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V3 Read-A-Thon; I want to go back to V2 - Ruggahissy
Topic Started: Feb 3 2014, 01:15 AM (21,542 Views)
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psst hey toss one my way please
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slidin in at the last second w/ nicole husher:


I’ve seen a lot of people mention typical “v3 problems” here. Nicole is basically the embodiment of “v3 problems”.

afaik she may be the last non-escape character to actually start on the island. She was one of the last few to slide in under v3’s cap, and isn’t posted with until nearly two months later, pretty late into day seven (and would have been later if announcement delays hadn’t been such an issue then). Her first post is about two pages of establishing fluff, and it chooses to dwell on a lot of strange stuff, like a cold that’s already come and gone, her having had her period, her clothes being tattered and an expensive custom bra being the only thing keeping her PG-13. It talks about how her gait has has changed from a “hip-swaying and attention grabbing strut “ to a more natural one. It comes off as a little gross, and focuses very little on what she’s actually done in the past week, other than about four lines that suggest she was hiding out in the caves. The thing is, it’s not really meant as much for titillation as it seems- Burnie had some specific reasons for focusing on what he did here. It still doesn’t work, but a lot of the weird stuff here stems from a much deeper problem with Nicole, so I’ll get back to it in a sec.

In the meantime, everyone else in Nicole’s first thread bail out at once without interacting with her (and I just have my kid walk around sneezing on everyone in the background b/c I was a jerk, SORRY BURNIE), and then she goes for another three months w/o a post. She’s pretty much doomed as a character at this point. She stays active from her second post on, but by the time she’s started to pick up any real momentum, the final 20’s already being carved out. She only rubs shoulders with big names and well-developed characters from here on, and she has no choice but to be essentially a prop for them. She works about as well as she could in that role, but it’s a shame she never got the breathing room she could’ve had, because even then Burnie was a solid writer who could’ve corrected a lot of her more serious issues.

On the bright side, her second post makes a really smart choice and has her change into intact clothes. Her chest isn’t a problem from here out except for a handful of corny jokes at Eddie’s expense.

Speaking of! Eddie pops in right after Nicole bounces back from inactivity, and ends up being the first and only character to really interact with her. They start off pretty bumpy at first from a writing standpoint, mostly from Nicole’s end. The first time she sees Eddie, she intentionally ignores the fact that he’s holding a giant ass rifle, because he seems nice and she just doesn’t want to deal with thinking about it. This is the start of a huge recurring problem for her- the narrative tries really hard to paint her as practical and intelligent, but either her actions end up contradicting some fairly solid inner-monologue reasoning or that same reasoning just ends up not making any sense. This pops up pretty frequently just in her first thread, where her first reaction to hearing a brutal fight just outside the door is “gee I should grab a hat to block the sun from my eyes in case I need to shoot someone”, and she goes from terrified of/angry with Eddie for threatening Wade with a gun to being totally cool with it when Eddie just blows his head off. Later on, she’s pumped as hell to rush into a burning building halfway across the damn island to save someone they can’t even identify, and when they find Laeil, her only reaction to her crushed eye is a bit of internal dialogue where she literally just thinks “Ick”. Her thoughts and actions are really inconsistent and contradictory and completely without emotion, and it stunts any growth she could’ve had.

Anyway, after she arbitrarily decides to make nice with the heavily armed dude, she immediately gets to work on checking him for a concussion and sewing his face up. This is where Nicole’s central gimmick, being a “caretaker” character with medical knowledge, comes into play, and it’s fumbled about as badly as it could have been. First of all, Nicole doesn’t have any kind of formal training as even a first responder. Her profile establishes that all of her medical knowledge comes from casual reading and stuff that’s trickled down from her doctor parents. Yet she assesses Eddie pretty much exactly how a first responder is trained to, and is able to stitch him up effectively. In the thread after this, she manages to treat serious eye trauma in a way that the narrative states is entirely correct. Basically, she possesses tons of knowledge that she absolutely should not have. This pops up in a few other places too- she knows a ton about her assigned weapon, like the fact that it was used by Russian Special Forces and some weirdly specific knowledge about the kind of damage the caliber of bullet could cause, and later on she relies on some obscure WWI trivia to protect herself and Eddie from smoke inhalation. It’s jarring and weird. It’s clearly meant to characterize her as intelligent, but it just sort of wrecks any believability she has.

The field medic angle is really the root of why she doesn’t work as a character, though, and it ties back into the strangeness of her first post. All of her individual traits are very thoroughly researched, but that research isn’t spun into a cohesive character. All the weird, sexist stuff in her first post is meant to paint a big sign for the reader that says “look, this is a lady” from a writer who’s not experienced or comfortable writing women (with this in mind, her first post ends up essentially being a checklist of “what kinds of unique issues would women in this setting have”). All the awkward trivia and treatment scenes are meant to show someone who’s very intelligent and very skilled at saving people. But she never gets the room to grow past these- she’s more a vehicle for all these traits than an actual character made up of them. Burnie seemed so concerned with getting these things right that he forgot to address the important stuff, like actual emotional depth and consistent characterization.

None of this makes her bad. The cool thing is that her medical knowledge tends to be pretty accurate. Burnie did his homework, and it shows- especially considering how rare that kind of research and thought was in v3. Trying to save someone with such a serious injury is a neat idea too, and it was intended to go a bit farther before rolls intervened iirc. She’s not written particularly well as a character, but a lot of the writing around what she does is interesting.

That said, there’s some issues with the writing too: the prose is solid but overstuffed, she has a lot of lengthy posts that don’t give other characters room to react, and Burnie had a bad habit with her of contradicting stuff that other handlers established or of inserting dialogue in places where it didn’t make sense. That’s all minor compared to a lot of what was acceptable in v3 tho, and she’s actually pretty good by v3 standards. She gets major bonus points for having flashbacks that are much less obnoxious than v3 ones tended to be.

I think she really becomes something worth reading once Jer takes her over, though. It’s not a straight upgrade so much as an entirely different character. It would’ve been easy for him to turn her into a set piece for Eddie, but he maintains her as a viewpoint character until her death, and even has her display actual emotions! Her final thread has her taken hostage by Riz, and she’s this great mixture of terrified and defiant while Eddie tries to bargain for her life. It’s a taut scene and definitely one of my favorite Riz kills, probably second only to Emma. It would’ve been a jarring shift for her if she’d had any consistency before this, but she was so loose to begin with that it’s just refreshing to see her written as a believable person.

In the end, she’s not a terrible read. It’s actually really fun to see a young Burnie experiment, even if it didn’t work out. She’s a big part of Eddie’s story though, so I’ve gotta recommend her on the basis of that alone- Eddie is totally wonderful and one of the best parts of v3 by a mile
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