Monday, July 25, 2011

The Coin - Prologue

The prologue on FFN

So a week ago I posed the prologue to FFN and to the Fanfiction Mailing List. It was to a good deal of necessary feedback that I retracted the FFN version and decided to rewrite the prologue anew. In my hate, I'd hoped to capture Haruhi's manic, eccentric nature. Instead, I rehashed old jokes and schemes, and I ignored the growth of this character from her initial sociopathy in Melancholy to the character we know at the end of Dissociation and in the as-yet-unfinished translation of Surprise. And while it wasn't my intention to paint Haruhi in such a negative light, I realized that if I couldn't get across her bizarre mindset, I'd have to find some other take on her instead.

What I eventually settled on was, instead of playing up her oddities in interactions, the strangeness of her thought process was just as well. More than that, I found an angle more appropriate for the direction of the story as a whole.

The basics of this prologue are the same as the first one, the ultimate point being that Haruhi has finally noticed the effects of her powers in a way that she can suspect, that she'll think about rather than dismiss. It's a small thing, but it'll take her far. The rest of the prologue as it stands is getting her to that point, showing her attitude toward the unusual and the extraordinary and how she sees herself as being different from others. It's entirely intentional that Kyon's name is not said, of course---I wanted there to be at least some doubt about who the narrator was until it became clear at the end. Naturally, most people are probably able to pick up on it, but there's value in not stating something outright until you want to. No matter how sure people are in their interpretations, confirmation needs to obey the proper timing.

Overall, I'm much happier with this prologue. It really does come down to likeability. If Haruhi is entirely unsympathetic, no one will care about the journey she's about to embark on.

Aside from characterization issues, it actually takes quite a bit of research to make sure you get details right with this series. By nature, those details will be spread out, and it took, in my view, some hunting around. In this respect, the anime is somewhat more useful, I think, than the novels. It's a lot easier to get a visual on things, to capture a lot of information in a short time.

As I said in the chapter body itself, this is my examination of who Haruhi is and what she really wants. All this time, the three factions around her have had their own goals, but most importantly, they want their own survival or the survival of the various worlds they live in. But this story hopes to probe at a more fundamental question: what kind of person goes looking for aliens, time-travelers, and espers like Haruhi does? Is the search for those fantastic creatures the goal? What does one hope to discover along the way, while one makes the journey? In a sense, it's about faith. Haruhi's conscious belief in the fantastic has never wavered, even if her drive and enthusiasm for the quest has been tempered by experience and time. Look at the people around her: they believe in those fantastic things because they themselves are fantastic, but to them, it's merely reality. It may be a thing of curiosity, but it's still something they accept not out of faith but knowledge. It brings into question, among other issues, whether one can ever find something truly fantastic. Once that thing is found, doesn't it become part of the greater world? Doesn't it become as accepted and ordinary as everything else?

That may be too much a question of psychology, but I think it relevant.

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