Friday, May 25, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: The Chapter 1 Director's Cut! Chapter 2, Too

For once in my life I've actually finished something. Believe it or not, the text of Spanner episode 1 is perfect. Not just the Intro and Interlude 1, which I mostly finished last year but for a few tweaks, but Chapter 1 as well. The resulting ebook represents the hypothetical two-hour pilot episode.

Unlike the Intro and Interlude that bookend it, Chapter 1 has undergone massive changes between Revisions 3 and 4. For one, Revision 4 is now eight parts, compared with the mere five of the Second and Third Revisions. I completely replaced most of the second-half flashbacks, heavily modified the few remaining, and switched the places of the iPhone sacrifice and the basement scene. The flashbacks, in fact, now have a plot of their own, giving Chapter 1 an unconventional three-act structure with the first act occurring late (and the Intro acting as a parallel first act). It's longer than all later chapters because I didn't bother to limit myself to my arbitrary limit of 15,750 words (representing the 65-page upper limit for a one-hour TV script). I've managed to find and correct a whole bunch of continuity errors, new and old, and the last remaining typos. There's nothing left to change. Chapter 1 is complete.

Then I went on to Chapter 2. I had written some new scenes for Revision 4. However, yesterday I proceeded to move one and delete the other, then replace them with a series of new scenes, one extending the opening "Lethal Lolita" sequence by increasing the number of Rebel Styles' victims to four, three more separating those four scenes and linking to Chapter 1 through the characters (in order of appearance ) Leila, Jennifer, and Shira. The Leila scene came from Chapter 4, including the dream and flashback; naturally, I heavily edited it to fit its new context. The Shira scene has elements transferred from Chapters 3 and 4. Then I edited the rest of the chapter. I found all kinds of continuity errors to correct, some resulting from the many changes to Revision 4, but also some older ones as well, including a few dating all the way back to Revision 1. A few characterizations even changed, if subtly. So now if the text of Chapter 2 isn't quite as perfect as Interlude 2, at least it's close.

The one scene I moved is going to Chapter 3. That put the word count over 16,000. Unmodified, the equivalent TV episode would run an hour and 10 to 15 minutes. So my challenge there is to get it down below the 15,750-word limit without cutting out any of the important stuff. I suspect the longer scenes (the mid-chapter boardwalk and ferry-terminal sequence and the restaurant scene late in the chapter) have a lot of fat I can cut. I have plans to change the new scene as well: instead of a single scene with a TV-commercial stinger, I'm going to make it an intercut sequence.

Now for the shameless plugs: I've already related how yWriter5 has made editing my novel so much easier, to the point where I can no longer even conceive of doing NaNoEdMo without it. For the ebook editions, I've discovered three invaluable tools: eCub, which assembles your ePub book; Sigil, the perfect tool for editing and cleaning up your ePub book and even creating one from scratch; and Calibre, with which you can convert your ebook between different formats, both in the GUI and from the command line, and has an ebook reader and a library manager as well. These are the tools with which I'm creating the ebooks I intend to publish. (For the covers, my tools are GIMP for Photoshop-level image editing, Inkscape for vector graphics, the scanner I already have, and the graphics tablet I don't yet.)

In short, I'm starting to see the finished work. Naturally, it continues...

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