“Through Storm and Night” Chapter Six 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 OfficalHello beloved readers!  🙂

Chapter six of Through Storm and Night tends to be a fan favorite.  It has a somewhat . . . memorable dinner scene.  I wanted to try writing a scene where I had a lot of characters together in a somewhat relaxed setting.  Of course, there’s a bit of tension due to all the recent events.  I also get to explain about guardian intoxication 😉  I’ll also tell the story of why my brother is still making fun of me for a mistake I made in an early draft of this novel (a story known as “the corkscrew misstep I’ll never hear the end of”)

I am going to make a bit of a change.  I’ve been using the code “the tiger” for a spoiler I would prefer not to reveal.  However, I’ve been confusing the living shit out of myself with all the its.  I’ve got to change it.  From now on, “the tiger” is going to be referred to as the “2nd Man.”  I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may cause and I swear, I won’t change it again.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get onto commentary.

Page 98 – 100

Isis is still fuming after the previous night’s encounter with Jensen.  She’s practically seeing red in this scene (and she’s got her heels pretty firmly dug in about not going to dinner).  Like most people, Isis isn’t a huge fan of strangers invading her personal space without her permission.  Needless to say, Isis isn’t interested in spending any more time with Jensen.

Shae is doing her best to convince Isis to come to dinner to meet her biological uncles.  As the reader has probably realized by now, Isis is an incredibly stubborn individual.  Once her mind is made up, it’s nearly impossible to change it.  Shae is used to this and can anticipate her cousin’s responses.  There’s a reason why she’s the one trying to convince Isis to come to dinner:  she’s the only one who has a chance to succeed 😉

Ice queen:  Shae’s nickname for Isis.  It’s used affectionately (and it suits her).  Shae’s the kind of person who has nicknames for all her friends.

I mentioned in the first novel’s commentary that Shae is one of the few optimists in this series.  I find optimists extremely difficult to write (I don’t get that mindset and it’s very difficult to write optimists without making them annoying or bubble-headed idiots).  Shae sees the good in everyone and brings out the good in the people around her.  Her first meeting with Jensen was obviously a lot more pleasant the one Isis had.  Her seeing the good in him really annoys Isis.

Shae resorts to a low blow to convince Isis to go:  pointing out that she’s letting a man dictate her actions, albeit not intentionally.

This was another combined scene and I think I actually preferred it as two scenes.  The switch is just a little too abrupt.

The scene switches to Jet and Passion in the kitchen on the first floor.  My brother gives me so much shit for a mistake I made in one of the early drafts.  I tend to rush through little details, which sometimes leads to humorous slip-ups.

Guardian intoxication/drunkenness:  guardians (and shape shifters) have a much higher threshold than humans and can hold a lot more liquor.  Alcohol poisoning isn’t as much of a concern for them and they have to drink a lot to show signs of inebriation.  That being said, Passion is getting to be a little tipsy (not noticeably yet).

The fucking corkscrew that I will never hear the end of for as long as I live:  this goddamn thing.  In one of the earliest drafts of this scene, Passion tossed it in the sink once she had pulled the cork out of the bottle.  My brother found this to be fucking hilarious and has been making fun of me ever since (“I’m just waiting for one of the characters to put a newspaper in the refrigerator”).  I have to point out a couple things that led to that minor mistake:

1.  As I mentioned earlier, Passion is a little tipsy at this point.  She’s also somewhat distracted by recent events.
2.  As a guardian, Passion has led a somewhat sheltered life.  She’s used to messengers waiting on her hand and foot.  She didn’t even know the goddamn thing was called a corkscrew!

(If he reads this commentary, I’m not going to hear the end of this either 😉

I tried to show a glimpse of what Jet and Passion’s friendship was like before the events that happened in Sere from the Green.  There’s an easiness between them in this scene that has been absent for a while.  It makes Jet feel somewhat nostalgic.

Guardian food and drink is meant to enhance the senses.  Their wine, while better quality, doesn’t cause drunkenness (all the good aspects of wine without any of the downsides).  As Passion points out, Earth surpasses the Meadows when it comes to things that temporarily numb the body and mind.  At the moment, that’s exactly what she needs.

Page 101 – 106

Ah, the dinner scene.  This is the favorite scene of a few readers (hello, lovely readers) 🙂

It gets off to a bad start immediately:  Isis is seated across from Jensen.  I actually still have the rough sketch I drew of the table and where everyone is seated:

You can see I completely overestimated the size of the table (fine and gross motor skills sucks). Obviously Jet and Lilly aren't that far away.  Again, this is a rough sketch.

You can see I completely overestimated the size of the table (fine and gross motor skills sucks). Obviously Jet and Lilly wouldn’t be that far away and the table wouldn’t be so huge. Again, this is a rough sketch.

Continuity is an important part of writing.  I can’t draw to save my damn life, so when I have to do something like this, it’s an incredibly rough sketch.  Just something to remind me approximately where characters are.

Passion is still drinking.  She’s pretty close to being plastered throughout this whole scene.

Steve’s there with his girlfriend, Tracy.  [Spoiler!  So this is going to sound incredibly fucking weird.  I’ve never met a nice Tracy.  Can’t say that about most other names (and I know there are loads of nice people named Tracy out there), but I’ve never met a Tracy I liked.  And I’ve never met an Alex I didn’t like/get along with.  Needless to say, when it came time to name the new villain, a cold ruthless killer loyal to the Big Bad posing as a harmless banker, I already had a name in mind].

Speaking of names:  it’s incredibly awkward meeting people who have the same name as a character in a series you’re writing.  Especially when you become friends with said person.  People often assume writers base characters solely on the people in their lives (we don’t).  My characters tend to be an amalgamation of traits I’ve observed in various people, both real and fictional.  That being said, it’s really not a good idea to bully a writer.  Writing is a form of catharsis after all 😉

Isis dislikes Tracy immediately.  She has an aversion to happy peppy people.  And I just cracked myself up again:  happiness annoys Isis.  I actually recently told a friend of mine, “I’m considering watching a documentary on happiness but I’m afraid it will annoy me” (hi, Hannah) 😀

In the earliest drafts, Jensen ran his foot up the side of Isis’ leg (he’s very tall and the table isn’t incredibly wide).  My brother pointed out that it made Jensen seem like a pervert and Isis already pretty much hates Jensen at this point.  So I toned it down to his brushing against her shin.

Alcohol loosens Passion’s tongue.  She’s very blunt and straightforward, way more than she usually would be.  The filter between her mind and mouth is just gone.  There’s quite an awkward silence at one point, broken by Nero’s laughter.  That visual just really made me laugh.  Nero finds uncomfortable situations/moments hilarious.

Shape shifters like the Deverells protect humans, but don’t often spend that much time with them in social settings.  The idea of a shape shifter being raised by humans is just bizarre to them.  Hence their curiosity about what Isis’ life was like with them.

At this point, whatever Jensen says is going to annoy Isis and he knows it.

In earlier drafts, Isis actually stabbed Jensen’s shin with a knife (instead of a fork).  My brother pointed out that this would do way more damage than she was trying for and it would make her seem a little sadistic.  I like to imagine after Jensen yelled out in shock, Isis gave him a look like “Yeah, do something.  I dare you.”  She’s dangerous with a fork.  He should be grateful she didn’t have her trusty baton 😉

Jade and the Deverells go back, having befriended each other years back.  Obviously they feel comfortable teasing each other.  I tried to portray a familiarity between them during this conversation.  Familiarity is a bit hard to write, especially when you’re trying to show and not tell.

“Thinking of going rebel, Isis?” [105].  This is my brother’s favorite line 😀  Isis’ retort about her winning personality is one of my personal favorites.  She’s very self-aware and knows how she comes off.  Isis just doesn’t care, never has.

Steve isn’t looking that great.  I kind of regret that I didn’t make this a little clearer.  I was spinning so many plates in this novel and I was still learning how to do that.  When you write, you have to keep in mind that you’ll always make mistakes.  Even the most critically acclaimed authors stumble.  You learn from your mistakes and you move on.

Page 106 – 112

I really love writing scenes with the Four.  They work together, but are often split up on mission (because they usually have to cover a lot of ground).  They don’t often have the opportunity to just hang out and socialize.

In my notes on the history of this series, I wrote that Jensen left the mansion shortly before Remington adopted Alex (probably a few months before).

Jensen’s younger sister, Nat, was one of the two women killed in the beginning of book one.  She was originally thought to be part of the Four.  Jensen’s lover, Bryn, was the other member who was killed.

Jensen has a very traumatic history.  I was interested in exploring a character who had been forced into solitude in a manner of speaking.  Isis has always chosen to be mostly isolated.  Jensen never had that choice.  He’s the last of his line.  That’s a very lonely position to be in.

Though most of the assassins who took part in the annihilation of the Aldridges have been captured or killed, there is still the question who was behind the whole thing and who continues to hunt for Jensen.  That question is answered in the next novel in the series, From the Ashes.

Jet went out of his way to ensure Jensen and Nat were safely extracted from a pretty dicey situation.  The Aldridges had always been loyal to the Monroes (as I mentioned earlier, they were the second family to swear loyalty to Jet and Lilly, which led to almost all protectors doing the same).  Both Jet and Lilly were devastated by the loss of the Aldridges.  I have a whole outline (and copious notes) about the history of the Aldridge line, including the massacre and the escape of Jensen and Nat.  It’ll probably be part of the history project I’m working on, off and on.

Dear reader, one thing that remains consistent throughout this series:  Jensen sucks at grieving.  After the death of his family, he immediately wanted revenge.  There’s a whole story there too 🙂

The Deverells adopted Jensen and he’s basically like another brother.  It’s that bond that saved Jensen from himself.  It prevented him from going completely off the deep end when he wanted to avenge his family.

Isis finally fesses up to telling Alpha about Coop.  I wanted to start bringing Isis out of her lone wolf mentality.  She’ll always be an introvert (and the polar opposite of a social butterfly), but she is smart enough to recognize when she needs others.  Isis isn’t reckless enough to try going up against an unknown threat (that can make bodies disappear) by herself.

I really loved the visual of the Four standing around the counter in the dark, just talking.  It’s very simple, but something about it really appealed to me.  Even today, I can vividly see it in my mind.

Alex is probably the most interested in the stories of the glowing-eyes.  She has this wonderful curiosity about her (if she weren’t part of the Four, she would probably be working in one of the STEM fields).  She loves learning.  A mystery about a hidden group of shape shifters is right up her alley 🙂

Jade is often looked to for leadership.  She has the most experience and is most qualified to be in that position.  Jade feels a monumental amount of responsibility for her three teammates (especially after what happened with the three who were originally thought to be part of the Four).  They lead very dangerous lives, but Jade still wants to make sure they’re as safe as they can be.

Jade’s really good at thinking up a plan (even if she has to do it on the spot).  She knows how to cover all her bases.  And she knows to warn Isis not to go running off on her own (“don’t do something stupid, Isis!”).

I always wrote Isis as being an incredibly perceptive woman.  I’ve noticed that people who tend to be more closed off tend to be a little more aware of their surroundings and the few people who they regularly interact with.  Isis has very people in her life (well, slightly more now).  Her situation has changed, but she’s still incredibly sensitive to changes in her close friends.  She knows when something seems off.

Minor character print:  Isis hates being asked what she thinks of people.  It makes her feel like she’s being set up and it often leads to a fight (especially with Shae).

Isis manages to avoid having a disagreement, even though she’s incredibly distracted.  But she’s not distracted enough to forget to lock the door again 😉

Isis has a really, really bad habit of rationalizing her decisions.  She can talk herself into making some pretty bad ideas, which has the potential to get her into a possibly dangerous situation.

Page 112 – 115

The 2nd Man is still playing his cards close to his chest.  He will only speak with Jet and he won’t budge on this.  At this point, he can only try sending him a very cryptic message.

In the very first draft of this novel, the 2nd Man would only speak with Isis.  I scrapped that idea after I kept hitting dead ends and getting writer’s block.  I realized it was because this made absolutely no sense.

At some point, I plan on writing two accounts of the War of the Meadows:  the guardian telling and the shape shifter one.  Right now, the reader gets a glimpse of the shape shifter perspective.  Most of the brief snippets of the War of the Meadows seen in this series are from the shape shifter perspective.

Adonia is the only one who is allowed to see the 2nd man right now (aside from the guardians who work in the dungeons).  He’s basically in solitary confinement.  The 2nd Man is very smart and is used to being kept in isolation.  This is pretty much a cake walk for him.

The 2nd Man is extremely frustrated at this point.  The High Council is moving way too slowly and it’s making a bad situation worse.  I hoped to give these scenes a sense of urgency.  The 2nd Man has important information, information that the protectors need according to him, and the High Council is basically sitting on their hands.

The 2nd Man is as stubborn as some of the members as the High Council.  As I mentioned earlier, the 2nd Man is used to being in complete control of whatever situation he’s in.  Both sides are being somewhat unreasonable and neither one is willing to budge an inch (which is just a great mindset).

Once again, the scene ends with the 2nd Man pacing the cell like a caged animal.  He’s hoping Jet understands the message he sent, though he knows it’s highly unlikely.

Page 115 – 119

The reader gets another interaction between Isis and Jensen.  I admit, these were really fucking fun to write.  Jensen is a surprisingly fun character to write.  He just messes with people, especially uptight people.  Needless to say, this interaction doesn’t go any better than the first one.

As usual, Jensen’s wearing a tailored suit.  Men’s clothing is really difficult for me to write for some reason.  I don’t know what the hell anything’s called (I looked up so many kinds of clothing while writing this series.  Fashion is . . . confusing).

There’s something about Isis that Jensen finds intriguing.  Jensen’s really attracted to intellect and he’s rather impressed with Isis’ adaptability.  She’s still fairly new to the world of shape shifters and guardians, but she’s handling herself very well.

Jensen’s used to shape shifters seeing him as an Aldridge (and subsequently being awestruck, overly respectful, or intimidated).  He’s never had one be indifferent to him the way Isis is.  Not just indifferent, she stands up to him and doesn’t back down.  Isis is completely fine expressing her anger (and dislike of him).

One fault I wanted Jensen and Isis to share is a tendency to be a little judgmental, which leads to them butting heads in this scene.

After Isis storms out, Nero enters.  I’ve found in rewrites, Nero often plays the peacekeeper.  He’s very similar to Shae:  Shae is to Isis as Nero is to Jensen 🙂

Interestingly, Jensen is one of the only people who doesn’t underestimate Isis.  This was always an important part of the character.  Because of their dangerous lives, protectors tend to be hyper-vigilant.  When you have a tight-knit group like the ones at the mansion, they want to look out for each other and occasionally go a little overboard.  Jensen isn’t like this (he’s reached a point in his life where he just assumes he’s probably going to meet a violent end).  He trusts well-trained protectors to be able to handle themselves.  He would give his life to save his friends and family, but he’s not going to hover over them.  Isis has been training with some of the best protectors in the world.  She doesn’t need a babysitter.  She can handle herself.

The legend of Selene is the most important story among shape shifters and guardians (and one of the first things I wrote when working on this series).  It’s briefly mentioned in book one, touched upon here again.  It’s told in more detail later in this book, where I’ll comment on it more.

Page 119 – 120

The chapter ends with Jet receiving the 2nd Man’s cryptic message.  One of the things I wanted to explore in this book is the importance of language and how it relates to information (and our perception of history).  I’ll explain this further later on.  I say that a lot.  Hopefully I always deliver 🙂

So ends commentary for chapter six.  That was a bit more fun than five.  I think I said fuck a lot more.  That fucking corkscrew.

I hope you enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) this commentary.  I’m really starting to get into a routine and it’s nice to work on something other than a novel outline.  I’m holding off on outlining book five until I wrap up these commentaries (which I’ll probably finish in January or February, assuming I continue updating at this rate) 🙂

This is cheesy, but the holidays are right around the corner and books make really excellent gifts.  Especially if they’re personalized.  Hey, you can get those at my online shop, which is linked towards the top.  You can get my books and then enjoy my sweary rambly commentaries with friends and family 😉

As always, 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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