The closer to the end of the second edition of Spanner Book 1 I get, the more interesting it’s starting to get. In the first draft, the plot collapsed by the time I got to Chapters 22 and 23, which is why I never posted them nor wrote anything more than outlines (and one shocking twist for the very end). But now I’m racing to finish Chapter 14 before it starts posting tomorrow, only to discover that here is where Book 1 starts to get interesting.
First of all, Leila’s character has taken an unexpected development. Sure, Shira has a strong tendency to be The Unfettered, she’s also a Technical Pacifist who believes killing is almost always less effective than scandal and manipulation, which is what you should expect from so powerful a Charmer; to the Conservative Revolutionaries, she’s an Outside Context Villain who works via Thirty Gambit Pileup, which is why they fear her even more than she disgusts them. But Leila is no pacifist, as she showed when she tried to kill Moral Enforcer unit leader Stan Green during the boardwalk fight scene back in Part 3.4. In Chapter 14, when she’s in the principal’s office with her brother, Shira, and Jennifer and her brother Connor, she will explain why she does what she does, and then you will realize exactly why Polly on the boardwalk called her scary, because she really is. And then you will see her (and Rob) at work during Chapter 15’s gigantic fight scene, and she will scare you too. And yet she remains Shira’s devoted love interest and one of the core heroes of Spanner.
Second, we’re getting deeper into the political and criminal conspiracies that are creating the popular resentment that explodes in the two unposted chapters. The sequence of events that leads to Chapter 23 begins to snowball in Chapter 14 and reaches full speed in Chapter 15.
Third, I’ve reached the point where I’m beginning to do less editing and more writing. Considering that the plot started to fizzle out by Chapter 14 and I gave Leila little to do in the first draft, this is a matter of course. The most important major plot element I neglected in the first draft was Shira and Leila’s passionate love, and that the lords of the Conservative Revolution consider it not just treasonous but blasphemous — because romantic love, especially homosexual and/or interracial love (and theirs is both), defies and disrupts God’s purpose for man and woman, which is marriage arranged for the sake of eugenically correct procreation. In a sense, Shira and Leila coming together in passionate erotic union is the catalyst of the protests and riots leading up to the climactic election controversy in Chapter 23. And Chapter 14 shows that their morally and politically incorrect love is contagious: from the imperial rulers’ point of view, it spreads like a cancer threatening every moral foundation of society. Conservatives believe that the health of the nation depends on the moral purity of the people, which is why the political system they advocate (to the point of forcing it on everybody else via armed revolution) is the kind of moralistic dictatorship I call “moral socialism”, and Jennifer (also in Chapter 14) calls “Stalinism baptized and born-again”, as found in Iran and Saudi Arabia and throughout Christian Africa. Fired by the French Revolution, many of the Romantic poets called for free love as a revolution against the Christian dictatorship of morality that had oppressed Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire and which would continue to rule Western civilization until at least when history’s most immoral moral tyrannies burned to ashes in the Götterdämmerung of the two world wars, if not the cultural revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. In a sane society, Shira and Leila would be able to love each other in peace. But in an America that demands moral purity on pain of getting purged, the passion of their love is the fires of revolution itself. I neglected this in the last ten chapters of the first draft, which is why the book’s plot collapsed and I left Chapters 22 and 23 unfinished.
Fourth, the third draft, from which the second is now distracting me, is introducing a lot of stronger plot elements and characterizations that I find myself throwing into the still incomplete parts of the second edition. The distraction began with the final duel between Leila and the serial killer her grandfather is still trying to force her to marry, Oliver “Ollie-Ollie Oxenfree” Thorwald, which got me writing Chapters 22 and 23 again. The sheer perversity of this fight between these two particular characters proved not just inspiring but exciting to me. Even if their televised battle to the death puts an end to the anarchist riot that ruins a popular protest, it saved the plot and gave those two final chapters a reason to exist at last. And it has its foundation in the very first section of Chapter 1, when first Leila and then Oliver are the very first characters I introduce who play a major role in Book 1.
So the decline of the plot, and with it the writer’s interest in finishing the first draft, is no longer there in the second. From Chapter 14 on, the second edition begins to diverge from the first, even if most of the first edition’s scenes do make it into the second. The divergence is all for the better. The plot was supposed to snowball in the last ten chapters of Spanner Book 1. Now it does.
Fasten your seatbelts, everybody. From here on out, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Note: Last non-story post, I vowed to continue posting new second-edition installments even if nobody reads. It looked like I was getting no page views, judging from the stats on my Blogger dashboard. I suspect it actually was a bug in Blogger, because the page views are back up to previous numbers — even if previous numbers were hovering around 20 or so. The moral of this story: never give up, for persistence will eventually pay off. That’s an important lesson to learn for somebody with such a strong tendency to give up as I’ve had all my life...