Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: Shira's 15th Birthday and the Second Radical New Plot Change

Spanner main character Shira Thomas turns 15 today. The first volume (originally chapter) of the series, dated August 19, has already taken place. Considering how much time I've been taking to write and edit this thing (four years already?), it looks like events have already overtaken the story. Therefore, I must make one more radical change to the series.
  • The first radical change: turn Chapter 1, Chapters 2-4, and the School Arc of the old Book 1 into three separate volumes, the new Books 1-3.
  • The second radical change: Move the series start date forward 4 years, to 2018.
Now that Spanner begins in 2018, I can solve two major problems with the original 2000 plan:
  1. the fact that so many of the major characters were underage, making them overly precocious in intelligence and maturity, and causing a potential legal problem around their sexual libertinism; now they're all 18 or over (or in Elle's case almost 18), which also eliminates the added potential problem of this story potentially being swept into the "YA ghetto";
  2. the fact that the story is no longer "twenty minutes into the future," as I don't intend to write an alternate-universe story set in what is now the past.
It also eliminates the plot complication from the old Chapter 2 of Shira seducing private cop J.T. Sparks and then blackmailing him over her being underage, and reduces what was the major turning point of 12/21/12 nearly two years before the story began into a relatively minor backstory event 6 years in the past. But oh well, sometimes tradeoffs must be made.

In the new Book 3, containing the complete School Arc, the cousins Shira, Jennifer, and Karen are now plausible college students, though Karen can no longer be Bangor High's head cheerleader now that she's being aged up to 21. The Shelley twins likewise make more plausible fallen fashion models at 19 (turning 20 at the beginning of the new Book 4). Team Bremelo now become credible adults for the students to envy or hero-worship. And Shira can get away with an all-nude all-Rocker 19th birthday, though she'll still be agitating to lower the voting age to at least 16.

The new Spanner Book 1 now takes place on 19 August 2018. Book 7 will end in November 2020. Now I have some leeway so I can spend more time editing and formatting Books 1-3 to my liking. But I can't take too long. I want Book 1 over, done, and ready to publish before NaNoWriMo.

So it begins again...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spanner Update: A Completely New Publishing Plan in Not 5 (or 6) Volumes, but 7

In a flash of inspiration while waiting for my mother at the dentist's office, I realized that I've been doing this Spanner thing all wrong. Not the writing, actually; most of it's at least good enough. Mostly it's the editing, for this reason: the five-volume plan I came up with back in 2000, to which I later added a Book 0, has proved inadequate for what I've written so far.

And so, while Mom and I were eating lunch, the new plan began to emerge in my mind. The chapters, threads, and arcs scattered like the cards in a game of "52 Pickup", and here's how they settled:
  1. Enter the Monkeywrench: the Intro, the new Interlude 0 ("Foregone Conclusions", with the "two Jennifers" sequence from Interlude 6 now framing a sequence of flash-forwards), Chapter 1, and Interlude 1. As it's already a complete novella, it's fitting that this should serve as the "pilot episode".
  2. Banned in Japan: (temporary working title) The Japan arc originally planned for Book 0, now a flashback thread; the first four chapters from the original Book 1 including the complete uncut Rebel Styles thread and representing the "present time" following from the new Book 1; a few later scenes as "flash-forwards"; and the relevant Interludes (by their current numbering): 2 ("The Brown Note"), 3 ("One Nation Under Copyright, All Rights Reserved"), 5 ("Approaching Solstice, December 2012"), 8 ("Rebel, Rebel"), 9 ("City on the Edge of a Dream"), and 15 ("Six Degrees of Keenan Sasser"). All flashbacks related to the Shira/Leila relationship line will be moved here.
  3. Love Terrorists: the complete School Arc from Chapters 5-21, plus Interludes 6 (as the new opening, to be renamed "Previously On..." and rewritten), 4 ("The Rules of Tournament"), 7 ("Pop Will Eat Itself"), 10 ("You Have Lost the Game"), and 16 ("The Ego and His Own"). I may want to merge the events of Chapter 15 into Chapters 22 and 23.
  4. Rock City Blues: Chapters 22 and 23 from Book 1, all of Book 2 except for the Pretty City Arc, and Interludes 13 ("This Is Not America") and 14 ("The Crisis") as a frame.
  5. Mad Frontier: the original Book 3 plan, now condensed, centering on the pivotal Phoenix Arc.
  6. Business Is War: the original Book 4 plan with the Pretty City Arc from the Book 2 plan now added.
  7. Revolution Rock: the original Book 5 as planned, beginning with the final Interlude and ending with the Outro.
The new vision for the series is as a novelized 6-season TV series with a pilot movie. The chapters will be shorter and (from the new Book 2 onward) be renumbered by volume/season (e.g. the original Chapter 5 is now 3-1). Each volume will have its own plot in addition to the series continuity. And I'm going to make each book much more coherent, though just as head-spinning as ever.

So what's my new plan for the new Books 1 and 2?
  • Work out the complete Book 2 and transplant various scenes from the old Book 1.
  • Edit the original Chapter 1 (now unnumbered) accordingly.
In fact, I've already started doing it. I've started editing this blog's Spanner series page to add the new series plan; when I'm done with it, I'll tell you here.

And thus does it begin again...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: Chapter 1 Is Done! (again... for now...)

Okay, I claimed that a few months ago. But after a few months' break, including FAWM and my first NaPoWriMo, I went back to the Chapter 1 HTML page and took another long look at it. I got a few new ideas in the intervening months and edited them in. I got some really cool ideas while editing (e.g. the fedora Willa stole from Henry Becket back in 1992 when they divorced) and threw them in. I found a couple continuity errors and corrected them. Then I made a few more tweaks. And now, for the second time, I can declare Chapter 1 done.

Except for that "for now" part. You see, I've finally started actually writing Book 0, Banned in Japan. I've plotted several scenes for the first two chapters and am working on an overall plot that will fit in the continuity of Book 1 Revision 5. Turns out Steve Jobs is not the first "posthumous man" Shira assassinates, and they're called "Ascended", and she takes out two more Ascended in the course of Book 0, and one of them was the killer guru responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attacks bombings. And even he isn't the first Ascended she takes out, only the first she takes out in the series. Ostensibly Shira's there as an exchange student; however, she's really there on a contract, to kill a ghost.

Book 0 also introduces some characters who appear later in Book 1, possibly later. Previously existing characters who now debut here: baka-boy gangster Koji Mizoguchi, "world's worst kogal" Nenene Sasakawa, loli slavegirl Ayla Izumi (whom Shira rescues here), deranged detective Locke Holmes, the Tachibana sisters with mother Umi and cute male cousin Seika, and some of the major characters whom I couldn't leave out. Jennifer, both before and after the Blake Island incident, gets some side scenes and phone calls; Karen gets introduced as Shira's counterpoint (the teenage female Victor Laszlo); Henry Becket gets his first scene in the first chapter, in which as Secretary of National Security he browbeats the American ambassador to Japan and strongly hints that he does the same to the Secretary of State back home; Shira's dad Ric appears on tour with a Band with No Name side project (in Book 1 he makes his first appearance in Chapter 3); and others I'll likely fit in. An idea just popped into my head at just this moment: might Debbie be there too, trying to be something of a blond teenage female Golgo 13 only to find out her target is a ghost? And of course Leila, who plays such a central role in every subsequent book in the series as love interest and deuteragonist, should hover over the prequel as an "absent presence" at least mentioned every chapter and already clearly Shira's obsession.

Oh, and the chapters are numbered -13 to 0, with Interlude 0 ("Foregone Conclusions") coming before Chapter 0.

So as the plot of Book 0 develops, I'm bound to make a few more edits to Chapter 1. In fact, I just realized there's one edit I need to make now: the one about Shira having already killed three targets like Steve Jobs — that is, three Ascended. And so a-#amediting I go again...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spanner R5 Update: The #amediting Resumes; Plus, the New Chapter 4 Plan

It's been a while since I've done any actual edits on Spanner. Since FAWM began, to be exact. I was so busy writing 28 songs and agonizing over my inadequate singing and playing skills that I dropped the Revision 5 edit altogether. I'm returning to the script with only the first section of Chapter 3 scripted. The R5 version will be roughly like previous versions, especially once I get it novelized.

However, Chapter 4 R5 will be very different from previous versions. Most of it, starting with section 2 or 3, will be a single sequence with several intercut threads, dominated by a completely new thread called "Capital Day" focusing on the Party's corporatist replacement for the American version of Labor Day, the very idea of which the Corporates revile as "commonist". I intend to introduce several major series themes in this chapter. The most important, though, is "the second half of the end of the Cold War", better known as "the fall of the American Empire", an America that declined into the corporatist version of Stalinist Russia and is about to suffer its fate despite the Herculean efforts of America's future (as of Chapter 15) superhero dictator. Introduced along with it: the "foregone conclusion" motif involving the story brazenly spoiling its own endings, whether they're inevitable (the aforementioned imperial collapse, already far advanced when the Conservative Revolution attempted to prevent it starting in 2012) or self-fulfilling prophecies (Henry Becket, the superhero dictator, bringing the end about by trying to prevent it).

To get the new Chapter 4 organized, I'm going to have to break open a pack of index cards for the first time in years, write the scenes on them, and fling them around. Some older scenes likely won't make it into the final version. Whatever scenes survive will surely be the most interesting.

Meanwhile, I've started the tedious process of editing all the Revision 4 chapter and section posts to read "Revision 4" instead of "Final Revision", because R4 is not the Final Revision. The actual Final Revision (i.e. Revision 5) is turning out much different from previous versions. Since Revision 5 is already turning out to be far superior to the posted Revision 4, I'm editing the posts accordingly. This will probably take a few days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting update: Goals for April, Despite the Death of Script Frenzy

Now that I've shifted my focus from a particularly gruelling FAWM to the much easier (i.e. no singing and guitar playing required) NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), I've decided I can return to the Spanner Chapter 3 script again with intent to finish. I'm not doing Camp NaNo and Script Frenzy's dead, but I'll do more than just finish one chapter: I'm going to script at least to the end of Chapter 5, and maybe even as far beyond as I can get depending on whether my muse is willing to cooperate. All I have to do, you see, is write one poem a day, and scripting is just as easy for me. In fact, I'm going to complete at least one section of Chapter 3 tonight, and maybe even two or more depending on how pleased to return to Spanner I find myself.

Not that I'm going to abandon my FAWM songs or my singing and guitar practice. I do, after all, have to prepare for July 4, when 50 Songs in 90 Days begins. But I have a series to script and a novelization to publish. Spanner will introduce me to the world. I can't give up on it.

NaPoWriMo Update: Poem #1 is "Dead Rocker Song". I still haven't gotten over this year's FAWM agonies, you see, and there was this book on the "27 Club" of dead rockers, so I wrote it in a style inspired by my reading of the Beat poets...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: The #amprocrastinating Is Almost Over

When FAWM came around this year, I decided to take a break from editing Spanner Book 1. That "break" lasted into the next month, making it two months I haven't done a single edit. Maybe a few notes, but no editing. I've decided to end the break soon, even though starting tomorrow I'm doing NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), which takes place the same month the now defunct Script Frenzy used to. It won't exactly be Script Frenzy, though considering how fast I script, I could easily write a full 100+ pages of Spanner TV series script (the basis for the final Revision 5) even while I write 30 poems.

Here's another way Script Frenzy, NaPoWriMo, and Spanner intersect in my mind: in the Final Revision, I'm writing all dream and vision sequences in the form of poems. I originally made the decision last year during the long and difficult Chapter 1 edit because I was bored with dream sequences that read like I plagiarized them out of self-help dream books and it struck me that the best way to apply the Rule of Cool to them was to rewrite them as surrealist poems (the Surrealists, remember, were big into dreams). NaPoWriMo will give me a lot more practice writing poems, and I intend to apply whatever I learn to Spanner wherever I can. However, that goes in the novelization; for the script version, I'm following Alfred Hitchcock's example and using avant-garde film techniques, or as close to them as you can put into a TV script (the director, cinematographer, and editor will of course have to help your humble showrunner do the rest).

And so while I'm writing 30+ poems for April (and incidentally practicing singing the 28 FAWM songs I write), I'll be doing a one-man Script Frenzy on the Spanner Series 1 script as well. Here goes...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: Chapter 2 Script Finished, or: The Mess Makes Way for Awesome

As I mentioned last post, Spanner Chapter 2 had accumulated an unmanageable mess of scenes between the Fourth and Final Revisions. I thought I'd never be able to cut it away. I then realized I could make an end run around my Inner Editor by returning to the TV script version I did for the final two years of Script Frenzy. My hunch was right; it did the job. The script version of Chapter 2 is now complete.

Here's a (probably) incomplete list of the many changes:
  1. 2.1: "Lethal Lolita" is now the name of the "cold open" sequence that plays before the Spanner logo descends and announces the episode name and so on. The opening news reports with the Bin Laden and Spanner video messages now segue smoothly into Henry Becket's videocall with the first local villain and then the appearance of Rebel Styles who then makes said villain her first victim in the series before she screws up the scene and the logo makes its appearance. New scenes: the goddess Nike whose body is the corporation named after her invades Shira's dreamspace only to get kicked out; the COPCO agents on the plane from New York to Seattle; on the passenger plane home, Shira takes a call from Teachers Guild president Dr. Jenna Hunter and accepts her offer at once (think Butch Coolidge in his first appearance in Pulp Fiction).
  2. 2.2: Now called "Coming Home". The interrogation scene that has migrated throughout the chapter's first half in various drafts is now its centerpiece. "Ghost Hunting", the original 2.2, is now a sequence beginning here. New scenes: the homecoming at Sea-Tac Airport; Shira and the other surviving hoverboard racers getting fired by the head of the Xtreme Racing League over the Spanner incident and the death of Rico X; a phone call in which Ariel taunts her enemy Drusilla.
  3. 2.3: now the section called "Ghost Hunting", not to be confused with the thread, which now extends into Chapter 3. The scene where Shira enters her apartment for the first time in the series is now here, and her older half-sister Selene now makes her debut here. The first of the nameless women, the petite Asian woman who first appeared in Chapter 12 R4, is now the apartment building manager. Shira, Elle, and Akimi, no longer racing for the XRL, take their first trip to Kitsap Kouriers (introduced in 4.4 up to R4) and get hired immediately.
  4. 2.4: Now "Playing Rebel's Game". It begins with another interrogation scene, now the first personal encounter between Shira and major character J.T. (Jim) Sparks, who in Book 1 is a COPCO agent; his father Brendan Sparks owns COPCO. The shopping-arcade scene that's taken several forms over the various drafts now introduces the second nameless woman, the tall brunette ex-swimmer-cum-ex-psychologist who first appeared in 10.1 R4, who now works as the food-court espresso-cart barista; also, fellow ex-racer Liz McPhail appears here and annoys Shira into calling her "Epica"; and Shira and Leila meet eyes for the first time.
  5. 2.5: still "The Rebel Sell". Another corporation-god invades Shira's dreamspace, this time AT&T, and gets the Spanner tag sprayed all over it. The one scene I actually omitted from Chapter 1 R5, "Get Ready for the Bad Endings" with Keenan and Ada, is now here in 2.5 and much shorter; it's now where Shira announces her intention to make sure nobody (especially Brinkman) interferes with the election taking place in Chapter 23, plus the "bad endings" are now specifically the ones described in Interlude 10. The "Henry Becket and his mother" scene that ended Chapter 2 in R4 is also now a thread, and it begins here.
  6. 2.6: Formerly "The Dangerous Type", it's traded names with the chapter for R5 and is now called "Sex Bomb". The "Henry Becket and his mother" thread continues until it ends in the final minute of cliffhangers; the thread's name is in fact "The Angel of Chaos" and has the mother (Mrs. Abernethy) nearly die from finding out in mid-scry that Shira's completely immune to fate. The central thread is now a duel of sex and blackmail between Shira and J.T. that ends in his crushing defeat at the hands of the mistress of the "WHAM! line" in another cliffhanger. The episode of The Civet that was in R4 has been replaced by the funeral and deification of Rico X in his native Brazil (celebrities, gotta love 'em), and Minty Fresh gets her first appearance as Rico's grieving girlfriend. And now the final scene of the chapter is now the signing-on of pirate television KCUF which was previously at the end of 2.2.
  7. The Leila sequence: It's now broken up into a thread recurring through the episode and culminating in Leila and Shira meeting eyes for the first time.
  8. Rebel Styles' Victims: There's only one this episode now, and now it's a thread stretching to Chapter 12 or 13. Instead of being the first victim, Shepherd-Mayor Ward Tremayne will be the last, and it's this along with Leila's success in erasing her name that provokes the by-then irrational Governor Brinkman into initiating the madness that is Chapter 15.
By choosing to script the TV version instead of sorting out the prose mess, I've managed to bring to Chapter 2 a coherence it's never had before, primarily by sorting the various scenes into a small number of closely intercut threads. I'd have to say that the final Chapter 2 is now almost as perfect as Chapter 1. Like the Intro and Chapter 1, Chapter 2 now brings the awesome.

As a bonus, I've completed 3.1 as well. The "teaser" sequence is now "Stalking Minty Fresh", which used to be in 3.2. After that, Leila gets disgusted with the music available in America as she did at the very beginning of 3.1 R4, followed by Shira's dream of Kira and early-morning videophone duel with family enemy Henry Becket, whom she of course checkmates. The new additions: the two nameless women explain why they're nameless and how they manage to remain so without losing their identity (and here R5 background villain Doctor X, a Conservative Revolutionary leader who became its Benedict Arnold and can never again be named on penalty of expulsion from the Party); and Jennifer gives Shira a pre-birthday present which is in effect the Wold Newton Universe version of the Akio Car from Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Right now, instead of scripting Chapter 3 past 3.1, my Spanner edits are focused on changes to subsequent chapters, mainly in the form of notes. Since this is February Album Writing Month, I'm focusing mainly on writing and recording songs, primarily a certain few earworms that have been haunting me over the past few years of relentless Spanner edits (here's my FAWM profile). By necessity I'll be paying less attention to the Chapter 3 script, but I'll find a way to get it done this month. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: A New Attack on the Chapter 2 Mess

Every time I look at the current state of Spanner Chapter 2 in yWriter5, I have to admit it's a complete mess. Out of frustration, I took an alternative solution: adapt it back into a TV script in Celtx! It worked like a dream on 2.1. Then, looking back at the Revision 4 version, I had a sudden realization: 2.2 and 2.3 are in the wrong order! The events in "Ghost Hunting" properly follow those of the "homecoming" sequence in the final version of 2.1 and what in R4 is 2.3, especially since it covers a six-day period. So I picked through the many potential scenes that had been piling up over the past year, picked the ones I judged were the best fits for the R5 continuity, and turned them into 8 pages of script.

Now the script versions of 2.1 and 2.2 are complete. Some of the changes:
  1. The "Leila comes to Bremerton" sequence that has been in the story since Revision 1 is no longer a group of scenes put together (dream, two flashbacks, and a scene in the present), but an intercut thread that takes all place in the story present. Now I slap my forehead and wonder why I didn't do that in Revision 2.
  2. I made 2.1's victim, Tremayne, the villain of the week instead. Not only did I change the identity of the villain Rebel Styles kills through the TV screen in 2.1, I had her do it at the end of the opening scene, as a true TV-episode "teaser".
  3. It's no longer just Leila who gets a dream scene. Shira does too, as part of the new "coming home" thread. Nike — that is, the victory goddess whose body is the corporation — tries to attack Shira in her own dreamspace. Followed by...
  4. The "Call to Adventure" in the form of a literal phone call from Teachers Guild president (and Hope's archnemesis) Dr. Jenna Hunter to Shira. Shira accepts, of course, in the expectation that their respective plans will eventually collide. This is the first event in what will become the School Arc in Chapter 5.
  5. The interrogation scene I put after "Ghost Hunting" in R4 is still the penultimate scene of 2.2, but now part of the "coming home" thread rather than the sequel to "Ghost Hunting". Shira tells her future Javert or Zenigata exactly why she pulled off the Spanner Incident — and why she'll get away with it.
  6. In Chapter 1 R5 (finished but not yet posted), I turned Shira, Desiree, Elle, and Akimi into hoverboard racers. After the interrogation scene, it's not COPCO or CPMC that punishes them for the Spanner Incident, but the CEO of the Xtreme Racing League. And it's not for doing the crime, or even getting one of their number (R5 new character Rico X), but for doing it without his permission (read: the opportunity for him to profit off it, Corporates being Corporates). He fires them and claims their racing handles as his "intellectual property" which he's now forbidding them to use. This is Shira's cue to bring up Kitsap Kouriers:
    Elle: What'll we do now?
    Shira: Remember that courier place at Seventh and Park [in Bremerton]? They'll be more than happy to hire some off-season superstars.
  7. And, looking at the unused yet named "index cards" in the Celtx project, 2.3 is about to begin with the end of the Leila thread, the actual homecoming in the "coming home" thread, and the introduction of the first of the nameless women (the mysterious Asian one; conveniently, as the new manager of Shira's apartment building).
  8. Last but not least, the chapter name itself. Up until R4, it was "Sex Bomb". That's now the name of 2.6. The old name for 2.6 is now the chapter title: "The Dangerous Type".
Then there's "Ghost Hunting", which began as the entire Chapter 2 in R1. For 2.3 R5, I'm going to cut it apart into its constituent scenes and intercut in a series of new short scenes of Shira being interrogated by Locke, Diana, or J.T. in which she simultaneously denies being part of Rebel's assassination-by-TV of (now) minor villain Jesse Jameson and reveals just what kind of threat Rebel really is. So that's next up. After that, 2.4 and 2.5 should be easy enough before I get into the third and final real challenge of this editing session: 2.6, with its many flashbacks and its ending sequence from R4 that I'll be intercutting into it.

And so it continues...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Projects: Finish the Spanner Edit, Write Book 0, and Get Published

The holiday season was my excuse to slack off from editing and writing at the end of 2013. The combination of a Blu-Ray player and a new widescreen TV didn't help. That's over now. I've had my year-end vacation. It's back to work. And the muse is obliging with the craziest story ideas I've had in a long time:
  1. The entire plot to Spanner Book 0, complete with new title ("Banned in Japan"). Now it begins with a Yakuza-Triad war interrupted by a certain masked prankster and graffiti tagger who goes by the handle Spanner, and ends with a political crisis that may end in a devastating war between an increasingly fascist Japan and Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited.
  2. A new graphic novel idea incorporating the "Blake Island incident" repeatedly referred to in Spanner Book 1, and which takes up one night during the time period of Spanner Book 0. On the night of July 14 this year, Jennifer will kill 52 hitmen, mercenaries, and serial killers. Now I know how it begins: with her and some far more broken female former child soldiers robbing the Seattle Triad (under flashy young boss Ringo Wing) of money, sex slaves, and a snuff pornographer who resembles an infamous web cartoonist, as dozens of disposable gangsters die John Woo style (I ask myself the question: how would Lone Wolf and Cub artist Goseki Kojima do a "heroic bloodshed" shootout?). Because it's so action-oriented, it will not be called "The Jennifer Theory"; I'll have to find yet another new story to match that title.
  3. Three final tweaks to Spanner Chapter 1 (Jennifer's "Red Baron name" changed from Blonde Phantom to White Phantom; Shira kicking Johnny-Johnny in "his nonexistent manhood" to begin a recurring motif linked to the Blake Island incident and ending in Chapter 11; and a rewrite of the fourth flashback) and such a complete overhaul of Chapter 2 R5 that I'm even switching the positions of 2.2 and 2.3 to avoid pointless time reversals.
Getting that graphic novel off the ground necessitates, of course, that I start drawing again and actually improve my skills so I can actually draw real comics. I decided I'll even throw in a "comic within a comic", of the bad-webcomic kind, which I'll draw in the inferior style I abandoned in 1999, when I stopped trying to ape Masamune Shirow (and failing) and began developing my more recent Clamp-influenced style, which I'm now modifying in a more Takeshi Obata direction that allows me to incorporate more of my "school of Alex Raymond" influences: Neal Adams, Ryoichi Ikegami, Tony Wong, and Raymond himself (with elements taken from Will Eisner and midperiod Frank Miller).

Meanwhile, I'm going to get one non-Spanner novel published this year. In March, during NaNoEdMo, I'm going to pick one previous NaNoWriMo novel and edit it to as close to publication quality as I can in one month. I have four options: Bad Company from 2007, Black Science from 2008, Dirty Pop from 2009, and Freefall from 2013. Once I feel it's ready for release, I'll publish it online. Thus, after 25 years of practice and planning, I will become a published author at last. Then in April, now that Script Frenzy is dead, I'll throw myself into NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) the way I do FAWM. To be a NaPoWriMo winner, you must write a poem a day for 30 days. I'll do my usual stuff inspired by the Surrealists and Beats, of course, but I'll also make my first attempts at traditional forms such as the sonnet, ode, and villanelle.

Above all, 2014 will be the year I complete the final edit of Spanner Book 1. Last year it took me 5 whole months to edit Chapter 1. One reason is that I completely changed certain older story elements (e.g. removing Hope and Karen and replacing them with Elle and new character Rico) and threw in new ones (e.g. the propaganda-video opening). I will not spend that much time on any later chapter, no matter how much I change it, not even Chapter 2 which I'm radically overhauling. Books 0, 1, and 2 are set this year, so I plan to get at least Book 1 published this year, Book 0 if I can squeeze it in.

And so it begins again...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spanner R5 Update: Leila Shelley on a Road Not Necessarily Made of Yellow Bricks

As I begin the final edit on Spanner 2.1, I'll be dealing with the most important character besides Shira herself in her only Chapter 2 appearance, one of the chapter's oldest scenes.

Leila Shelley, the series' primary love interest character, may possibly be its secret hero. I already have Shira as a catalyst hero whose roles alternate between trickster and herald. The first named character she appears as herald to is Leila, the girl she's in love with. What's Leila's "hero's journey"? I found the clue in my absolute favorite David Lynch movie, Mulholland Drive. That film uses Sunset Boulevard to turn the plot of The Wizard of Oz into a tragedy. My favorite Lynch character happens to be Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks; Leila is, among other things, Audrey with a bob cut, except at the same time younger (sixteen) and far less innocent, with a past as dark as Mulholland Drive's Diane Selwyn.

Now let's put Leila on the Yellow Brick Road, so to speak. At once several elements of her character arc fall into place:
  1. Drusilla Becket is, as her enemies (including who knows how many ex-husbands) nickname her, the Wicked Witch of the West.
  2. The corresponding Good Witch is Leila's aunt Ariel Shield, who is (except of course for the white stripe) black-haired like herself. (In The Wizard of Oz, the movie, both Dorothy and Glinda are redheads; the corresponding character in Mulholland Drive happens to be Diane's aunt.) As the Grail Bearer, she brings in a completely different myth system, particularly the version found in the books of Margaret Starbird, a real-life mentor she invokes by name.
  3. Shira, of course, corresponds to Dorothy's inseparable companion Princess Ozma in the Oz novels.
  4. Seattle has many nicknames, but the most famous of them is "Emerald City", named after not the architecture but the forested surroundings. The name of the city AI, OZMA, is a blatant pun.
  5. Once in the Emerald City, what "great and powerful" Wizard does she meet? Zardoz, of course, in the form of King Patriot. (The song in Interlude 11 samples Zardoz's speech in the notorious 1970s cult movie.) And she kills him — because there is in fact no man behind the curtain. That sequence is the origin of a major Spanner theme, the mystery of the Ego.
  6. Leila's counterpart to the tornado that swept Dorothy to Oz is the "tornado" of scandal that destroyed her modelling career and which she barely managed to escape with her life. Another version is the Spanner Incident, in which the series' title character appears and disappears in a whirlwind.
  7. Her version of the poppy-field crisis that Glinda has to rescue Dorothy and her travelling companions from may be the name crisis of Chapter 12 (R5 version), in which she fights for her life against her very name itself (which, due to Corporate customs, has trapped her in an arranged marriage to one of the story's nastiest villains). Another character plays the Glinda role here: Angela Coyne, Shira's cousin, lawyer, and fellow redhead. There's another poppy-related connection: it's in Chapter 12 that Leila leaves behind her old heroin habit forever.
  8. The Spanner versions of those travelling companions are already experienced heroes unlike the originals, so they don't need to earn their brain, heart, or courage. In fact, there's two versions: three bishounen at Bangor High (Team Bremelo's Connor, Cory, and Kio) and three nameless women from the revolutionary underground (now introduced in Chapter 2).
  9. The name of one gang, "Flyen Monkeez", reveals the Klownz to be a version of the Wicked Witch's flying monkey minions.
  10. Who corresponds to the Munchkins? Why, the "little people" as the Corporates call them, the mass of ordinary working people against whom the Conservative Revolution is crusading in the name of "the best" (hoi aristoi, as in aristocracy). Thus do I make explicit the Populist themes that are only implicit in L. Frank Baum's original novels, though I drop the old Populists' silver-against-gold (or greenbacks) crusade and ask why, if money turned out to be ichor (the blood of gods) as the Social Darwinists' occult secret doctrine states (so theorizes Bram Dijkstra), there is any need for it at all. The Corporate robber barons and Patriot terrorists with their giant-monster Egos are in fact Nephilim, invoked under their alternate name "Anakim", Hebrew for "giants". Starbird's name for those the Anakim oppose and oppress, those whom Jesus (and the Grail Bearers after him) vowed to defend? Anawim: "little ones".
  11. If Leila is a darker take on Dorothy who is in fact a witch, then her counterpart to Toto needs to be that classic witch's familiar, a black cat, a stray who charmed her way into Leila's life back when she was a young girl in her native Ireland.
  12. The Spanner version of the "yellow brick road" (the golden road of heroes) will lead Leila not toward "home" (wherever that is) but into legend. She chooses this path by choosing the human version of the red pill from another cinematic mythology.
Of course, the Wizard of Oz plot doesn't sum up all of Leila's character arc. For one thing, Dorothy has nothing resembling Leila's signet ring (the sign of her enslavement to her aristocratic clan that she throws away in Chapter 16) or power crystal (which Shira returns to her). Also, I haven't figured out any counterparts to the ruby slippers (that mentor's gift which gives Dorothy the power to return home) or the Emerald City's famous Horse of a Different Color (that obvious dream symbol of radical change to come). But it definitely serves as a good ready-made template I can model Leila's character arc on (at least in Book 1). David Lynch followed the template in Mulholland Drive, even adding a Princess Ozma figure in Camilla Rhodes; but this Hollywood Ozma proves as totally corrupt as Zardoz (an evil Wizard of Oz), so Diane murders her and ends her journey in tragedy. I'll make my own variations, of course. And it all becomes obvious when you remember that Seattle's nickname is "Emerald City".