Promise… The little one-shot that could. I had written just chapter one for the scene was stuck in my head, and I wanted to put it down on paper (typed in word?) so it would stop driving me crazy. Then it became a pointless everyone-crammed-on-the-ship-and-driving-each-other-crazy story. Yet somewhere around the Star Forge chapters a plot developed, and I began to wish the beginning chapters had a plot… like, an actual plot, not a time-filler to get to the Star Forge. Oops?
Before I dive into the usual "Here's what I did, Here's what I wanted to do, Yes there will be a sequel" which most authors do, there's something I want to say about this incredible game. One of my favorite things about KOTOR is how we can all play the same exact game yet have completely different ideas of what Revan was like, who he or she was, what he or she did, and what happened after the game finished. We all know that KOTOR 2 states Revan "disappeared" and features a rather sad Carth. But it's those four years between games that are up for grabs. I love reading how writers have recontextualized these characters, whether I agree with their versions. When I first started reading KOTOR fics, my first reaction sometimes was "Revan would never do that!" only later to realize I was comparing my idea of who Revan is to the author's Revan. Now I read stories and think, "What a neat idea" or "I really like that concept! How come I didn't think of that?" I may not like the story as a whole, but I still find everyone's uniqueness of their Revan fascinating.
So here's my recontextualization of Revan and the crew of the Ebon Hawk. Although the first few chapters pain me, overall I'm happy with the character development. There were so many in the game that it was hard to develop them all. It's sad that some characters (Juhani, T3-M4, Zaalbar, and Bastila) got the short end of the stick. But of the ones I got to play with, it was great.
While playing the game and thinking about the characters, I realized how similar the Ebon Hawk crew was to the crew of Serenity from the show Firefly. Like Sheppard Book, Jolee became the mentor and the voice of reason on board the ship. Even though she's not an engineer, Mission fell into the role of Kaylee Fry—always happy, optimistic, and playful. Canderous filled the role of Jayne Cobb so beautifully… minus the orange hat and trusty blaster named Vera. I absolutely love the character "Candy Man" has become. I've had reviews both here and on KOTOR Fan Media where people have argued over his voice verses the in-game voice. I've done my best to follow his personality and in-game voice, but at the same time tried to make "Jaynderous" a developed character. He was definitely one of my favorites to write for… especially the Gizka Stare-Off (which crazyocelot so beautifully turned into a comic strip). And last is Liana Revan Suul, who became River Tam when the Star Forge called out to her. More on Revan later…
The only character that isn't a Firefly-inspiration is Carth. True, there are some places where one can argue in-game voice (and there's no doubt that Canderous is right about horniness), but for the most part Carth is unchanged. He's not as emo as he is in the game, especially given the point in which I began the timeline. But he certainly has the emotion of angst down pat.
Now we have Revan… or rather, my version of who Revan is. There's really no character development of Revan in the game other than the dialogue choices and Force Alignment. Sure, you can pick outfits and lightsaber colors, but other than that, there is no solid This Is Who Revan Is. Canderous is developed, Carth is developed, HK-47 is developed… but Revan is the PC with no voice or solid in-game personality.
Using the techniques I learned in my Advanced Creative Writing Seminar, I tried to picture a person who's just learned their entire life was a lie, and how they would react to the news and the change of attitudes of their friends. I pictured her vulnerable to the temptation of the Star Forge, and watched Serenity countless times for inspiration. (Revan did go a little River Tam in places, and I tried to tone it down…) Then I made some character decisions.
I decided that her birth name was Liana Revan Suul to add more drama to the situation. Liana was just a random generated name from KOTOR that I thought sounded pretty… only to later learn it's the name of both a character from Phantom Menace and a planet. (Oops?) Suul is a family name I swiped from another Star Wars character to try and tie my Revan to the original trilogy, much like Admiral Dodonna and various other characters were. And because her last name is Suul, she had to be from Corellia (read The Courtship of Princess Leia for an explanation). There never was a real working theory how Revan's memories came back to her, so I made them subconscious, the only reason I could think as to why they'd come to her. And the flashbacks varied for the purpose of drama and development. Revan had flashbacks from events that happened in the video game, along with flashbacks to her childhood. Young Revan and Malak were so fun to write for…
One of the things I made very certain is the fact that I never gave an exact description of what Revan looked like. The only characteristics I mentioned where she had shoulder-length hair, a little taller than Mission, and bright eyes. I did that on purpose; I wanted the readers to envision their idea of what Revan looks like. I also purposely had outside characters think Revan was a male, and refer to the Sith Lord as he. That was more of a jab to those who believe it's cannon for Revan to be male. (I stand by my statement that until George Lucas himself holds a press conference and announces Revan's sex, Revan can be whomever you want him or her to be. And that's the beauty of the game and character.)
But now the story is over… and a new monstrosity will take its place. As some of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My fantastic beta, crazyocelot, forced me to try my hand at writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I decided that instead of a novel, I'd work on the sequel to Promise (which lead to the delay of Promise's final chapter). Although I did not reach 50,000 words (14,737), I did get ten chapters and an actual plot. In fact, the sequel, titled Broken Promise, has multiple plotlines and a brand new character—who crazyocelot and Darth Lilias absolutely love. So yay!
I have a list of people and things to thank for helping me with this story. First of all, I have to thank my aforementioned fantastic beta crazyocelot. As her screen name attests to, I drive her crazy with my paranoia ("Is this a good transition?" "Was that reaction earned, you think?" "Did that make sense?), my faith in the chapters ("This sucks. Kill it!"), and my constant nagging ("Did you read my chapter yet?"). Despite wanting to smack me upside the head at times, crazyocelot always manages to pick apart what I've written, find my more interesting typos, and make me laugh with her sarcastic edits. She's an excellent line reader, and one of the most sarcastic people I know. Plus she's always reassuring me that I don't suck, even if I beg to differ. She's also stuck betaing my sequel fic, so please, have pity on her. (As a side note: crazyocelot is not for hire as a beta reader. She's mine. Mwahaha…)
I also have to thank Darth Lilias. She's one of the people that pushed me to make Promise more than a one-shot, and was one of my first beta readers. (She also drew a fantastic picture of a scene from my fan fic!) And like crazyocelot, she listened to some of my ideas, and previewed some scenes from the sequel. Mission is her favorite character, and there are a few Mission scenes I wrote solely for her entertainment, such as Mission taking all her stuff with her on to Admiral Dodonna's ship. She wanted more Mission, and she got it.
Other people I have to thank are:
Jiara—for stepping in and being my fill-in beta while crazyocelot was pregnant with her little nerf. You are incredible, and your plethora of knowledge about KOTOR is unbelievable. Thank you so much!
Meg—for telling me how much she enjoyed the story (even though she's never played the game) and demanding I write more.
Princess Artemis—for the wonderful doodle of Candy and the gizka.
Joss Whedon—for creating Jayne Cobb, Sheppard Book, and all the Firefly characters. It's my goal to be able to write dialogue like this man. He's just so witty!
Author Dave Wolverton—for writing The Courtship of Princess Leia, the novel where I "borrowed" Liana's last name (and possible family history) from. (Don't know what I'm talking about? Pick up a copy of the book. It's a great story.)
Author Robert Bausch—for teaching me all his character development tricks in his Advanced Creative Writing Seminar. Best course I ever took, and I'm so happy a published author of numerous books got to teach it, and I got accepted into the course. So my story didn't get published in The New Yorker… I tried, and that's all that matters.
Wookieepedia—my main source of reference for the story. I know people say Wookieepedia is both right and wrong on any numerous topics, but it's still better than me making things up.
BioWare—for creating such an outstanding game that I try to hook all my friends on. (Justin's the latest victim. Mwahahahaha!)
X-Play—for giving KOTOR a five out of five and ranking it the second best game for the X-Box of all time. Without that ranking, I would have thought KOTOR was "just another Star Wars game" and most likely passed it over.
I'd also like to thank the following items/things for helping me with this story (and the sequel):
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man's Chest soundtracks
X-Men The Last Stand soundtrack
Firefly and Serenity (both the show/movie and the soundtracks)
All six Star Wars soundtracks
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic comic book
Last, I'd like to thank all my readers who have read and reviewed every chapter—I love reading the reviews and hearing what you liked and what you didn't. It really does mean a lot, and I can't thank you all enough! As of the publishing of this rambling, Promise has:
Thank you all so much!
I'm sure there are people and things I'm forgetting to thank, and for that I'm sorry. I'll catch you the next time around!
Thank you all again for reading and supporting this little story. It really does mean a lot, and I hope those of you who have enjoyed Promise will also enjoy the aforementioned sequel, which should be making its way here soon… as soon as I nag crazyocelot…
December 9, 2006