Mean and Parlay are still battling inside the floating cage, with the portal between worlds raging above them. Mean uses her gravity power to tilt the cage upside-down, escaping from Parlay’s grasp. The cage corrects itself. Seeing that vein alone won’t be enough to stop Mean, Parlay takes out another plant from his collection: the dream lily.
This plant covers the floor and emits toxic gas; Mean is disoriented and takes several hits from Parlay and his vein that is now fashioned into a scythe.
Mean rotates the cage around twice more, battering Parlay and killing the lily. She uses the last of her energy to drag Parlay across the floor before she crashes into the wall, unable to stop her own momentum.
Parlay gets up and realizes that his tooth just fell out: he no longer has the power to release the Slate virus from its dormant state. He moves in to kill Mean. He hesitates when he sees that she only has one heart, unlike the four smaller ones that all Jesians have.
But there is no time to ponder this: Three strange men appear in the cage. They are from Parlay’s past life, and the cage transforms into an arena surrounded by spectators. All of them panic and are vaporized out of their clothes, including the three men that were taunting Parlay.
Mean looks up to see that the hall has been encircled by a chain-like wreath. It was all a vision. Hellzoo has returned.
I was talking to Kim about story spoilers the other day. Spoilers in general, I mean. She loves them; I hate them. She will look up spoilers for any show that she watches without a second thought. And I never look them up.
So I was thinking: why is that? Does she value the end result of the story SO strongly that she will SKIP the story itself? Does she not care as much about the journey?
On the flip side, what does that say about me? I love the journey, but do I really care that much about what the end result is?
I believe these personality traits relate to how Kim and I write our own stories. Kim tells me that writing groups use the name ‘pantser’ for writers that fly by the seat of their pants, like me. They use the name ‘plotter’ for people that plan every detail, like Kim.
I stay out of groups, so I never heard of these names until Kim told me. But I’m having fun trying to figure out what makes the two styles work. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
They know every event that will occur in their story before they even start writing. They will have an outline. They will have bios written up for every character. This prep time allows them to get work done fast. (Once they finally decide to start the manuscript, that is.) However, they seem prone to ‘writer’s block’ if they are not able to complete their plan.
Another con that plotters seem to have is a resistance to change. If something isn’t working they will not want to erase or add an entire chapter since it wasn’t part of the blueprint.
I’ll speak for myself, here. I use no outline. I will have a finale thought out ahead of time. I will have a starting event. But for the most part I only have a vague idea of how the characters will make it from Point A to Point Z. Some middle events will be in my head, but they may or may not occur once I get to writing. I let the characters act like how I think they should act, and see what happens. If I don’t like what happens, well, sometimes I have to step in. That is, erase a chapter or two.
The advantage to this is more flexibility. And I won’t get frustrated or stalled if a goal isn’t being met. However, this method is slower than the plotter’s. And a lack of focus can lead to overlong chapters and spectacular battles going on for a few pages too long.
But I’m learning that readers can fall into these categories too. Plotters favor the end result, while pantsers favor the journey. I have a feeling that these ideas will somehow relate to Kim’s remarks in the chapter, so read on.
Or if you’re a ‘plotter’ you can skip to the final paragraph so you can see my conclusion. -_-
Mean is stuck inside a vein web against the side of the floating cage, and Parlay is paralyzing her with his grip.
- Mean’s brown eyes flew open; she glared at the ground and it shook at her gaze: rocking Parlay off his feet and sending him tumbling back.
- Kim – Feels like something was missed from the end of the last chapter. Like last chapter she was squeezing her eyes shut for some reason, and now she opens them and has more power/motivation? How?
Oh, did I forget to include a flashback where Mean envisions all her friends’ faces laughing in a thirty-second long sequence before she explodes with new power? Well, I’m changing this part anyway so don’t worry about it. See the next comment for details!
Mean makes the entire cage twirl upside down.
- A breeze rustled at her back as she whirled with the enclosure, then came more loud cracks as the vein holding her splintered.
- Kim – So is she making the cage spin here?
Yes. But your comment and later ones convinced me to change the cage spins. As of now, Mean tips the cage upside down once. Then she makes the entire cage spin completely around over and over again. And she repeats the move one more time near the end of the chapter. And that is too much, too fast.
So I think I’ll change this so that Mean only tips the cage at an angle the first time, to get Parlay off her. Then next time she’ll take it upside down, no spinning. THEN for the final move she’ll send it into the continuous spin.
That way I can also give the impression that Mean is fighting the cage for control, since it is always attempting to correct any destabilizing motions. Once she learns how it fights her, she can push back harder in her following attempts.
Now Mean is looking down through the bars of the cage as she tips it upside-down. Vein shards fall out of the cage.
- With the yellow plain spread out below, the shards flashed in the sun and vanished from sight.
- Kim – Still confused how they aren’t in shadow from the “hall” above them, but I guess they’re off to the side and the “hall” isn’t above them after all?
The hall to the other world is directly above them, and the sun is low in the sky. I clarified the position of the sun in my edits, so that you know it’s able to shine on them. Also, it’s daytime on the Jesice side of the portal, so there’s light coming from there too. Just not as much, since it WOULD be blocked a bit by the side of the hall over there.
Thomas Hugo, the guy that made my book cover, said he made a crude 3-D model of Hardpan before he painted it. It was so he could see where the shadows fell on the buildings. I was confused at the time, but now I see why you’d need to simulate light sources for these bizarre situations I come up with, ha,ha.
Mean slams Parlay’s face into the bars.
- “I’m not going to forget Dark!” she cried, taking two fistfuls of his blond hair and driving his face into the steel.
- Kim – This response should be like…a long time ago when he first threatens to make her forget everything. Otherwise, took me a sec to figure out why she was saying that. Thought she was reminding herself to go get Dark before flying away instead of leaving him on Hardpan with Dring.
You’re right! Parlay’s threat about wiping Mean’s memory was in the previous chapter! Whoops.
Otherwise it sounds like: “Dear Mean: Don’t forget to pick up Dark before the city crashes! – Love, Mean.”
The cage rights itself and Parlay has to hold on so he doesn’t get bounced around.
- Parlay clung to the bars as the cage rocked itself level once more.
- Kim – Wait, he can’t fly too?
Huh? Why would you think that? Are you assuming that Parlay knows how to use all the magic arts that Mean and Trisk learned? I thought I made it clear, earlier in the book, that Parlay hated Tenny’s arts.
Even if Parlay DID know how to fly he’d have to switch out of static mode. Then he’d lose all his magical power like Trisk does. He’d fly for five seconds then splat all over the ground.
I can put in a line to address this, though. It would be easy to have Vornis tell everyone during the car ride when they’re talking about Parlay’s ethics.
Parlay releases another plant from his second amulet.
- And like this the plant grew: Foliage radiating out in layers as the ground thumped with a beat that grew louder as the leaves multiplied.
- Kim – Re-word? Almost sounds biblical or something. Maybe just omit.
AND LO: FOLIAGE DOTH RADIATED OUT IN LAYERS, THUMPING WITH A MOST RIGHTEOUS BEAT.
Yeah, probably not the best time for this kind of verse. But the Bible tells it like it is, just like good ol’ Brad. 😉
Mean hovers, then lands on the large, flat plant leaves.
- She bounced a bit when she landed, her shoes squelching against the spongy, fat leaves.
- Kim – Of course they did. Maybe instead of saying her shoes did that, maybe: “She landed with a squelch on the fat, spongy leaves”? Just leave the shoes out of it? And she really needs new shoes.
Ha,ha. And Kim tells it like it is too. She’s so annoyed with the shoe noises. But I know that if I didn’t specify WHICH body part Mean landed with Kim would be like “Landed how? A handstand? On her butt? Be more descriptive!” 😉
Parlay creates a scythe from the vein.
- He wound up his arm and swung the scythe wide––
- Kim – He has to wind up his arms to use them? Is this like that guy from Mission: Impossible with the recharging arms?
Someone winds their arms in a live-action film!? I only know about Phinks from Hunter x Hunter. His Ripper Cyclotron punch gets stronger the more he winds his arm.
‘Wound up’ isn’t good here, though, you’re right. ‘Readied’ maybe.
Mean tests the plant, then touches down on it to attack Parlay.
- Mean landed on the green floor behind him, rebounding, and driving her elbow into his back.
- Kim – Re-word? Also, really confused why Parlay even released this green stuff. Did he just feel like redecorating in the middle of the battle? Couldn’t stand looking at the polished wood floor anymore and wanted a jungle theme for their cage match now?
I told Kim what the plant was in a phone message, but I’ll repeat it here. The plant is a dream lily: when its leaves are damaged, they magically change the surrounding air into an unbreathable gas. I was hoping the reader could figure out what the plant did without any explanation from Parlay, but it does seem a bit too complex. If only this were an anime. Then the fight could just pause, and subtitles would tell you what the magical ability was.
That picture is Sensui from Yu Yu Hakusho. He doesn’t fight using plants. A different character on that show, Kurama, DOES fight with plants though. I’ll try to get a picture of him for the next post.
The dream lily is damaged so much that it dies! I think?
- The plant appeared to be dead; the leaves were brittle and pale.
- Kim – Could omit. Anytime someone says “appeared to be”, it makes it sound like the character is being tricked and alerts the reader. Maybe just condense: The leaves were brittle and pale? Or a deathly pale? Or something like that?
It’s so helpful when Kim explains the reasoning behind her edit in the note. I’ve done enough explaining in this post already. 😛
Mean spins the cage around and knocks Parlay all over the place. He’s ends up on the ground, and he isn’t moving any more.
- “Now,” Mean wheezed, “just stay down––please, please, just stay down.”
- Kim – Wait, that’s her goal? So she isn’t trying to get the remote to stop Harpan or anything like that? What’s her plan here?
HERE’S where I start to see Kim’s ‘plotter’ personality come out.
Yes, Mean was planning on beating up Parlay so that he couldn’t set off the virus. Mean just has to wear down his magic so that he’s vulnerable. But Mean didn’t think this through any more than that. This is a personality trait that I gave her because it is one that I have as well.
I can still have Mean say something like ‘If I hit you enough you can’t use the magic you need to set off the virus.’ Something like that to appease you ‘plotters.’ 😉
Mean looks through the bars and sees Hardpan City closing in below the cage.
- “Oh geez. You guys didn’t stop it,” she said,
- Kim – Seems like this would be something she’d be keeping track of throughout the fight. And Parlay too. It would help keep the reader updated on what’s going on with Hardpan and Jesice. Otherwise, the reader loses track, and there’s no suspense on the stakes of the fight.
See, I hate this kind of thing. I would be bothered if the fight was continually interrupted by Hardpan updates. “Oh, it’s still getting closer!” “Five more minutes!”
Pantsers don’t care; they want to see the fight. And they didn’t forget about the city. It will either crash or it won’t. “Whatever happens, happens.”
But the ‘plotter’ personality DOES care. So how can I cater to them? Put in a vocal countdown? ‘T-MINUS 7 MINUTES UNTIL MAGICAL SATURATION.’ Something like that? I guess Parlay WOULD need to know when it’s the right time to set off the virus.
With Mean at the limit of her stamina, Parlay starts to get up from the floor.
- “Oh come on!” she whined, jerking back and sliding free. Parlay was lifting himself on all fours with wobbling limbs. Mean lurched at him with a wavering cry, her arms swinging low and her legs flashing forward in dizzy strides.
- Kim – There’s like no sense of danger here. Only annoyance. So the stakes don’t seem that worrisome.
Hm, you could be right. What should Mean say? She’s using the last of her power to drag Parlay across the floor. What’s that line you like, Kim? The one the summoner guy uses in that other anime I can’t remember? “Here we go! One more time!” Something like that. Please remember and put it in the comments for me to steal.
Parlay’s magic has finally run out. His tooth fell out too. But the city is still falling and now the virus can’t be released to save the people of Jesice.
- “This is all your fault,” he spat. “You, and your moronic plan to pummel me senseless! How in the world did you think that would help!? Now it’s happening again––everyone is dying––it’s happening again!“
- Kim – That does seem like a really bad plan. What was her goal here? Was she just trying to distract him? Get the remote from him? Stop him from reaching the “hall”? I have no idea what she was trying to do.
I get it now! If Mean is pantser, then Parlay is a plotter! He’s like you, Kim! That’s why you agree with his dialog so often!
And that’s why my villains all have clear goals: because I equate ‘goals’ with ‘evil!’ Well, maybe that’s too harsh. Goals aren’t worth losing sleep over, I could say.
I’m figuring out so many philosophical truths tonight!
Mean has no strength left. She slumps against the wall and Parlay grabs her.
- Mean’s arms fell limp and her feet scuffed over the floor.
- Kim – Is she just giving up or is this because of his creepy fingers? And why isn’t she having any good dialogue this chapter? Here would be a great place for some witty banter.
She didn’t give up; Parlay is paralyzing her. Just like he did to Trisk and Darrow earlier. And I did add some more banter to the previous chapter. But if you have any great ideas, feel free to USE THE COMMENTS.
Kim also has a bunch of notes that compare Parlay to a pirate. Now that his tooth is knocked out maybe Mean can make the comparison. Jesice is surrounded by islands so of course it would have had pirates throughout its history. It would be funny if Parlay wouldn’t know what pirates were, yet he somehow looks like one.
Suddenly, King, deceased creator of the hex doors, appears on the platform.
- He wore compact, velvet attire that displayed his short, hairy legs and arms.
- Kim – Not sure how compact attire looks?
Oh, that’s a placeholder description for King’s clothes. He’s supposed to be wearing regal robes with those puffy bicep sleeves. Even puffier than Parlay’s. O_O
A second mystery person appears.
- “I tried to warn them,” the new person lamented, brushing at a bevy of medals that hung on his proud uniform.
- Kim – So no one knows who this person is?
Parlay does, he just doesn’t helpfully shout out his name as Kim mentioned in a different note. 😉
Kim also mentioned that it isn’t fun to have an illusory man appear that hadn’t even been mentioned before. And there’s one more mystery man after this! So I think I’ll take this second guy out and replace him with an illusory Tenny. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before; Tenny is mentioned many times in the book AND he has a connection to Parlay. Duh, Brad.
Parlay sees a vision of the end of his world.
- The crowd recoiled and began to scream. They leapt up, pushing past each other; leaping over seats.
- Kim – No idea what’s going on. Guess it’s supposed to be scary, but since it’s so confusing, takes away any impact.
It’s the day everyone on the planet died. I guess Parlay could mention it, since you didn’t seem to have fun figuring it out.
“This is the day everyone died! OH NOOOOOOOOOOO!”
Yeah. Way scarier that way.
Pantsers don’t always need to be reminded what the point of a story is. Or rather, they love the journey so much that goals just seem like a formality. I mean, I still read One Piece. And as of March 11th, 2020, Luffy still has not completed his goal. Twenty years of shouting ‘I’m going to be King of the Pirates!” If I cared about the goal I would have stopped reading eons ago.
However, some people LIKE plans. They get uncomfortable if there isn’t a clear goal. They need to be re-assured that the story is going somewhere. They need those shouts and hints that yes, someday there WILL be a Pirate King. Otherwise, they’ll feel as though they’re wasting their time reading.
So I need to please both types of readers. Kim helps with that, since she is such a good plotter. Thanks, Kim! Let’s bridge the gap between personality types! See you next time!
I think I need to re-read these final chapters in their entirety. I can’t quite remember everything that was going on and all these snippets do seem a bit confusing.
I didn’t even include mini summaries and snippets when I started doing this! What horror! 😱