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Grey Hat Commentary: Chapter 1 · 8:28am Feb 25th, 2015

This entry contains spoilers for Grey Hat. Be warned...



For quite a while, this chapter was supposed to be two different chapters. The split was originally the line break where it shifts from Fluttershy’s perspective to Shining Armor’s. I was experimenting with different chapter lengths, wanting to make them more bite sized and easily digestible for the masses. Quality was still just fine, but not much was truly accomplished in that first chapter. Now I still considered their entire stay on the ship one scene, just split up from different perspectives, so the problem of nothing really of note happening in the first half came up. I agreed with my editors to merge the two chapters together.

.                                                        ~Artist unknown

I had the idea of some vast terminal in my head for quite some time. Despite the size of the Absolution, the first impression I wanted to give was that everything and everything you’d ever need could be found here somewhere. I based a good chunk of the ship’s imagery off the image above, from the blank, boring and as Shining puts it, sterile feel of the place, to the mass of people. Looking back no that it has been published, I kinda wished I did a little more. I’m not quite sure if that’s just my desire to scenery porn up the place up talking, or if it was a genuine weak spot.Coming fresh off the previous chapter, I do continue the same ideas I started with the first: media. Mass media plays a very important part in my story, mostly because critical clues and upcoming plot points, along with several hints about the other side stories, come up there. You can actually guess future plot points coming at you before I reveal them if you pay attention.Also, media let me wash through a rather painful process quickly and with relative ease: exposition. This story is a sequel, after all, and it would be extremely difficult to summarize it point-for-point in order to catch you up on current events. Using media to fill in the gaps not only makes you as a reader question what is and isn’t true, it is a legitimate means to do so, fast enough to not bore those who haven’t read the prequel, comprehensive enough to fill you on the context, and lets me focus on the characters I need to more. Fluttershy and Applejack weren’t major characters, so how they react to past events isn’t the same as Twilight, the star of Into the Black.It also let me continue the lingering thread of DaemonJack. Now I still can’t talk too much about him just yet, but the news report better filled in his role in the universe. I have one hell of a playground to play with, but I’m focusing on my city.Fans of me know I am a huge fan of the cyberpunk genre, so it was no question when strange machinery popped up here and there. I spent long and hard thinking about ways machines would enter our lives so far in the future. The one rule I wanted was it had to have some sort of conventional of cosmetic use. The guy with the funky skull, for instance, was derived from those who enjoy more extreme body piercings. Still, everyone, no matter what they had or who they were, for them to appear anywhere in my story, they had to have a story to tell. From the woman who greeted Sam and flirted with Shining Armor:

.                                                        ~Artist Unknown

To the man with the strange device on his arm:

.                                                        ~surfeit

Everyone has a story to tell.This also let me make a few characters feel a little more authentic. The clerk was grumpy. Why? Well there were plenty of reasons, and I touched on none of them. Ana moves around a lot. Ana is bubbly and a little obnoxious. A fleet of security guards accompanies her boss wherever she goes. Little things that would build up a little frustration over time in the real world, I transferred them to real life. I don’t remember where I saw it, but it was an article that said there are two types of writers: gardeners, and architects. The gardener plants a single seed and goes from there, trimming and working as it grows and grows. The architect plans everything out from the beginning, and then plots it out when satisfied. I started off as a gardener, and moved my way to architect. I build little stories for everyone. Why did that woman wink at Shining Armor? Where did Sam get his scar? Where did Ana get hers? I didn’t want any one character to feel incomplete or useless, so no matter what, I gave each one a little personality even if they had no on screen presence or affect the story in any way. Hell, I don’t even describe what DaemonJack looks like, and it’s not hard to figure out he’s a narcissistic asshole.I don’t touch very much on what the Equestrians do and don’t do in the news broadcast. I can’t really do much anyway, because not only do I not affect those paths much in my story, it’s very easy to get certain details countermanded or even contrasted with other writers. I tried to stick with what I knew of the universe, including my super secret knowledge and all the secret handshakes I gained form being one of the co writers. The devil is in the details, and while it may not seem like much, it would be easy to have any one of those points not agreeing with another writer in the future. Still, I put on the blindfold and walked into the mindfield. I am ninja already, so maybe I’ll dodge the bullet.Sam was fun, even if his role was minimal. The accent, the scars, the extremely laid back attitude, even his antagonistic yet friendly relationship with Ana was all carefully set up. I finally listened to the advice I’ve been giving other authors for more than two years: show, don’t tell. I think I’ve actually figured out how to write decent characters how. Same goes for Ana. Sadly, less so for her because of the smaller role she plays.The most important piece of all was Shining’s conversation with Sam at the end. The vast majority of my story takes place in Magnasanti, a place I’ve been building for the better part of a year. I’ve taken everything I’ve read in Into the Black and bastardized it as hard as I could. I was given two directives: AJ and Flutters were to go somewhere to work as farmers, and... sorry, still can’t say. The Alliance was a pretty nice place, where people got along quite nicely and where aliens could intermingle with ease. Literally one of my first objectives with building Magnasanti was, “Okay, how can I screw that over in the hardest way possible?”I am a firm believer in happy endings. However, I believe that the happy ending must be earned. Then I found a particular book. The perfect book to base my story after. I’ll drop clues later, but after discovering the plot to that book, I modeled the next several steps in the story after what happens within. I only borrowed some of the themes and part of the cause, but completely remastered everything else. I was still building a world from scratch as it were.Still, Sam’s sage advice gave me perfect means to drop the exposition bomb, and the apple metaphor Shining Armor would get in order to understand the extent of the corruption that festered at Magnasanti’s core. Still, Sam’s a soldier, and certainly holds a fair few biases. That’s part of what gave DaemonJack such a hateboner for others: everybody lies.

.                                                        ~Toonami

Next was the obvious symbolism in the form of the name of the ship itself. It was, as I am genuinely surprised no one got as of this blog post, the same ship name from Toonami. As you can tell, Fluttershy is suffering a little, especially after Sam’s words and the news report. I still have plenty left to tell, but the ship proved to be a nice starting point. The almost edenic ship was tainted on the edged with Ana’s naivety, Sam’s world-weary knowledge, and the discord that came from ponies fighting so hard in a battle just over a year ago in story time. Some monsters are harder to fight than others. The demon in the walls is for another time. Take care, my friends. Next up on Grey Hat, something a little... experimental. I hope you’ll like it. I really hope.Oh god please don’t hurt me.

Report Journeyman · 340 views · Story: Grey Hat · #Commentary #Grey Hat
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Comments ( 2 )

I was given two directives: AJ and Flutters were to go somewhere to work as farmers, and... sorry, still can’t say.

I wasn't even that specific. I just said something to do with terraforming or colonization, like farming. I tried making sure you had enough room to work, and in the end we have something totally different than what I had originally thought of. Hell, in my mind, I was thinking they would go to a small, newly established terraforming project where you can't breath outside yet, and could get to know everyone on the entire planet because there's only a few dozen of them. A far cry from the mega city it is now, huh?


They are suppose to be helping introduce plant and animal life to the ecosystem.

I actually have both. Just like the news broadcast, Flutters and AJ will come across a little downloadable that tells the history of Magnasanti. Yeah, plenty of terraforming was involved. I've got that shitload of notes gDoc, remember?

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