Friday, April 1, 2011

Identity 7.1 - "Reconstruction of Broken Dreams"

The latest installment on

Backed up as usual with work to do, so I've not had time to make a few posts on some other things of interest, but hopefully things will ease up and I'll be able to do that soon.

Commentary below.

There's quite a bit of ground to cover here, so I'll do what I can to address all the relevant points. We start, of course, with Ranma and the priests and their attempt to break him. Not like Ranma's going to break so easily, of course--that was right out. But I did feel like, knowing it wasn't just his own mind and body at stake, Ranma would be more cooperative (not that that says much, as we see). Being the Sieve is all about managing emotions and sensations, and pain is one of the most compelling of those. I figured the priests would try to push him until they created a dead spot, something that couldn't feel anything at all and thus craved and craved without being satiable. That was the model I'd used with Tilaka, but with Ranma, it just didn't feel quite right. As we'll see, what can resonate with Ranma is a more philosophical argument: that he himself isn't comfortable with his own feelings and that the people around him have all done quite terrible things as a result of theirs.

For right now, though, we have a good introduction to the new situation, and it was my hope to shed a little light for everyone, for Akane, in her conversation with Kohl. In a lot of ways, it's a confirmation of what may have already been apparent, but there are reasons I wanted to spell out explicitly what, in the Sorcereers' view, would have really made Ranma the candidate to become Sieve. As usual, this means that plot point is coming back, but for now, I won't say how or when.

I believe it was early on that I grew dissatisfied with the idea of Akane being a simple prisoner. I had to give her something to do. In this case, it's informative for me to look back at my old outlines. There's the first outline, which treats all of chapters five through seven in fairly broad strokes. That's what I drew up last summer on our family cruise in Alaska. Then, after I finished chapter six, I went to that document and fleshed it out a little more, but I did one more layer of expansion, breaking the outline down act by act. I like the process, as when things are figured, the actual writing doesn't take very long, but this layered approach may not necessarily be faster on the whole of things, so I'm not sold.

Anyway, I look back on those out outlines, and I can see where a great deal has changed. Originally, it was Kohl taking out his frustrations on Ranma and Akane--clearly that would've been inadequate. In addition, it was the rope-maker who came to Akane rather than giving her the means to escape, if only temporarily. The former might've been easier logistically, but I felt that forcing Akane to take care of herself, to make her own escape, ultimately served the character better, made her more involved in handling the nuances of that interaction with the rope-maker.

The rope-maker is an interesting character, too. It's interesting because I don't think I'd planned to even introduce her until book two, and now, she's been a key player ever since chapter five. If you look closely at the dialogue between her and Akane, you might feel something is not quite right, that something doesn't add up. Maybe, if you look closely, you might see what the rope-maker is really thinking, but that may not become totally apparent until act four. At any rate, Akane is right to have reservations about her, even though she doesn't doubt the plan. Can Akane bring herself to kill Kohl? That we will have to see as well.

The passage with Kohl and Sindoor I came up with rather late in the writing process. Their interaction was important, but I invented the memorial scene only recently. I'm glad I did, for it really crystallizes what's bothering Kohl. He's a sympathetic character, in some ways. He's got a strong sense of duty and morality, even if that sense doesn't jive with our own. Kohl's pain at the senseless loss of life is one that's been echoed to me by another reader, and I think it's a feeling the audience can definitely share. It's from that reaction that Kohl has to confront Tilaka. Again, he has the question that the audience may have, too: how could Ranma's so-called powers have been so easily overlooked, especially by Tilaka?

What should we think of Tilaka, anyway? To me, the character has a streak of hedonism, of relishing in pleasure and the emotions of others, but that's also what she was compelled to do. How much of that is herself? How much of that stems from the years of disturbed mental state she must've been in? It's hard to say. Despite that drive within her, I definitely see Tilaka as a well-meaning person, particularly when it comes to Kohl. That's why his confrontation is something that makes Tilaka uneasy. So do her prospects for the future.

Much remains to be seen, of course, for the pieces once again must be put into motion, as they have been here, but with only six acts instead of eight, the resolution is fast approaching.

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