27 Jun 2013

Subject 13 #25 - Commentary

By this time, I believe I had taken a course to help improve my writing.  I had long since left the job from hell, so I wasn't needing an outlet for work frustration.  Both elements led to a broader story, one where Nasty isn't in as much control as before.

One of the elements discussed in the course was grabbing the reader's attention.  Lead off with something that makes the reader want to keep reading, to find out what is going on and why.  Thus, the fight between Christine and Somei, with the added feature of a jump cut, something that books can only get by a page break.  After the first paragraph, it's the revelation of what is going on, except, I don't have Nasty around.  It is her title, so she should be there.

The next major revelation is Nasty is there, up in the rafters.  The skirt is now officially a running gag.  It's all rehearsal for a school play by the Drama Club.  Back in Issue 24, Cynthia invited Nasty's help in the club.  Now we find out part of what she wants.  Part of it is to help run the technical elements; not everyone can or even wants to be on stage.  The other part is to assist Cynthia.  At this point, it's to be honest about what she sees.  What she sees, though, isn't pretty.

Nasty also shows her more down-to-Earth side; she doesn't put up with superstition.  For those who aren't aware, Macbeth is allegedly cursed, with bad things happening to anyone who says the name of the play while working on it, up to and including death.  The appropriate way to refer to Macbeth is to call it "The Scottish Play".  Nasty, from her reaction, has already had to study the play.  The scene ends with Nasty agreeing to help Christine and Somei make the fight look good without killing themselves, and a hint at what's to come at the football game, the one at the stadium the Pyro Twins want to burn down.

That evening, Nasty decides to investigate on her own.  Her own thoughts are starting to side with the Pyro Twins; Nasty's had enough of Fieldson and her dual life and it hasn't been a week. But, she's a hero, she must thwart evil, even if she understands why the evil-doers are doing the evil.

The motorcycle Nasty rides is now, officially, the Peregrine-cycle, at least for the purposes of the commentary and any wiki I might create for the series.  It's a nod to the Adam West /Batman/ series.  Peregrine's costume is also suitable for the weather; one idea I did keep in mind for Nasty's stint as a sidekick was that her costumes wouldn't be stripper-iffic.  Power Girl can get away with a boob-window; her costume probably can't withstand as much as her own skin.  Nasty, however, isn't bulletproof.  She needs a costume that can protect her as much as possible, from stray bullets to road rash.  The idea gets explored more in Crossover, a novel-length story featuring Nasty and two other supers from the S13-verse that I hope to get published at some point.

The issue winds up with a chase and a classic comic fight.  Subject 13 is, at its core, a superhero story.  Certain elements need to appear from time to time, such as costumed crooks being defeated by the heroine.  Nasty does the work in her own fashion, which means threats and a reliance on swearing.  It's an element that needed to be dealt with.  First, I was done with the job from hell, as I mentioned above.  I wasn't feeling the need to launch a verbal nuclear first f-strike with callers; they were long gone.  Second, professional heroes have an image to uphold, especially when one is the sidekick to a premier level hero.

Fortunately, Anne makes for a decent mentor.  She knows that there's more to Jessica than she's being told.  She knows that Jessica is just a teenager, one that is rough around the edges.  Anne's willing to give second chances.  She wants an effort from Jessica, not just platitudes and excuses.

The end with the Consortium team shows that the alties involved in the chase weren't just random.  It's a small twist, enough to show the audience that they're still around and working.

Tomorrow, the pressure is on to find Cinder and Ember.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Lost in Translation looks at Man of Steel.
Coming soon, more NaNo prep work, more Traveller, and other insights.


  1. Kind of fascinating, the parallels you draw between not needing the story as an outlet and some of it's growth, including the need for fixing the language - which honestly hasn't seemed as bad the last few issues anyway. The opening to the last part was also clever, but in a subtle way, such that it didn't feel like a style change or anything.

    Good call on bringing things back to action as well, to remind that - at it's core - this isn't a cerebral "Hercule Poirot figures out the mystery" sort of story. And the end was a great twist. Was there anything in particular that made you want to continue this story after it had finished serving it's primary purpose? Or was it just the most immediate thing on hand, in terms of applying elements of the writing course?

    The skirt gag, by the way, needs to die. It's not self aware enough, nor building to a payoff. Last time Nasty called it a "miniskirt" with no correction from Rusty, and what did the bit with the pencil actually add to the story that we didn't already know?

    1. Subject 13 grew beyond its initial purpose. I had to change focus because I now needed a new reason to write it, such as wanting to tell a story. With me not being as tired/depressed/frustrated, Nasty's language toned down on its own. She still swears, but not as much as before. The opening came from wanting to draw the readers in, then do the reveal while still adding information.

      The title is supposed to be about superheroing, something that Nasty really hasn't done much of. Bringing in some action helped remind both readers and me what the direction should be. I think I wanted to know what happened next with Nasty, whether she'd go home or deal with the Pyro Twins or fall into the clutches of the Consortium. It helped that I was working on Subject 13 at the time, but I also used the ideas in a few fanfics, too.

      It does. It appears a few more times, with different contexts, but it got old. If you go back to the pictures, it does count as a miniskirt; Nasty is imagining it as a micromini, though. I'm lost; which bit with the pencil?

    2. She dropped a pencil, went to pick it up, Rusty said "er, your skirt" or something like that, and Nasty jerked upright. It seemed to be extending the gag for no reason or payoff. The later issues had the skirt at least become self aware, which worked better.

    3. That. Right, it wasn't needed. That bit could easily go, you;'re right.