TTC: Commentary 28

“Time & Tied” PARTS 94-96
1. Original Date Of Completion: SEPTEMBER 12, 2009
2. What I Was Doing: Full Time Contract Teacher in Ottawa
3. Changes of note:
-Chartreuse’s time car talk had been more cryptic (stone skipping)
-Convention of “young Carrie as Buffy, adolescent as Betty, adult as Liz, old as… Eliza?” (totally dropped)
-Laurie and Tim briefly flickered out of existence too
-Carrie thought of gassing the control room, not Glen
-Elizabeth was going to give up sooner, and send the others back
-Buffy’s second appearance with the apple (was recall only)
-Carrie somehow blew up the Miami time car by thought alone
-Buffy’s final battle had her as “Betty” (adolescent)
-Carrie made a case for inevitable victory, being part of her own past
-Elizabeth/Buffy forgiving Glen and Carrie (simply knocked them out)
-Timeline branching! (was cutting the time loop, restoring in present)
-Elder Carrie being temporally frozen (had been in imploding building)
-Chartreuse having a battery (had merely grabbed gun from Tim)
-Lee knocking out guy with dictionary (had been fly bar inside bldg)
-Julie and Corry were at library, Corry getting stabbed
-Chartreuse now in hospital with Carrie (had been Corry)
-Hank Waterson had asked Carrie about his wife/her mom (she initiates now)
-Chartreuse’s work with Beth and “vision plus” (had been all Carrie)
-Carrie’s quip she could appear with a new gun, apple-style (gone)
-Laurie as valedictorian (hadn’t been specified)

4. Additions of note:
-Elizabeth now interacting (briefly) with future resistance people
-Tim and Laurie got middle names!
-All talk of Theresa/Mindy’s fate and her role in things
-All talk of resistance forces (including lockdown references)
-Brief physical fight was added (before Carrie flinging time energy)
-Foreshadowed timeline branching, using wall circuits
-All scenes with middle name people during battle (including Glen knockout)
-New inner dialogue of Elizabeth’s powers pushing back at her
-Chartreuse explaining to Luci & Lee before firing the gun
-Carrie/Chartreuse girlfriend banter was new
-Talk of the alien artifact as being a fixed point

MAY DAYS

This past May became what we would call a ‘statistical anomaly’. The highest month for views that I ever had was July 2016, after the Guest Post over at Jim Zoetewey’s site (“Power Play” aka “Part 48c”, helping to launch Book 3 here). I had 944 page views that month. In May 2017? 1,933 page views, more than double that previous maximum. There’s a couple reasons for that.

Begins May 4th, 2 views. (Comments includes Pingbacks.)

The first, a review written by Tartra for Web Fiction Guide on May 6, 2017. That led to a new max page view count (143 on May 7th) as someone from Hungary binged through the entire archive. Her review also prompted something else – a massive revision on my part. Some of the feedback I get, I can only nod and shrug at (“Carrie’s a bitterly unlikeable protagonist”). Other feedback makes me realize changes are necessary (using ‘mama’ makes Carrie sound like “a Southern Belle from Texas”).

Along with the ‘mama’ issue was fact that there is “no reason why they all sound like they’ve been academically peer-reviewed”. Huh. Yeah, I am bad at synonyms. There truly IS no reason for Laurie to be using a word like “transcript” or Clarke suggesting they “circumvent” things; it doesn’t fit their personalities. Blindingly obvious in retrospect, but it flew under my radar. And once I knew, I couldn’t just let that sit… if it was disrupting Tartra’s reading experience, it was surely doing the same for others.

Starting May 13th, I went back to do a massive overhaul from the beginning. My energy started to peter out late in Book 2, but even so, ALL parts up to 47 have now been revamped, a number of them for the first time since their initial posting. It doesn’t fix everything. Frank gets a free language pass, as he’s supposed to be socially awkward, and so did Julie, trying to be a CEO. Corry and Luci (as their foils) also got latitude, to keep it manageable. Everyone else? Smacked with a thesaurus… in their dialogue, not in narration. Is it any better? We may never know.

The second reason for the viewing spike last month was a Guest Post at Drew Hayes’ site. His “Super Powereds” story is in the top 10 at “Top Web Fiction” with over 150 votes. He posted in the WFG forums about being away in late May, two months in advance, giving me plenty of time to think about what to write. (And I thank him for accepting me, despite how I knew my serial would be winding down.) I considered doing another story prior to “Book 3”, like I’d done with Jim, as well as something after the Epilogue, in the summer. That likely would have involved Carrie doubling up an artifact to prevent some sort of fireworks explosion, and at once point was even tentatively titled “Minute Waltz”.

It never quite gelled. Then, in late April, I had the thought of building to the main characters through some secondary characters. I felt they’d need to still be in high school for that. Azure was the natural choice, and with that, everything else came together within a few days. Using a bank robbery was a bit cliche (Jim did one in his guest post too), but I didn’t want to go with a mugging. Hence, a part in between the hospital scene and the graduation. There was the thought process behind that writing.

The day after my post on Drew’s site, my maximum page views leapt from 143 to 458. The Thursday also saw a count over 250, before things settled down to about 100 in a day (still way above normal). It’s usually trivial to see when one or two people are going through the archive (like it was last December). Now, for the first time, with a number of people in different places, I honestly wasn’t sure how many there were. There were 131 referrals in within a week, and I think at least a half dozen people made it to “Book 2”.

It’s a nice note to go out on. Another thing I now recognize is that my writing is pretty clinical and structured, and likely needs more emotional resonance. Something I’ll need to work on, assuming I’m able to fix it. (I really am very structured in my thinking.) So yeah, I’m still a bit in the “I suck” phase, hopefully the new “Epsilon” shows promise. One last shoutout now, to Rev Fitz, who reviewed the site on May 21; there was a slight bump before Drew’s post, which I’ll credit to him.

And a few final notes before we get into the last of the T&T Analysis:
-I have six 2017 coins, quarters and nickels, and have had them for over a month now. I think part of the reason is it’s Canada’s 150th “birthday”, prompting the earlier rollout, but I’m still sure there was a year I got two current pennies back in February. Anyway, it can happen before summer.
-A few interesting related news articles that I found but never linked to: The idea that the Future Can Affect The Past (related to observational states), how Befriending Your Future Self is good for your health (literally what Carrie does), and Physicists With a Model for a Time Machine (it needs exotic matter).
-“The innumerable possibilities…” line, spoken by Frank to start what is now “Respite II”, is in fact a call back to the SHUFFLE! game OP, which you may recall was music I’d decided might fit in with my “Season One” opening sequence. It all comes full circle. (The next “Shuffle!” theme to use might be “Really? Really!”. “There is one more possibility…”) Carrie’s response to Frank is a much vaguer callback to Steins;Gate.

SPOILER SECTION

Well, this is it.

As far as pacing goes, if we’re talking “3 act structure” (meet in act 1, tear up life in act 2, resolve in act 3), I like to think Book 4 works… except, of course, Carrie isn’t even THERE for most of the “tearing up” part; Chartreuse and the rest have to deal with Theresa being Mindy. (Also, a number of characters entered into act 1 already “broken”.)

Does it work, having the main character GONE for such a large part? And with call-backs to earlier books? I hope so? Certainly the plot as a whole feels like it works for me, temporally. It may help if you envision Future Carrie as being the present, what with Mindylenopia going back sparking the entire rewritten history, and hence why “our Carrie” became “Elizabeth”. Related, I suspect Tim’s new middle name subconsciously came from the “Piers Anthony” books on my shelf, while Amelia is from “Doctor Who” (Amelia “Amy” Pond).

Speaking of characters, let’s switch over to them. To make it interesting, I’ll list the twelve mains in my personal preference from least to greatest. Feel free to speak up in the comments, about my order, or any differences you have on my personal takes.

TIM: He never fully gelled for me. I never even settled on a medical condition. Very underused in Books 1 and 2, because there wasn’t much linguistic going on (the lawyer connection helped keep him involved). His arc in Book 4 basically involves him fitting in without being taken advantage of, knocking out Glen being the cap on that, but that was a late addition.

GLEN: Kind of a slave to the plot, plus has this unhealthy obsession with Carrie, who is all but a confirmed lesbian (something he’d know in the future). I didn’t want him to be an overt villain, but despite sticking to his internal morals, I feel that’s what he was reduced to in the end.

CORRY: The antagonist for Julie, meant to be a decent guy deep down, but we never saw a lot of that. Which itself is fine (and he is a self aware jerk) but when the school plot finished, basically, his plot did too. He became a catalyst for Laurie. We got some insight into his past with Book 4, but that was only because the original writing for him there didn’t work.

CLARKE: The conscience to Julie, and in a way, he suffers the same fate as Corry. We don’t get much of him unless Julie’s involved. His Julie fixating was handled (I hope), in the conversation before their work on the car, but while I felt like the relationship angle did tie up decently? There’s not much more to him, aside from being a nice guy.

MINDY: Another jerk-style character, but with a better conscience than Glen or Corry. Her time as Theresa helped with that, but even Future Mindy displayed some perspective on her role. Possibly the first character I’m truly satisfied with (which holds for the ones below too).

LEE: The satellite member of the group, his arc peaked early, when he willingly became involved to help with the chip. Which Carrie messed with. Still, his immunity kept him relevant, his family is interesting, and despite his penchant for nicknames, he cares for the others and follows through on that with actions.

LUCI: I’m a bit surprised she’s not higher, but the adoption and ties to Frank ended up defining a lot of her character (we never even see her parents). I wish I hadn’t given her the extra sexual trauma, but didn’t know what else to use as I did edits. Still, over the span of the story, she came to terms with her emotions, with failure, and it felt plausible that her Future version managed to keep her life together.

JULIE: She wants to do the right thing. In Book 1, she thinks the right thing is winning her parents at any cost. In Book 2, she thinks vanishing completely is the necessity. In Book 3, she tries to help her friends, the only way she knows how. Now in Book 4, I feel Julie’s finally grappling with her own fate. With not being manipulated, overtly or otherwise, and admitting to Phil about their relationship. And while Future Julie was mean, her actions did come from a place of caring; I put her through a wringer. She makes it into the Top 5.

LAURIE: Laurie, sweetie, you managed to surprise me at every turn. A naive and sobbing counterpoint to everyone in the early drafts, you started to take control with every revision, and ended up literally kicking ass in a new addition. Your babbling became passionate speeches, and somehow, despite the insanity around you, you never compromised your principles. You are truly a Veniti (as well as a valedictorian). I foresee a different, brighter future for you in the new timeline.

FRANK: The only male character to rank highly, I will admit he is a bit of a self insert. So maybe the blinders are on. While most of his arc towards getting along with people was back in the first Books, the biggest setbacks he faced were in Book 4. One could argue he was forced into the hard situations, like mediating between Future Luci and Future Julie, or telling Mindy about her inevitable death, but even if his options were limited, he stepped up to the plate. In some sense, he ended up as the glue holding everyone else together.

Carrie Commission (2014)
By Kai-Shii

CARRIE: For all her flaws and inconsistencies (including apparently being a tsundere), I do like her. In Book 1, she was out for herself, lashing out physically. In Book 2, she accepted she wasn’t the centre of the world – even as events showed she was. In Book 3, she was beaten down, and pushed into a journey of personal (and sexual) discovery. In Book 4, she tried a Julie-style sacrifice, and when her friends wouldn’t let her, she found a better way. Her speech at the end, about coming to terms with mistakes she made and will make, to me, that’s key, and is what this whole story is about.

CHARTREUSE: Like, ohmigawd. She got herself a girlfriend, the hard way, via the hospital. Grappling with temporal theory on the way. So many of the new scenes involved Chartreuse somehow, and even in edits she stepped up to fix plot holes, left, right and centre. All my guest posting incorporated her, and heck, there’s probably a reason I put her into Epsilon even before all of this went online. She’s also the mystic and fantasy entry into a mostly sci-fi world. And she makes me smile. Well done, Chartreuse, you came far from very humble beginnings.

Do you agree with my choices/reasoning?

The plan for “Time Untied” is to keep those last two together, but have Carrie at the University of Ottawa and Chartreuse at Carleton University, in the same city. Because I wanted Chartreuse, but didn’t want her and Carrie too close; their interests are different, plus being forced apart will allow their relationship to grow (or falter) as needed. Also, the only other city with two universities I know well, Waterloo, is more tech-oriented… Frank’s liable to be there, and I do want to pull away from him.

Speaking of the sequel, I mused through a few other titles before settling on “Time Untied”, including “Time Release” and the related “Time Re:Leased”. If you read the bonus post from last Friday, you’ve seen that it will involve the existence of at least one OTHER person who has powers like Carrie. (Hey, it’s a second timeline, after all.) That’s why the whole story needs to be pre-written, later elements are SURE to impact earlier parts (much like Book 1), and it needs to be internally consistent.

At the same time, if you squint, there’s other details that were never really explained. The pocket watch Elaine had, which somehow seemed to synch up with time travel. The relevance of Mr. Veniti doing genetics research in the past. Why Frank only gradually faded from existence in that Timeline Three. All threads that have vague explanations in my mind, which may or may not be pulled on in the sequel as needed. (You’re welcome to hypothesize by commenting here, in advance.)

Anything else? Well, quick shout-out to the guy in the future control room being called “Walter”, a reference to “Stargate SG-1”. Also a shout-out to Mez, since my first revision of Part 96 removed all references to Carrie’s mom, and it was his comment on the earlier part which prompted me to put some of that back in. And a final thanks to Scott Delahunt, John Golden, and Chris Burke, for their support over the years (giving us Principal Dell Hunt, Julie’s psychologist Doc Golden, and the teacher Mr. Burke).

Maybe this universe will be back. Time will tell.

Parts 94/95/96 were originally “Endgame” which became the title of 95a. Remember you can still VOTE for T&T at “Top Web Fiction”, any time, so that others might find the story. Thank you for reading.

Coming This Sunday: “Epsilon Project” continues. The vote in Part 1 is still open!

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