10 Jan 2013

Subject 13 #1 - Commentary

Last Friday, I posted "Family Life", the first issue of Subject 13.  As mentioned before, the idea behind the story was to do a written superhero story while also letting me work out the frustration of being the tech line phone firewall at a major ISP's call centre.  Go read "Family Life" first before reading the rest of this post.

Back?  "Family Life" was meant to be Nasty's origin issue, showing where she got her powers, what she was like before, who the important people in her life are.  First thing you notice is that Nasty and her mother (who does have a name, but the reveal comes in a later issue) don't get along.  Well, Nasty doesn't get along with many people, really, as shown by the football players.  A lot of that characterization came from where I was writing - at work.*  I really began hating the callers.  From the people who couldn't figure out left from right after three tries to the people who demanded the impossible, I wanted them all to suddenly realize what they were doing and die of the brain infarction that resulted.  Nasty's lack of patience with others and desire to be by herself come from how I felt while working, minus the migraines.

Now, that isn't to say Nasty is a thoroughly rotten piece of work who should be locked away.  You'll notice that she tried to help the driver of the crashed truck.  She never started the fight with the football players.  Keep in mind, too, that the story is written from Nasty's perspective.  She's not quite an unbiased observer, and the narrative reflects that.

The file at the end was a retrofit.  The people who maintain the file will be appearing in a few issues, but I had realized that the turning point of the serial was going to be Issue 13, appropriately enough.  I created Nasty's file, then backfilled the previous twelve subjects.  Nice thing, though, is that there's some foreshadowing building.  Made for a nice addition at the end of my 2008 NaNoWriMo story, Crossover.

Coming Friday, Issue 2 of Subject 13.

* It's a cliché that call centre techs hate the people who call in.  It's also a cliché that the techs don't know what they're doing.  The secret: it's expensive to have good techs, so call centres hire warm bodies and give them scripts to use.  The scripting was put in place during my time on the firewall.  So, while below average tech types brought up their ability to close calls (solving them was never a metric for us), the better techs were limited.


  1. I don't think I realized you were actually writing them at work; thought you were doing it when you got home to blow off steam. I wrote my first fanfic at work, but it was mostly due to boredom, waiting for processes to end and such.

    As far as personality goes, I think in one entry "Nasty" comes across as pretty sympathetic overall, mainly because she never seems to instigate any of the problems. It's all lousy stuff happening to her... admittedly, as seen from her point of view.

    1. I was indeed. I think I started early in the job, so I was working nights (5pm - 2am), so there wasn't much time after getting home between winding down and going to bed.

      I think that one of the things I didn't realize I was doing at the time was giving Nasty an undeserved rep, though it worked out for the story.