Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Arrow Through the Heart




Would whoever that is, please stop throwing things at my door? I have a headache.


Apparently not. Fine, I'll go see what they want.


Okay, so apparently they wanted me to open the door so that they could throw two bundles of paper at my head and then run away hissing with delight. Yes, hissing: the agent in question was some sort of giant bird, or maybe a small dinosaur. This place gets stranger every day.

As to why they decided to assault me with mission reports: I haven't the faintest idea. But I suppose I'll give them a read. I just hope Agents Silver and Anna didn't have anything to do with sending them my way, or else I shall be very annoyed.

Mission: Arrow Through the Heart
Agents: Silver Leonne, Anna
Continuum: Lord of the Rings

The archivist in me... wait, that's all of me. So: I squirm in horror at the formatting of this report. The agents have peppered it with entirely random line-spacing; single, double, or occasionally triple, they simply don't care. They've also indented every paragraph, which is total overkill. There are two ways to format a piece of writing: either indent and only single-space the paragraphs, or don't indent and leave a blank line between paragraphs. The latter is vastly preferred for electronic writing, the former for print.

And while I'm on the subject, there are a few instances of dialogue tags beginning with capital letters, and an absolute profusion of ellipses in the opening scenes. If... every sentence... has an ellipsis... you start to sound like... Captain Kirk.

Now, who are these agents? They're taking on a Mary-Sue, which presumably makes them DMS or Floaters. They seem to be relatively new - 'we've got a mission already', says Anna early on. They may also have known each other before joining the PPC - one of those teams of friends who cropped up a lot a decade or so back. They are moderately well-trained, have decent canon knowledge, and engage in banter. I think there must be a secret volume of the Manual devoted to entertaining and mildly antagonistic banter with your partner, so many agents make use of it. Or maybe, as I'm certain I've theorised before, they spice things up a little for their reports to make themselves sound more interesting.

Be that as it may. Silver and Anna do a good job of portraying the difficulties of working in a badfic. They have to deal with a Sue almost noticing their CAD, with sudden POV shifts - which apparently caused Anna to pass out, and forced Silver to drag her around for a while - with seeing their favourite characters thrown wildly OOC. They also do an excellent job at showing me their relief and reactions to the relative canonicity of the Council of Elrond. In fact, the agents' description of themselves is excellent throughout.

Far less so, unfortunately, is their description of their mission. There is very little paraphrasing of the badfic to let me know what the agents are doing in response to it, and the quotes from the fic are often bracketed by the agents simply ignoring it. I find it hard to belive Silver and Anna simply wandered through the fic paying no attention to the events going on around them; they might find their cause well served by mentioning it occasionally. As things stand, I'm afraid they devolve somewhat into talking heads - no, that isn't fair. They do interact with the world around them. They just don't connect that to the badfic.

They also have something of a problem with dramatic writing. The sequence where Enelya shoots an orc and Silver shoots Enelya is clearly intended to be dramatic, but as it stands, it's simple description. 'See Spot run. Shoot, Enelya, shoot.' The agents should rather have played to their strengths - describing their own reactions. If Anna is as new as she seems, I suspect she would have panicked when the orc appeared, and possibly even fumbled the stone. Was she surprised to see Silver getting undressed in the middle of a mission? There's probably a page or so in this scene, but it's rendered as four single-line, misformatted paragraphs. The wasted potential makes me sad.

(I also wonder at the need to list the entire charge list at the end of the mission when it's already included less than a page previously, but maybe that's just me)

I'll close by pointing out something that really appeals to me: these agents seem to notice every single punctuation and tense error. Fantastic! Often, reports gloss over the effects of sudden shifts to the present tense - and don't even mention Dafydd's ridiculous claim that his modified CAD could magically fix it - but Silver and Anna show their suffering brilliantly. Well done, ladies.

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