Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Coin - Chapter Two notes

Chapter Two on FFN

Ever since I changed the way I outline and stopped writing dialogue in advance, I've taken a hard look at the outlines, trying to ensure that they have sufficient material to give pacing and time. What I understand now, having written this chapter, is that often times it's not about what you had planned but what you didn't plan, what comes to you as you're writing. I think that's a big reason why this is a 12000-word chapter and not 6- or 8- instead.

With the initial outline, I didn't plan that Haruhi would call up Kyon. Rather, she'd just shut herself into her room and work on her powers all night. In this respect, I think expansion was necessary. There has to be a progression of thought process, and this way, we got to see a little bit of Kyon's reactions. What's Kyon trying to do here? Haruhi's exactly right: he encouraged her, and now he's backing off. I personally think Kyon is of two mind on this--that he's weary of the masquerade and doesn't mind if Haruhi realizes her powers, but on the other hand, while he likes the excitement around her, I think Kyon's pretty attached to the times in which he has a normal life.

Of course, this is the beginning of delving a little bit into Kyon and Haruhi's relationship dynamics. Haruhi's signals are pretty clear while Kyon is more evasive. Kyon's selective obliviousness powers are legendary, after all, and to really understand where he's coming from, one has to answer the age-old question: just why would he avoid a relationship with her? It's possible he's not attracted to her, of course, but there's also the unequal pairing dynamic that has to be considered. Someone who can will him to her bedroom just by thinking about it should frankly give him pause.

But let me not jump too far ahead. This scene with Kyon and Haruhi I changed a bit on Brian Randall's advice. There was an element of hostility that I'd thought was natural just from Haruhi's personality, but it didn't serve any real purpose, and it served to paint Haruhi as having "regressed" toward her antagonistic, book one personality. That's really not what I'm trying to do, though I think her frustration at finding people unwilling to embrace the unknown is absolutely essential.

The scene with Haruhi's father was something I inserted, adding upon the outline. When I visualize him, I see a guy in a green vest with black-rimmed glasses. None of that matters, of course. It's his advice to Haruhi that's meant to be pertinent: to make bonds with people, specifically with one person, but the general sentiment is the same. Here we start a veritable hurricane of references, which I don't generally get to do. Negima and Star Wars are just for starters. Originally, Haruhi was going to get control of her power in her bedroom, but the dishes scene was a good way to implement how I'd like her powers to be portrayed--with things just spontaneously changing off-screen. On a practical level, that probably won't stick (everything else in this chapter is very visual and in real time), but I thought it was a powerful way to do the initial realization. And then we have Nagato watching her again. The Entity is definitely looking on.

As with the Haruhi's father scene, the short snippet with Haruhi starting a stalled car I added to give a little pacing. We quickly get to the gravity scene in the classroom, and this one I thought about for a good while to make sure it'd work. The bulk of that calculation is detailed in the chapter notes on FFN. It's actually a good, basic problem in Newtonian mechanics, just to get a ballpark figure.

To give Haruhi some time to cool off a bit, I added this scene with Haruhi at the convenience store, since she'd need to go there anyway to set up the next scene. As I said, the Entity is watching, and it should come as no surprise who the mysterious, always-smiling girl might be. Haruhi realizing her powers is something the Entity must necessarily take a keen interest in, even if it means no longer simply observing.

Though it may not seem it, I think the scene in the club room is the centerpiece of this chapter because it really underscores the magnitude of what's changed. Dare I say no one was really prepared for it? Well, that'll change, as Koizumi, Asahina, and Nagato consider the best thing to do for achieving their ends: preserving the stability of this world, the integrity of the future, or learning the secrets to auto-evolution, whatever the case may be. Those are the goals of their masters, I should say. What these three exceptional people want for themselves may well be a different story. As for Kyon...well, we'll get to that in a few moments.

Like I said, I think it important that Haruhi have strong reactions to things, especially when they don't go her way, but to highlight her growth, I do feel like those reactions must subside quickly. So Haruhi has to, er, find a way to relieve her frustrations. I admit, this was a scene I hesitated to write at first, knowing the territory it would take the story if I followed through. Nevertheless, I felt like I thought things through, and this scene sets up the following as it should. I made a conscious choice not to be pornographic in detail here. Truthfully, such details don't appeal to me, and I didn't think they befit the scene, either. With Asahina, Haruhi's feelings may have a distinct physical component. With Kyon, I think the attraction is on a more intellectual level. There's an element of wanting to convert him to her mindset and feeling like there's a challenge in doing so. There's an element of appreciating that he sticks around, that he reminds her of John Smith (but that she uses that as an excuse, not really admitting to herself how she feels). There's an obvious duality being invoked here with the metaphor of the electron and the positron, reinforcing that, while Kyon and Haruhi act like opposites in a lot of ways, they're still very similar and very, very linked.

When I wrote the scenes that follow this point, Haruhi didn't realize she'd teleported Kyon to her room at all. Even here, she doesn't until the very end, mostly because I felt her realizing it and understanding the consequences was a more neutral sort of revelation than the one I originally ended with: Kyon rejecting her, albeit obliquely, and Haruhi storming off in a rage. Again, that's part of Brian Randall's influence, and I think it makes sense. It risks oversaturating people on Haruhi's anger if she were to do it repeatedly from this early in the work. The revised version here makes her more vulnerable and her reactions less disproportionate.

Something that bugged Brian was that Kyon wouldn't outright call her out on this or, more broadly, that he wouldn't just tell her the truth of things right now. For my part...that would cut through a lot of the story. Heh. But beyond that, I really feel like Kyon's trying to prepare Haruhi here, trying to get her to think bigger about consequences before he really lets the cat out of the bag and, in doing so, tells her she has power of that magnitude. It's a tricky balance, and as we see, it may be somewhat misguided, but in telling her he wants to be there (through the oblique retelling of Disappearance) and that he has faith in her, he's definitely trying to give her support and invoke a bond of trust. I think back to "Remote Island Syndrome" and how Kyon never seriously thought Haruhi could be responsible for a murder. It's ironic that she hits upon that line here, but I think Kyon's trust at that moment still stands. As much as Haruhi is wont to do whatever she wants, Kyon still believes her to be a fundamentally good person. Maybe this is something Koizumi encouraged him to do, and instead Kyon decided to go about it in his own way. Regardless, it almost works. Almost.

So we conclude with Haruhi looking for wonder in others and not finding it, and this time, Taniguchi's harsh words wound her because she's afraid he's right. Taniguchi's anger over this bag is, of course, set up in a passing comment right after Haruhi ends her gravity spell.

To come in chapter three, the lid comes off, and we'll see Haruhi humbled by what she's done. Not everyone watching her will be happy with that.

No comments: