Hey, peeps, Blackbird here! It’s actually been quite a while since I’ve done one of these. Not since our anniversary in May. So buckle up, folks, I have things to talk about! 😛
In all seriousness, July is a bit of a crazy month for me and I didn’t take that into account at all when I decided to get so carried away with a chapter we needed to split it in two. I wrote a lot into Kyle and Sebastian’s little excursion to Blackpond.
There’s a lot to talk about with 3.06 and 3.07 and I’m sure Plotstains will have something to say about how much he regretted giving me permission to write a longer chapter. Because I took it and ran with it for about 5 thousands words longer than I should have. Truth is, I knew there were going to be a lot of feelings involved in bringing these two back to Blackpond for the first time. There were also a lot of characters to manage at once in these two chapters.
Now there’ve been many times in the past where I decided to cut scenes or leave out interactions because I thought they’d make a chapter unnecessarily long. I didn’t find the space to do that with this one (these ones! lol). A lot of it was unnecessary, in a way, but I also felt like it was important. Having these kids act like normal kids for a while, be awkward trying to impress a girl, it’s fluff, it’s filler in a way, but it’s something they’ve been denied the opportunity to do until now. Meeting the Crimson Shadows? Who the fuck wouldn’t want to? I’m not gonna take that away from them either, lol.
Which leads me into what I want to talk about at length today: the minor characters in these three chapters. More specifically, I want to talk about Rebecca, Riyah, and Finn (but we’ll get to 3.08 in a moment).
I put a lot of thought into character creation when it comes to main characters. I know them better than they know themselves sometimes. I do a lot of research and I do a lot of free writing behind the scenes in order to flesh them out properly and make them feel as close to a real person as possible. The only way I know how to do that is by spending time with them; writing them, hanging out with them in my head (yes, really). Because I’m 90% pantser, or an intuitive writer as some people call it, free writing outside of the story itself helps me get a feel for what characters are like and how they each handle certain things. My characters usually shape what a chapter is going to look like and if I know them well enough I can make the plot happen where and how it needs to. Minor characters are a very spur of the moment thing, however. They start off as a role or an idea; this space in a chapter that needs to be filled. A lot of the time I don’t know what’ll come of it until I start writing them.
With Rebecca, I needed a waitress for the tavern, and because I decided Sebastian was going to try his hand at being charming (it didn’t work, let’s face it) with her, I decided she needed to be a teenager, so from that I decided her parents own the tavern and she doesn’t really want to work there, she’s tired of dealing with drunks, she thinks it’s bullshit that people come in and sit all night barely spending any money.
Rebecca is what you’d expect of a normal Blackpond teenager if they’re not orphaned and dragged into the army. She doesn’t take crap, she’s in this situation she doesn’t want to be in and she’s doing everything within her reach to be free of it. And if you’re gonna get in the way of that, she doesn’t have time for you. I realized within seconds of writing her dialogue that this kid isn’t going to be easily impressed by Sebastian’s silly humor. And that’s a problem, because I’d decided going into it that Sebastian’s stupid attempt at flirting would be the thing that starts a fight. And then she set her sights on Kyle and I had to accommodate that too. But honestly, worth it for the reactions:
So now Kyle has a crush and we’ll see how that affects things down the line, I guess. I will tell you guys this though: that bottle throw was legit and she was very impressed. Lol
Riyah was a different type of character to tackle for reasons I won’t disclose now, but she was by far my favorite of the bunch. The moment she greeted Gabrielle I knew I was in love. I think that might have been the best opening line I’ve ever written for a character to date.
My objective with bringing in the Crimson Shadows was to inject a little controlled chaos to the twins’ little celebration while also letting the readers know who and what the Crimson Shadows are. I’ve been alluding to them quite openly since chapter 1.01. Several characters at one point or another talk about going to the desert in the same way people in the real world talk about running away to join the circus. And, quite frankly, that’s exactly how the majority of Valcrest sees the Crimson Shadows. It’s not incorrect, but also there’s more to it. So much more. Riyah was a character with two purposes; give a little insight into the Crimson Shadows, and allude to Gabrielle’s past. Because we did have some of that with Jo as well in these chapters, and we might get it for Gerald eventually as well; little glimpses of who they were before, like Kyle pointed out in a previous chapter. Gabrielle had a whole life before the Wolf Hunters, she had friends who are close enough to call her a bitch without fear of dying. And then
the fire nation attacked the Wolfpack came along. The Crimson Shadows are also everything the Hunters aren’t. They look to the future, they want to learn from their tragedies and move on, a concept so alien to some of the people in this scene they found it fucking hilarious. And that’s why we likely won’t see them again in Shadows Rise, because they are at their core the antithesis of everything that’s been happening here. They have no part in it.
Alright, let’s move on to 3.08 now. Dani’s chapter. Let’s talk about Finnley:
Going into this chapter I knew I was going to have a Scout work with Dani as a backup in this assassination. This was her first time fulfilling a contract that involved the risk of acting in plain sight and Scouts are the equivalent of spies within the Wolfpack. They work on the field, they gather information on targets and sometimes on contractors, potential recruits, you name it. If the Alpha needs to know absolutely everything about a person, they’ll send Scouts after them.
The only stipulation I had going into this scene was this character was someone Dani knew in some capacity. I was having trouble grasping anything beyond that. In fact, I wrote Finn’s first line without having a damn clue who they even were yet. And by the time I wrote the word ‘Runt’ into that line, I had a fully formed character in my head. Down to the way they look, the lilt in their voice, the heterochromia, the toothy grin that unfortunately I couldn’t replicate using Artbreeder, Finn just was. And their dynamic with Dani was very interesting to me. Clearly Dani doesn’t see them as ‘that older kid who picked on me’, even though Finn seemed to harbor some regret about that and was surprised that she’d even care about their absence. Clearly Dani wasn’t thinking about it until seeing them again so they weren’t that close, but she did admit to missing them later.
I think I described it to someone as meeting an old school mate. It brings back memories of seeing someone everyday and the realization that suddenly they haven’t been a part of your life in quite some time. I’m curious if Finn will actually keep in touch moving forward or not. I guess we’ll find out, huh?
Honestly, the way I create characters can, and often will, affect my plans in surprising ways. It’s annoying sometimes, especially when I’m pressed for time as was the case this month, but it also keeps things interesting. So I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Speaking of interesting… Winter is officially over and a lot of things are about to go down this spring. I am hyped and you should be too.
See you all next time, peeps.