TTC: Commentary 04

“Time & Tied” PARTS 7 & 8

DAE_MathTans1. Original Date Of Completion: DEC 3, 2000
2. What I Was Doing: Finishing my University Degree
3. Hard Date Change: The episode began on Thurs. Sep 20, 2001
4. Other changes of note:
-Carrie originally used a mini cassette recorder, changed to generic recording device.
-Formerly used ‘oriental’, not ‘asian’. Difference has been pointed out to me.
-PARA Chemistry supplies used to be AMI Chemistry supplies. In joke. Very in.


Something I’ve noticed about my writing – the main character is almost always female, and I give her a male character to act as her sidekick. Here, Carrie has Frank, and now we see that her counterpart Julie has Clarke. Meanwhile, in my “Epsilon Project” serial Alice is running the station, and personified math (when it ran) was primarily female (granted, because inverse functions are male, but I could have done the reverse and used a mostly male cast). “Virga Mysteries” had Melissa Virga with James (her Watson), “Last Magical Girl” focussed on Becky more than Simon, the “Time for a Superheroine” short had Lisa, and so on.

I am, as you might have guessed from the above picture, male. So far, no one has said I’m writing my female characters completely wrong. And since, for whatever reason, I find females more interesting than males (can I blame magical girl anime in the 90s?), I’m liable to keep doing it. At least until someone says I need to fix things.

Yet when it comes to race, I shy away. Luci is the only non-white main character in the story, which (as I recall) was to offer a definite contrast to Carrie (also it might have been the anime again). Luci’s a bit like Frank (on purpose), so I’ve ended up with the stereotypical “asian who is good at math”. I now hate when I end up in that sort of box. When I wondered (more recently) about switching some of the characters’ races, Clarke has the “basketball” association, Lee is “poor”, Corry is “aggressive”… so-called “black stereotypes” I’d want to avoid.

Coupled with that hesitation is that I didn’t want someone to stand out as a “token” black character either… so could I have made both Lee and Frank black? (Though Frank gets smacked around a lot.) I also realized I couldn’t do it with the twins, Corry and Laurie, as for plot I needed redheads. But maybe a female, like Chartreuse? Except for how she talks, also a plot point. Carrie herself would be problematic mainly because, with her time travelling, I don’t know enough historically for how a black girl would be regarded. I suppose I could look it up, but that feels artificial.

And then what about someone of latino heritage? Or native American? In fact, maybe I’m already in trouble – is Luci already seen as a “token” asian character? Does that get better or worse if I start switching everyone up? I wrestled with this two years ago in writing my math web serial. In the end, with this story, I decided to keep everything how I’d originally written it in 2000. My excuse is that it’s a small Ontario town.

I’ll probably try to diversify more with future writing. Yet even so, it’s curious: Despite having no personal problem writing female characters, race – and religion – feel like larger issues. Just me? Can it truly be due to lack of personal experience? Because it’s not like I have experience being a girl. I don’t know. If you have any insights, feel free to comment.

Incidentally, on December 7th, 2000, after completing this part, I drew some head shots of the five main characters to date (plus the Veniti twins, referenced by Clarke). My drawing ability was “sketchy” even then, but you can see what Julie looked like below.


XoversCAs this new arc is a really good time to join the serial, there’s no spoilers below – EXCEPT for parts 7 & 8.

Plot-wise, the Carrie we had for the majority of this episode was not the Carrie of the present, but one back from the future. Characters replacing themselves will not be typical, but the concept of a “cause” coming AFTER the “effect” will continue to occur. One might ask: Did I have to complete Parts 9 & 10 first, to see future Carrie, before I could use her here? Actually, no.

I had a sense of what Carrie would know (and must not know) going in, which was sufficient to write this first. It helps that Carrie was the ONLY person out of synch. Granted, it made 9 & 10 a bit more difficult going forwards, because I couldn’t contradict what I’d already laid out for her – but I’m pretty good at rationalizing why something in a story is reasonable (not to mention sticking to a framework). The ‘Carrie Time Tracker’ was a more recent web-based idea. With the next full episode out, you’ll be able to read Parts 7-10 from her point of view, instead of chronologically.


Julie, drawn then vs. today

Character-wise, the cast is bigger, now that we’re in the present. Which is where we will be for the majority of the time. Of the new members, you might have noticed that Julie has a firm grip on the plot. As my beta reader, Scott Delahunt, said back in 2000: “Julie is scary.” & “People regret getting on Julie’s bad side, don’t they?” First impressions are important! (It’s been pointed out that first impressions of Carrie make her somewhat unlikeable. Whoops.) Julie is very driven.

Still, like Carrie, Julie has her own personal problems to work through. I’m curious as to your impressions of her now – I wonder if they’ll change over time. Along with her, we get Clarke and Luci – ah, and whose side is Luci on? Feel free to make a guess now (even put one in the comments), and we’ll see how well I’m foreshadowing! In particular, we’ve got another half dozen parts to develop these five characters before we broaden the scope to the full T&T cast.

Episode 4 was originally called “Group Chemistry” (obvious double entendre), with “Sound The Alarm” as the new addition. I’m lukewarm on the new name, not sure it’s as clever as some of my others. Up next, I hope you like ‘temporal mechanics’ more than Chief O’Brien from DS9 did – time travel theory gets explained.

Coming This Friday: Present Tense
(That chapter is already up on Wattpad, if you want to investigate there.)

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