Hanger Time

This is one of those moments when I wake up and realize I made a mistake.  Oh, noes!  What do I do?

Don’t panic.  It’s not that bad.  Allow me to explain . . .

Yesterday I worked on the penultimate scene in Part Three of my Camp story, the part that has all the attacking in the middle of the night and a lot of death and destruction.  It was a good scene.  I’d figured out what sort of equipment was going to be used, which characters would be on stage.  I did my research ’cause there was a bit of math that needed calculating to get one part of the story right, and I’d checked my observation and calculations against the maps I’d created, to make sure when I wrote my last scene, I would at least have some accuracy behind the drama.

It all looked good, so when I wrote the last line in the chapter–“The Hanger vaporized”–I was satisfied with the vision I’d created.  I listened to some music for an hour, read a bit, then headed off to bed.

And . . . I didn’t feel right when I woke up.

The scene I’d written was dramatic, but it felt too dramatic.  It was too explodey.  Yeah, my original calculations said I’d blow things to hell, but I didn’t feel right.

That meant re-checking a few facts.

First off, I’m using Nukemap, an online nuclear bomb effects program, to calculate effects.  I’d used the original version, but this morning–about seven AM to be more or less exact–I checked the link for the new and improved 2.0 Nukemap, and I thought I’d give it a spin.

What’s nice is that I could set this for a surface burst, and eliminate Nukemapthat pesky radiation, since my detonation wasn’t an actual nuke.  I added a few blast markers to check for over-pressure effects, centered the point of detonation right about where it should be in the real life place, and clicked the Detonate button.

As you can see, my effects are quite a bit different.  In particular, the radius of my air pressure effects.  Damn those ground bursts; they always try and spoil your fun.  In primary effect I want–which is a lot of damage up close and personal–is still there, but what happens to the structure is going to be a lot less than “vaporized”.

(With this site, if I wanted to use the 3D version, I could have had a little cloud rise up from the point of detonation, but that would mean loading the Google Earth plugins, and knowing my computer, it’d have a breakdown trying to render that effect.  I’ll just pretend the cloud is there and move on.)

One I have the new effects nailed down, I bring up my map and start Hanger Blastabout doin’ some figurin’.  I need a couple of rulers, I move them to the area in my Hanger were I figure the blasting is going to happen, set them at right angles to each other, and . . . yeah.  Just what I thought.  Not a lot of vaporizing going on here, but there will be a lot of damage.

So away with “The Hanger vaporizes” line.  Instead I head back into the last chapter and write a bit of prose about how one wall disintegrates and the southern portion of The Hanger collapses to the ground.  There’s no mention of how the floor craters and everything dropped into the basement under The Hanger, or how two instructors die and three bad students end up with incompletes for the year, but a reader should be able to figure that out for themselves.

Some people wake up and wonder when the coffee will finish brewing, or what the weather’s like.  I gotta think about power systems blowing up and buildings collapsing.  Because I want a paragraph to be right.

Yeah.  It’s like that all the time with me.


The Slow Grind of Fast Action

I completed the longest chapter in my story last night, and though it might not seem as much happened, there was quite a lot going on, with the most important being that one can be strangled with toilet bowl water.  It’s kind of hard to face the kids after that happens to you.

But the part, as a whole, has so many little sections–if you call fifteen hundred words little–so many characters that show up, so many things happening at different locations, that once you get into detailing it all, it takes more than a bit of time to write it all out.

Not counting the penultimate chapter I started last night, all the scenes of this third part total 22,540 words.  Checking against my log totals, that means I started working on this section on 7 July, almost two weeks ago.  The last four chapters total 9,247 words; I’ve been working on them since 14 July, almost a week.

And I still have a Part Four to put in the bank.

Action is, to put it bluntly, a pain to write.  Fight scenes, combat, battle between titanic fleets; none of it is easy to “show”.  It is easy to tell, though you might not want to type out all those words, because you’ll find yourself five thousand words into a scene and suddenly find you’re only about a fifth of the way through what you visualize, and you have a good novella of things to show ahead of you.

Some of this comes, I think, from the way action is portrayed in cinema form for a while.  Titanic battles between incredible monstrosities seem to go on for days; smaller battles for hours; even a gun battle between two people seems to drag on a lot longer than it would in real life–though I blame John Woo for that.  Well, not actually blame, though the actor he almost blew up just to get an action sequence might disagree . . .

I ran into a situation when writing the final battle between my main female character and her nemesis in Her Demonic Majesty.  I had originally thought of doing a battle with a lot of magical pyrotechnics flying about as my two witches began throwing down.  This was also NaNo 2011, and I was not only getting towards the end of the book, but the end of the month, and I didn’t want to stretch the sucker into December.

With a couple of self-imposed deadlines ahead, I looked at the scene and thought, “Okay, what would they really do?  Throw fireballs at each other?  Blow things up for the hell of it?”  Naw.  I figured someone would try a sucker punch, then go for the knockout blow.  If they failed, they’d probably get their ass handed to them.

That’s exactly what happened.  Short, sweet, and to the point.  Because what’s the one thing you have to remember when there’s combat and you start blowing up public locations?  Someone’s likely going to give you a bill for damages later.

As much as is happening on screen, there’s so much more being implied.  So much that isn’t seen, but imagined.  For every person who goes down in flame, there are two more who get whacked behind the literary camera.

I blow up a couple of building, so I’m at least keeping my pyro hand in the game . . .