Friday, October 28, 2011

MASKS Commentary Track: Chapter 15

All right, I confess. In my head, this is labeled “werewolf hugging chapter.”

Not that hugging a werewolf is the whole reason I wrote it this way. I knew when I outlined the book that Rae was going to have to go from kicking Moon’s ass to being his friend in a fairly short stretch of time, if only so she didn’t come across as the sort of bully she’d spent her life fighting against. As I was writing the fight scene, my thought process went something like: Yeah, she’s winning! My character’s a total badass! … Oh, cool, I’ve always wondered  whether silver worked on Moon, and now I know … hey, isn’t this kind of like what that big mean kid did to Rae when she was little? … oh, great, my character’s a hypocrite … I hate my life.

Writers’ egos are fragile things. Hence the hugging.

Seriously, though, I really like the fact that Rae solves her problems this way. She’s one of the least touchy-feely girls I’ve ever written, but weirdly, her think-like-anybody talent lends itself well to empathy, and here she’s learning to use that in a fight. Combat empathy. It’s weird, but it works. And it’s priceless just for Trevor’s reaction. I guarantee you that nobody has ever solved a problem for him by hugging a werewolf before. He’s so far out of his comfort zone, he can see the curvature of the earth.

And oh, yeah, then we go back to the PLOT!

I was pleased to hear from a couple of commenters that they didn’t see Moon’s kidnapping coming. It’s always nice when that happens. I never know which surprises are going to work and which aren’t, but it looks like this one did. And then, of course, the Masked Rider appears, as he always does in this kind of situation. And then there’s running and hiding.

Originally, a couple of drafts ago, this scene had Rae and Trevor hiding from Cobalt, and Trevor grabbing Rae’s hand to keep her from hyperventilating. I like this version just a little better, not least because it provides a much more immediate threat. Hiding from a kidnapper is one thing; hiding from the angel of death is a lot more primal.

And then there’s the mystery of Trevor’s burned hands. Did you guys like that one? We’ll come back to it, never fear. It’s all tied in to those nightmares in Chapter 2, and there’s a very specific reason he freaks out when Rae asks him about it.

You might have noticed Trevor’s injuries becoming a motif in this story—the scars on his back, for example. That’s definitely intentional. Partly it’s a result of gender dynamics; I needed to have one character show the physical cost of being a mask, and it made sense to have that character be the one who’s been at it longer. Add to that Trevor’s tendency to lead with his face (literally—that’s why his nose has been broken) and he racks up quite a collection of injuries, which reflect his emotional scars in a lot of ways that make this writer happy. There’s also the fact that a boy with scars, in American culture, might be a hero; a girl with scars is a bit more likely to be perceived as a victim.  That’s not to say Rae won’t pick up a few scars of her own, but we will probably see more of the stories attached to them.

This week’s song is a bit of a stretch, but it really is the song I had in mind while I wrote the tunnel scene. It’s a commissioned song Tom Smith wrote and included on his album Sins of Commission 2. And that’s literally all I know about it. It seems to cover the history of a relationship—which apparently turned out well—but I heard something a little different in it.

The first time Nicole drew Rae and Trevor holding hands, I scribbled a line from this song in the space between them: “I hold your hand / It feels like home …”


1 comment:

  1. You do realize, that if Rae actually develops combat empathy to a degree where she can really slip into other people's heads, she'll be anticipating their moves .... we should just call her Prometheus and be done with it. :)