The following commentary is meant to give you a look at what I was thinking when I wrote The Loyalty of Pawns and why I made decisions I made. I strongly recommend reading the book first.
You can find a sample of the first five chapters here on the blog or get them free on Kindle.
You can click over to the Commentary Index here.
Make of it what you will—I think the second chapter is the most important one in the first quarter of the book. The entire reason for Blake and Katharine to be involved in the unfolding action hinges entirely on what the reader makes of this first encounter between Blake and Aaron. It’s probably even more important in this final iteration of the story since this will be the first time Blake meets Aaron.
As for Aaron…
Aaron was by far the hardest character for me to write. That might be counter intuitive because Aaron’s motives may be the most understandable—he has no real goal beyond his own self-interest. But when we’re seeing Aaron through the eyes of the other characters, their perceptions are unreliable because of how Aaron presents himself. I thought it was critical to establish the calculation that goes on in Aaron’s mind very early, and we’ll see a lot of that in this chapter.
Yes, that is telling and not showing. I’ll set aside my personal opinion on that accurate but also clichéd piece of advice. We’re in Aaron’s head. Aaron’s head is not subtle. This statement may be one of the few core constants we get of Aaron throughout the whole book. Why sugarcoat it?
And here’s the connective tissue to a part of the story the reader knows nothing about yet. At one point I had it in my head to preserve this relationship as a secret (not unlike another key relationship we’ll come upon in the next chapter), but there is so much going on in this story—especially in the beginning when there’s no clear picture of how some of the storylines connect—that preserving a secret for a revelation that is unimportant beyond shock value felt a little overkill to me. Besides—we’re basically in Aaron’s head here. He wouldn’t exactly be keeping his secrets from himself. I don’t know about you, but when I think about a secret I have, it sounds much less convoluted in my head than when I dance around it while talking to someone else.
This is the first huge change I made to the story when I sat down to write it. I honestly can’t tell you if I conceived of a prior relationship between Katharine and Aaron before I started writing or if it showed up as I approached this chapter. While Katharine’s entry into the fray will proceed much as I’d originally planned, this relationship gave her the potential to contribute. In fact—she had the potential to contribute more than Blake. Exactly what that turned into I can’t explain yet—and I wasn’t sure where that past relationship was going to lead when I established it. But the link between Katharine and Aaron fundamentally changed the book that I wrote.
The first good example of just what Aaron is all about when it comes to other people. It’s all planned. It’s all thought out. His responses to people are as on-demand as movies.
It’s all about control with Aaron. His own self-control. His control over others…
The conspicuous introduction of one of my bits of future slang. If you were paying attention at the very beginning, you’ve hopefully connected the reference. Most of the rest of my invented shorthand works or it doesn’t, but since I refer to Aaron as “the searcher” going forward, I wanted to come as close to bludgeoning you over the head with the term as I could.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that I’m not talking about this right now. Not at all. In fact I’d be fine if it would go away.
It’s a short chapter. Very little seems to happen. I’d argue that less happens here than in the first chapter where Blake makes a big decision to alter his life as he sees it. But we did meet Aaron. And I think we figured out what kind of person Aaron is.