Friday, December 26, 2008

... on the importance of being fry

I just finished some additional work to chapters 7 & 8 (mostly 8) that crept up on me during the past day or so. Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean my mind stops COTing! There were a few places which I felt were still a little shabby and I didn't do as well on them as I could have because I wanted to get 8 done before things got seriously Christmasy. Most of it is little touches, such as Brother Ivan spreading incense over the work site, or tweaks to the conversation Jyre hears at The Blood's hideout, but there were two bigger changes that reflect new ideas for Chapter 9 and beyond.

As I mentioned before, I have been thinking about both making COT more 'accessable' (a dirty word sometimes) to non-Thief fans and un-gaming certain aspects of The Thief universe. One difficulty is that the story lacks a Fry. A Fry, as I have decided, is what you call the outsider that is put into the story mostly for the purpose of exposition. The Fry doesn't know what anything is or what is going on, so other characters have to explain things to them, or they have to observe and figure out things on their own that everyone else would take for granted. Sometimes it works well (like Fry in Futurama) and sometimes it's tedious and alienating (like making Neo not know what EMP is in The Matrix).

I did a little tinkering with it today, focusing on the fire arrows. First I found all cases where they are mentioned and renamed them to fire-arrows. Yep, a dash. A small distinction, but I think it's important to idenfity them as a thing and not as an adjective followed by a thing. Ghost is the only one in COT (so far) that uses or sees fire-arrows, and he's the farthest thing from a Fry (at this point in the story anyway ... later on he very much becomes one!) So the problem was, how do I have Ghost explain to the reader something that he would completely take for granted? I added this paragraph to the start of his first section, before he enters The Bonehoard.

I checked my gear one more time before going in. I always took more than I would need, not because I was afraid of running out, but because I wouldn’t use what I had if I was afraid of running out, and might do something stupid instead. I had a set of fire-arrows, which I had already carefully inspected to make sure that the explosive crystal tied to the end of each arrow-shaft wasn’t chipped or cracked, or had any other flaw that would cause it to blow up while in my quiver. I didn’t have many, not because they were rare or expensive – in fact I grew them myself in a few fire pits I tended in my basement – but because if I packed them in too tightly the sharp edges would rub against one another and sooner or later the whole set would become just one big fireball. On the other hand the bombs and mines were more predictable and more expensive, and tended to be used as more of a defensive last-resort. They were the most fun when combined with big flasks of oil, which I had, to really make sure that whatever was chasing me would regret it.

So I had him explain something he takes for granted by making him consider something he would not take for granted - them exploding. I think it works. What do you think? What else in the story needs a Fry to explain?

1 comment:

ehcmier said...

I like it, but I think it should be trimmed down. Again, the information could be cannibalized, but if he's talking to "himself", then he shouldn't dwell o'erlong on it, else it reads like a sidebar, unless he reminds us he's got time to kill thinking about it. But anyway, I like it when you show respect for the source material, and have fun extrapolating from it.
The bit about the crystals rubbing together brings two thoughts to mind: 1. This could be mentioned at some other time when he's moving slowly and carefully. 2. This should be a well-known issue in a world where fire crystals probably preceded mankind, and where society has been dealing with them near daily for so long, thus, I suggest inflammable padding or some material between the crystals, or slots in the bottom of the quiver--or play up the tension similar to someone handling old dynamite sticks that have been weeping/sweating nitroglycerin.
Fry, huh? Hmmm. Off the top o' my head: Jyre, of course, provides her lack of education, and creates most opportunity for things that need explaining, and she could already know things and get pridefully angry at the assumption she doesn't know something. Nightfall's foreigner status should provide an outsider's view for certain things. Any two or more people who have to rely on each other, yet have very different knowledge and skill bases provide an opportunity for one to explain something to the other. But you are already doing much of this. Steampunk and common City stuff could be mentioned more, but only if it's mentioned as any other piece of architecture, bathroom fixture, contrivance, etc. What do the common citizens do with these machines?
Will burricks and their devastating burrowing be explained much, or will they fall somewhere between "taffer" and "frumious bandersnatch"? :p