1 Sep 2016

How Do We Solve a Problem Like Caitlin Chapter 2 - Commentary

Caitlin has arrived at her new school.  Her reaction is completely different from Laura's.  Then again, Caitlin chose the danger.

While Chapter 1 flowed naturally as I wrote, I had problems getting Chapter 2 started.  It wasn't so much writer's block as not having an idea of a start or end point.  There was a lot I wanted to include in the chapter that I couldn't find the right approach.  Emails with Gregory Taylor of Taylor's Polynomials, and Time & Tied*, and The Epsilon Project helped; he asked key questions that helped me work through the problems I was having.  With his help, I figured out where to start and what the conflict would be in the chapter.  The ending came about after the callback to Caitlin's reaction to being called "Ginger".  She did lead a revolt as a wee Jennifer and calls back to the reason why she's at the Academy in the first place.

About halfway through writing the chapter, I realized that I needed to know who would be in the same bunk room as Caitlin.  Some choices were obvious, others weren't.  When I realized that I had Caitlin's future roomies and most of her neighbours, the decision on who to include became easier.  There are twelve girls in the room, but not all twelve are named.  I realized that I didn't need to name all of them, but knowing who was there became a detail I needed.  There are three unnamed girls in the room, total.  One is Vamsi, since her other roommates are already there.  This does mean that Camille and Francesca are roomies, with either Claire or Felicia, thanks to "The Great Jennifer Round-Up" Chapter 2, so one of the latter two are there as well.  That leaves one girl unrevealed.  I have no idea who she is.

I played with expectations in this chapter.  Skye wasn't friendly to Caitlin right away, and wound up sharing a bunk bed with Camille instead of either Caitlin or Autumn.  Flora and Fawna look alike and haven't made an attempt to get their own looks.  Autumn is surgically attached to her phone, the only computing device she was able to smuggle in.  With everything I wanted to get in, somethings had to give, such as the idea of Autumn not yet boy crazy.

Alyssa makes her first full appearance after being mentioned many times.  While it wasn't mentioned, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that her favourite Muppet is Crazy Harry.  Alyssa loves explosions.  I tossed in a subtle bit once again though I have no idea if it was picked up by readers.  Notice Alyssa's eyebrows, or lack thereof.  The implication is that they got burned off when she was too close to one of her explosions.  Her giggle at the end, though, should cement the idea that she loves explosions a little too much.

Another bit that I have no idea if anyone noticed at the end is what Alyssa calls Caitlin.  In the Unruly arcs already written, only one person calls Caitlin "Cait".  Two, if you count Cassie's "Kitty-Cait".  Skye is the one person in Caitlin's year that can talk with her and get the redhead to try being reasonable.  Alyssa also fills that role with Caitlin.

Going back to "Kitty-Cait", I hadn't intended to make that connection when Cassie calls Alyssa "Alley-Cat".  Looking back, it does work, especially when one considers that Caitlin and Alyssa become best friends over the next five years at the Academy.  Of course Cassie is going to refer to them as "Kitty-Cait" and "Alley-Cat".  Completely unintentional, but works beautifully in hindsight.

The four juniors - Cameron, Nadine, Star, and CiCi - make their first and possible only appearance here.  Nadine makes the mistake of calling Caitlin "Ginger", the same mistake Phil Wheeler and Alexandra Fichetti made.  This is the source of the conflict and the reason why Caitlin led the Great Jennifer Revolt.  Sure, there are other issues, hinted at in the chapter, but Caitlin isn't one to let a grudge alone.  If the juniors had been more attentive to their charges, Caitlin would have just focused on Nadine.  They learned the hard way.

The Camille-Skye conflict evolved as I tried to work out the chapter.  Different girls, including Caitlin and Autumn, were going to be in Camille's position and I hadn't worked out the resolution.  Once I worked out that Camille was going to be in the room, reasons fell into place.  Camille has a backstory, like most of the students at the Academy, one that makes her want a bed as far from the door as possible.  Being above Skye is a bonus for her.

The coda provides an ending for the story.  "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Caitlin" was meant to be just two chapters.  Going into details of the juniors' negligence and Caitlin's plotting would take up many, many more words than I wanted.  Showing the origin and result did what I wanted.  The story is about Caitlin, and that was a very Caitlin thing to do.

Tomorrow, the first of a two-part NaNo 2016 Backgrounder, featuring Tempest T. Pot.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, ... and the Weird.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Roleplaying Game.


* For fun, try figuring out which characters in Time & Tied would get a similar invite as Caitlin's.

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