#373: Nervous Characters

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #373, on the subject of Nervous Characters.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first six novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, Garden of Versers, and Versers Versus Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I am posting the seventh, Re Verse All,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

This is the tenth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 55 through 60.  It was suggested that more shorter posts were a better choice than fewer longer ones, so there will be posts every six chapters, that is, every other week, for this book.  Previous entries were:

  1. #354:  Versers Reorienting, covering chapters 1 through 6;
  2. #355:  Versers Resettling, for chapters 7 through 12.
  3. #357:  Characters Connect, for chapters 13 through 18.
  4. #359:  Characters Engage, for chapters 19 through 24.
  5. #361:  Characters Explore, for chapters 25 through 30.
  6. #364:  Characters Learn, for chapters 31 through 36.
  7. #365:  Characters Travel, for chapters 37 through 42.
  8. #367:  Versers Encounter, for chapters 43 through 48.
  9. #370:  Characters Confront, for chapters 49 through 54.

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 55, Hastings 204

I knew this was going to be a sort of non-encounter situation, but still thought I could bring out some tension through Lauren’s reaction to spiders.  I think this is unlike me, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the larger members of the genus, and would have trouble with giant ones.  I’m not sure whether knowing they were intelligent would make me more comfortable or less.

The hood was a last minute realization, and specifically that it was known that they had one but there was no indication they had more than one.  I thought the mules might have trouble getting through, so I decided that the most skittish of them would have to be gentled.

Chapter 56, Takano 31

My knowledge of camping gear goes back to the mid-to-late sixties, but I remember that some things were thought new by scouts, who weren’t much older than I, so I attempted to extrapolate what would be available at a good camping store.

I actually paused to debate what to call Tommy’s equipment, with “equipment” and “gear” going through my head as words that Clark might use, but settling on “stuff” as much more like Tommy.

It’s been decades since I was camping, and I was trying to remember a lot of stuff from those times.  I hope I managed.  It occurs to me that I might have included water purification tablets, but I never carried them myself and don’t know whether iodine or chlorine was preferred back then.

Chapter 57, Beam 74

I almost removed the attack up the ramp, which had been part of my original notion before I included the grenade, but I wanted more action in this and wanted Bron to be useful.

Chapter 58, Hastings 205

I decided that it was time to end the quest and reach the drow lands; I had begun working on what would happen when they got there.  I also decided that Lauren’s fear of spiders would be useful in a confrontation with the traditional AD&D drow guards, the driders.

Chapter 59, Takano 32

I realized I had set up the beginning of school and couldn’t put it off much longer.  I checked Labor Day on a 1959 calendar to make sure my recollections of the holiday back then were correct, and modelled a lot of the commute on aspects of my own childhood elementary school experience, but extended the escorting several days because this was a girl and I was a boy, and I have the impression that parents were more protective of girls then (unless it was only that I had three younger siblings so my mother thought it safer to let me walk alone than to leave them alone at the house).

I wanted to create stuff for Tommy to do that would justify her being paid to care for Tammy beyond merely that someone had to be there.

The elementary school is very much designed like my own.  We had two or maybe three kindergarten classes in different partitioned sections of a “gymnatorium” with a cafeteria kitchen at the opposite end from the stage.  The band practiced on the stage during the period that the kindergarten was changing from morning to afternoon session, but I made that the school lunch period as I didn’t have to worry about the band.  My own walk to school left the road to follow a wide paved path down a long probably two-block hill to a bridge over a brook, up three steps, and onto the paved playground at the rear of the school, but there was a path to the side which was as described in the story which I only took a few times when I was going to my cousins’ house after school.

The bus thing was how it was when my kids were in school, but I’m not sure how much of that was because the school system had reorganized so that each school building held all the classes for two consecutive years and the busses all did a circuit of picking up all the students in an area then delivering them to each of the schools.

Chapter 60, Beam 75

I spent some time thinking about this chapter, and then when I wrote it I omitted a number of details–mostly where the other members of the group were standing during the talks.  I decided not to bother with them, as they wouldn’t really add anything.

I wanted Beam to feed the entire tribe, separately from the delegation, and I thought a bit about how much he had to order for roughly a hundred people.  It’s not a lot, but it’s enough for everyone to have some.

I ended the chapter mostly because I wasn’t sure how it turned next.  I had spent twelve days in the hospital and in that time had thought only a little about where the story was going, but coming out I wrote the previous Takano chapter and then this one, and I had a fairly solid idea about the next Hastings chapter but opted to go to bed and sleep on it overnight.

This has been the tenth behind the writings look at Re Verse All.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

3 thoughts on “#373: Nervous Characters”

  1. The camping and kindergarten descriptions stirred memories of my youth.

    We camped as an extended family in the early to late 60s. The tents were heavy, green, canvas but with floors. We didn’t spare luxury though and had a screened dining tent (no floor in that one though) and a small almost teepee looking tent (again no floor) for our camp john.

    Later, in the Boy Scouts we still had the green canvas tents, no floors, needed the ground sheet as described. But it was also the era of nylon becoming the fabric of choice for tents and packs as well as pack frames being integral to the pack rather than an add on. I had to wonder if Tommy wasn’t saddling herself with a lot of heavy gear that she was going to have trouble hauling about in her next world. Of course, she could just set up camp wherever it was that she ended up.

    While most of the kindergarten details weren’t my experience, the walk home, and the half day were though. Looking back, it’s amazing how times have changed. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that allowing a couple of 5-7 year olds to walk a mile or more, much of it along busy streets, without adult supervision is a good idea. But it was very common. These days you’d be lucky to not be arrested for child endangerment. And like Mark noted, while things must have happened, we were warned not to accept rides from strangers, it wasn’t something that seemed to be all consuming for parents as it is these days.

    Great memories. Thanks, Mark.

    1. Thanks, Eric; glad you’re enjoying them. The Takano stories were something of a risk, because they’re very nostalgic and I wonder whether the audience to whom they would appeal is too narrow; but then, people who remember that time I think enjoy it. There are a lot of little bits and pieces, too, that I think will surprise people not old enough to remember–the fact that cars didn’t have seat belts and parents didn’t think twice about kids playing on the back seat. Here in New Jersey car seat rules have become so rigid I don’t think you can sit in a regular seat belt until you’re in kindergarten. I can remember being thrown into the back of the seat in front of me when my mother once hit a pole, and I can remember the ambulance taking my mother and sister to the hospital and leaving my brother and me on the curb to walk the three blocks home–and I think we must have been around six and four.

      More to come.

      1. On the design of our kindergarten, in retrospect I expect it was partly an effect of being baby-boom. I think I hit kindergarten in the fall of 1960, and I suspect our kindergarten classes were in that cafegymnatorium room because we had been crowded out of the traditional classrooms by the upper grades. At least twice, maybe thrice, in my K-6 elementary school career we had a few marking periods in double sessions, where we had to be there extra early and were home for a late lunch because there was another group of students coming in in the early afternoon and staying until suppertime, so I know the school system was straining under the weight of so many children. Still, it seemed normal to me, and we often had playtime during which all the kids had the run of the entire space which included at least a slide as indoor playground equipment. (There was nothing comparable outdoors, despite there being a large paved playground and a dirt/grass field.)

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