2 Nov 2017

The Devil You Know - Commentary 15

Oh, Mara, in The Devil You Know Chapter 15.

As mentioned in the commentary for Chapter 12, Le Bristol is a real location.  I chose it because it was a luxury hotel and it had photos of its suites for visitors to see.  The tub is real and became the point that sealed the decision to use the hotel as the setting.  I haven't been there because the hotel is expensive, but I have an imagination.  No one pays top Euro for a tub that doesn't have hot water on demand.

If you're wondering why Ione didn't just lock the bathroom door, you're thinking ahead more than I was while I was writing.  However, who is to say that it wasn't locked?  Yes, that means there is something more to Mara than the surface, but I've been trying to hint at that with bother her and Jack anyway.  And while it is true that Mara and Ione are both women, Mara is far more comfortable in her skin than Ione is in her own.  Most people, whether they admit it publicly or not, have something about them that they wish was different, men and women alike.  Since most of The Devil You Know is written from Ione's point-of-view, even though the story is third person, the bias reflects how she feels, even about herself.  It would be a completely different story from Mara's view*.

Would the bathroom scene have happened if Ione was Ian?  It's something that I hadn't considered at the time, but with the increased sensitivity about diversity and respect of late, it's something to ask.  The answer is "maybe."  I was writing by the seat of my pants at this point, with an unplanned character who loves attention.  Mara would have walked on Ian in the tub, but I don't know if Ian would have been taking a bath or taking a shower.  There might have been some sexual tension, at least on Ian's side, which might have killed an upcoming twist.  The scene would have had a different feel, as would the shopping trip.  Mara wouldn't be looking at a possible friend like she does Ione.

The shopping trip could have been glossed over.  "With Mara's advice, Ione bought a light green blouse, a cream skirt, a backless black dress, and a pair of soft leather pants."  Done.  Except, that wasn't the goal, not that I had one when I started writing the scene.  The shopping gave Ione and Mara time together where the latter wasn't trying to flash everyone else in the scene.  Mara can be decent.  Her sense of appropriateness is completely different from Ione's, though.  However, she does want to help Ione, in her own way.  Complimenting Ione's legs was more to encourage the woman to display them more.

The return of Gemma came up when I realized that, much like The Soul Blade in 2009, the plot was happening elsewhere.  Jack was keeping his cards close to his vest, Ione was waiting for messages from Karen, and Mara was more likely to go to a strip club and put on her own show than do anything to advance the plot.  That mean switching to Karen's subplot.  Since Gemma was the mover and shaker for that element, she got to headline the scene.  When the warehouse exploded in Chapter 1, Gemma was outside.  Like Ione, she wasn't in the blast.  Gemma was one of the few planned characters for the story and I always intended for her to be involved.  With the focus on Ione, I didn't get a chance to jump back to Gemma.  But she did appear; in Chapter 3 in the silver car following Ione, in Chapter 8 waiting outside the nightclub for Ione, in Chapter 10 following Ione in a new car, and in Chapter 14 described by Karen as the intruder.  Sometimes, pantsing does allow for planning, but only if the idea comes early enough.

Gemma's reappearance was the point where I realized that I never gave Karen a last name.  With the magic of after-the-fact editing, Karen's last name is now Dietzman.  The name just never came up.  Ione may be the only character to have a first, middle, and last name.  Her sister Amy only has a last name because she's related.  Most of the time, I try to find a way to work in a last name as soon as possible.  The longer a story goes without the name drop, the more apparent the drop becomes.  Yet, the only last name that came up naturally was Ione's, thanks to Jack impersonating a police officer.  Ione doesn't use her roomie's last name in general, though she does know it, and would only use her sister's full name when upset, like how Amy did with Ione's.  It's a tough call at times; when does it make sense to include a full name?  And I'll have had to figure that out for this year's NaNoWriMo, made more interesting by having an ensemble main cast of five characters.  Whee!

Friday, on the road to Monte Carlo, in the The Devil You Know Chapter 16.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, how the adaptation sausage is made.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, beginning a short series of remaking movies featured on MST3K, starting with Danger!  Death Ray!!

* Mara is petitioning for her own story.  She might even get one if I can figure out a plot for her.

1 comment:

  1. Ione is hard to pin down... here we see she's focussed on her job, she doesn't like the idea of "fluff" preferring hard work, but at the same time there's the side of her that doesn't want to be shown up by Mara in appearance and who wouldn't mind settling down with 2.3 children from a previous part. Does she have a life plan? Is part of the issue her sister's engagement, maybe? Inquiring minds wonder.

    The shopping trip did start to feel like it dragged, but I don't think you'd want to condense it down to a sentence or two. Some good came out of it, including the legs talk, and some reinforcement of character personalities. I kind of fail to see how the corset fit into things though? I guess it's one you wear overtop of a blouse (but not a dress, surely)? Also, minor nitpick, Jack and Ione already had the conversation about "how did you know I had a corset" the previous day (and it was similar). Also, does Mara not enjoy speaking French? The English insistence was a bit weird (outside the obvious issue of readers).

    I think the Gemma scene was a major mis-step though. True, there hasn't been a lot of "plot" going on since the bit with Marco, and lengthy bathing and shopping scenes don't help with that, but cutting away killed the suspense for me. I knew the email to Karen would come back to bite Ione, but I didn't know how... would Karen be caught again and threatened? Was someone following Karen? Was Karen even in on the plan from the beginning, either voluntarily or due to blackmail? So many possibil-- oh. Gemma just hacks in. And doesn't even try to verify to see if it's a fake out. And indirectly confirms that Karen seems to have zero part in this. Huh. (Worse, it's something Ione will probably need confirmed in person later in the narrative. We're getting info early, and there's no reason for it other than "oh yeah, plot".)

    Possible alternatives - Ione discovers someone hacked in but doesn't know who, or receives an anonymous email tip (from Jack himself?). Or one of Gemma's superiors contacts Ione saying she's gone rogue, and was picked up on camera at the Paris safehouse. Or Ione's sister calls saying she found something left behind at the break and enter. Like, anything to keep from revealing exactly what Gemma's doing, because now there's nothing to theorize about. Well, that's my opinion.

    As to full names, it can come up with introductions, possibly. Another reason it's handy to have an "outside" character sometimes. And interesting point about the bathroom gender situation. One could also take it further, to a natural extension of what if it was Ian and Mark, would that also play out the same. (The shop scene might have to change, not only because I feel Ione would wear knee boots better...)