Sunday, February 10, 2013

Direction chapter four notes

One of the things I ended up doing with this story, unlike what I’ve been doing of late with First Ones or the revised Identity is this interweaving of stories. To tell the truth, I think if I had to be confined to one person’s viewpoint (as I am with Hisao’s) and only one storyline, say, per chapter, I would find it pretty boring. That may be why I found it difficult to keep going with Shinji’s point of view in that story. Here, I had the luxury of basically everything being planned out for the whole length of the story—all three plotlines (Hisao’s career, Sumi’s relationship problems, and Rin’s struggle for self-identification) could be easily envisioned.

Now, why is that? On further reflection, I think it’s because the nature of the story demanded creativity only in personal interactions. It’s not the same kind of thing as creating Eisheth Zenunim for First Ones or the Sorcerers for Identity, or even the Piggies in The Coin. I did have to do something like that, some building of the world, with the environments of Toudai and Geidai, but not nearly as much as other stories. I think that meant there were fewer tough details to have to get figured out. On the other hand, it also means I’m strongly considering trying to plot more out in advance—even if I have to rewrite it—just to make my overall plans more explicit. For “Direction,” I basically had at least a sentence or two describing each scene, with the only real major change that comes to mind being my backing off on the Sumi plotline.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some weaknesses to the piece. For instance, I went back and forth with how much or how little Rin put of herself in her paintings and had to eventually resolve that contradiction as I do in the first scene here. I also, in retrospect, wish I had done more with Adachi, who felt like a cool character, but once Hisao had learned all he could about Rin from her, he had to deal with Rin himself, and Adachi had little place in that. A fourth plotline about Adachi might’ve been warranted, if only to round out the character.

First scene. Rin gets to explain her painting series here, which is good. This Rin we see is the Rin you might’ve expected after the route ending—awfully suppressed, nearly defeated. The line about being unable to slit her own wrists (because she doesn’t have any) was just too powerful to pass up. Do I think Rin really meant it? No, it just highlights her inability to connect with people (which has never really been about her arms, but it serves as an apt metaphor nonetheless).

Like with Rin’s paintings, I found Sumi’s exact motivation for having problems with Ryou to be almost as problematic. Perhaps this is the downside of planning everything out—you have to be careful your characters have enough room to breathe. I hope that Sumi’s reasoning for being resistant (while also trying to understand Ryou and find a solution to their marital problems) felt reasonable. In the end, I also wondered if Hisao’s involvement managed to tie things up into too much of a convenient bow. I did end up slowing things down so that Ryou was only accepted into SDF properly in the final scene.

Hisao’s career path storyline did feel at times a bit less well developed than the other two, but I think this scene managed to do it justice. The conversations with Jirou and Michel (which are the ultimate reasons they exist in the story) had to be broken up a bit to keep them from veering into monologues, based on reader suggestion. Still, I felt it was important that Hisao not make an immediate decision. Even Chiba’s advice to him doesn’t persuade him fully. But there is a task Hisao can undertake that he is uniquely qualified to pursue.

The final scene ended up quite a bit longer than expected, and honestly, with a little less sex than I expected. Granted, I’ve operated under the maxim that you should write a sex scene like it’s about making toast and write a breakfast scene like it’s about sex—that is, too much detail can distract from a scene that is supposed to be interesting, but a scene that is dull can benefit from detail to keep attention, or that’s how I’ve interpreted the idea (I’ve paraphrased it somewhat). The focus is much more on the relationship than how that relationship is consummated.

I considered having Rin break down and cry, but it just didn’t come out that way. These are adults, and they’ve had time to come to terms with what happened. It’s true Hisao can’t anticipate what kind of person Rin will make herself into, but that’s what faith is for, and he has faith in her. That faith and trust is why they can be together here, why Hisao can give her the comfort and connection she needs.

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