11 Feb 2016

Digital Magic - Commentary

While I try to get a proper serial readied, I'm going to reveal my NaNoWriMo projects, year by year.  Some have already been posted, but not all.  This is more to demonstrate the change in writing style and ability over the past ten years.

My first NaNo was in 2006, with Lethal Ladies, which I've already posted in its entirety.  In 2007, my project was Digital Magic.  Let's start with the summary.

Title: Digital Magic
Year: 2007
Main Character: Jacqueline Hart, Jackie to her friends
Current Status: Abandoned

A now-defunct publisher imprint, Shomi, was looking for science-fiction romance for publication.  I figured, why not try?  The result wasn't what I was expecting.

The first half of the chapter is set in a nameless MMO.  Whether what happens is even possible, who knows?  The idea here is to show that Jackie, the player behind Jacinda, can think on her feet.  The spells were chosen because of their appearance more than on anything that exists in a game.  It's a bait-and-switch, though.  A glimpse of swords-and-sorcery fantasy before switching to urban fantasy.  Jacinda does make a return, though.

The second half switches to first person, which created new problems.  I haven't used first person since Digital Magic.  It made revealing details difficult, but the original idea was that using the first person would bring the reader in closer to the action.  Turns out, I work much better if I place the point of view just off the shoulder of the viewpoint character.  However, I didn't know that yet.

The latter half of the chapter properly introduces Jackie and her roommate, Trish.  The personalities come out through contrasts at this point.  Trish needed the big entrance, in part because she's a key character who isn't in every scene, unlike Jackie.  The rest introduces the video game and sets up some elements that recur, like the strange weather.  The game is to look for potential mages; Jackie accessing the hidden menu is just the first test she passed.  The key is in how players move their hands.  The odd weather is because of heavy magic being used.  Both get revealed later.

The chapter, on retrospect, shows the signs of the problems I'd run into.  It's not so much the sudden change of genre and character as that Jackie was not interested in any of the romantic options provided to her.  She meets Lance179, who is meant to be the primary love interest, but the relationship is closer to mentor and student.  Jackie was far more interested in how magic works than pursuing either Lance or Steve.

The final verdict of Digital Magic is that it's a mess.  It needs such a massive overhaul that it'd be easier to pull ideas from it than to even try to salvage what has been written.  If I were to, the romance angle would be dropped.  Even trying to force the issue while writing Digital Magic led nowhere.  There's more sparks between Jackie and Trish than with either Lance or Steve.  I'd also switch to a third person perspective, allowing me to jump to the villain's view from time to time.  A villainous mage looking for immortality is always good to have appear early.  However, while Jackie does get into distress, she's a self-rescuing damsel, and I want to keep this element.

Tomorrow, the NaNo retrospective continues with Tales of the Soul Blade.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, a short hiatus.  Apologies for the sudden disappearance.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, The Green Hornet.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.

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