I’m going to do this whole sequence in one shot, since most of the chapters in it are short.
Subjects touched upon herein: clone wars, sorcery, lemon nipples, damn dirty apes, echoes, foreshadowing, and stage-2 gardening.
Clones are characters in your story that represent what could, should, or might happen to the protagonist if he or she takes a particular path.
He then goes on to blow my mind with the concept that supporting plots should actually, you know, SUPPORT the PLOT instead of just being busywork and filler (which was more of a mental illumination than something quotable), oft making use of the clones for this purpose.
The supporting pot in WCAD involves Ben’s desire to liberate his mother from this ghost town before it kills her, too. This parallels the main plot of liberating the woman he loves from the same fate.
Janine is a clone for Tally in more ways than getting the hell out of Westard. They’re both hardworking, practical to a fault about money, have bad luck with men, and push Ben away so he will get the hell out of Westard and have a better life.
Janine’s life (still in Westard, job insecurity, penny pinching, loneliness, contentious relationship with Ben) is what Tally has to look forward to in twenty years if she doesn’t stop their shared behavior.
Ben could also stand to learn a thing or two from these spats with his mother to avoid the same results when he has pretty much the same spats with Tally. (Gosh, it’s like it’s designed to all tie together or something! What witchcraft is this?)
I put a spell on you
Trying to save them from the treatment she got at home. Protecting them the way no one protected her.
Victims of abuse often develop a savior complex, acting out the rescue fantasies they wish someone would perform for them. Because they have no experience with being protected, their attempts are generally clumsy, ill-received (as with rambunctious classmates), and/or self-defeating (lying to her dad to keep her mother’s lies from sending him to jail, leaving Ben “for his own good”). The intentions may be noble, but the result is control-freak behavior from someone who feels powerless to control anything in her own life.
Well-meaning controlling behavior? Seems like we’ve heard that before. Hmm. Could two characters be suffering from different forms of the same affliction and need to change before they can live happily ever after?
Lemon Nipples III: The Revengeancing
Previously in the saga: In Chapter 2, Tally is resigned to the nuisance of the sticky door buzzer and leaves silencing it to someone else. In Chapter 4, after being agitated by Ben, she takes action against the sticky door buzzer by beating the crap out of it and includes it in a list of things that make her cry every day. In Chapter 16, the buzzer is both same-shit-different-day and a herald of disappointment when it summons her to the front of the bakery and the visitor is someone other than Ben. In Chapter 18, the buzzer is again the recipient of her frustration as she whacks it to break up its tête-à-tête with her ex-best friend.
Now in Chapter 23, Ben contemplates throwing the buzzer under the train to Happyville to solve the problem for her, taking it for granted that she would be relieved by his interference.
I could have had him forge ahead with that plan and find his efforts unappreciated, but that seemed like a petty reason for a fight at this point. Petty fights, if you’re going to have them, need to happen early in the story. In the chain of escalating conflict, if you throw in a petty dispute two-thirds into the story, everybody looks childish and TSTL (I can’t be the only one who’s read a couple hundred of those books, so I know you know what I’m talking about). Ben’s about to butt heads with his mother and The Big Fight is coming up in the next sequence (good thing I warned you about spoilers, eh?), so an extra squabble would be gratuitous, anyway.
Polite dinner conversation
“Out my nose?”
“Like a faucet. You thought it was hilarious. I swear you were trying to aim it.”
Baby nose vomit.
“I thought the animosity toward the corporate executive was out of proportion to his actions.”
“It was the British accent. Even chimps know that’s evil.”
“They must. They pegged Malfoy even without his.”
Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Stop hitting yourself
“People don’t live here. They haunt it” harkens back to “The place is a ghost town” back in Chapter 7.
Omens, portents, and prophecies, oh my
- At this point, he wished someone would come right out and say You did the right thing or You’re a dumbass — expect someone whose approval he covets to do so eventually
- Try not to pick a fight — expect there to be a fight
- However noble his intentions were, forcing them on her was a dick move. — YAY, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT! But expect the lesson not to penetrate more deeply than his relationship with his mother until life takes a hammer to him, because it’s too early in the story to have the full transformation
- In Chapter 16, mention was made of the neighbor’s barking dog — now Tally has to let Ben in the house before the dog starts barking and wakes up her dad.
- In Chapter 19, Ben wondered if holding back with Tally had been his mistake before because she expected him to “fling” himself at life and interpreted his respectful restraint as indifference — now he’s done treating her like spun glass and tells her, “I’ll fling myself at it (you) and take my chances.”
That seems extremely sparse for five chapters. Either the story’s really straightforward and self-explanatory at this point, or I’m too distracted by 8-out-of-10 TMJ pain as I’m writing this to do it justice (funny how you can forget the normal way you’ve been holding your jaw for the past four decades, thus making it impossible to achieve facial comfort). If I missed something you want to know, hit me below.