Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Study in Samples: Gunmetal Magic: Information

Information in Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

One of the marks of a professional writer is the deft handling of information, and there are some nice examples of this in this sample by Ilona Andrews.  The first nice handling comes in a character introduction.  If you recall in the last post, I mentioned that in Chapter 1 the sound in the MC's dream had a mirror in reality.  It was someone knocking on the door: Mrs. Haffey.  At Kindle Locations 193-200, the MC (Andrea Nash) describes the disheveled and worried appearance of her neighbor a floor below.  She has come pounding on Nash's door in her nightgown.  Just after this description and reveal of relationship, Andrews writes, "Normally Mrs. Haffey viewed her appearance as serious business.  In terms of battle readiness, she was my hero--I've never seen her without her makeup and hair perfectly done.  Something was really wrong" (Kindle Locations 193-200).  Andrews ties physical description reveal into the plot, into what is happening now.  She makes the description relevant.  After all, Monica Wood in her book Description, declares that good description is not only accurate but relevant (4).  Andrew's use of description here is not only relevant, it adds to story.  It adds tension.  Great job there.

A bit later, it is Mrs. Haffrey's turn to reveal something about the MC.  Mrs. Haffrey's husband disappeared, and she reveals her reason for seeking Nash's help in this: "I thought since you were with the Order..." (Andrews Kindle Location 220).  This opens up the chance for the MC to reveal, in thoughts, that she used to be with the Order.  This gives the chance for a little backstory on the MC and this particular bit of worldbuilding.

Further down, around Kindle Locations 226-233, Nash prepares to find the missing Mr. Haffrey, and in doing so, she opens up her gun closet and catalogues her weapons according to what power they would have, to what she needs to bring along with her.  Not only does it reveal bits of personality but it sets up gun information before she needs to use the guns in the actual action.

Then while in the midst of her hunt, around Kindle Location 258, Nash is entering an apartment.  She describes the common place, yarn, then very next thing described is a "severed human arm."  This stands out sharply because it is unexpected and because of humanizing the victim right before with the yarn.  So, it is a shock, but a good shock.  And it gets the point across well.  This is a bad situation.  Tension goes up.

The final information reveal that I want to mention comes in Chapter Two.  It is a small one, around Kindle Location 469.  It involves what exactly the MC is and is not, something that Andrews teases the reader with from time to time to increase reader interest.  Nash is on the way to a job, and she comes across some other shapeshifters.  The fact that she is different is snuck in easily with how these beings act and how they react to their environment.  When she gets close enough, the "jackal's nose wrinkled," and the MC thinks in response: "That's right, I don't smell like a normal bouda" (Andrews Kindle Location 469).
These are just a few examples Andrews handling information reveal, but this is a good point to close out this review of this sample.  There are other areas that I could have discussed, especially worldbuilding, because it is very different and interesting, but I'll save that for a piece where I don't have so much lag time between reading and reviewing.

So that's it for Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews.  It was well worth reviewing and learning from.

  • Andrews, Ilona.  Gunmetal Magic.  New York: Ace Books, 2012.  Kindle Edition.
  • Wood, Monica.  Description.  Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 1995.  Print.


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