Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Defining character interaction [Jonas & Mai]

In the words of Sherlock Holmes, "there's nothing more elusive than an obvious fact."

As I mentioned in my previous post, it became glaringly obvious that I never quite defined the relationship between two of my characters, Mai & Jonas.

Him being the subject of all her rumors, most of which have no real truth to them. In a number of years, she still hadn't gotten close. Also the fact that she knows something about everyone in the school, being the gossip queen and all that, but she knows nothing about him. He defies convenient and anything normal.

Then on the other hand: Her being the only person that really pays attention to his actions.

The truth is that except for maybe initially, the entire student body really didn't care about what Mai says about him. The first time he was a subject of disparity in the school paper was the only time. Their amusement over that lasted only a day. I only addressed this in the sequel and wrote a little narrative that Jonas gives Ceceila about his life before Nina turned everything around.

“Yeah,” he shrugged, “middle school was a bit different. It was bigger with new faces, but I didn’t speak to anyone. I was afraid for anyone to find out about my psychic tendencies. I didn’t see Mai until later in my year of 8th grade. I don’t know what happened between then and the hug we shared at graduation, but she changed somehow. She got more confident as well as more popular. We’d exchange a few glances in the halls, so it was clear we were still kinda friends, although we never acknowledged our friendship publicly.
The last few months of that year were when things settled into the world I knew in freshman year of high school. Everyone seemed to be whispering about me and I didn’t know why. I went through those months dazed and confused, as my lightning attacks were becoming a monthly ordeal. Mai had been noticing my monthly absences as well. Towards the end of the school year, the last edition of the school newspaper was out and everyone was reading it. As I walked through the halls, everyone was reading the paper and sneaking looks at me. I didn’t know why, so I picked up an issue. She wrote a column all about me, or at least what she thought about me. She actually had the nerve to write that she thought that I ‘wasn’t human’ since I didn’t socialize with other people and she made up some story behind why I disappeared at sometime during the month. I didn’t get to confront her about it until the first day of freshman year in high school.”
“When did you meet Nina?”
“I met her the day after that. When Mai saw me, I just glared at her; clearly she got the message. Things took off for me when I met Nina and that ends that part of my life’s story.”
“My gosh, I can’t believe Mai would do something like that. How’d you two become friends in the first place?”
“Mostly because Nina and Mai became friends. She stood up for me, which made Mai apologize. Things happened that year that would change who was I as a person, but that’s a story for another day.” He smiled at her, but she just stared at him.
He clarified, “Cecelia, Mai and I hit our rough patches, but she really means well. After Nina got to her, she’s changed her ways and now, we’re pretty close. I mean, we’d have to be for her to be in my inner circle.”

It was all very vague, not really well defined.
I think in part because Mai always kinda knew something was off and different about Jonas, but not sure what. She has a vague recollection of the incident to set his isolation into motion, but she doesn't remember that he had that panic attack that resulted in a fit of telekinesis he couldn't control.

Only because they know her, the other three cheerleaders Nina befriends, Rachel, Bonnie and Marcie are among the few people that pay attention to Jonas. All of them romanticize the whole 'mysterious' persona he puts on and don't really care as much that he confounds their friend/leader.
A few characters I introduce later on are also somewhat aware of Jonas... Mai might have brought him up once or twice when she was going out with them. Corey and Eric, who along with 3 other guys, form a garage band called Fire-Proof. The backstory between the three of them goes that each of them had dated before, but afterwards, Mai decided she wasn't interested. She'd gone out with Corey in 8th grade and Eric at the 'start of the year' dance that year in 9th grade.

Well, actually, I backtracked just in case. It would seem that Mai went out with both guys at the beginning of the year. She took Corey to the dance and Eric might have asked her out either before or after, but was turned down.  A little side-story generates out of that.
Not only does Nina convince Mai to stop writing rumors about Jonas, but together, they convince her to give Eric & Corey another chance.

It's kind of strange: this feeling I got.
I've been all for making sure that Nina & Jonas have this wonderful love story behind them, but as I've come to find in the later drafts, I want to spend more time working on my other characters. My favorite couple is very well defined as a couple and as individuals... for the most part. I already discussed somewhat why Nina isn't entirely as defined as she could be. But in the most recent set of revisions, I wanted to make certain to note that she has somewhat of a life outside of Jonas and their relationship. Ala, Mai and her "boyfriend" problem... I wrote another chapter where Mai is unsure which guy to pick, during which Nina seems to be pushing her in Corey's direction.

She pegs him as a good judge of character and suggested that he and Jonas be friends because he could use a guy friend too. Opposed to Eric, who had tried to ask Nina out and came on too strong, seeing as Jonas was laid up at the time. She meets him the day after the latest incident where Jonas gets struck by lightning.

Then of course, I ended up pegging Eric as somewhat of a villian later on... I felt so guilty about having him be the bad guy that I gave him a 2nd life in the sequel... where he unwittingly falls for Jonas's twin sister. At the end of it, it's revealed that Eric was actually Jonas's friend Johnny... the one who was the receipent of the 2nd grade panic attack and transferred to get away from him.

And before anyone says anything, I came up with the names Corey & Eric by sheer coincidence. I didn't watch "Boy Meets World" until reruns, long after I had finished the story. In essence, the two guys are kind of like brothers until everything blows up in smoke. Mai having to pick one over the other.

I have those two well defined as well.
Right now, I really want nothing more than to work on the high school scenes and just leave the characterization of Jonas & Nina's relationship for another time.

I looked over the conversation briefly and I had a serious lapse in judgement. I was talking about cheerleading try-outs being in October. I've written that it's September... let's see... 17th, a Monday. I gotta fix something somewhere. I had written that Nina was invited to practice different moves with Mai & the others at the park, something she never got around to. Her first day bumping into Jonas and being in a coma for a couple hours... and the 2nd day when she goes back home and ends up meeting up with him at her place.

I'll have to length the conversation a little bit, but here, it becomes very clear that Jonas had had enough of the rumors about him. He's very cold and unfeeling about it.
I ought to have Nina taking note later of her having no idea how much he had been hurting over it. Then he can make a comeback like "I was putting on a brave face for you. I didn't want to turn you against your friend."

I gotta watch where I go with it, though, because I could very well turn it into being too much. Either with Nina coming off overprotective, Jonas being too composed about it. Gotta make sure I hit just the right groove. There's a delicate balance between maintaining truthfulness and overstating things.

I guess the disparity comes from me not wanting to define things too much where not much is left to the imagination.
But I'd also like people to read along the same lines that I do when it comes to this story.

Then again, if publishing it is what's at stake, I need to learn to let go just a little bit.

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