Friday, February 11, 2011

Identity 6.7 - "Flames Extinguished"

The seventh act of chapter six on FFN

Commentary below.

I can't quite remember when I split this act into two. It must've been quite a while ago, because I have separate boards for part seven and part eight, but I'm pretty sure, originally, that I'd intended to have Akane meet Ranma and go from there all in the same act. Things didn't turn out that way, perhaps because I'd wanted to keep the acts a more manageable length. If you put parts seven and eight together, you get something on the order of 10k like the last part of "Monsters and Demons," which though I enjoyed, I didn't want to do again.

So we spend a lot of time with Akane and Ryoga here; I dare say too much time, in the sense that I go with them and then flicker off them then come back a total of three times, so in the back of my mind, I feel like this act isn't very fluid. This may be because they have no clear means of accomplishing their goal. They just have to wander and look and find ways to survive, and while their interactions with Masala and Keema are interesting, what happens in-between kind of isn't. This is something I did want to do better, but even now, I'm at a loss for how.

Interestingly, what Keema tells Akane and Ryoga here is a bit different from what I remembered, and I'm glad for that. She's already explained herself to Ranma. What Akane wants to know from her is subtly different. I see Keema as wanting to give Akane and the others the ultimate finger, and she's accomplished it. It is, in some respects, interesting to see that Keema gets another free pass, however much it's worth; she's still stuck in a block of ice, and if you didn't see or hear from her again, you'd think basically she must've died. Before I started outlining chapter seven, I'd thought I wouldn't revisit Keema to any significant detail. Maybe she would live and forbid all outsiders from walking into Saffron's kingdom. Maybe she'd die, and her death would set off much the same result. But keep an eye on Keema; she'll be back for "The Summit of Potsdam," the second act of chapter seven.

I felt the passage with Ranma was really critical for maintaining a good pace in this installment and to help break up the bits that flicker back to Akane and Ryoga. Ranma's mentality is subtly flawed, of course. He puts the blame on the Sorcerers and Phoenix for making him kill them, yet he actively seeks them out. This is exactly the sort of pathological thinking I enjoy writing. It's how I believe people justify their actions to themselves. And to an outside view, it clearly doesn't make sense, yet in the heat of the moment, who really takes the time to think so critically?

I should get back to Akane and Ryoga of course, for this act had to pick up on the thread I left behind in "Shadow of Madder." It's a good moment for Akane to get a much better perspective on Ryoga. One might realize, from the way I've written things, that I'm more partial to the idea of mutual understanding, and that's what Akane reaches with Ryoga here, however much or little they can say with Sorcerers bearing down on them. There is a time for dramatic declarations, of course, but it didn't feel right here. Not to me.

I do go to the effort of pointing out how Akane's slowly lost all her friends and is left alone. Is it logical for Ryoga to try to draw the Sorcerers away from her? I wonder about this myself. Truthfully, I could see no other way to get Akane alone, and as an author, while I try to stay within the realm of logic for how actions play out, I also know what I want to happen, and that can make it difficult to objectively judge. It suffices to say that, while I can admit having conspired to get Akane alone at this juncture, and while one can justify the circumstances that have driven it as plausible or conceivable by chance, it doesn't sit wholly well with me. I prefer circumstances to be dictated by a character's actions, by deliberate attempts to make things play in one's favor. What gets Akane alone here isn't that. So I see it as a possible weakness, though I'm uncertain.

Something you might notice: Masala refers to Ranma as a devil, and in the last lines of the act, Ranma is referred to by "it" rather than "he." I wanted to emphasize as much that Akane doesn't recognize what she's seeing and that Ranma comes off almost demonic in savagery.

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