Monday, September 10, 2012

Part Thirty-Five, Chapter Six - Laundry, Errands, and Future Plot Points

There's a little something called the Unspoken Plan Guarantee.  Basically, if a character describes his or her plan in detail, it is doomed to fail, because having a character talk about doing something and then watching them do it exactly as they described is boring.  Conversely, if a character only mentions that they have a plan, but doesn't share its details with the audience, its odds of success are much greater because there's no drama in a plan we don't know about failing.

So, for the first time in a long time, Gris doesn't describe how he hopes a situation will unfold under the expectation that it will happen that way because he wants it to.  Instead he "laid his plans carefully" and goes over them in his head until he's convinced they're foolproof, and even though they were indeed planned by a fool, the fact that he's being a secretive narrator will nevertheless allow his scheme to succeed.

So that's the first four paragraphs of the chapter, Gris taking advantage of narrative convention.  The rest is pretty dull.

For Gris' plan to work, he needs to look suitably impressive, as if the Countess Krak will change his opinion of him thanks to a clean shirt.  So we get a page of Gris tracking down his uniform, washing it in a basin, and replacing a lost rank insignia with an emerald locket picked up during one of Utanc's shopping sprees.  He puts his Knife Section knife in its hidden sheath behind his neck.  He puts on the Antimanco control star that was introduced in book one and still hasn't been used yet.  He gets dressed, in other words.

Then Gris goes to the hangar and encounters another as-yet-unused plot point, that "line jumper" the hangar workers want to use to rob banks.  Gee, I wonder how Gris might use it to overcome his crippling poverty?  Doesn't that sound exciting, reading chapters about Gris pulling ridiculous stunts like snatching a vault full of cash, building and all, in order to return to the status quo?  Gris tells the guards to put some supplies in a certain place, and promises them a day off if they'll salute him in front of the Blixo's passengers.

Then Gris goes back to his room and makes some calls to the hospital preparing for Krak's bugging, then to Faht Bey to set up Krak's Earth identity of Heavenly Joy Crackle from Sleepy Hollow, New York.  Then he goes back to his room and spends some time worrying about how scary the Countess Krak is.  Then the Blixo arrives and he goes to greet it.

Obviously this isn't much of a climax for An Alien Affair.  I think the actual peak of excitement and drama occurred over a hundred pages ago when Heller left the Gracious Palms because newspapers told him to.  So the last two or three Parts have been an oh-so-thrilling denouement involving Gris' financial status and genitalia.  Assuming, of course, you make the mistake of applying traditional story structure to what was never intended to be a stand-alone story.

Back to Chapter Five 

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