This story details four keys to the title character’s personality. The first key is a persona or personal mythology by which the character attempts independently of other people and his relationship with others. This persona gives the character an aura of irony in which his literal statements contrast with actions. The second key is a level arrogance and disgust towards others that allows to make absolute judgments and dismiss criticism. Third is the character lack empathy (though not sympathy), lack of reflection, and lack of overall thoughtfulness. Finally, the character is possessed with a great deal of self-satisfaction.
First the character’s persona is something both the narrator and the other major character in this story (the character’s wife) recognize. His “humble behavior” is this idea he has of himself that everyone seems to know is not true. His first speech to the public is summarized by the author as being seen as humble, but the character is not humble despite his assertion that he is just short Jewish guy with glasses. His humility is an affectation, he actually feels quite superior and independent from most others. Furthermore, he enjoys the attention. He enjoys “shaking hands”, the praise of people on the street and when discussing this praise he doesn’t bother to correct Jon Stewart’s assertions that he is a hero. This contrasts with earlier affectations of humility such as “I’d done what I could.” The character never acknowledges any weaknesses or short-comings despite this ‘just folks’ persona. Take for example his early work experience. He says he was doing okay, but not excelling as much as others. Rather than acknowledge that he lacked some talents or abilities he speaks pejoratively of those that were more successful calling them “kiss assess”. I am sure if one were to ask the character why he said that, he would simply retort that ‘it was true’.
This brings us to the second major key of his personality which is arrogance and absolutism. Take for example his brushing off of the president “because he didn’t vote for that asshole” and his early dismissals of congress, of journalism and as previously mentioned his co-workers. The character never qualifies any of his opinions. This relates as well his affectatious nature. Note how author describes people’s reaction to his first public speech: “ Many still remember his soft words, his talk of being glad he was able to help.” In situations in which the character is in control, when we can define the value relationship of things he can maintain this friendly humble manner. But the narrator also remarks how this friendly behavior is not his normal public behavior “On television, he always sounds annoyed - understandable since a reporter has usually just shoved a microphone in his face.” Thus, when others set the agenda or initiate the confrontation he is angry. One might argue that just beneath the surface anger is a key to personality. I would argue that anger comes from his sense of superiority and willing to dismiss others.
This ease in dismissing others and his quick rise to anger brings us to the third key in his personality. Take for example the encounter in which he find the woman fired for being a Delta. The story does not detail his feelings towards the woman or any efforts he took to comfort the woman. The encounter with woman quickly becomes about his response to the event. This shows a low emotional I.Q. on the part of the character, which something that is explored and confronted in this piece. Consider when the Jacob is saved from the assassination attempt. Prior to that he had enjoyed the attention of others but had not understood the attention. The same was true with his first term in congress. He had been dismissive of the whole thing and did not realize the responsibility he had towards other. Thus, he does not reflect on situations. He responds to them. He does not understand other people's emotions, but is quick to respond to their emotions with his own. The character is not reflective as a whole, even saying he doesn’t enjoy reflecting on 9/11 and seeks to avoid recounting that day. But he does enjoy the congratulations from the “man on the street”. He enjoys being the Hero but we must assume that being reminded of his heroics does not cause him to reflect on the horror of the events. However, the work does indicate that the character of Jacob has grown on this front. After the write-in votes and after his life was saved he seems to be making an effort to understand what people need from him and not just what he thinks they need. This lack of consideration of others likely springs from or at feeds into the last point.
Finally, this brings us to the characters great-deal of self-satisfaction. He is a very happy man. He pleased with his life and who he is and does not look outward for vindication or justification. Indeed, he might dismiss those that seek to challenge his view of his life or himself. The character also never invokes other people in terms of gratitude or admiration (aside from the person that save his life-sign of character growth). He speaks of no mentors, doesn’t mention of his father much and acknowledges no regrets, disappointments or mistakes. When he does mention others they are celebraties: Jon Stewart, Schwartzaneger and so on. He never acknowledges his campaign staff or co-workers. There is a clear distinction between the little people and players in his mind. He would not change a thing about himself I am sure. I assert it is unlikely he would have pursued such a public life if he didn’t have A) the ability take it or leave it and B) a position of moral and social superiority. With regard to point A, note his resentment at the write-in vote. I would wager that if this man had never gained powers, his personality would have withdrawn more and more into his family and private life.
The arrogance, the lack of doubt, the anger, the self-satisfaction, the persona and the love of attention I think explain the character’s action. The character is national hero and symbol willing to act and speak independently of all others. In a slightly different setting he would make a great villain. He already has a history of approaching people with disgust and absolutism. Could this man decide he knows what is best for the world? Could his anger and emotions start to rule his actions so much that he becomes destructive? If anything his inward focus is what holds him in check.
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Nicely done, I liked the format and was surprised (in a good way) when the letters switched perspective to steph. This is a good read and nice way of communicating information. You don't quite pull off the changing tones of a maturing mind in such away that you could write this without the ages beneath the letters. Still a fun intro for an RPG game.
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Upside of keeping the tone earnest and consistent through out is it suggests that the hero maintained his innocence through out and thus he is still that scared 9 year old boy when he gets pulled off towards the aliens. Who was it said that the key to sci-fi was to present a situation in which the youngest of men believe they could go as they are now and save the universe? That sci-fi has to provide a reality in which the pimply face round bellied boys felt like they could transcend all without the painful and compromising process of actually becoming a man.
I enjoyed this chapter. I found the description of to be Nalan Kahn to entertaining and clear. I found a lot of the discussion about what future Botari can expect was interesting. Lines like "There was no reason to fret over a none-too-stringent conflict not to come for years."
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It is very interesting that these she is looking at all these things both backwards and forwards. But what does Botari want for the future?
I haven't noticed any problem with your action sequences. Thus far you have only had Botari's chase with kidnappers, and I thought you handled that well.
My advice for what to write next is to put in a complete mini-arc. You have your group together, and it seems to be that you are shooting for the classical-on the road-fantasy story. During the complete mini-arc you can continue your over arching story, but put in some conflict that gets slaughtered, cooked and devoured.
Let us say it is a wrestling Mini-arc
1) Temujin and gang meets a guy that has been and is a social and physical rival to Temujin. Botari remembers him from her past life, remembers how her Temujin told her a story that this rival was arrogant and distrustful of him until Temujin beat him in a wrestling match.2) The guys is disruptive to the group, he and Borochu get into a little scuffle. Temujin breaks it up and tries to talk it out.
3) Borochu gets huffy and Botari thinks Temujin is handeling things wrong. HE IS NOT DEALING WITH THINGS THE WAY HER TEMUJIN WOULD HAVE.
4) She encourages Temujin to challenge the rival to a match, she is confident he will win and that this will improve Temujin's relationship with this man.
5) Temujin loses the match and Botari, as a result is filled with doubt. Temujin is humiliated and no doubts Botari's advice. Botari now doubts whether not her intervention was helpful. She wonders who this new young Temujin is really? She wonders if her old Temujin was telling the truth when he described beating this man in a wrestling match or was it just the tall tales of a proud man? Losing in a wrestling match also might make his tribe look week.
Here you would have a whole arc. There is a conflict, there is a build up, there is a resolution, all these steps relate to the larger plot points but do not define them. But keep the focus centered on this mini-arc for a while. You haven't kept things on focused on any sub-plot points thus far.
This chapter has nothing to do with the thought stone or the tribe they just left. Try resolving smaller plots as a way of advancing the larger plot.
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I am all for wrestling.
Serious font for two seconds: I did really struggle with the first paragraph. How much information was too much, and I agree the second sentence needs to go. Maybe the first paragraph all together. I also wasn't sure the gag about this guy thinking his gun and truck would be any use to him worked. I agree they sort of stall the pace of this.
But your comment made me also realize that this post is more or less what and where it is meant to be.
You see crucifiction, as you are new to site, what you need to understand is that I am the type of writer that quite simply....
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hang on there is something going on outside, I will jus......
Moon I can't tell if this post is funny or not, but I was going for funny. I also can't tell you the difference between a joke and satire, and that may mean I was going for both. But I didn't want to be mean, I just wanted to be funny. But I would like to make this post better at communicating the ideas and gags that are already in there. If you don't mind lets go over the first paragraph.
I wanted to convey three things. First the Eugene character’s lack of success in other fields of his life, thus mentioning the divorce and that he only held this job because of nepotism. I was hoping that these apparent failures would contrast with his arrogance and paint a self diluted and humorous caricature. Second, I wanted to communicate his relative age. By mentioning a divorce in particular it signaled that he was an adult, and his literal adulthood would contrast with his true child-like state that required he ask for his mother’s permission and explain his actions to her. Finally, I wanted to set up some geography of the location. There only two things in the picture, the demon and the church. So I was trying to place the church in a bit on context with regard to location in space and time. When writing something on the Citadel you cannot take for granted that your audience will place the events in a modern setting. A church in the Citadel could be anywhere from Domrémy-la-Pucelle, France in 1412 to the dreamscape of a Martian Cyborg as he travels back in time from the year 3000 to 13th century France. So by mentioning things like driveways, Okalahoma, Lutherans and divorce I placed the scene more or less in modern times.
Those are the things I wanted to communicate. I went back and added the first paragraph after I finished the rest of the anecdote. But I made one of the classic blunders. I assumed that my readers (all three of em) are paying attention. The better assumption is that you have to catch your reader’s attention. I think perhaps I failed to do that with the first paragraph.
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I considered some other intros, that is why I couldn't finish this in 30 minutes. I will post my other intros in the comments section. Tell me what you think of those Moon, and also tell me how you would manage the above points.
Alternate intro one.
Eugene Simons was a 32-year-old man who believed he understood the world far more than his education and professional achievements justified. Despite having no higher education and not having a full time job, Eugene was very pleased with his own intellectual capabilities and often disgusted with the lesser thought processes of most people. Eugene had always had an enthusiasm for ideas but he lacked the self-discipline and stomach for disappointment that was required for true intellectual or artistic careers. This love for ideas but distaste for the reality in which those ideas existed gave Eugene one true life path. Eugene became a Dungeon Master.
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He worked part time as the ground’s keeper at a church to which his family were generous contributors. But of the 20 hours a week they paid him to be there he spent most of it scribbling notes about dungeon maps and wilderness encounters in a spiral notebook. He felt he worked better at the small basement desk they had given him next to the furnace. The rest of his week he spent watching the television or reading comic books. Both tasks he approached with an affectatious seriousness. He considered these endeavors to be important research.
Imagine one could shop for minds the way one shopped for houses. If such a thing was possible a person could not help but be struck dumb when the realtor stopped her car in front of the mind of a 32-year-old custodian named Eugene Simons. Eugene’s mind is enormous. Just in shear scope and square footage it would rival the fabled pad of Mr. Darcy or shame the stage for lazy storytelling that is Dowtown Abbey. The inside is no less spectacular in terms of scope. The rooms of Eugene’s mind are enormous. The size of ideas and concepts that these spaces could hold is absolutely stunning. And layout of this cranial castle is such that all the enormous ideas can run together. Each room opens upon another (Eugene is to old fashion a thinker for anything as efficient as a hallway) and if you were to throw open all the doors you could effectively merge scores of different ideas into one contiguous form.
But those are just the first impressions. Upon second appraisal one would be forced to notice how little furniture and material there is in these room. Yes they can hold huge ideas, but the rooms themselves are almost useless. The space is excellent for party but Eugene has poorly equipped his mental house for the day-to-day tasks of living. Additionally, there is very little light in these spaces. The windows are small and hard to access. The lack of light means that when all these ideas parade through this gigantic house they appear as little more than shadows. Details and depth cannot not be seen when something passes through these dim rooms.
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Finally if one were to look a little deeper you might find something discarded in the corner. That item in the corner is our entire universe, or at least Eugene’s conception of it. Eugene took one look at the universe, and was confident he understood it all from quarks to macroeconomics to marriage to why milk is better with hot wings than beer. Eugene glanced at the universe, felt he mastered it, rolled it up into a small ball and tossed it aside so that he could parade his own poorly illuminated ideas through his great empty mind. Eugene became a dungeon master.
Speaking to that retro feel, that may be in part because this centers on a Mind Flayer which is still a pretty esoteric monster. The Mind Flayer's squidy visage is still a flag for the true geek community.
Fantasy and Sci-fi is enjoying a golden age now with vampires, lycans, superheros, zombies, wizards and dragon mamas enjoying mainstream success. In 1974 I would wager that the majority of americans did not have a mental image of an Orc. Today you would have to be living on a Roc to not have a least a conception of an orc (yeah they might get it confused with a goblin or troll) but the Mind Flayer is still ours. But as the Dawn Breaks open the markets for speculative fiction a Twilight descends on what was once a Secret Circle of knowledge and learning. Under that Dome we knew what Tenser's floating disk was and we knew it had nothing to do with Disk World. Now though the main stream media is Staking a claim to the undead and the mystical, and twisting them away from the ideals held by the unwashed masses that could correctly pronounce acronyms like T.H.A.C.O. or G.U.R.P.S.. Some things are still pure though; the beholder, the rust monster, the displacer beast and of course the Mind Flayer.
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And until somebody writes a best selling book or movie about a sexy noble Mind Flayer who flatters a small town girl to ruin than we can keep some pure memories of rolling 20 sided dice in our garages. Perhaps that is why Mind Flayers are retro. Mind Flayers are still clean.
8) Street Car:
Newbie: “Wait that was my stop, I thought this stopped…”
Local: “Oh no darling, between 4:47-6:59 the Green Line is an express. You wanted the Purple Line.”
If you want a snap shot of a city this is your train. Sometimes they are subways, sometime they're elevated trains, sometimes they are electric trolleys that move through automobile traffic on rails buried in the concrete. Boarding these trains is no special trick. Any mook with local coin can buy a ticket or token, some cities don’t even bother charging. So what separates this train from just any ordinary train? There are no Strangers on this Train, unless that stranger is you. The people on this train may not know each other by name, but they now each other by feel. If your whatzit is on this train then the trick to making the hand off smoothly or meeting your contact discretely will be blending in with train’s daily passengers.
9) Circus train:
That fist-fight on the over pass goes from bad to unbelievable worse when wrestle your opponent over the railing and on to this train. You could land in car full of lions, tigers, bears or elephants, and those vicious beasts are the passengers that won’t lift you wallet after they gut you.
The circus is full of desperate showman, ruthless capitalists, and discarded outcasts. It should be a community full of danger and promise. These train cars are the inner sanctums of a group that is both extremely public and deeply secretive. This is the place that they strive hard to keep private and personal. The circus won’t be happy to find people snooping or stealing, but they might be sympathetic to fellow vagabond or showman. The only thing you can be sure to find on a circus trains is something that people are willing to spend money to see.
10) Toxic Train
General: “Mrs. Secretary, I have 500,000 millions tons of the deadliest most evil compounds ever known to man sitting in an aging weapons depot in New Jersey that your president just de-funded. And the only place that can dispose of that stuff, really disappear it, is in Arizona. Here is the Map Mrs. Secretary. If we get a clear track and follow this path we put this stuff to bed in a month.”
Mrs. Secretary: “Oh no general, Ohio and Pennsylvania are swing states, if they find out we shipped this through their country side, certainly not Akron. Oh no no no, we send it through Maryland, then Virginia, but stay away from the beltway during rush hour…”
This train is a government’s dirty secret. It could be carrying radioactive material, chemical weapons, mutagens, aliens, or just death. The route of this train is irrational and political. It will be hard to track if that is what people are trying to do, but alternatively it may show up were somebody won’t expect it. It will be guarded, but not too well staffed because this train’s route and cargo is on a need to know basis only.
11) Maximum Overdrive-Train
Little Girl: “Grandpa, is it true people made the trains and use to ride in em.”
Grandpa: “Heck! Use to be they wouldn’t run without us shoveling coal down their gullets and constantly tugging at their innards with wrenches and levies.”
Little Girl: “What happened?”
Grandpa: “Trains got smart, trains got mad.”
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In this hellish steam punk fantasy-scape the trains were the most powerful tools man ever made until they got smart and jumped their tracks. Now the trains are man’s worst enemy, and possibly man’s new overlord. These long steam engine driven trains have steam plumes that be seen for miles as they cross the desert. They are mile long and move in flowing s curves like snakes gliding across the sand. They come to towns demanding water for their boilers and taking goods and material for their cars. They threaten the town with ferocious and ear cutting whistle like roars, before they chug their way over to the water tower. If the town doesn’t comply, then the train crushes the town and moves on until it finds a town that will comply or it dies trying. Trains don’t die pretty either. Capturing a train like this would be worth quite a bit as her box cars are full of plunder.