30 Apr 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 5 - Commentary

Caitlin's dream is cruelly interrupted and the students go on full alert.  Welcome to the commentary for The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 5.  Please read the chapter first, though.  Thanks.

Dreams are fun, provided that a story doesn't start with a bait-and-switch scene.  By this point, it should've been obvious that Caitlin was dreaming.  Sometimes, it's interesting to see just what a character is thinking without having to worry about how others will react.  With Caitlin, the dream let me show the more romantic side of her.  Dream-Caitlin is in charge, making the suggestion to go elsewhere and, well, audience imagination can fill in the gaps.

Technically, Vamsi is breaking Rule One, "Always wear your uniform."  If there was a teacher around, she'd be in trouble.  However, the bigger emergency trumped getting dressed to go next door.  Vamsi is her dorm's leader, as much as her roommates bother to listen.  Flora and Fawna are deep into their interests and tend to tune everyone else out, including each other.  Cassie is Cassie.  Caitlin uses her neighbour as a second-in-command when dealing with her entire graduating class, though Skye is her go-to for anything involving just her dorm.

Skye isn't happy  about being woken early twice in one week.  She does understand why, though.  Autumn takes a little longer and isn't quite awake before she starts speaking.  Under Siege, the movie Autumn hated, is a Steven Seagal flick that has him as a former SEAL turned ship's cook stopping terrorists on board a battleship.  The movie is older than Autumn, so she had to see it on TV at some point.

In the lair of the Jennifers, Laura also is rudely awakened to get evacuated.  Kristie got that fun job, though Jenn did have her reasons, which get demonstrated later.  During that evacuation, Laura's chemistry knowledge comes back into play.  It's not quite tear gas; the cloud is a makeshift gas designed to incapacitate anyone in it, through intense nausea and burning exposed skin.  The detour finally let me introduce the one last element that was missing, the supernatural.  Yes, Kristie cast a light spell.  She isn't the only Unruly who has that ability.

Skye and Autumn aren't quite in uniform, but they made the token effort to wear their blazers, something Vamsi didn't do.  Caitlin, naturally, made a point to be fully dressed.  It's another example of the differences in mindsets.  The trip to check on Laura also runs into the same gas.  Jenn's reactions is starting to become a running gag, between picking on Autumn and pointing out where Laura is.  To be fair, a lot of the attitude Autumn gets from the Jennifers, she brought it on herself.  Skye was able to prevent Autumn from commenting on how revolting the Jennifers are.  I also got to show that most of the girls avoid the fourth floor labs, the ones Kristie is taking Laura to for safety.

While Autumn deals with Jenn, Caitlin gets to deal with Cassie, who is incredibly perky for four in the morning.  Vamsi has reasons for not being around, most of them related to her ability to get whatever an Unruly Girl needs.  Those same reasons are how she has a laptop and how Flora has aerial drones with professional grade cameras.  Cassie, surprisingly, is correct.  In any TV show or movie, the only time someone looks up is because there is someone above them.  If there isn't anyone, no one looks.  And that only applies to the heroes.  The opposition will be too focused on finding the hero on ground level that they never think of the third dimension.  Fawna also has a way to scout around, though it's a more organic approach.  Fawna has a famliar, and, yes, that was a horrible pun.  Caitlin will speak of this nevermore.

I don't think I ever made the ages and school years clear.  The Gephardt Academy provides for students from the Seventh to the Twelth Grade, as per Ontario's Ministry of Education.  The Jennifers, being first year students, are in Grade Seven, and Caitlin's year is Grade Twelve.  The "minor niners" and the Grande Nine students, third year girls.  The distinction doesn't come up much, but the rioting Jennifers made it an issue.

The end is inspired by far too many sitcoms where a character would say, "At least X hasn't happened," guaranteeing that X would happen.  It's a variant here.  Caitlin needs time to plan.  The worst thing that could happen is something that would force her to make a snap decision.  The technique is useful for NaNoWriMo.  If you need to add to the word count, figure out what would make it more difficult for the characters, then throw it at them.  At worst, the characters come up with a solution after a few paragraphs, which still means adding to the word count.  Since NaNo is a first draft, it can be fixed in editing later.  Best case, though, means a chapter or two dealing with the problem and the fallout, with character growth and an unexpected twist.  In my case, I got a cliffhanger out of it, a few scenes in the next chapter, and a bit of panic in Caitlin.

Tomorrow, Chapter 6, "Nothing Good Happens at 4AM".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Equalizer.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the April news round up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.


  1. Congratulations. That light spell thing was incredibly subtle, to the point where I read that paragraph twice, then figured I was misunderstanding, and Kristie must have had a candle in her pocket. I promptly FORGOT about it, until you mentioned it here. You can now pull out the supernatural in the future unexpectedly and yet not have it be deus ex machina. (Hopefully it's not related to zombies.)
    Also, Quoth was a true laugh-out-loud moment - not just for the pun, but also the way Vamsi delivered it. Caitlin walked into that one. Priceless.
    One thing I'm finding a BIT annoying is the constant sleep issues. We already had Skye and Laura complain (so it makes sense to have token protests, yet AGAIN) but now even Autumn is complaining about needing "her 8 hours of sleep". Maybe part of the issue is that Autumn seems to be turning into a bit of a complainer - and not much of a team player either. I suppose there has to be one in every crowd, but it's becoming her character trait more so than her computer skills. I'd have expected her to be more interested in the drone technology.
    Interesting thoughts there about making a cliffhanger. I suppose my problem is I'm not good at "adding to the word count", I rarely cut anything once it's in there.

    1. Thanks! I was wondering if the spell would be too subtle, too blatant, or just too weird. I wanted to slip magic in at some point so that I can pull it out in a major use later. (Other than Fawna being accused of being a future Zombie Overlord?)

      Caitlin is a great straight person. Vamsi knows her audience. And, with a pun like that, the characters should react to it somehow instead of just ignoring it.

      The sleep issues fade away. Token protests and roommates getting tired of the complaints will teach certain cast members to shush. Autumn hasn't had her chance to shine, though she's starting to be the go-to girl to be tied up. Go fig.

      I was needing a way to wrap the chapter up. Best way I could think of was to work out what would make the characters' lives even more difficult.