Behind the Writing: The Neon Heart (Part Two of Three)

Bog No. 353

Continuation from Part One

Warning. Spoilers ahead. Even more than in Part One, but it’s mostly about Character stuff, so it shouldn’t be too bad.

20190409_172020As for the main characters, Reggie is me, Teal is that little (tiny, insignificant) outgoing aspect of myself that I developed from observing other extroverted people that I know (not least of which is my brother, but his personality is very different from Teal). To me, Reggie is uninteresting. He’s my proxy so, I see him as an idealized version of myself, though I tried to make sure he was flawed. I got some flack for his name. I was listening to a lot of Reggie and the Full Effect (a favourite musician/band of mine) and the name stuck. I struggle with names. Reggie was a tough choice, but I think it works. The name Teal came very easily. In fact, everything with Teal came easily. She was really fun to write (especially after the minimal characterization of Zed) and she let me say all the inappropriate (in terms of timing if not content) things that bring me secret joy. (If you ever see me laughing at nothing, it’s that Teal-like part of my brain saying something stupid that I find hilarious). I knew she would be divisive. She is an exaggerated version of several twenty-something women that I’ve known, so I figured those same people (older now) would either relate to her and love her, or find her insufferable and hate her. It’s been about a fifty-fifty split on the feedback so far.

Victoria is a pretty standard character, as is her assistant. I tried to force all of the snobbery and callousness into the assistant so that I could give Veronica some heart. I wanted her and Reggie to have a past and show that even though she has to (and wants to) play the game, she cares. In fact, in my mind, the reason she forces Reggie to do the mission is because she knows anyone else would have little-to-no-chance to survive. The rest of the crew were designed to fulfill specific roles and character tropes. I tried to give them some individuality, but, especially with the soldiers, I knew I would have little time to focus on them. Most of their personality had to come from their actions (usually reactions) and their replies to Reggie. Novellas only have so much space. The person who suffered the most was Muller, but he was a simple character anyway. All the soldiers knew who they were and what they were doing, so I didn’t feel too badly glossing over them. I feel like Azikiwe and Hoa got a little bit of development, but I did Dollard somewhat of a disservice. I needed early conflict and a pain-in-the-ass in the group and he was the obvious choice. I hope I gave him a little bit of redemption towards the end, but I was really heavy handed with him fast and often.

20190408_135535Everyone else the group met, from the Red Gang, to the Clothing Heaps and their leader, and the bar staff and Consortium Operatives were made up as I wrote. I’m generally happy with all of them and, the Consortium in particular, may even find places in future novellas. Some of them may be obvious, but that’s how things have to be in a short book. Most of the story came very easily, and with the two distinct major characters, everything flowed nicely. That’s not to say I didn’t struggle. My first hurdle was when the group first meets with the Red Gang. I wanted a strong action scene that would show how dangerous the wall could be on the main level. I’m not sure the action is as good as I’d like, but it managed to keep the characters moving. The next big issue was with the Wall itself. I needed to show how big and complicated it was, but I didn’t want to go on and on about the alleys and turns, and dead ends, and the people, and so on. Finding the balance was hard, and if anything, looking back, I could have trimmed that part a bit. Same with when they were underground. It was supposed to get worse in every regard, but also get weirder. Keeping the plot moving while giving a sense of that with an overtone of dread was hard.

Continued in Part Three

4 thoughts on “Behind the Writing: The Neon Heart (Part Two of Three)

  1. Pingback: Behind the Writing: The Neon Heart (Part One of Three) – Ben Van Dongen

  2. I think the pacing was very tight. As someone who came into the series on this book, I thought the level of description was decently informative (in that I got the idea of it, but there was still lots of gaps left to the imagination) without taking away from the break-neck pace you manage throughout the story.

    1. Thanks! Finding a balance between description and pacing is a really personal thing. Some authors lavish in the details, slowing the plot to a crawl. It’s not my taste, but some people love that. I’m glad I found a balance that most people seemed to like.

  3. Pingback: Behind the Writing: The Neon Heart (Part Three of Three) – Ben Van Dongen

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