12 Feb 2015

Unruly - The New Girl Chapter 2 - Commentary

Welcome to the commentary for "The Girls of St. Dymphna", where the rivals are introduced.  Please read the chapter first before continuing.  Things might make more sense.

Chapter 2 turned out a little short.  I was still getting into the groove of writing and setting out cliffhangers.  The goal of the chapter was to introduce the rivals, the titular girls of St. Dymphna Collegiate.  St. Dymphna is a fictional private Catholic school in Oshawa, which isn't fictional.  Part of my pre-NaNo research was to figure out the names of key locations, like the Academy and St. Dymphna.  With St. Dymphna, I searched for patron saints of either education or teenaged girls.  Instead, I found the patron saint of the nervous and the mentally ill, leading to also being the patron saint of psychologists and psychiatrists.  Take from the choice what you will.

While the rivalry between the Gephardt Academy and St. Dymphna Collegiate is fierce, Caitlin has run into her match with Verity.  Caitlin was looking at being a girl short before Laura's arrival.  Verity's crew - Caroline, Mackenzie, and Sarah - doesn't match up one to one.  It took some work to figure out each girl's character.  Autumn and Caroline have as much a history as Caitlin and Verity, though they don't have the same role in their respective teams.  Likewise, while Skye and Sarah both are the muscle, Skye is Caitlin's second-in-command, a role Caroline holds with Verity.  Chapter 2 sets up the rivalry, showing how Team Verity feels about Caitlin.

With all the prep work, sometimes characters slip through the cracks.  Mackenzie was one of them.  I really had no idea of what she was like before her appearance.  Mackenzie became the little bundle of energy when she met Laura.  A veritable force of personality, Mackenzie established herself, at least in my head, and guaranteed another appearance later.  The rest of Verity's people also worked themselves out.  Verity, though, held back.  She's cagey; of course, having Caitlin as a rival means a heightened sense of security is needed.  The best I can say at this point is that she has an impressive vocabulary.

There's a hint at Laura's home life.  She followed Caitlin's advice, "Don't lie, but don't tell the truth."  While the advise appears to be conflicting, it boils down to avoiding obvious lies, like being from Halifax or Calgary instead of Scarborough, while not revealing any involvement at the Academy.  Verity's opinion of Unruly Girls was stated; any girl who even has a whiff of the Academy on her would be frozen out by Verity and her minions.  Caitlin is testing Laura as much as Verity in the chapter.

A quick note on names.  With the core Unruly cast - Caitlin et al - I had the names worked out long in advance.  The rest of the cast didn't really get names until I needed them.  Verity and Caroline were the first to be named.  When I named Caroline, I noticed that Coca-Cola was having a new promotion, Share a Coke, where 570mL bottles of Coke had names on them, including Caroline.  Since naming characters gets difficult, especially for minor and one-shot appearances, I decided to grab the name off any bottle of Coke I bought.  Sarah and Mackenzie both appeared on bottles of Coke.  This time around, I am completely not responsible for character names.  If one seems odd, go tell Coke.

Tomorrow, The New Girl Chapter 3, "Power Corrupts.  Absolute Power is Kind Of Nifty".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Hook.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the February news round up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.


  1. I don't know about short; there was less scene switching, but it felt about right in terms of establishing new characters without overloading. Ones that we probably won't see in the next part, and I feel like good serials should do that, mix it up. I'm a bit confused about the school being fictional, yet not - there IS a school you're using as a basis, but of a different name? Or did you mean Oshawa's not fictional? The patron saint stuff is clever, either way.

    Honestly, we probably know more about the Catholic girls now than we do the Unrulies, so the matching up doesn't resonate. In particular the "second-in-command" stuff; they all simply seem friendly with each other. Though as you say, personalities were appearing, like Mackenzie being more outgoing, Sarah being more reserved, and Autumn asking after Caroline. (And Verity with twintails... I feel like this gives her the edge.) Plus there may be more visible in retrospect. Yet it really was more Laura's chapter for me, as she's the one we know previously, flowing from the last part. Everyone else, Caitlin included, has felt more like they have secondary status.

    The naming idea is rather brilliant. Though I would imagine the characters themselves would get veto power if they didn't like it. ;)

    1. I think part of it is from not doing a pre-writing session, working out everyone's personalities and relationships before starting NaNo. It worked with By the Numbers. Here, I didn't quite have everything nailed down, thus throwing everything in early. And, yes, Oshawa is not fictional. ;) There is sort of a school I'm using at least for internal layout - Glebe in the Glebe, but heavily modified.

      Mackenzie surprised me, really. She seized her role and expanded it in ways I hadn't expected. But, yeah, the rivals got more here than Laura's roommates, which is the cart before the horse. (I wanted each girl to have a different hairstyle so that readers will find one they liked. ^.- ) The first arc, "The New Girl", is really Laura's story. Once I realized that and that I could do other arcs, I kept the focus on her.

      Half the battle is finding names. The other half is picking one that fit the character. Mackenzie's works for her. Verity pre-dates the idea. Other characters congealed once they got their name. It's an odd process.