12 Mar 2015

Unruly - The New Girl Chapter 6 - Commentary

Welcome back!  Please read the chapter first so you don't run into spoilers.

One problem with with new roommates is getting used to their morning habits.  Some people are up at the crack of dawn, others prefer to sleep in.  Add to it the fun of weekends, and things can get chaotic.  Take Skye.  She's not a morning person and she had a late night.  Caitlin, however, is a morning person, one who has learned to let sleeping Skyes lie.  Laura's the wild card in the morning routine.

Caitlin has a point.  Her new roomie not only got high the previous night but had another Unruly involved.  The problem is something that had to be cleared up; as I mentioned in last week's commentary, the Unrulies can't be involved in an out and out felony.  Drug possession and use may fall under that restriction.  From Caitlin's point-of-view, Laura is a potential liability to both her and the Academy.  If someone else finds out about Laura's drug use, that person could blackmail Laura or have the school shut down.  Caitlin finds the Academy too useful to let that happen.

Fortunately, this is part of Laura's background that was worked out before NaNoWriMo 2014 started.  I knew Laura was in witness protection, I knew she turned evidence over to the Crown* in return for being sent to the Academy, and I knew she was a budding young chemist.  If you go back to Chapter Five to when Mackenzie asks, "Is your name really Laura?", note that Laura never answers with a straight yes or no.  The "gigglesmoke" is not physically addictive, though the euphoria it generates may still create a dependency.  Nothing's perfect, but Laura thinks she has a handle on it.

Caitlin is fun to write.  She has a gaping blind spot that everyone else notices.  Cassie has fun poking at Caitlin's arrogance.  It does come back to gnaw on Caitlin in a later arc.  For now, it's a character flaw.

Laura's journey through the halls let me establish a bit more of the setting.  Sasha doesn't recognize Laura as a fellow Unruly until Laura mentions the twenty-four hours.  The Unrulies are used to seeing other girls in similar uniforms that anyone not in a school uniform is automatically suspect; us versus them.  Laura quoting the twenty-four hour rule showed Sasha that the new girl belonged.

The scene with Autumn and Laura let me contrast the two girls.  Autumn has been at the school since being a Jennifer.  She knows the ins and outs, where to go, where to avoid, and who the movers and shakers are.  Autumn knows how to deal with Caitlin and everyone else.  Laura is the new girl, lost.  Marooned, even.  Laura has reached her breaking point, between arrogant roommates and being torn away from the only people she knew, plus being dropped into the middle of the Caitlin-Verity war.  The contrast is there, but Autumn is tossed out of her depth when Laura starts crying.  When in doubt while writing, force a character away from her comfort zone.  Add something that complicates the character or characters' life.  Drama adds words.

Leading to Cassie.  Where would the fun be if Laura and Autumn didn't get back to their dorm without running into someone?  Thus, Cassie appears.  Cassie is another fun character to write, mainly because she isn't always on stage.  Writing her full time would become a chore.  The goal with Cassie is to make her seem like she's living up to the blonde stereotype while still letting her get some good barbs in on the more arrogant characters in the cast, like Caitlin.

The painkillers are just a combination of two over-the-counter pain relievers, ibuprofen, as seen in Advil, and acetaminophen, as in Tylenol.  The two pain relievers work in different ways and don't interfere or otherwise interact with each other.  There's no chance of an explosion on the miscibility table**.  The caffeine is doing what caffeine in Advil, Tylenol, and Aspirin does, speed the absorption of the pain relievers.

Skye turned out to be the wisest of the group, something I hadn't anticipated.  She's a people person, provided that she isn't competing in a sport.  Despite the mixed metaphors, Skye has good advice for Laura and asks the key question, "Who do you want to be?"  It's a tough question, one that Laura doesn't have an answer for yet.

Tomorrow, The New Girl Chapter 7, "The Unruly Girls".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Ma & Pa Kettle.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the March news round up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* In Canada, criminal cases are in the form of "The Crown v. $defendant_name".  Crown prosecutors try the case on behalf of the Crown, representing the government.  We get our parliamentary democracy with a flavouring of constitutional monarchy without having to pay for the Royals full-time.
** First edition AD&D had a miscibility table to be used whenever two potions were drunk at the same time.  There was a 1% chance of the potions causing an explosion.


  1. Here's the problem. We're mainly following the plot through Laura's eyes. So no, Caitlin does NOT have a point, she seems to be overdramatizing without having all the facts. Autumn's remark of explanations felt right on target. Worse, because Caitlin knows about Skye, she should have suggested talking to Laura in the hall, not kept insisting on the very thing driving the argument. On the one hand, it does show that Cait's not used to being challenged, and that she's concerned (for whatever reason). On the other, she's starting to come across as the antagonist of the story (to Laura's protagonist). Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing, at least for me. I'm surprised Laura didn't remove Caitlin's arm as soon as it touched her.

    The rest of the story flowed well, and characters seem to be coming through. Tears felt a bit melodramatic, but believable. I'm a bit puzzled as to how the hall went from being full of people when Laura wanted directions to being empty when she returned with Autumn, particularly on a weekend, but maybe more time passed than I realized. Still not sure how I feel about Cassie. Skye has an interesting question, in the end.

    It occurs to me that this part might have been about the same length as 5, so perhaps ignore my remark on last week. Though I didn't notice so much, possibly because it read more like a character study, less like important plot points.

    1. Caitlin's more worried about Caitlin than Laura. Caitlin as antagonist wasn't intended, but there wasn't really anyone else to provide a challenge to Laura. Laura isn't as physical as the others, so arms don't necessarily get removed.

      Would you believe I have an explanation for the tears? The melodrama of them, and you pointing that out, gave me an idea. :) Ah, good, Cassie is working the way I want. Skye turned out to be the wise one of the lot, which isn't saying much when you look at Caitlin and Autumn.

      I think it was, give or take a few hundred words. Most parts should be about that length from here on out. I think I found a groove for the overall story as well here.

    2. Character interactions are what they are, given personalities - you make some good points next commentary.
      Um, good luck with the idea then? (Laura can cry on command?)

    3. And this chapter surprised me at how the characters interacted. They had definite personalities here. *bow*

      Thanks. (Yes. As needed, in order to guilt someone.)