Every so often I like to shake things up from a structural perspective, so that I don’t fall into a rut of each chapter simply ticking off plot points. That way lies a rather flat story. That’s what led to the unusual double-flashback setup back in the chapter ‘Flight’.

‘Imagination’ is one of these chapters, although I kinda chicken out halfway through. It opens with Kay giving a speech, and I continue with this for about a third of the chapter, without any kind of narrative break. It’s 100% dialogue, with Kay trying to give the best speech of her life.

She fails, of course. An odd challenge here was to write something that was compelling to read, and which sounded like it was almost doing what it needed while just falling short. I’m a big fan of John Bates’ communication training and I applied some of his principles here, albeit in a deliberately not-quit-there manner.

Kay opens with a vivid story. Lots of audio-visual stimulus. It’s raining, and warm. Lots of colour information peppered throughout. All layered in there to paint a picture. Open with the unexpected, then explore the subject.

The problem Kay runs into is that her subject is far too complex and convoluted to arrange into a neat speech. She fails to sufficiently curate the story, mixing up the anecdote with Plavtok the philosopher and some overly patronising and obvious rhetoric. Combined with her own inexperience this leads inevitably to a hostile crowd and she has no understanding of how to handle that (you need to create your own audience, but Kay’s never been to a John Bates boot camp, alas – he doesn’t exist on her world).

That’s where the chapter reverts back to a more typical flow. Part of me wishes that I’d had the guts to make the entire chapter her speech – but, then again, that might have simply been over-indulgent.

The other thing this chapter is able to do is see Earth from the perspective of Locque inhabitants. Being reminded of how weird Earth is to Locque citizens is really important at this point in the story, as this final arc is, in many ways about the collision of those two cultures.

Soundtrack: various classical – Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc


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