16 Feb 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 20 - Commentary

Tricia prepped for a road trip and Brenna made a connection in the clues, in The Soul Blade Chapter 20.

By the time this part of the story came up, I realized that the driving force of the plot was Tricia.  If Tricia went to ground, Brenna would have to take courses in investigation to keep going.  Fortunately, Tricia's scheme needs more victims.  By giving her a number of needed victims to get her ultimate plot completed, Tricia will keep the plot going until Brenna can make the connection needed.

Speaking of the connection, Brenna finally made a critical link.  Summer's notes from Chapter 19 and Brenna talking it out with Krista let her figure out the missing info she needed.  She now knows Tricia is collecting skeletons, and may have an idea why.  Now, a plan to stop the evil witch.

During NaNo, there's always doldrums somewhere around the second or third week as an idea reaches the end of its tether and there are still more words and story to go.  Getting Brenna on the right path was never planned when I started; I was hoping that I could get her to the needed scene somehow.  Sometimes, the doldrums result in filler material as I try to keep the momentum going while still trying to figure out what happens next.  I had Tricia here to help, but her part was something that came later when I realized I needed to show the villain at work.  Brenna's still pretending she's in a cozy mystery, spending time with friends.

The situation does improve, though there were a few dangling plot lines that didn't want to wrap up when the main plot started coming to a close.  I pulled one plot thread out without the story unravelling, but there are a few others, including the Brenna/Matt relationship which was going where I wanted Digital Magic to end up.

Tomorrow, Tricia begins her road trip, in The Soul Blade Chapter 21.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Starship Excelsior.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Star Trek: Outpost.


  1. In some ways, the story really is the flip to "Digital Magic". Brenna just spent a whole day doing nothing related to the case, and when she does venture back into it, making that critical link... Krista *immediately* shoots her down ("hate to burst your bubble") and then they go on to talk about Matt for at least a third of the entry!

    The difference seems to be that it isn't Brenna who's trying to pick romance over the death-plot (a true flip of "DM"), rather, it's everyone else telling Brenna *don't investigate the death-plot* (or words to that effect, Joni excepted)... and Matt is all the poor girl has left to fall back on. Even though she doesn't want that to be her plot.

    That said, good call bringing Krista in again, and the talk of the van, while somewhat incidental, does link back to Brenna's concerns about her lack of direction from before.

    1. If only I could merge the two works to get a story where the main character does the investigation and has a romance. I really should have planned this story out more, just so that Brenna could be more active in investigating instead of relying on Tricia to keep things moving. I am half tempted to put up what I wrote of "The Elf's Prisoner" from 2015 to show the difference, even though that was also completely unplanned.

      Too many characters are stonewalling Brenna, characters who should know better. I'm treating my early NaNo works as learning experiences, not well-crafted stories. With The Soul Blade, I learned that while knowing my characters helps, having them do something more than wait for clues is also important. There's times when this feels like Brenna just wants to see her friends again and catch up with them, despite being the first entry.

      Krista's job helped. Reporters need something to report, and she has a good source to talk to. I was worried when I saw that this chapter went back to the same worries Brenna had in Chapter 16, but if it works as a call back, I'll take it.

    2. Well, and the other thing to bear in mind is that along with a learning experience, NaNo is meant to be a first draft, which you're largely putting right out here. Conversations with friends that make sense for the timeline can be pared down or excised offscreen in a final version. Maybe getting into the stonewalling friends' heads can help too? This is basically completely from Brenna's POV, aside from Trish.

    3. It is, and I do need to get into the habit of editing more. I should have gone into people's heads more; I did it with Grace a couple of times, so why not Missy or Krista or even Summer?