, I felt it wouldn't be a bad idea to give some expectations to start out with.

When I started writing this opening, then, I went back to the as-yet-unposted chapter four, act three--"Black and Red"--and added the bit about Kohl not liking mornings (yes, that was a long time ago; I'd probably be or at least squarely in the middle of act 5 if I hadn't taken some time to write out chapter three of "Before and After," but I wanted to do that and regain some perspective). Kohl's a fairly stoic character, but I think what's humanizing about him (and Ranma) is that they get irritated with things. We laugh at their irritation because it's minor, because it's not horrifying like some of the other things they go through. Ranma's best snark moments come when he's irritated but not angry.

Where's Ranma? Well, that's a question that won't be answered until act four at least, but we start with him because, in a lot of ways, Ranma's the catalyst for everything to happen. And that's true on a lot of levels. Anyway, I know these prelude acts are somewhat unsatisfying by themselves, but I think on a structural level they're important introductions to the conflict that will dominate the chapter to follow. I try to use them that way, at least.

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