Logical Supernatural

I’m not sure why it’s so hard to get the protagonist right. After all, she’s the character the story’s built on, she should be the no-brainer in the bunch. But possibly because I’m so closely connected to her–she’s my best friend while I’m writing the book–and because I don’t want to hurt her–throw rocks at that woman, Jenny–or because I’m viewing the plot so closely through her PoV, I have a heck of a time getting any distance on her. Which means that common sense is my friend. That is, I look at what she’s doing and ask myself, “Is this what a normally intelligent person would do in this situation?” Then I look at the pressures of the situation–a normally intelligent person does not rush into a burning building, but my protagonist would to save her dog–and at her character arc and try to go from there. What I’m trying to figure out now is how long it would take Nita, an intelligent cop, to accept that the supernatural is real. As a resident of Demon Island, she’d be surrounded by fake demon and Hell things all the time. People would be cosplaying as demons and devils and angels. There’s a fake Church of Satan (mainly there for the church store) and a whole amusement park with Hell-ish spectacle and theater, much of it done with special effects. She’d have been bombarded with the concept that Hell is fake from birth. Plus any amusement park is rife with conmen of one kind or another, not to mention the run-of-the-mill drunk jokers. She’d have seen it all. My question is, at what point does she just have to give up and say, “The supernatural is real.” And at that point, does she accept that it’s ALL real, or just take the things that are in front of her as real? “I don’t believe in Hell, but that thing that just happened is not natural.” One thing that helps is that she’s drunk for the first seven scenes (about a two-hour time frame; she starts with four hot toddies and then has another one about an hour in), so I do believe she’d chalk a lot of what she sees up to that. She also knows that she has mini-seizures and hallucinates briefly when she seizes, so she’s used to seeing things that aren’t there in a much more restricted way. But at some point, she’s going to just have to accept that there’s a whole world of things out there that she’s going to have to cope with or decide she’s going nuts and that nothing is real. Obviously, we’re going with Option A, but still, since the readers are going to know from the second scene that the supernatural is real, at what point do they say, “Oh, come on,” when she still denies it? I think I’m good for the seven scenes where she’s drunk. Then there’s a scene at breakfast where she talks to Nick, still trying to figure out why he’s pushing this dumb story. Then she goes to the morgue where a body disappears, and it’s her second disappearing body which Nick explains as a demon thing. I’m good there with the second one–a body being stolen from a morgue is entirely within the realm of the possible–and the body that disappeared the night before happened while she was sobering up, although there were witnesses. Then she does a lot of entirely routine investigating, ending up back at the bar where Nick is acting very strangely (not to the readers who know he’s just been to Hell and back) and she takes him to a crime scene where Mort shows him a box that can’t be opened, and Nick opens it, and what’s in there is pretty irrefutably supernatural . . . except she only gets a glimpse before Nick slams the lid back on so it can’t get out. Then there’s other stuff that could still have an explanation, albeit she’s reaching pretty far, and then something happens that is just not possible, followed by something else that’s really horrible and not possible, followed by a really bad hallucination which is followed by two more things that aren’t possible. And then it’s night and Nick pours scupper down her until she falls asleep and in the morning with the sun shining she tries to tell herself that there’s a logical explanation for everything,even though she knows there can’t be, because if it’s all true then her life is irrevocably changed and she’s not at all who she thought she was, and then one more thing happens and she says, “Fuck it, you’re the Devil Elect, they’re demons, what the Hell is going on here?” and the first act ends and the team begins. I THINK all of that is logical. What I’m worried about is that readers won’t, that they’ll look at how she’s interpreting everything and think, “How blind can you get?” and dismiss her as Too Dumb To Live (the TDTL heroine). On the other hand, if she accepts the supernatural too soon, she’ll seem credulous, and also TDTL. Her brother Mort already believes so she’s likely to discount him the way people discount UFO believers. Button is very logical and realistic, but she’s not seeing most of the stuff that Nita sees, so she’s not much help. And Nick and the others are the ones pushing the supernatural explanation, so she’s not going to be able to go to them for help in refuting the possibility. She’s really caught between the people who haven’t seen what she’s seen and therefore don’t believe and the people who keep telling her they’re supernatural and are therefore suspect. So it’s a mess. Back to rewriting.

91 thoughts on “Logical Supernatural

  1. As a reader, I usually don’t think “Oh come on, of course there’s magic you idiot” as long as the character expresses some doubts. I don’t need my heroine to believe straight away and whole-heartedly, but I do need her to think “That probably was just some really good sleight of hand, but what if…” because that’s how I would be.

    It’s sort of the same reason I’ll turn on all the lights after a scary movie. Yeah, I know there’s almost certainly no serial killer in the house, but I just saw something that made me go “What if?”

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  2. Hi Jenny,
    I find, when I read you books, that you always make sense, I think you are being extra critical of yourself because you are too close.
    However I am “a reader” and I know many on the blog are also writers so they should/will give you their opinion.
    Best Wishes for the New Year, may it be a good one for all of us.

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    1. Actually readers are much better for feedback than writers. Your gaze is pure (g).
      I am a big fan of readers.

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  3. It makes sense that it would take her a fair amount of time to conclude that the supernatural is real. People tend to see what they expect to see, through the filter of what they believe. If she has logical explanations for what is happening, then I wouldn’t be likely to consider her TSTL for not accepting the supernatural as real.

    Based on how you’ve described her, I’d expect that she would need something big to happen, that there was just no way of explaining away, before she took that mental leap. I’d also expect that, after leaping, she’d probably look back at previous events and think, “how’d I miss that.”

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  4. The alternate version of being bombarded by demon theme park/ cons her whole life could be that when she sees the real thing, she instantly feels something’s different, because she’s seen a good hoax and This Is Not It. If there’s an instinctive part of her that’s picking up on the truth of the supernatural while the logical part is still denying it, that’s something I would be interested in as a reader, because it shows she’s not oblivious to the supernatural stuff. I don’t need her to have it figured out, but I need her to know something’s wrong, and get a new piece each time.

    I’m saving the draft you linked for my bus ride to work tomorrow. Thanks for the treat, and happy new year!

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  5. I totally agree with CateM there on the This Is Not It assessment capability, except that you’d made the point she’s drunk and not functioning at Full Capacity. I had the thought that, were it me in her scenario (and I deal with drunks on the regular and have cast the demons as such in my personal scenario) I would likely start to Humor Them and there’s always the trap of Faking it until you Make it. Walk down the primrose garden long enough and suddenly realize you’re buying into it. That realization can happen at almost any point, surprising everyone. This neatly circumvents TSTL for me anyway.

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  6. Hahaha. I’ve never been accused of having a pure gaze before.

    I think I kinda like it. 😀

    Going back to Maybe This Time – Andie was a sceptic and sober. So no, it is not Lois Lane not seeing Clark for who else he is. Throw in a dash of stubbornness and digging in of heels, it works.

    BTW someone on Twitter posted a comic showing Lois uploading pictures of her and Superman and the social medium says,”Tag Clark Kent?”

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  7. I like this quote “Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved”.

    But it might take a bit of observation! I love fantasy and magic, but I don’t believe in it, and I think most things we think are magic (or have throughout history) have a rational explanation. So I’d need irrefutable evidence. Even then, I think I’d accept each bit of new reality on its merits, not just accept everything I previously doubted – that would be like saying, ‘oh, this particular herbal remedy has been shown to work, so now I need to accept all herbal remedies. And guardian angels’.

    I’m only one reader, and I think the response to this would be very personal. I know and love people who believe in the supernatural, so they might think Nita is being close-minded (or not) and it also means I can read Nita and not find her responses odd – she’s Nita, she’s not me.

    PS the quote is from ‘Storm’, Tim Minchin’s 9 minute beat poem about critical thinking. Content may offend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtYkyB35zkk

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    1. PS Just thought you might take Storm the wrong way and now wish I could delete the link – let me reiterate, LOVE reading fantasy, think it’s very worthwhile to read and watch – fun, and escapist and can make us think about what we believe and how we believe, about people and life and the world.

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    2. I love ‘Storm’. I love Tim Minchin. I love that he did the music for a musical of Dahl’s book that features tiny fierce girls winning. I really hope Jenny loves it too.

      I’m also a srs hard core skeptic sort of soul, grounded in science and with any luck logic, but yeah – as a reader I seldom have trouble with what the author is telling me about the rules in the book. Book rules are different from real world (for whatever values of “real”) and I’ll critique them with friends, but I think I generally don’t argue with you-the-author’s right to invent them and play them out.

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  8. OMG, OMG I love Nita more with every draft. “Infestation of body snatchers”. I laughed so hard.

    I don’t think Nita is TDTL. She knows something is odd. I would also have a hard time believing in demons with green skin even if I saw one – there are so many more reasonable explanations. I found Nita’s reactions quite believable.

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  9. Love this post! In reading the drafts, I’m struck by how quickly Nita accepts Nick as an intellectual equal/possible ally/even her student (learn how to enjoy food). Similarly to your other great heroines & heroes, Nita and Nick recognize (perhaps subconsciously) something in each other that opens them to communication. That something is complicated, of course, by the dead guy and woman detective factors. But she has lunch with him the day after she meets him — like Tilda & Davy, they eat together before they come to understand each other.

    Now that I’ve moved this comment from Goodreads to Argh Ink, I see that others have made great observations.

    Just a couple of thoughts — I knew about the cold hands and the ability to recognize liars, but are the blackouts and nightmares mentioned early on? I guess one thing I keep thinking — sorry for harping on this — is that, while (as you say) Nita has been bombarded with tacky demonness her whole life, she knows that she is different from others in a weird way. (Her difference is exactly what would make her a cop — and a good one.) I understand if you’re trying to avoid the gothic helpless heroine, but Nita’s ignorance of Demon Island and its inhabitants being weirder than the rest of the world keeps itching me.

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    1. I think food is a great bonding opportunity. Anybody enjoys showing somebody else something he or she loves and then watching that person love it, too.
      I think the fact that he’s so warm draws her in, too. She just physically feels better when he’s there.
      And I think the stuff that happened the night before also broke down some barriers. She still doesn’t think he’s supernatural, but she doesn’t think he killed Joey, either, and the only person he seems to be scamming is Vinnie, which is just desserts. She’s still highly suspicious but she’s not hostile. Progress.

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    2. I don’t think people ever recognize that the community they’re in is strange. I grew up in a really strange family and only recognized that it wasn’t normal when I hit middle-age. I think it’s a kind of bubble thing; if your frame of reference is weird, then nothing within that frame translates as weird.

      My take on the draft (which is my draft, so my take is suspect) is that the only person so far who is weird is Nick. Vinnie is crooked but normal, Mort has a demon thing but lots of people believe in ghosts and UFO and chem trails and other weirdness who are otherwise perfectly normal, Button has some flaws but she’s normal, Dag and Rab present as normal, Sandy and Daphne . . . I don’t see a lot of weirdness surrounding Nita until this Day That Is Different. Her mother is a problem, but many of us can relate to that.

      But yeah, this opens on the weird.

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  10. That sounds like a good progression to me. The devil (ahem) is in the details, as always.

    …Which ought to be an auto shop, if someone hasn’t mentioned it already: Devil in the Detailing.

    Ahem.

    I think for someone like Nita you could have a point where she starts accepting it provisionally: “Coroner says the marks on the wound and the shape of the tissue really is – are you ready for this? – consistent with a clawed hand digging into the body and ripping out a kidney. Maybe the assailant was wearing some kind of armored glove? Except that would require an assailant capable of making an escape in a way that leaves three different witnesses saying that he sank down into the boardwalk and vanished. So we’re looking for a magician who’s skilled enough to pull off an effect like that without leaving any equipment behind, and strong and ruthless enough to rip… Hell, maybe it was a demon. It’s a theory.” Then at some point later she looks up again and wonders when she started taking for granted that there was something supernatural involved.

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    1. I thought about that, the slippery slope. I just couldn’t see the progression. Once she accepts that demons are real, the rest just follows. By the end of the day, she has to accept that the supernatural is real, and by the next morning she’s gearing up to deal with it, so it goes pretty fast chronologically, it just takes her about 30,000 words to get there. So the end of Act One, which works as far as structure goes, but which may not work as far as reader patience. It’s when readers hit the “she doesn’t believe YET?” that I’m in trouble.

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  11. Do you enjoy amusement parks in real life?

    They kind of creep me out, so I can see the demonic aspects of such a setting.

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  12. I once read some vampire romance that was like 200 pages long and by page 100, she still had no idea that she was dealing with vampires even though she was a dentist and had to put a guy’s fang back in. So don’t do that.

    My advice: get to the belief as soon as possible. Because “the supernatural is real” is the entire point, and the longer we have to wait through someone not buying into it, the less you end up enjoying the read because you’re just waiting around to Get On With It Already. I mean, you’re buying the book because of the supernatural. That’s the selling point. Get to what the people want on that and don’t drag it out because a logical heroine wouldn’t want to go there.

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    1. Is that because she was denying it, or because it kept her from doing anything about it? (Okay, replacing a fang would be a big clue.)
      That is, if Nita’s very actively going after Joey’s killer, working all day, dealing with struggles at work, is that different from her standing in one place with her arms folded and saying, “Nope, nope, nope, nope, don’t believe”?

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      1. I think it’s very different. I am a person who doesn’t “believe in” much of anything (I think there is an important distinction to be drawn between “I know” and “I believe”) and it would take a whole helluva lot of incontrovertible, preferably physical, evidence before I would buy any apparently-supernatural manifestation as being legitimately supernatural.

        ESPECIALLY if I were full of hot toddies during one or more potentially supernatural manifestations, and more so if I already have a neurological condition I’m aware of. Given that all this disbelief happens in, what, the span of less than 48 hours? I personally would not find that an annoyingly long period in which a person might remain unconvinced.

        I am much more annoyed by people who are alleged to be intelligent and yet are uncritically credulous. 🙂

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        1. Less than 24 hours. The book opens at half past midnight, and by ten that night, Nita fully realizes that either the supernatural is real, or she’s completely insane and hallucinating everything. So she goes with “the supernatural is real” because even if she’s nuts, she has to act. Plus she has Button who is completely normal saying, “I saw that, too.”
          Unless she’s hallucinating Button. Reality is so tricky.

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  13. FWIW, I keep thinking that police detectives, as part of their training, learn that witnesses can be unreliable. Detectives with self-knowledge, then, must realize that what they themselves witness in the course of investigations might also be unreliable. Nita’s a detective. Might she doubt her conclusions because she realizes that maybe she’s an unreliable witness? Rather than TSTL, might she, instead, be suspending judgment because she doubts that she actually knows what she thinks she knows?

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    1. Well, she definitely knows she’s unreliable for the first seven or so scenes because she’s drunk. She knows she’s drunk. While you’re drunk, you get delusions of grandeur, but if you know you’re drunk, there’s also a part of you that stands to one side and says, “You’re drunk. That was dumb and you did it because you’re drunk.” (I may be projecting my own experience here.) So while she does things that appall Button in the early, early morning, she also has that moment when she tells Button that for all she knows, she’s hallucinating Button. It’s the stuff she learns in the cold light of day that’s going to make her cranky and then shocked and then terrified.
      Writing that, I wonder if the fear isn’t what makes it real, when she finally stops clinging to reality and accepts that there’s a whole ‘nother layer to island. I don’t think that’s just a supernatural thing; I think that’s life. There’s the facade we accept as real and then there’s the stuff under that. The election kind of tore the facade off this country in that way, each side sure that they were the majority and both sides confounded by the electoral/popular vote and by the huge gulf between them. So much of what’s happening right now is because nothing is what we thought it was (on either side) so we’re dealing with a New Normal. That’s Nita in Act Two; she has to establish a New Normal and once she’s woven that into her concept of reality, she can kick ass in Act Three and Four as a completely new woman.
      I mean, I have a plan (g).

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  14. I agree with CateM – I think she put her finger on what makes the believe/not believe thing work. And of all the examples of hard to explain things you mentioned or had in previous drafts, I think Nick and the bullets is still the hardest to explain away, so I would expect to have Nita keep coming back to that one when other weird things happen, which underlines the cumulative effect.

    I know it’s a draft, and sorry to quibble, but how can Nita lean back into the car she is still in? But I LOVE the symmetry of Nita keeping stopping the arguments in the car by force of character, and Nick stopping both Rab and Vinnie when they are off track with a word or a look. The start of the relationship between Button and Nita makes so much more sense too. Delightful draft, thanks for sharing.

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    1. Sorry, I’ll change the phrasing, she’s leaning back against the car seat. Sloppy writing.

      I’m thinking maybe the bullets will have to go because you’re right. That’s the one thing that’s irrefutable.
      I had a line from the MUCH longer breakfast scene at one point where she tells Nick that the chain of evidence is broken because he’s had that shirt for a good hour after Joey’s shot and there’s no witnesses. So he could easily have gone back and shredded a shirt and said, “Hey the bullets passed through me,” without that happening.
      And his reply was, “Why would I have done that?”
      She does keep asking him about it at breakfast and then she kind of drops it and Mort doesn’t mention it again, so it’s a problem. Taking it out is also a problem. I just have to figure out how to fix it.
      This is the real problem with Discovery Drafting: stuff goes in there instinctively (or in this case because I started by fixing Lucifer a year ago) and then settles in and you forget to deal with it. There are other things I’m not sure about–the hot and cold thing, for one–but at least I have explanations for those.

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      1. I respectfully disagree that the bullets are irrefutable. No one can see the actual bullets flying – they only see the result. As someone who attempts to translate what I think I see into my work on a daily basis, I can assure you that a great deal would depend on the angle from which a witness viewed the shooting. Plus it happened very fast, in the dark, and was emotionally shocking, so any witness accounts would be suspect. Cops know that. Even security camera footage can be misleading, so there is plenty of wiggle room for some people to believe the bullets passed through Nick and other people to reasonably believe that the shooter was at enough of an angle that the bullets missed Nick and only hit Joey.

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        1. I like that. I just need to get that on the page. Thank you. Actually, I can give all of that to Blake in the car.

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  15. Okay, after reading the draft:
    (a) Quoting when drunk or nervous = Sophie. I love people who quote, mind you, but the “or nervous” made me think of WTT. Nita can quote y’know, just for fun if she likes.
    (b) Would cops allow a drunk cop on the scene at all? I …suspect not and that thought is really distracting me from the story.
    (c) Oh, poor Joey, THAT’s how he died? Ouch!
    (d) “Take the five gallons of potential disaster….” Hah. I am enjoying the bar scene.
    (e) Nita suspecting Nick is not real satisfies me big time for the buying into the supernatural! Also, everything is wrong? Covers it for me! Get er done in chapter 2.
    (f) “Nobody should have to question Cthulhu without a drink in her hand.” Bad cop, good sensibility.
    (g) I am actually liking this and I haven’t been too into the idea before. So yay.
    (h) Demon cat?! That Nita can’t tell and Button can?!
    (I) “Oddly enough, his used car place is called Demon Island Used Cars.” Hahahahah.

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    1. A. The reason I went for nervous quoting is because she’s so instinctive about it. Mort said that line about “there’s a guy in the bar says he’s the Devil,” and I typed the chip shop line automatically after that, not because I wanted a quote there but because it was just there and obvious (I love that song) and then moved on. I think the idea my id was going with is that Nita is pretty much Id in those first drunk scenes. When she’s sober, she’s blunt, but she’s not babbling. I think also it helps to attach a quirk to a character emotion: she doesn’t this when she’s angry and hiding it, she does this automatically when she’s nervous, she does thing when she’s with somebody she doesn’t trust or like, and so on. Emotion lives in the body.

      B. They don’t allow her on the scene. Frank tells Blake she’s there and Blake tells her to go home. Then he yells at her, and she keeps going. So would he go after her and start a confrontation in front of everybody? He’s had a months-long affair with her, so he knows she’s stubborn, he knows she’s drunk and furious with him, he has a murder scene to process with a body that disappears, I’m just not all that sure he’d go for the confrontation. Plus he’s got a subplot of his own going on there, so readers going, “Would Blake just roll over like that?” isn’t entirely a bad thing, although you’re right, I should lampshade it.

      H. Anybody who works with rescue animals has met some odd ones. Nita got Joyce when she was a feral kitten, so she’d have grown into the anomaly she is now. She’s just a huge albino cat with an overbite. She doesn’t spit blue flame or walk through walls. And I think “cat from Hell” is such a standard joke (the “from hell” part) that it’s clear that Button’s not being serious. Of course, I wrote that, so I would.

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  16. I think that she’s progressing naturally and is really close to believing. She might not like believing but she’s getting there. I think it’s the disappearing bodies that are dragging her kicking and screaming toward believing.

    I don’t think that she has to accept that all things claimed to be supernatural are real, just these one. I think it’s okay to say that she believes in demons and the Devil and Hell but not the Loch Ness Monster or whatever.

    I think Button can see there’s something off about Joyce the Cat from Hell because it is her first time seeing the cat. To Nita, she’s just Joyce and that’s it, like how we become accustomed to our own oddities and those of our friends.

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  17. I’d tie it to Nita’s job as a detective: what’s her protocol on believing implausible things instead of continuing to search for alternatives? Does she consciously cite Occam or Hanlon’s Razor? Does she have a favorite quote? Does she emulate a role model or mentor’s advice on that kind of thing? Does she ignore a role model/mentor’s advice on that kind of thing, but have it in the back of her mind?

    You can’t go wrong with the rule of three. The first time is played for humor, the second time introduces doubt, and then the third time confirms suspicions. And as Ian Fleming said, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action,” which was quickly permuted by other people into, “Three times is a pattern,” or “Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern. Three times is a habit.” Nita might not believe at the end of the second incident, but she’s still smart, she’d be able to make a prediction about this hypothetical, even jokingly. Which then isn’t so funny when that prediction comes true for the third incident. That way, Nita’s not a patsy all the way through the denial stage, because she’s kind of known it deep down (just repressing it because of Reasons), as well as providing a place to demonstrate her intellect/competence even before she starts cleaning up. Going longer than three doesn’t just risk TDTL feelings, but also is delaying the promise of the premise. How many times do the Hawks need to get murdered by Savage before we can’t believe that they can get the job done anymore?
    Plus, rule of three is good for putting a fractal 3-act in your first act. In the Campbellian sense, the call is delivered, refusing the call, accepting the call.

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    1. Oh, god, the Hawks. That’s my worst nightmare as a writer: This part isn’t working so let’s do it harder.

      Rule of three: that’s good.
      Now what counts as three. (I’m brainstorming here, not arguing.)
      There’s a drive-by shooting which hasn’t happened before but this is America so not other-worldly. It makes Nita suspicious there’s a lot more going on, but doesn’t trigger “supernatural.”
      Then Mort says there’s a guy in the bar that says he’s the Devil, which is pretty standard on a island famous for Hell cosplay.
      And Mort shows her a picture of the dead shooter, and he’s green, but again, island famous for cosplay.
      Then she goes inside and sees Vinnie is upset, but a friend of his just got shot, so that’s normal.
      Then she sees Nick and knows something is wrong there, but it’s not necessarily supernatural.
      Mort takes his shirt, but he could have shredded the shirt himself, and she points out that there are no holes in him, so no she doesn’t believe. (I need to go back and lampshade that.)
      Then she drinks the scupper and goes into a different kind of drunk state and sees Dag and Rab as green and Nick as a skeleton, but she’s also fully aware she’s tanked and probably hallucinating, so I don’t think that necessarily counts as the first one.

      I think everything up to that point can be explained away without any strain by a rational person.

      Then Button double taps the guy at Nita’s place and he disappears. That has to be One.

      Then Mort tells her the body of the shooter disappeared and left clothes behind, too. But I don’t think that’s Two. I think that just strengthens One because as Nita says, “Body snatchers.” That’s a real reach, but not as far a reach as “that person was a demon and got sucked back to Hell.”

      Then they go to the morgue and there’s a third disappearing body. At that point, Nita has to accept that something is happening to bodies on the island, but I don’t think she has to accept that it’s supernatural. Somebody could just be playing mind games with the cops. I think “Disappearing Bodies” is One, but it’s still explainable.

      Then she and Button investigate Nick and find out a lot more about him–he was arrested as a conman in 1934, there’s a painting of him in the collection of the Borgia pope, etc–that can be dismissed as just look-alikes or even more logically as something Nick found and took his name from, reverse engineering the identity. Still not incontrovertible proof.

      Then Mort calls her to the scene of a crime and says, “Nick called for this guy and there’s a box here nobody can open, bring him over,” and she does and Nick recognizes the box and opens it and there’s something horrible and supernatural inside, but Nita only gets a glimpse. And the result of that is clearly Strange, but there’s a possible rational explanation but only if Nick’s a conman which Nita is also beginning to doubt. Plus she’s stuck in a car with Nick and Mort and they both believe so her bubble is dissolving.

      And then Three would be when she sees Nick smite because that is not natural. I think she could probably come up with a rational explanation for that, but at that point, as you’ve said, the weight of one-two-three plus the violence of the situation just pushed her over into horrified belief.

      And then her mother shows up, and the rest of the act is just Nita trying to find a safe place to stand in the new reality until she wakes up the next morning, and something non-threatening but definitely supernatural happens and she says, “Okay, let’s get this done” and moves on into her new life.

      So
      1. Disappearing Bodies: Possible rational Explanation.
      2. Thing in the Box: Much less possible rational explanation but could still be a con.
      3. Smite: That’s supernatural, which means everything before that might be and probably is from Hell.

      Two and three happen in one chapter, I think, but they’re definitely two different things.

      Must cogitate.

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      1. Viewing this act as a TV episode, it feels like more than three to my gut. I think to an audience, “drunk hallucinations” would be One, complete denial. Maybe use that to offer a preview of when Nita is on board, since she’s shallowly accepting the weirdness in that state. If you get a taste of the premise early, then the set-up can be dragged out a little bit more.

        Button double-tap is Two. The stuff between that and the box is all wrapped up in Two, as Nita systematically rules out the usual explanations via investigation. It’s not complete denial, as Nita would have the unthinkable explanation in the back of her head, but as the lowest probability. If it were One, then the supernatural notion wouldn’t even be in her head. So the prior events planting the seed in her mind make it more of a Two.

        I think the box should be Three, precisely because the smiting feels like the more obvious Three, so kick up the schedule a bit and beat reader expectations. Tie Nita’s reaction to the box to her backstory as to why acknowledging that the supernatural is real is undesirable even beyond a normal person’s reservations.

        Then the smite scene is either more of Nick’s moment, or it’s a new step in their relationship, showing Nita already beginning to re-process Nick in light of her new perspective. Her still finding it unacceptable is different from her still disbelieving it.

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  18. Observations:

    *Total enjoyment. I couldn’t stop reading.

    *I love that Nick and Nita are into each other throughout the opening. It’s fun and satisfying, and I’m already rooting for them to be the answer to each other’s needs. Nice mix of mystery and romance.

    *Nick feels like he’s got more agency in this draft than Nita does, so he comes off as the hero of the story to me, at least in the beginning. Nita is mostly bumping around drunk and reacting to things while Nick is all business, figuring stuff out, making plans, taking control. I should add that it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I like how it shows vulnerability in the otherwise invincible-seeming Nita, but thought I’d mention it.

    *I’m glad Nita is kicking at the idea of things being supernatural, but I’m all for her getting some hardcore evidence quickly and then moving on. Otherwise, the story seems stuck on that point. For me, pacing-wise, I’m fine with her disbelief until we’re in the car heading for the morgue. At that point, I’m expecting her to at least be questioning herself internally, especially since she seemed to kind of be edging that way over breakfast by at least doing the “let’s assume for the sake of argument that you’re the Devil-Elect…”

    Lastly, it seems to me that Nick could end her disbelief in one session of smiting and remove the whole question. I could see her thinking that the tables at the bar were rigged to turn to ash to impress Vinnie, but she could point to her breakfast eggs and say smite that, and when Nick does, you know, that’s pretty good evidence, especially if he goes to chain-smite the rest of her breakfast.

    Anyway, loving this story so hard.

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    1. Well, all she sees are piles of ash which, while incongruous, are just normal piles of ash, they’re not glowing or anything.

      I don’t see Nick showing off a smite just to convince her he’s real, except that he gets exasperated with her in the car, which is now making me think how much Nick would really care that she thinks he’s real. Nick wants to solve his multiplying problems and get back to Hell. Would convincing Nita help that or hinder it? I think he needs to know what she is just to get a grip on the situation, but I think that whole “she’s the key” is way off base. I think he’d think she’s peripheral, another mystery to solve, but not the key to his problem. Joey’s the key to his problem. If he finds out who ordered the hit and then finds out what that guy/woman is up to, then he’s probably going to find the Big Thing that’s behind the hellgate.

      So yeah, there’s a lot of rewriting in that point. Thank you.

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      1. Well, I didn’t mean to turn you off the “she’s the key” aspect. I liked that, maybe because it created a kind of personal bond between them, which goes back to the love interest stuff. But you know more and I’ve liked each iteration of the story better.

        I do have to ask what I’m missing on the smiting thing. I mean, “incongruous” seems pretty generous. She can dismiss the body snatchers because she hasn’t seen it (and she was drunk). Now she’s sober, paying attention and she doesn’t just see a pile of ash, she sees something she’s randomly pointed to turning into a pile of ash? Seems like anyone would be pretty flipped out.

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        1. If she sees the smite, it’s over.

          But just piles of ash while she’s drunk? Probably looks like dust bunnies. Plus you know how when you’re drunk you fixate on things? Her grandpa’s chairs are gone. She really does not want that bar to change and now all the chairs and tables her grandfather bought are gone. It’s going to take her sobering up to get past that.

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  19. Dear Jenny Crusie –

    1. I love your writing.
    2. I love Nita.
    3. I am pretty certain I love you too, on account of 1 and 2.

    Lee

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  20. So I read the comments before I read the draft, so I knew to pay attention to Blake’s behavior and I wasn’t really surprised that he would exit the car. I was surprised that he yelled, “Go to hell.” I just thought that was odd and rude. Though maybe he is? Also, has the lampshade already happened, or did I just read more into “Blake is a good cop, and he’s giving up, and that’s wrong,” because I was looking for it?

    …do your grandkids watch Paw Patrol? “No job too great, no smite too small.”

    OMG this first scene with Nick has changed but IT’S GREAT. I REALLY like the new changes. Everything flows a lot better, especially with the “we must become partners!” bit gone.

    If he was wearing a suit, wouldn’t the suit jacket also have bullet holes?

    Ok, this thing with her saying “you are not real” to Nick–so what, he’s just in her imagination…? It’s a weird accusation. Are we sure Nita doesn’t believe in the supernatural? Maybe she does. Maybe that’s why she snapped at Mort in the car. Because she saw something when she was little in her granddaddy’s bar and she has suppressed it hardcore. And the truth starts to come out when she’s drunk. Maybe Mort saw it too and that’s why he insists demons are real. I’m just having a hard time believing that anybody who truly doesn’t believe in the supernatural would think “what are you?” to someone. If all there are are humans, you would never think that.

    Ah, bad CGI. Ok, I guess that makes sense. Maybe. Could she say, “you look fake”?

    I love Chapter 2.

    OK, taking a break because I’m starving because I couldn’t stop reading to get lunch. Posting this now just in case the computer dies while I’m gone and then will be back to Chapters 3 and 4.

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    1. Well, she starts out asking if he’s had work done (plastic surgery).
      And she really goes into overdrive once she’s had the scupper which makes her demon-drunk.
      Let me cogitate.

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        1. Might be. It’s the first thing she asks him.

          “Something wrong?” he said, his low voice almost a drawl.

          “Have you had a lot of work done?”

          Button prodded her sharply from behind.

          Right, she was pretending to be sober. “I’m sorry, who are you?”

          Of course, I don’t know if “work done” translates to plastic surgery for everybody, either.

          How about this:

          “Have you had a lot of work done?”
          “Pardon?”
          “You know, plastic surgery?” She looked him up and down. “All over?”
          Button prodded her sharply from behind.

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          1. I think maybe because it was the first thing. There was the big paragraph of how he’s pretty, and then that question. To me, that just stressed how beautiful (here, plastic surgery = beauty) he was, not that he looks like a mannequin. Maybe Botox? I went back and read it again, and she does note there that he looks “not real.” But, knowing what I do, I thought that meant she was picking up on his other worldliness, not that he looked plastic. Especially with Button in the background practically purring her approval of his looks. If someone looked that plastic, wouldn’t everyone notice? Which is why I think I kept reading “not real” was “other than human” rather than “bad CGI.”

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          2. I’ve been trying to layer in the not-human part of her without saying it.
            She has seizures when she’s little because of that. She notices things that other people don’t because of that.

            I should probably put up the rest of the act because Nick figures out what she is about Chapter Six. At least part of what she is.

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          3. Oh, well, only if you think you really should… ???

            The scupper scene brings her otherness through loud and clear. Does that count as “saying it?”

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          4. I think so. My idea was that since it’s established that scupper knocks out demons, that went she went out, people would say, “Oh, demon,” along with Nick & co.
            And then when she comes to about five minutes later, they’d say, “Oh, not a demon,” along with Nick & co.

            By the next afternoon, Nick knows what she is, at least in part, so it’s not something that’s a big mystery for the book.

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  21. This draft is much clearer and very enjoyable.

    Firstly Nita, maybe she should mention she is off duty to Nick and Vinnie, she’s drunk and questioning people at a crime scene, she annoys them enough and she’s on duty they can report her, especially as she makes another hot toddy in front of them.

    The disbelief in the supernatural is very believable, if you grew up around fake demons and death and weird is your normal, your first reaction when faced with the devil’s fixer and impossible acts is to look for the trap door and the magic trick. You only buy into the whole supernatural act when you have irrefutable proof

    It is like watching Amelie the movie, the director managed to cause a suspension of disbelief, so we could watch a fantastic story set in a semi fantasy version of Paris without letting our logic get in the way. If he hadn’t managed to get the viewer to the point, we wouldn’t believe the story. Same with Nita, you need to get her, an intelligent cynic to believe in a plausible way in the supernatural.

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    1. She’s drunk and angry. She’s not going to say, “Hey, I’m off duty so you don’t have to answer my questions.”
      She and Vinnie and Joey were, if not friends, long-time acquaintances. The bar used to belong to her family. She’s not a stranger in this place and this is not her first rodeo with Vinnie.
      Making the hot toddy isn’t a violation since she’s not on duty.

      This is not a situation in which Nita will follow the rules, especially since the later conversation with Button makes it clear that she often doesn’t follow the rules and that she expects to get fired at some point, which is why she tells Button to get another partner.

      But this is good. It’s making me think through some stuff I hadn’t yet. Thank you.

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  22. Reader perspective-

    Love this version of the draft.

    It seems to me the Captain is giving Nita a lot of rope to hang herself. That is, she’s letting Nita do things completely inappropriate (poodle pjs, drunk) so as to catch Nita somehow and fire her. Button and the peek at her backstory lets us know she is in a position where she has problems in her history, and the captain has allowed her in the department, but wants to use her to hang Nita. (Love the peek.)

    Nita is intriguing because she obviously isn’t completely human, but she isn’t truly demon. She can enjoy the scupper, but it doesn’t knock her on her ass. She knows she’s different, but has a convoluted reasoning developed to explain her difference.

    I like the diner scene better. It feels more natural. I can visualize Nita relaxing as she warms up and eats. Nick isn’t as confrontational in this scene. (I’m not sure that’s the right word.) He’s more interested – or sidetracked – by the food, so he isn’t pushing Nita on the demon stuff.

    I have more thoughts, but these are the one that pop first.

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  23. Nita is a stubborn personality, not dumb. She’s a trained detective, which is to say a trained skeptic. Works for me she disbelieves for however long in the face to whatever evidence until she does burst into belief.

    Of course, I believe anything you write (shrugs). I figure you must have your reasons.

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  24. I am loving Button. Really want to find out why she’s so trigger happy.

    Also really eager to find out why Nita is so cold.

    I love how people in your books eat and appreciate good food. This is probably one of the reasons why I love them so.

    Ah, there’s my suit jacket answer.

    Ok, at this paragraph: “Because he was nuts. He really believed what he was saying. He was beautiful, and he was fun to have breakfast with, and he was completely and totally insane.” This is when I started to think, C’mon Nita. I can understand her holding out a bit more, a very little bit, but bullets, disappearing bodies, green, iron death. She had better snap soon.

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    1. Whereas I totally get her holding out here still. Nothing that has happened so far can’t be explained away, and I’d think less of Nita if she didn’t try hard to first find rational explanations that fit within her world view.

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      1. I’m with you there! A skeptic cop needs mountains of evidence. She’d need a proper First Encounter to get her to “Perhaps I’ll have an open mind.”

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  25. I have enjoyed each version you have showed us and each time I read one, I wonder how in the world you could make it better…and then the next version comes along and it is better! As a reader (and non-writer) I am fascinated by your explanations of what needs to be changed and why. I absolutely cannot wait for this to be completed and available for purchase.

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    1. Me, too (g).

      It’s been fun doing this with all of you. Really great feedback. And it probably answers the question “Why does it take you so long to write a book?”
      Because it’s hard.

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  26. I’m really loving watching this take shape. Thank you for sharing it!!

    I didn’t think Nita was TDTL for not believing–and I love that Mort is a believer.

    I agree with other commenters that Nita/Button relationship is much smoother now. Loved Button’s “pick a side” bit, although other than that I didn’t think her POV was that interesting/useful/different from Nita’s (it didn’t throw me out of the story or anything, and I assume having get POV will be useful later?).

    I really like drunk Nita’s interesting observations–they’re dolly at times but you still get the impression that she’s detail-oriented and therefore a good cop.

    Things that threw me off: FOUR homicide cops on an island with a small population and no guns? Seems high. Four detectives, fine–but four just for homicide?

    No guns on the island–so nobody hunts? And how did Joey’s killer get a gun onto the island, then? (I can accept that it happened–demons brought it, whatever–but I’d expect Nita/the other cops to be WAY more interested in where the gun came from in the opening scene.)

    Nick being CGI/a skeleton is amazing and I love it. I also like how he’s slowly regaining senses and in denial about it.

    The excerpt made my day–I was SO thrilled to see one chapter, and then came another, and another, and ANOTHER! What an excellent holiday treat. Thank you!

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  27. Yay we get another look. Thank You!

    Each version gets better and better – even when I think it couldn’t – it does.

    My thoughts on Nita denying the existence of the supernatural is that she’s been denying the source of her abilities for most of her life and that can take a while to break through – just over 24 hours for me isn’t actually that long for it to happen.

    Although I (we) know that she has been denying it for that long because it was either in your previous drafts and/or you’ve written it here. Not sure if that comes across in this draft as much as it did before (could be wrong on that though).

    Another thought is that it’s likely she’s still drunk the following morning. She’s got a different metabolism than humans, so this mightn’t be plausible, but she had a fair amount of alcohol the night before (if scupper is actually alcohol) and that would take time to disappear.

    Apologies for pointing this out as I get that this is a discovery draft, but one of my pet hates is timing differences and there is one in the length of time that the dead demon in the SUV disappears and the dead demon at Nita’s (and I suppose the one at the mortuary) also disappear.

    The one at Nita’s disappears in about 5 (maybe stretching to 10) mins after being killed. If I take that as the time standard for dead demon disappearance – can’t quite believe that I’m typing that – unless Mort and the police were at the Hell bar, it’s unlikely they saw the demon in the SUV, and it certainly wouldn’t still be there when Nita arrived. So the disappearing demon at the crime scene would have been a topic of conversation.

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    1. Nope, that’s something I was looking at, too. There has to be something that has an effect. Temperature maybe? It’s cold in the SUV, warm in Nita’s apartment. And then there’s the body in the morgue that disappears the next day. So I just have to reverse engineer an explanation.

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  28. Oh, and I meant to add that I’m glad that Nita doesn’t carry a gun, one of my first thoughts on reading that she get seizures was “and they give her a gun?”.

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  29. That’s weird. That my second nested reply to not nest. I figured the first one was my fault and ignored it. But I’m quite sure this one isn’t!

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  30. I loved it and had no problems at all with Nita and the supernatural aspects. What did strike me was her drinking hot toddies because she’d been feeling sick following the bad doughnut. I’d drink a hot toddy for a cold or sore throat, but I’d steer well clear of alcohol if I was feeling nauseous. Perhaps a hot milk, honey and whisky at a pinch. Is this a cultural thing though? Do you drink hot toddies for bad tummies in the US?

    I’m also mildly concerned about my mental state if I can accept demons but draw the line at hot toddies.

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    1. I’m having trouble with the hot toddies too. I believe Jenny has a reason for the alcohol, but it doesn’t make any sense to me and it’s throwing me off every time I read the draft.

      I love the guys (Nick, Dag, Rab, Mort and even Vinnie) and find them all quite distinct. I’m not sure about the ex-boyfriend yet (am I meant to hate him? Because I didn’t in earlier drafts but now I kind of do). I enjoy Button although her bloodthirstiness seems tamed compared to an earlier draft and I loved the bloodthirstiness even if she kept stealing the show.

      Nita…. well, I love the drafts and the dialogues but she isn’t a person for me yet and I don’t really like her either.

      I don’t have any trouble with her disbelieving Nick is the Devil Elect. The logic of that sequence works for me. I do have trouble with her explanation of her psychic ability. Seizures crossed with detective abilities? While I’m ok with denial (and might even be close personal friends with it), the explanation itself felt clunky and forced to me. Not believable, even in the realm of self-denial.

      I actually find it really difficult to read all the drafts, because there are parts of each one that I like and don’t want to let go of. If that’s how I feel as a reader, it must be terrible as the writer!

      All that being said, am I going to give up reading the discovery drafts? Heck no! I find your writing process intriguing and love love love to read everything you put up. I’m looking forward to a new book so, so much.

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      1. This is what discovery draft is, really, and I think it shows how a linear story is still a bunch of gears, just moving in a straight line.
        That is, as Nita changes, Blake changes. As Button changes, Nita changes. As Dag changes, Rab changes. So what I’m doing right now is getting the first act discovery draft into shape: getting all the characters on the page and ready to launch into the second act where action starts being the focus as the characters develop, and the third act where they put a plan in motion that blows up in their faces, and the last act where they kick ass and take names (because all Crusies have happy endings, sue me). So there are going to be a lot more changes ahead.

        The good news is, I won’t post anything past the first act. So I won’t be ruining the ENTIRE book for you.

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        1. You aren’t ruining the book at all! I just meant it is really hard to let go of particular bits as a reader so I’m guessing it’s horrid as a writer. If it were ruining the book I’d stop reading but actually I’m enjoying it a lot!

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          1. Oh, good.
            Actually, you get so deep into the book that the parts don’t fit are just annoying and not hard to let go of.
            Sometimes a single line will be hard, but that’s a kill-your-darlings thing.

            It’s looking like I will be well over the 30 to 33K limit for the first act. If I can’t cut it, I’ll put the whole thing up and let all of you hack at it.

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  31. I got to the bit where one of the demon minions is ordering the bed from an Ikea in Haven and my first thought was “Oh, great, just what they need, a Troubled person on the island.”

    In the now-ended TV series Haven, the town of Haven, Maine is heavily populated by people who have all kinds of weird supernatural powers called Troubles. It was only vaguely based on the Stephen King novel The Colorado Kid.

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  32. Read (and loved) the chapters. It would not hurt my feelings one bit if you decided to post more.

    I struggled with this question with The Demon Always Wins (yet another title, I think this is the final) and decided to do an end run by having Dara believe in demons-on-Earth going in, because of all the things she’d seen in her grandparents’ church growing up. Also because I knew the slow realization thing would be really, really hard to do. It feels like you’re honing in on it, though.

    My question: Nita doesn’t believe in demons (although demons have apparently had the run of Demon Island her entire life), but Mort does. Which side does her Mom come down on? And what did Grandpa think? Because our default position is what we’re taught to believe, growing up. You can choose to believe something else, but it will have to be a conscious choice. And because our brains are designed to stick with the familiar, it’s a choice you have to keep re-making until you build enough neural connections to the new belief to overwhelm the ones to the old belief.

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    1. Mom’s coming right up. Grandpa will be clear later. They’re peripheral until they’re in a scene (Mom) or until clearing out the attic brings up info on Grandpa (who’s dead and gone).
      The island has a population of around 10,000. Maybe a hundred of those are demons and they’ve assimilated. So while they have the run of Demon Island, they’re trying to fit in and most of them are perfectly nice people who have no intentions of causing trouble because they don’t want to be found out, either by Hell’s agents or by the human populace. They’ve seen what humans do to other humans who are immigrants, they have no intentions of adding “demon” to that nightmare.

      It was the thing that struck me most about all the immigration crap that the Republicans threw during the elections: “Immigrants are coming here to kill you.” But immigrants have a much lower crime rate, especially illegal immigrants, because they don’t want to do anything that will call attention to themselves. So natural-born Americans are murdering and raping right and left and getting away with it (“stand your ground” and “let’s not ruin this boy’s future”) while law-abiding immigrants get . . . demonized. Also the vast majority of terrorist acts on American soil are committed by white supremacists; but we’re going to register law-abiding American citizens who are Muslim because . . . ISIS!

      When it comes to the Other (as defined by white people), people are idiots. Which is why non-idiot Others keep a low profile.

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      1. I have a hypothesis that fear-of-other developed in our rhinencephalons back when we were cave people and other meant sabre-toothed tigers and cave bears and giant snakes. And even though we went on to develop huge forebrains, that pre-historic “It’s not like me! It’s out to kill me!” is still deep inside our primitive brains, where sex and smells and fear hold sway. And since they’re really close to our spinal cords, and really far from our shiny new cerebral cortexes, they’re resistant to logic.

        (Pretty sure I stole this from somewhere. No idea where.)

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        1. I tend to think it’s about tribes. People form tribes/communities to survive; if the community is threatened, then everybody in it is threatened. So if somebody can convince you that your tribe is threatened, that shuts out everything else.

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  33. That was a delight to read. I haven’t read all the comments, so people may have said this already, but some thoughts:

    -Button says something with “admirable focus” twice in the opening chapter. Maybe cut one?

    -It took a couple scenes in for me to start seeing Dag as a distinct character. Rab and Nick pop right away – Dag just seems like a blander, less powerful Nick (in terms of emotions) the first scene he’s in.

    -the opening Nick scene is SO MUCH BETTER. It’s got the stuff I liked about the original, but it’s shed weight. That said, after a while it was a lot of dialogue between people I didn’t know yet. It would help me to have a little more actions/ description at some point in that scene to break up the dialogue.

    – the “he was white” thing about the guy button shot threw me out of it for a second. For half a second, I shot she was saying she shot him because he was white/white people are ok to shoot. Then I realized we’re just establishing that Button’s violence isn’t systematic racist cop violence, it’s Button violence, which is obviously important to establish. So maybe still include that he’s white, but give me one or two other details about him/ his crime, i.e. “white man with a bad haircut pointing a gun at me” so that it doesn’t stick out so much.

    -this one could totally just be me, but the line about clubs and schools getting shot up, so now people are ok with the gun ban on the island threw me out of the story a little. It’s just those shootings have so much real world tragedy and weight, by contrast it reminded me how very fictional demons/ Nita’s world is. I think it would work for me if it was a line about shootings going up, and leave out the shooting locations. But maybe that’s just me.

    Things I loved:
    -The breakfast scene
    -how Dag’s crush/ the ban on demon human relationships is introduced
    -having read it, I don’t have troubles with the speed at which Nita believes/ doesn’t believe in the supernatural. I bought it, and her.
    -Nita’s defiance and action in the opening scene. Actually, the whole opening scene
    -Nick already getting more human with the yawn, the irritation, the eating. It’s great watching him humanize, and watching Nita get warm.
    – I like drunk Nita. I would be friends with drunk Nita.

    For me, it’s getting to the point where I’m thinking about stopping reading drafts because it feels more like a finished book I want to read all at once than a scene being workshopped.

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    1. The “he was white,” also threw me at first (for same reason), but I concluded that it was establishing that she got in trouble because he was white (and had she shot a non-white then she wouldn’t have had to transfer). So maybe definitely another way to say as readers are drawing differing conclusions?

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      1. I read it as Button explaining it wasn’t systemic racist violence right away, but I’m pretty far leftand probably not a good barometer for how most Americans will read it.

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  34. I’ll catch up on the comments & add my 2 cents later. Just wanted to thank you for the gift of new chapter versions! I’m surprised by how much better they are and you thinking they still suck. I really liked the first versions, but it is so much tighter what you fit in & how you got it in there. I also liked how you kept what we liked. Okay, I’ve only read the first chapter but will devour the rest shortly.

    Thank you!!

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  35. Okay, here’s my thought. She’d start by accepting the thing right in front of her that’s unnatural and that’s sort of a gateway to comprehension. See also the fact that I’m not a fantasy/scifi girl but i read all of the Mortal Instruments, even the shitty last book, and the best illustration I can give is the simple repeated statement in that series where Jace, one of the Shadowhunters, tells the skeptical Clary: All the stories are true.
    When she questioned things, he’d tell her this again, as in, see, told ya.

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  36. When I commented on this post earlier, I hadn’t realized that you’d put up revised chapters to read. Just read them — Wow. The story has gone far. It makes tons more sense now even though you don’t drop a lot of information.

    I’m uncomfortable with Button-the-cop-who-shoots. Her remark about a victim being white — as if that made him expendable — shocked me. I found myself wishing that she was being forced to transfer jobs (not the choice she makes in the story) because of number of times she’d used a gun — and that those uses had all been silly and justifiable. (On the order of shooting the messed up mechanics on a runaway ferris wheel so that a bunch of kindergartners are safely rescued.)

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    1. I just rewrote the Button scene, and got rid of the lines that tripped people up, put it a lot deeper into Button’s PoV. The one that’s up there now is a very first draft, so it has a long way to go.

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  37. The second scene works a lot better for me now, mostly because Nick is working better for me than he was before. And the single precision smite seems more effective than the other version I remember where he set a few other things on fire. Rabiel is great, by the way, I love him.

    Nita doesn’t seem TDTL for not believing at this point. She gets a pass on all the stuff she saw while she was drunk in the bar. The disappearing green body in her house is really the first thing I think she couldn’t completely blame on alcohol since Button and Mort also saw the strange stuff. And vanishing corpses could have a non-supernatural explanation; so could the green skin. If she accepts the supernatural in a day or two, I think that’s pretty good. I’ve read stuff where it’s taken much longer, but those were series/trilogies, and the supernatural happenings weren’t as overt. If she keeps seeing stuff like what happens in these chapters, a couple more incidents seems reasonable.

    Button seems fun so far, and I am curious/concerned about her trigger happy tendencies. The fact that she uses the way people see her to her advantage makes me like and respect her. Her talk of transferring threw me for a second – is the island police force like a city police force, a sheriff’s department, state police? I ask because she can’t just transfer to another agency from wherever she was before. She could resign from another agency and then get hired on the island though. Or if the island is policed by a county or state agency I think she could have transferred from another part of the county/state while still staying with the same agency. It’s clearly not central to the story, it just confused me a little.

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