11 Apr 2013

Subject 13 #14 - Commentary

As always, please read the issue before continuing.

There's a small problem with mind control - details.  Small ones, ones most people tend to forget about, like the positioning of an alarm clock or the sound of an engine.  Most people notice these things only when they're not right.  As an IT tech, I've fixed PCs using sound as much as the error message.  Then you have memories that you're sure are right, but aren't, like finding house keys in the kitchen instead of beside the door where they're normally kept.  What is a villainous telepathic minion to do, other than gloss over the details as much as possible?

This is what Subject 4 has run into over the past few issues.  He's let his boss know about the problems, such as not being a seventeen year old girl and not expecting Nasty to lack confidence.  There have been times when he has tossed distractions at her to derail her train of thought.  However, he's basically running a non-stop role-playing game as the Gamemaster in real time.  GMs have it rough over four hours as players wreak havoc on carefully created, delicately plotted adventures*.  No GM in his or her right mind will want to run a railroad plot one-on-one with a player who wants to go where the map is labelled "Here Be Dragons"**.

The above is what helps Nasty realize something is wrong.  She finally noticed the little slip ups.  Her motorcycle didn't sound right.  Eric called her "Nasty".  Go back if you need to, but that was a deliberate choice by me to have Eric not call her by the nickname.  Then there's the trigger.  As far as Nasty knows, Eric would never have kissed her.***

And, thus, Nasty acts instead of reacting.  It wasn't that she was passive during the previous issues.  The Consortium held the cards and led Nasty down the path it wanted.  Nasty is also a comic book superhero.  Superheroes, by the nature of the genre, react to villainous plots.  Murder mysteries are similar; the detective may be actively solving the case but until the first victim is killed, there is no case to solve.  Now, though, Nasty knows there is a villainous plot.  She can now do something about it, which she does in her own style.****

Going aside for a moment...  A friend and I have been discussing Stephanie Meyer's writing skill, or lack thereof.  The blog If By Yes compared Meyer's Twilight series with JK Rowling's Harry Potter series.  Round 4 has stuck with me and had me starting to question my own writing.  Fortunately, I avoid one of Meyer's major problems.  I don't state outright that my characters are such-and-such; for example, I have never written anywhere in Subject 13 that Nasty is a hotheaded tomboy.  Sure, if someone asked Tia or the football team, they might use the phrase, but that would be in-character for them, and they might substitute "tomboy" for a less charitable word.  The other part is that Nasty isn't just a hotheaded tomboy; she has quirks, motives, desires, crushes, dislikes, conflicts.  Meyer's characters, for all the reader is told about them, never really reflect what we're told.  We're told Bella is plain, yet she gets a harem a size that would make many anime characters jealous.  She's poor, but she can buy a car.  Meanwhile, with Nasty, I've shown that she has a short fuse.  I've shown that she has interests that normally appeal to boys than girls, like working on her motorcycle.  I've implied that she and her mother are poor.

Overall?  I don't think I'm in Rowling's league.  I can pick out areas I would've done differently; I would've changed the format of the stories during Goblet of Fire to less follow the school year so that Deathly Hallows picked up the pace a bit in the middle.  I would also have Neville Longbottom and the Army of Dumbledore going to the publisher, though I have no doubt that Rowling knows exactly what happened at Hogwarts during Harry's absence during Deathly Hallows.  At the same time, I'm positive I could write rings around Meyer; I just don't work in a genre that's as popular as paranormal romance.  I have tried my hands at one; my lead character was more interested in the paranormal than the romance.

Friday, the great escape!
Saturday, depending on whether my current cold lets me, I start analysing the hows of adapting games to television and movies.
Coming later here, naming characters, more NaNoWriMo prep work, more Traveller fun, and I talk about my PCs.

* Ha!  I kid!
** Why go?  Because there are dragons there!
*** Whether he would or wouldn't have is now up to speculation.  Go speculate!
**** Hitting and swearing profusely.  Nasty knows where her strengths are.


  1. Nice connection of mind control to being a GM there, hadn't thought of that. I also pegged the 'Nasty' thing, but some of that might have been remembering reading this ten years ago when it came out... I think what stood out more was Rennie saying it. That meant it was actually a label she embraced. So maybe that's why the piece didn't click right away?

    Interesting that S4's telepathy can apparently work even when he's not around? The fact that she wakes up in a tube means he didn't have to directly intervene with some of the pushes like the crumpled essay and such. Of course, the smart thing would have been for them to bypass Eric completely, but they needed him as a prop to encourage her involvement, since family wasn't going to be an option.

    I'm not sure comparing oneself to published authors is that beneficial. Even given that there will always be someone better, there's different genres and styles, as you point out. Oh, and I think Eric would have, but not necessarily under those circumstances. ^_-

    1. I didn't make the connection at the time I wrote the issue, but the comparison works as a metaphor. I think part of the deal with Rennie is that at the old school, Nasty embraced the nickname. In the new school, it's another way for her to be marginalized instead of being respected/feared.

      Who said he wasn't there? The Consortium couldn't reach him. There's a reason why and it involves the guy on the floor. :)

      It's not, except, here, I realized that there's a published author that I'm better than when it comes to descriptions. :) Eric would have kissed Nasty eventually, given time and a lack of interference, yes. Just not like that. ;)

    2. Fair enough. Regards the guy on the floor, he can't be 4, or surely he'd have been recognized? Unless he'd been changing his looks, which seems like it would be a strain those times he has to pull her out for actual training.

      Point - show, don't tell, it's a good thing to strive for.

    3. Nasty would have if she hadn't been seeing red.

      I've been working on showing, even if the payoff isn't immediate.