18 Feb 2016

Tales of the Soul Blade - Commentary

Title: Tales of the Soul Blade
Year: 2009
Main Character: Brenna Halliday
Current Status: Incomplete

After NaNo 2007's mess, Digital Magic and 2008's far more successful Crossover, I started to figure out a few elements that work in my favour when writing.  The key element is knowing the characters well enough to predict what would happen if I tossed an event at them.  Both Lethal Ladies and Crossover featured characters I had spent time with prior to writing.  Alas, poor Jackie in Digital Magic; I didn't know her well enough to realize that she just wasn't in the mood to be a romance lead.  Brenna, in Tales of the Soul Blade, had started out as a Champions character and had been played, in one form or another, in two RPG campaigns.  I had a good handle on her personality, so anything that happened, I could work out what she would do.

The titular Soul Blade came about after some thought about Chosen Ones and how powers get passed on.  The thoughts then went to how, historically, women weren't exactly considered to be, well, people until recently.  Surnames got changed with marriage, signifying the change of whose possession women were.  However, with surnames changing and minimal records keeping, someone with embued power could disappear.  A power that manifests along a matriarchal line means that it becomes tougher to track who has it, unless detailed records are kept.

The title, Tales of the Soul Blade, came from the idea of writing about the various wielders of the Soul Blade throughout the ages.  Brenna was chosen to be the first wielder highlighted because I was, as mentioned above, familiar with her.  She needed a family tree, at least enough to figure out who were the last few women to wield the Blade.  Brenna's mother, Joni, was the obvious choice, and had been chosen when Brenna was still a PC.  Before Joni was Brenna's grandmother.  That gave me three generations to work with for future installments.

The Blade itself is almost an entity on its own.  It manifests in the most appropriate woman of each generation, allowing the chosen one to fight supernatural threats.  Women in the family tend to have supernatural abilities even without the Blade.  Brenna has the ability to see ghosts and use psychometry, the ability to read an object's past merely by touching it.  Her sister, Grace, is resistant to the supernatural.  One of Brenna's cousins gets glimpses into the future.  The Blade also works to ensure there is a next generation, but sending signals to its wielder when an appropriate mate is around.

That is a lot of background info in the above.  The trick was to reveal the information without an infodump.  The first chapter was meant to introduce most of the elements mentioned.  Brenna's reaction to Matt and her seeing her mother but Grace only hearing half the conversation got two of the points out.  The Blade itself appears later, after the main characters are introduced.  Other details, like Brenna being a university drop-out, came from extrapolating the problems she's having with the Blade.  And there is family drama.  I gave myself a bit to work with.

Turns out, I gave myself too much to work with.  I had a good start and I did over the 50 000 word mark needed for NaNoWriMo, but found myself with so many loose plot ends that I wasn't able to wrap everything up when I needed to.  The romance problems I had with Digital Magic were gone with Soul Blade; Brenna was ready to jump Matt the longer the story went and I wasn't ready for them to take the final step.  I had a villain raising an army of skeletons* on the behalf of a supernatural evil.  Brenna's father was getting serious with a new girlfriend.  Grace was graduating and the family was in town to help celebrate.  A lot was happening that I lost track of.

Unlike the abandoned Digital Magic, Tales of the Soul Blade is just "incomplete".  I take a look at it from time to time to figure out what can be done to complete it.  I could turn it into a serial much like Unruly, as I had thought of doing; the word count wouldn't have to be 50 000 or more.  The potential in the story is still there. 

Something I should have mentioned previously in this retrospective series - if there's anything you want to see more of, let me know.  Keep in mind that some of these aren't complete, but I can do the full commentary on the parts that do exist.

Tomorrow, the NaNo retrospective continues with Bronya and Morwenna.  Reader discretion advised.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Green Hornet.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, a look at remaking The Last Starfighter.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

* Zombies were getting overdone in 2009.  Skeletons didn't have the drawbacks of zombies and would look cooler if adapted.

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