6 Oct 2016

The Soul Blade Chapter 1 - Commentary

A new serialization starts!  If The Soul Blade looks familiar, I previewed it during my NaNoWriMo retrospective, with its own commentary.  In part to make up for the rerun, I've extended the chapter.  Welcome to the cliffhanger!

So, if I've done commentary, what's left?  The previous comments were mainly about NaNoWriMo 2009 and how the idea for The Soul Blade came about.  This time around, the commentary is about the chapter itself.  Which is a good place to start.  I was still figuring out how chapters work, despite By the Numbers the previous year.  I broke The Soul Blade into scenes as I wrote.  The chapters are a late addition, based on a wanted size for them.  I'm aiming for about 2000 words per chapter, but will go low in one if the next makes more sense together instead of split.  The added bit, though, isn't just padding.  It sets up the main plot.

Chapter 1 sets up my main characters.  While Brenna is the lead, she has a decent-sized supporting cast, including her family and her best friend.  This lets me show "normal" before the weird hits.  Not that Brenna's life is normal, as demonstrated by having her late mother judging her as they drive down the highway.  It's a bit of an infodump, but I hope that it doesn't come across as such.  Brenna gets to show who she is and how she deals with her family.

As mentioned in the previous commentary, the Soul Blade follows a matrilinear line.  Potential heirs show some ability when young.  Brenna's ability was psychometry, the ability to read an object by touch, getting images of what has happened in the past.  Grace also has a special ability, an immunity to others' psychic abilities.  Brenna's cousins, who will appear in a later chapter, also have abilities.

The car turned into something odder than expected.  NaNoWriMo means typing, getting words to paper or pixel.  For planners, outlines fill up and most details are nailed down.  Pantsers, however, go where the plot drifts.  The Challenger was partially planned; Missy getting the old car wasn't.  Chalk it up to Brenna being a weirdness magnet by profession.  Brenna has her own vehicle, the van.  Grace has her own, which will show up in Chapter 3.  Given that his daughters are all grown up and have their own cars now, Gary deserves his own, and he chose a Dodge Challenger.

It did occur to me that I could have placed Jenna's scene at the beginning instead of the end, but that would feel like a bait-and-switch.  Readers would assume Jenna was the lead character up until she's killed.  I think it works better after setting up Brenna`s day of normalness; something wicked this way comes.  It`s the end of the day, Jenna's heading home after a long day of being the acting assistant head of HR.  Lomax, the employee, possibly a manager, whose problem she's escaping was named after Terry Kiser's character in Weekend at Bernie's.  It's just a shout out, but made for a quick name when I needed one.  Bernie Lomax wasn't the best boss to have.  The song is a real one; "I Engineer" is from the 80s.  Just a bit of characterization for the doomed woman.

The preview is not accurate.  I went looking for a few choice quotes and accidentally went too far.  They work better for Chapter 3.  What happens in Chapter 2?

Tomorrow, the calm before the storm, in The Soul Blade Chapter 2.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, first impressions of the new MacGuyver.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, thoughts on the Magnum, P.I. sequel.

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