20 Mar 2015

Unruly: The New Girl - Wrap Up

Last week was the last chapter of the first arc.  I've commented on each chapter individually.  Today, I'll comment on the overall arc.

As mentioned previously, Unruly was my NaNoWriMo project for November 2014.  Unruly was on the short list early in the year and became the choice by August.  I gave myself a few goals.  The first was to do a serial and let the arcs work out over how many chapters they needed instead of forcing the story to fit the format of a novel.  The second was to try to expand my cast to be more diverse.  The third was to remember that the Unrulies would be the villains in any other story.  The fourth was to have fun with the work.  The first arc, "The New Girl", set up the series and should strive to accomplish the goals.

First goal, the serial nature.  "The New Girl" lasted seven chapters, about as long as I felt it could go.  A few ideas were laid down for later arcs, such as the Jennifers and the general weirdness at the Academy.  Could "The New Girl" have gone on longer?  Not without stretching Laura's angst to unreasonable levels.  An unstated goal was to avoid the dullness I ran into in the coming-of-age stories assigned* in high school English, so dragging out Laura's issues much longer would have had me lose interest.  Never good.

Second goal, diversity.  An all-girl cast, ignoring the Men in Black, has potential, provided I avoid scenes written for the male gaze.  As such, I avoided, for the most part, girls running around in negligees.  Sure, Autumn was in a baby doll nightgown in Chapter 6, but she covered herself up instead of parading.  The other issue is skin colour.  Caitlin is Caucasian, a pale-skinned red-head of Irish-Canadian descent.  Autumn is Asian, specifically Vietnamese, descended from refugees who fled to Canada in the 70s.  Laura and Skye, well, I have no idea.  Tempering the need for diversity is the need to avoid unfortunate implications.  The Academy gets girls who don't quite break the law only because the law doesn't cover what they did.  Flora and Fawna break laws of nature and decency.  Laura creates designer drugs.  Autumn engages in cybernetic warfare against countries with no extradition treaty with Canada.  The line is thin, but clear, but having a girl at the Academy means they were noticed.  Last thing I want is to portray someone from a background in an awkward manner that reinforces stereotypes.  So, consider this goal still being worked on.

Third goal, the girls as villains.  Obviously, with the Unrulies as the main cast, they are the protagonists.  Doesn't mean they' have to be nice.  Caitlin has her own issues resulting in a megalomaniacal bent.  Vamsi is a fence dealing in mostly grey-market goods.  If I wanted a group of girls who were decent and law-abiding, I'd focus on Verity and her people, or keep working with last year's cast.  I worked in the reaction of the average bystander in when the Unrulies were out in public, but the focus was mainly on Laura and in the Academy itself instead of outside its wall.

The fourth goal, having fun.  I had fun.  Despite not doing proper background work, I still managed to be surprised by what the Unrulies could do and enjoyed writing their hijinks, even if some of it was juvenile.  Once the story got going, the words flowed.  It was a complete contrast to Lethal Ladies, where finding words was difficult.  I'm finding my own voice while still letting the characters have theirs.  So, yes, fun was had.

Next week, the next arc of Unruly starts.  A sneak peek:
"I've never eaten school cafeteria food before."

Caitlin pointed at the hot chicken sandwich.  "That counts for just two-thirds of what you said."

"How bad can it be?"

Autumn joined the group.  "Hey, I was thinking of that."  She nodded at Laura's lunch.  "Then I realized that I like living."

Laura picked up her fork and knife.  "Like we have anything back at our dorm."

"We do."  Caitlin held up her bagged sandwich.  "Some of us are prepared."

"Some of us also have plans to invade Italy," Autumn said.  She opened her salad and added ranch dressing.  "That's not normal."

Caitlin glared at Autumn.  "I do not have plans to invade Italy.  There's nothing there I want.  Liechtenstein, now there's a good place to start.  Completely mountainous, means I get the terrain advantage once I take it."

"Not Madagascar?"

"No, no."  Caitlin completely missed the sarcasm in Autumn's tone.  "Too sunny."  The redhead pushed up the sleeve of her blazer to reveal a pale arm.  "I'd burn in minutes."

Laura cut into her hot chicken sandwich.  "So, you're saying your weakness is the same as a vampire's?"

* Specifically, Catcher in the Rye and A Seperate Peace.  I want Unruly to be interesting, not soporific.

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