Cynthia (csakuras) wrote,

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Thoughts on SoPHD Chapter 11

Now that I've finally finished Chapter 11, I'm looking back on it now and just find it hard to believe that for the two years or so I've been working on this fic, almost one year of it was spent on this chapter. x__x (Chapter? Hah. More like story arc.) And I've been agonizing over it for so long now that I just need to get my thoughts down about it...

As I've mentioned before, I tried to accomplish a lot in this chapter. Maybe too much. So I'll try to address each while explaining how the idea for the chapter formed:

1- This chapter actually didn't exist in my initial outline of the story. Originally, once Simon and co. escaped the ship, I had them just hang around on the hull for a while until the events of Chapter 12. But then I realized how anti-climatic it would be to make them go through all that trouble escaping if they didn't actually go anywhere.

Of course, the next question was: Where would they go? Then I remembered this post. It was just a silly crack idea that I would probably never have written otherwise. But as I thought over it, I realized that if I played it seriously, I could do some interesting things with the characters and explore some new territory. And that's how it started.

2- So, I began the story with four chapters each focusing mainly on one character. Those characters were Nia, Simon, Yoko, and Kamina. However, later I became a little dissatisfied by the fact that I'd left out Boota, because he's the fourth viewpoint character, not Kamina. I felt like I wasn't being fair to him. But as much as I tried, I couldn't think of how I could insert a Boota-focused chapter into the story.

Once I had this idea though, I finally had room to give Boota some development. Of course, it ended up not focusing entirely on him, but I'm glad I was still able to flesh him out a little more. (Though I should probably note that all the backstory for him comes only from my headcanon and should not be taken as fact beyond this fanfic.)

3- As I said, this chapter didn't exist originally, so Simon's development was much less gradual in my first outline. Looking back on it now, I don't know how I could have imagined not having a chapter like this, it's become such a crucial step in his development. Simon's got a lot of deeply-rooted issues, so of course it would take time and work to get though them. It wouldn't feel natural at all unless I actually address those issues up front, and show him overcoming them, at least a little bit. So again, I'm grateful for this chapter, since it gave me room to do that.

Basically, this chapter is meant to be the equivalent of Episode 11 in the TV series. And yet, I couldn't make him seem too heroic. This Simon will never be exactly like the Simon from canon; he's too scarred from his experiences. So his moments of triumph are still tinged with darkness. Also, I sort of wanted it to be a statement to those people who would rather have had GARlock than what we got in the actual show-- BAD END Simon might be very cool, but he's also pretty pathetic, and there's no way Simon himself actually wants that. Despite everything, he's not a sociopath.

4- This chapter also has some important character development for Nia. It mostly stemmed from the fact that, at the time, I was planning Chapter 12 to be mostly Nia-centric, so I wanted to use this chapter to build up to that (I'll go more into this once I'm done with Chapter 12). I refrained from going into her POV for Part 2 so I could focus on her in Part 3, and since Part 3 depends so much on Nia being Nia, I had to really increase her, that's where she really starts to become more like her canon self. She can be pretty hard to write though. Sometimes I question how I've characterized her, and I'm still not sure I've completely captured the quirks in her personality. Of course, she starts out as the Anti-Spiral Messenger here, and for most of the story she's in transition between her two selves, so I guess that couldn't really be helped. Still, I'm trying to make her act more like her original self as she develops.

5- And lastly, this chapter was my chance to include all the fluffy, silly ideas that I'd thought up but couldn't fit anywhere else in the story. A dumping ground for ideas, if you will. That's where scenes like Simon convincing Nia to sleep or Kopoko thinking he seduced her came from. XD

And as I continued planning, things just continued getting more complicated:

-For one, the Kumpus. I was pretty nervous about introducing so many original characters and how people would react to them. Though personally, I only see them as plot devices. I tried not to go too in depth with the characters beyond what would move the story forward, so the world-building is kinda half-assed compared to how much work I'd put into it if I were writing an entirely original story. And I meant them to be annoying, so believe me, I'm glad to see them gone too. XD

Oh, and Kopoko's grammar fail was intentional. I wanted him to sound overly formal, but obviously not a native speaker, but not to the point that it gets distracting or keeps the reader from understanding what he's saying. Though, I got pretty lazy with that as I went on, so if it sounds like his grammar is inconsistent or improving at times, that's why. ^^;

-Then I decided I wanted to develop Nia & Boota's relationship too. Up to now their thoughts towards each other have been pretty much "I'll tolerate you because Simon adores you and you only have good intentions for him." Chapter 9 & 10 established trust between them, and in Chapter 11 my goal was for them to develop an actual friendship. The friendship may grow out of their mutual feelings for Simon, but in the end I wanted there to be a real sense of camaraderie between them. (There'll be more of that in the next chapter.)

And for the record, I didn't intend for there to be anything romantic between them. I didn't want to dwell on the love triangle thing too much because that would just be stupid and annoying, but I needed that device to get the conversation about Yoko started. The way I see it is that from what they overheard in Part 2, the Kumpus guessed that it might work as a source of conflict, and just got lucky that it ended up mirroring something from Simon's past. And since Boota wasn't actually present when Simon saw Yoko & Kamina kiss, and I don't think Simon ever really talked about it, he just assumed that must be what made Simon upset.

As for Simon, the shock was more tied up in his old trauma and general insecurity than actual jealousy. Once he saw Nia & Boota scrambling to deny anything was happening, he was willing to believe them. In short, the Kumpus really underestimated the amount of trust he has in them.

Anyway. When I actually started writing the chapter, my worst fear was that it would become the equivalent of the Island Arc from Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, so I didn't want to linger here for too long.....but of course, that's still what I ended up doing. ;__; So I still have mixed feelings about how I pulled it off.

I mean, when it comes to all the ideas that I wanted to use, I think I was able to incorporate them in a way that will work for future chapters, and I maintain that it was a necessary step to take. But I've seen opinions that people thought the fic was getting too angsty in this chapter, and honestly, I can't blame them. All the sitting around angsting wasn't very fun to write, so I'm sure it must not have been very fun to read either.

Though, apparently some people also thought the direction I was going with Simon's character was interesting, and I have mixed feelings about that too, because I never intended to go all the way in that direction. The purpose of making him fall to his lowest low was so he could then rise up out of it, as is the pattern in Gurren Lagann. So I wonder if I might be disappointing those people who might have expected the story to take a darker turn instead...

...Ugh, this is getting ridiculously long. So in conclusion, if I were to split the whole story into three parts, Part 1 would be Chapters 1-7, and Part 2 would be Chapters 8-11. Part 1 mostly focuses on Nia and how Simon helps her with her issues, while Part 2 mostly focuses on Simon and how Nia helps him with his. And in Part 3, the focus of the story shifts to how they take on the rest of the world. That will start with the next chapter, which is turning out pretty great so far if I do say so myself. :) So yeah, I'll try to get that out as soon as possible.

Tags: fanfiction, writing

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