LAST EDITED ON 04-30-07 AT 06:22 PM (EST)
Eh. I've seen super-mega-bumpier.
With Gardener, it was all about the game. Most of the conflict between these two characters are game-related.
To win the game, Alex had to beat Gardener at the game.
It kind of brings up the question of how they would have dealt with each other if they'd first met outside the show (although it's hard to see those two personalities coming together in a situation where they'd start opening up to each other). Probably with a little less conflict: without the game to fight in, they don't have a base argument to work through. But...
With Connie, it's completely different. The conflict is obviously based in personality and faith differences.
...these two likely would dropped into a feud no matter how they met.
The feud between them is extremely personal and transcends the game. Connie represented all the people that Alex has to overcome in life, while Gardener represented the people in the game.
No argument on Connie and her relationship with Alex, although it's kind of hard to see Gardener as the sum total of the other fourteen. (Mostly because at some point, I'd have to factor in Angela and then we get into matter-antimatter issues. ) Gardener's definitely the largest obstacle within the game itself, though. Intelligence combined with strategic ability and the capacity for long-term planning: insert him into the cast of any season and he stands a good chance of going pretty far in most of the games. (Not Marquesas, though. You have to believe Rob would have panicked again.)
There may be an argument for Gardener as an embodiment of the game itself here, but I'm afraid to make it.
2. The finale was a test of faith for the reader. I believed, going into it, that there was no way that Connie could possibly win this thing... Or, I hoped. With the way Alex was reasoning, and the way the jury votes were stacking up, it didn't look good.
Despite all those actual facts, there was something inside me that refused to agree with them. It just couldn't finish
Blame the editing. It's a slightly crossed-over advantage for both first-person and the show's ability to select footage: one is showing you what they see, the other what they want you to see. Alex is so firmly convinced of her jury doom that she easily gets it across, and the show is so good at pointing out people's reasons to vote against her as to convice the Chorus all ballots are pretty much settled going in. And then the final Council had to turn everything around... (I did have the vote (total and who cast each) set from Day One, but I had to spend a lot of time setting up the initial reasons and any reversals.)
I was just hoping there was enough doubt in the air that people would believe Connie could win: that the possibility existed as a significant chance, if not the certainty Alex saw it as. I didn't want to move into the Reunion on zero dramatic potential.
3. Even though you gave descriptions, I pictured some of the contestants like former Survivor ones. Not all of them; just a few.
Gary - Earl (Fiji)
Huh. Okay, I can see this one: add a decade-plus to Earl and you're at least getting into the vicinity. Earl's perma-stubble doesn't exactly hurt.
Connie - Scout (Vanuatu)
Maybe for the sheer uselessness factor. And also that they were both capable of being formal and relatively polite-sounding when they needed to be. The physical differences go on for days.
Angela - Ami (Vanuatu)
Well, they're both on the tall side, and they've definitively got an anger and core commitment style in common... Not too much in common physically beyond their heights, though. (I wonder if Angela's angularity is the 'move in straight lines' aspect kicking in again...)
Robin - Eliza (Vanuatu)
Having trouble with this one. It's not just appearance: I can't see Eliza as sharing Robin's deep determination.
Desmond - Roger (Amazon)
Mentally, yes: Roger is just about Desmond's direct ancestor, down to the overall work field and snarl of the lip -- plus they share that distrust of females and the one-episode edit crash landing. It's an easy line to draw: they pretty much share an archetype.
Trina - Janu (Palau)
Trina didn't lose anywhere near that much weight.
The eeriest one is the Gary-Earl one, despite you writing this
before Fiji started.
No argument, although it was also just a little bit eerie to have four Fiji cast members with S:SI first names, plus a 'Cole'.
4. The only minor critique that I offer is that some of the paragraphs were really long, making it difficult to
read sometimes. Some of the jury questions, and reunion comments in particular.
*sigh* No argument again, and totally my bad. Those are the sections where the cast made speeches and went on total stop-only-to-breathe (and-that-briefly) rants, especially Gardener. Because it was all coming out in pretty much one vocal shot, it went down that way into the screen. I could have broken it up into smaller sections: it just seemed to lose some flow and effect at the time. Of course, 'at the time' was generally around two in the morning.
1. Easy question first. What's the word count on this thing? It's got to be at least novel-sized.
Well, it's an odd place for the number to be scaring anyone off unless they look at the FAQ first and freak out second... I never counted because I was pretty much afraid to, but then Cahaya went and printed the thing. He had it at around 650,000 words, with a page count (Arial 10-point, double-spaced paragraphs) of 1081.
I was vaguely ill for a week after he told me that.
2. Did you have to do much research for this thing? There was a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff, which might've taken some digging to find. If it's even possible. Did you have to make a lot of assumptions about production decisions and whatnot?
There were a lot of assumptions when it came to show production, hopefully based in logical thought: the show is out there, so it has to run in certain ways. Sadly, I didn't get to see the wonderpost on Mitchell's talk until way too late to work any of it in -- but I still managed to hit some of his points. Not bad for guesswork and deduction.
Research on production was pretty much limited to what's leaked out over the seasons: that retakes are sometimes necessary, the challenges aren't always ready when you show up, tribe movements can't be synchronized ever time, and so on. The luggage inspection felt like something that would have to be done. We knew about sequestering contestants before the show started: I took it a little further by having them never even see each other before launch (or drop). The medical tests were just about mandatory, and we all knew about the background checks. But as AyaK pointed out, the crew didn't carry during Africa: I never found that information and went with what I thought was a good conclusion. Well, at least it let me set up the alternate reality defense if I needed it...
I did have the first-season book to work with, which provided a very little bit of completely unimportant help. Beyond that, most of what wasn't guesswork came from our own archives and Google. With all the leaks regarding the seasons, it's amazing how much the building of the show itself has stayed in the background. Blame the contracts. (And the oft-quoted five million dollars was another guess.) I just hoped it would feel right.
(One of the big bits of production guesswork was on how the show might react to the cross. Guess on the rule, figure out a loophole for it, then go from there and imagine the screams... But for story purposes, they couldn't exactly kick her off on the spot. Confiscating the cross was an option, though.)
3. Did you put some of your own personality in Alex?
I said it before: I can't draw.
4. If you were re-writing this, would you have changed anything story-wise? Like maybe developing certain characters more, or introducing things at different times?
Given that I hate nearly everything I write after I finish writing it -- wait: make that while I'm writing it -- sometimes before...
There are things I considered putting in and never found a place for. One idea that kept coming up was doing an episode summary (or at least an extended exert from one), but it felt like something that just didn't fit. Fun, maybe -- but no natural home for it unless I cross-posted into Bashers and confused everyone. A lot of potential DAW Chorus activities fit into that never-saw department: while not getting a look at the notorious 'loneliness thread' was deliberate, we also didn't see much for some of their activities: nothing like a GUFU thread, not much in the way of preview breakdown, no SOTS. ('Caption This' was not only out of place, but impossible.)
For Alex, showing life on the After front had to be limited to glimpses (with the exception of the Recap), or it would have really stretched out the episodes. I just hope I found a workable balance between the environments.
With the other contestants... It would have been nice to get Denadi some more screen time. Robin doesn't speak a lot in the Reunion: part of that is because Andrea needed her storytime, but Robin should have had a few more lines. (On the other hand, it's just like the first big get-together at the merge: she immediately pulls someone off to the side and starts complaining at them... so at least she's consistent.) I hope the setup for Angela's romantic fakery had the right pacing. And I never did get that 'How can we be sighting Robin in two places at once?' bit going, but things may have worked better that way.
We can leave out the next 900,000+ regrets for lack of space, especially since about 100,000 of them actually center around typos.
5. Were you worried about any potential backlash from Christian readers, regarding Connie's characterization? Y'know, that people might think that you were just trying to paint Christians in an evil way? I don't think you did, but you never know how people might react. You included a couple examples of more compassionate Christians (Philip, Gary) in the story, though, so I don't see how that argument would hold weight.
I thought there might be some negative reactions, and was a little bit surprised when it wound up being so quiet. (Maybe everyone who was offended got shocked into a huffy silence?) Of course, it's a low readership and those who might be angered may have never even found the thing...
Connie was meant to be a 'I'm right, so you're damned' fanatic: those can be found in any religion, and you could easily change her base faith without altering her beliefs: you just need a religion that believes in the soul. The darkest comment may come from one of the Chorus with 'just like everyone else' -- but as someone else (and you) immediately said, Phillip stands counterpoint. I want to think Connie's partially a warning about the us vs. them aspect of religion that a lot of people carry around with them, and you might find a few comments on the Religious Right lurking about her character. (Which actually turns the Gardener/Connie alliance into another counterpoint: classic conservative and radical right.)
Religions are made up of people -- and while any religion will say 'act this way', the people will always find different views on just what that means. (Phillip and Connie are reading the exact same book.) Someone may eventually read this story and choose to be offended: someone else won't be. One of the minor themes for the season may be the power of belief, especially as regards people seeing what they ultimately want to see. Some things echo forever...
6. Did you intentionally censor the language a little? Did the guidelines here factor into that decision? I noticed there weren't any F-bombs or anything, just a couple of damns and whatnot.
You may also spot some strategically-placed moments where birds are taking off, fires are crackling, and Alex is suddenly choosing to notice those things taking place as opposed to what people are actually saying. I deliberately kept the language mostly within board limits because I wanted to tell the story here: going over the lines would have been an open (and earned) invitation to a shutdown. The set line was crossed in small places -- no one calls Connie a be-yotch -- but I kept the Carlin List off the board on purpose. Nudity can be described safely: cursing is harder. (And there are times when the cast is keeping an eye on their own words so they won't be bleeped out.)
I wasted more time for less reason than anyone else in the history of the site! Yay, me!
Did any of that make sense? I'm still a little short on sleep.