“Through Storm and Night” Chapter One Commentary

WARNING!  THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!

This post will make much more sense if you’ve already read the novel.  Help out a little indie author and pick up a copy of her book (or books).  You can find them on Amazon, CreateSpace, Smashwords, or my personal online store.

Through Storm and Night Covers OfficalI’m so ridiculously excited and nervous about this commentary.  The second book in the series starts out a little slow, but I think it packs a wallop (or at least that’s what it seems like judging by the reactions I get from readers).  I usually write the last scene first when I start writing a novel.  I did something slightly different with this one:  I wrote the pivotal points first except for one, which I outlined.  The second to the last scene was originally the final scene, but my brother pointed out that it really didn’t pack the punch that I needed.  So the last scene was probably the last thing I wound up writing, something I haven’t done since.

This novel was extremely difficult to write because I needed it to stand on its own.  In the first few drafts, it read more like a bridge than an actual plotted story:  a way to connect two stronger stories.  While he was editing, my brother pointed out this was because I didn’t wrap up a fairly important mystery.  So I had to work on that.  I did numerous rewrites, revisions, and reworkings until Through Storm and Night finally read like its own story.  I’m quite proud of how it came out and readers really seem to enjoy it as well, which makes me incredibly happy 🙂

Well, that’s enough rambling.  Let’s continue onto the commentary.

Pages 1 – 6

I once told a professor and friend (which I recently recounted on my Facebook author page) that I’m like the secret lovechild of Scrooge and the Grinch.  I loathe Christmas.  I hate every last thing about it.  Once those god awful hideous decorations go up, I’m in a mood.  I play “Fuck Christmas” by Eric Idle regularly throughout December.  So it’s a good rule of thumb that if Christmas is mentioned in my series, even if it’s only in passing, chances are good that some incredibly bad shit is about to go down 😉

I tried to set each novel in a different season:  Book One was in the summer, Book Two is in the winter, Book Three is in the fall/autumn, and Book Four is in the spring.  I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to do with Book Five (I’m making up my mind about the season).  The season tends to connect to the mood, theme, and/or events in the novel.

I cut back on a lot of description, which interrupted the flow of Sere from the Green.  I needed to start with a bit of a recap of the event of the previous book, which proved to be a bit difficult.  I didn’t want to overdo it, but I couldn’t just leave it all up to the reader either.  I wound up going overboard and then just trimming it until I found a good balance.  If you spend too much time recapping, readers will lose interest.

I’d love to add “two assassins plotting in a mall” to that stupid “Twelve Days of Christmas” song.  No one needs freaking turtle doves.

The Big Bad hates individuality.  Throughout the series, the reader sees him chip away at people’s individuality.  It starts small with the insistence on “proper dress.”

Blackjack is totally messing with Onyx in this scene.  He’s bored and tormenting Onyx is an entertaining way to pass the time.

The Big Bad hates the color black and forbids his associates from wearing it.  I love the color and was tired of the cliche associating black with evil.  In the third novel, the character of Blitz wears it as a subconscious “fuck you” to the Big Bad.  I’ll discuss that more in that book’s commentary (dear reader, you don’t want to know how ridiculously excited I am about that 😀

The Big Bad isn’t fucking around.  He has no qualms taking life.  Part of Blackjack is really hoping Onyx steps out of line because he knows they’ll kill her.  Of course, he’s so arrogant that he believes he’s important to them.  They’re more lenient towards men, but only men of a certain status, of which Blackjack isn’t part.

Two assassins discussing the extinction of the human race while Christmas carols are blasting in the mall they’re meeting in.  That pretty much shows my feelings about the holidays 🙂

Carding is a henchman, a mouthpiece for the Big Bad.  He’s used to conceal the Big Bad’s presence (the Big Bad has a few people like this).  The assassins don’t even know about the Big Bad.

Onyx is going into a kind of survival mode.  She realizes this new client is unlike anyone they’ve ever worked for.  He’s more powerful and that makes her a little nervous.

Page 7 – 12

This is one of those scenes that changed a lot during rewrites (mostly to scale back the emotion).  Jet was originally way more confrontational.  My brother, the editor of the novel, pointed out that this confrontation had to be scaled way, way back.

Isis is a different woman than she was in the first book.  She has more experience and therefore more confidence.  She’s much more comfortable in her own skin.  This character grew along with the writer 😉

I also adjusted a few small features of the Meadows that just weren’t working (switching files with books, for example).  I needed the Meadows to have a more natural and almost ancient feel, without stumbling into the typical pseudo-medieval fantasy setting.  Oh dear god, don’t even get me started on those kinds of settings.

Isis has also learned how to pick her battles.  She’s still incredibly sarcastic and strong-willed, but she has also learned the ropes of this world.  Isis can show respect without giving up her independence or becoming a doormat.

I always wrote the women guardians as having more ties to Earth and being more sympathetic to the problems of the protectors.  I don’t think I’ve written a single scene in the lands of the guardian men.  While guardian men love the Earth, they don’t see the need to have regular contact with its inhabitants.  They’re much more isolated.

Ah, Aneurin’s back.  Did you miss him, dear reader?  I’m actually laughing right now because this character annoys me so much.  He’s not a bad guy, but I don’t like antagonists 😀

Jet has done the almost impossible:  he won Isis’ trust.  She has grown to respect him in the months since the events in the first book.

Despite the trouble she’s in, if Isis had to do it again, she would have done the exact same thing.  She’s not exactly sure why, but it’s one of those cases, where she trusted her instincts.

The second battle of wills between Aneurin and Isis.  She won the first and is even better equipped this time.  Isis still can’t help being a complete smartass though.  It’s just in her nature.

Most guardian men are incredibly speciest when it comes to protectors.  Aneurin doesn’t approve of guardians befriending shape shifters (which he sees as a slippery slope to romantic entanglements) and he doesn’t think much of Jet.  He’s still quite unhappy that Jet married Lilly.  This is one of the very rare scenes where Jet actually snaps at a guardian.  Though he sometimes disagrees with the High Council, Jet still respects the guardians and is unwaveringly loyal to them.  However, Aneurin really tests his patience.  Especially when he makes barbs about his family.

Friendships between guardians and shape shifters are allowed, but are somewhat frowned upon.  They’re also extremely rare since the guardians don’t often visit Earth.

Isis takes control of the situation.  No more arguing like she’s not even there 🙂  This is a woman who doesn’t take any shit.  Like I mentioned in the commentary for the first book, Isis would define herself as a feminist.  She has never let her gender hold her back.

Adonia has the last word.  I’ve mentioned this before:  Adonia is the most powerful individual in this series.  She’s not someone you want to mess with.

Page 12 – 15

My brother said this exchange between Jet and Isis is his favorite in the novel (I believe.  I could be wrong, in which case I’ll hear about it).  If he did, I’m inclined to agree.  It was one of the very, very rare instances where the dialogue came easily.

“Are you still mad at me?”
“I’m always mad at you, but why should you start caring now?” Jet asked with a small half-smile. [13]

These two have developed a nice bond of mutual respect.

Isis keeps secrets and her curiosity drives her to investigate the loose ends from the first book.  By nature, she’s a loner.  This is something she couldn’t unlearn even if she wanted to.  I tried to show a glimpse of her thought process in this last scene.  Isis has always been driven by curiosity and she doesn’t like unsolved mysteries.

Chapter one commentary is completed.  YAY!  More exciting commentary is coming up.  This novel is significantly more fun to go through because I was still evolving as a writer, but I had such a better grasp on the overall story.  I knew what I wanted to do and I had an idea of how I could do it.  When I reached book three, I was a lean mean writing machine (though still learning as writers always are)  🙂

Thank you so much for continuing on this journey to me.  I’m still learning how to write these commentaries, still experimenting a bit, but I think I’m really getting the hang of it.

Questions and comments are welcome.  Spammers can fuck right off. 

Until next time . . .

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About Lauren Jankowski

Lauren Jankowski, an author from Illinois, has been an avid reader and a genre feminist for most of her life. She holds a degree in Women and Genders Studies from Beloit College. In 2015, she founded “Asexual Artists,” a Tumblr and WordPress site dedicated to highlighting the contributions of asexual identifying individuals to the arts. She has been writing fiction since high school, when she noticed a lack of strong women in the popular genre books. When she’s not writing or researching, she enjoys reading (particularly anything relating to ancient myths) or playing with her pets. She participates in activism for asexual visibility and feminist causes. She enjoys speaking about genre feminism, a topic she is quite passionate about, and hopes to bring more strong heroines to literature, including badass asexual women. Her debut novel was "Sere from the Green," the first volume in her ongoing series "The Shape Shifter Chronicles." The sequels, "Through Storm and Night," "From the Ashes," and "Haunted by the Keres" are also available. All books can be purchased through Amazon, CreateSpace, or Smashwords.
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