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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Loyalty of Pawns Commentary Blog: Chapter 3

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.

On to Chapter 3 and some more character introductions...

The oblique reference to Jameson Masters from the last chapter is followed up with his introduction here.

I think it’s fair to say that Jameson is a piece of work. He doesn’t get as elaborate an introduction as Aaron or Blake did; there isn’t nearly so much time focusing solely on him—not nearly as many details dropped about to give clues to his deeper personality. There’s not much here to make him terribly likeable, either. But then I’m not sure you need every character to be likeable. Understandable, yes. But not necessarily sympathetic. Whether that portrays him in the beginning as a villain, I don’t know. I could tell you what I think but that would ruin some of the fun. I will say that I don’t think nominal villains should be the only unlikeable character in a story.

And so…the problem. It was hinted at in the last chapter. Jameson’s thinking about it here. Aside from the reference to “prototypes,” we still don’t know just what it is. But we know that it’s a motivation for three characters we’ve met: Aaron, Jameson, and Bradley—who we’re about to get to know a little better.

And here comes reference to a fourth character. It was important to at least tie different characters’ motivations together in some loose way since in the early chapters they’re introduced in such disparate locations relative to each other. There is the suggestion that they’ll wind up together eventually.

This was another character change from the book’s original incarnation. The intimation here that Jameson and Michael have some kind of prior relationship didn’t really affect anything in the end. I’ll be able to go into more detail later, but a personal connection between the men did validate Michael’s presence more than I think it originally was.

Vague reference to the Corporate Committee here. This chapter, in addition to introducing Jameson and Bradley and (sort of) Michael, gives us our first peak into details of the world that directly relate to the story unfolding. We know that Jameson, regardless of his own opinions, has some kind of business entity he is answerable to. We also know that there’s a presumption that that entity is superior to the government.

Another breadcrumb in deciphering what is going on in this secret facility. In earlier drafts I was even more oblique. This was a secret I wanted to keep for a little while, but it was a balancing act of making sure that when it was revealed, the reader knew exactly what the “prototypes” were.

There’s such an obsession with the right kind of appearance these days that I enjoyed having a character in a position of power and with a level of intimidation being of a physical type other than the preferred norm. It tickles me for some reason. I may well use more physical description reinforcing that aspect of Bradley than of any other character in the book.

We learn precious little about Bradley in this chapter aside from the fact that he’s a larger person, he’s Irish…and that he’s not a fan of Americans. There’s a lot that I can say about how the American/European connection and conflict came to be—and don’t worry I will. Bradley switched from a near toadying figure in Jameson’s shadow to someone of greater consequence as soon as I created that larger conflict. And while I struggled for a long time with the decision of whether to try and hide Bradley’s allegiance from the reader, I ultimately culled every effort toward that end during subsequent editing sessions. It was important that you understand Bradley’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it. The same is true of the European resistance in general. So here I’m very up front with Bradley’s real loyalty.

As to the situation in Europe in general—you have to wait for more details. But this chapter moved the story away from the tighter character moments in the first two chapters and toward a much bigger canvas that is a consequence of the world it’s taking place in.

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