22 Mar 2018

Mecha Academy Episode 1 Chapter 4 Commentary

And the space opera starts looking like a soap opera.  Chapter 4 sees inter-personal conflict grow.

Coffee was never meant to be much more than a quirk of Ric's.  After all, it didn't matter how everyone took their coffee, just that they drank it or, in Dusty's case, didn't.  But, it turns out, it became a point that kept coming up.  I try to have people do stuff, like making and drinking coffee, while talking.  First, it lets me avoid using tags like, "Ric said," and "said Rhiannon" over and over when I have more than two people talking.  A dialogue between two people just needs the occasional reminder of who is speaking.  When you have a mass of people talking over each other, the tag gets awkward but necessary.  Second, conversation doesn't take place in a vacuum.  People just don't stand around talking, except in doorways blocking everyone else from getting through.  This also helps give a sense that time is passing for the characters.  Plot can progress when plot needs to during the talking.  Third, since this was NaNoWriMo, I got to pad my word count in a natural way.  Having Dusty check the coffee maker for a timer added far more words than, "Dusty said."  Since I tend to find myself being dialogue heavy, it helps keep things going.

As for how the cast takes their coffee, Ric takes one cream, two sugars.  Rhiannon has hers in the classic double-double.  Miyami, who is still getting used to the idea of drinking coffee as an adult, has hers as a triple-triple.  Lars takes his coffee black; Dusty drinks her tea the same way.  Each character has a reason for how they take their caffeinated drinks, which I hope either comes through or will come through.

Dusty did provoke Rhiannon.  She has her reasons which still haven't come out yet.  It's not time yet.  But, her creative use of insults did need to begin.  Once I got going with them, I decided to not repeat any.  Yeah, let's make this more interesting.  Fortunately, this is just the fourth chapter.  It's not a problem yet.  Dusty only used two insults.  Granted, "Your Highness" is just general disrespect, but it hit harder than she expected.  Dusty could have backed down there instead of going with "Your Queenship" right after.  It's the audience's call whether Rhiannon overreacted or was perfectly justified in her response.

One of the fun things I tend to do when re-writing is completely deviate from the original direction from the previous draft.  Yet another reason why I hate re-writing things - just where do I stop when multiple drafts have very little in common?  Here, because the original work was just bits and pieces spread over a about a year in-story, I started filling in many gaps.  One gap got filled with Cadet Suzanna Schroeter.  She was not one of the original characters.  Her main role was to be an early love interest and distraction for Lars, one who was the more aggressive of the two.  But, as I've pointed out in other stories posted, one-shot characters tend not to stay one-shot, much like Mara in The Devil You Know.  Suzanna will return.

With the cast expanding beyond the original, I knew I was going to have problem with names.  I have an Academy of characters waiting for names.  Even if I provided a name only when needed, I was still going to spend time figuring out as my main cast interacted with teachers and the occasional student.  Fortunately, I figured out a method.  Lars set the style for names of people from Tamar, and it turned out that the style used in the Mongoose Traveller supplement, The Sword Worlds, Scandinavian without being accurate to the country.  The Sword Worlds included sample names, including a random name generator.  Suzanna wasn't the first person I named that used the random generator; that honour belongs to Abby, full name Abigail, in Chapter 1.  The name of Suzanna's cousin was chosen from the list of names.

Friday, Mecha Academy, "Roommates" Chapter 4, "Teamwork".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Josie and the Pussycats.

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