First Chapter 1, now Chapter 2. I thought it was perfect. But then I moved that one new scene back (to a later part of the chapter) and added new scenes. How do I get my word count back under 15,800 now? Cut fat. Lots of it. As it turns out, there was a lot of fat I needed to cut, including a whole lot of continuity errors that developed during the long transformation from Revision 3, in almost every scene. Spanner Chapter 2 is now a completely different beast from it was just last week.
Yesterday I thought I'd move that new scene into Chapter 3 and all would be fine. I woke up this morning realizing it belongs in Chapter 2 and nowhere else, so now it's in the middle of the chapter. I condensed it, then cut a few hundred words out of a few scenes and thought that would be just fine. I'd done it just a few days ago; this would once again be nothing. So I thought.
Then I realized the new structure I'd created for the opening section, "Lethal Lolita", intercutting between the Rebel Styles incidents and four returning characters, would have to be expanded even further. Now there's a new incident, and the order of intercut scenes with the main characters goes like this: Shira first, before the first Rebel incident and built up from fragments taken out of Chapters 3 and 4; Leila second, her section moved from Chapter 4; Jennifer third (new); Karen last (just added today). Then I added two new scenes in which Karen convinces Shira to do Buddhist chanting with her in exchange for sweet, sweet love; Karen knows exactly how to touch Shira's heart where it's most sensitive, so of course beautiful (yet less explicit, for now) cousin love ensues. All this pushed my RTF file's word count to 18,000, counting the intro page and the long complete Interlude 2. Almost 800 words now had to be cut. So I set out to cut them.
A few scenes I didn't need to modify; they were perfect the way they were. A few scenes only needed token modifications, or the few edits necessary to conform them to Revision 4 continuity. All the long ones except the first and last, though, needed heavy editing, not just to correct Revision 4 continuity errors but to condense them so I could get the document word count down below 17,300. Some of those scenes received major transformations. However, I did it. I reached my word goal, Chapter 2 is back under the 15,750-word limit (not counting the section titles I'll convert to HTML comments in the ebook version), and for the second time a Spanner chapter not labelled "Intro" or "Interlude" is all but complete.
Meanwhile, I made a few revisions to Chapter 1 as well. The description of Shira's mother Hope that I moved from Chapter 3 to Chapter 2 is now in her first Chapter 1 appearance. In the same edit, I changed how I introduce the characters by name in the flashback sequence and added a description of Jennifer's brother Connor to his first appearance (to wit: he looks like a taller male version of her). I reworded some of the more unwieldy sentences left over from Revisions 2 and 3. Chapter 1 now reads more smoothly and fits better with Chapter 2.
Speaking of kissing cousins: I've noticed the yuri element foregrounded itself more. There's more of the consensual lesbian incest, still strictly limited to a single family, that of Shira and her cousins (the Richter-Thomases), for reasons explained in Chapter 3. Chapter 1's final Revision 4 replacement for the first flashback turned out to be a double mother-daughter love scene in which Shira and Hope, Jennifer and Willa pretty much went ménage à quatre. In Chapter 2 it's now Shira/Hope, Jennifer/Willa, and Karen/Shira in addition to the heterosexual Shira/Sparks sequence with embedded Shira/Kira × Amanda flashback. And that's in addition to the heavy foreshadowing of the central Shira/Leila relationship that has its actual beginning in Chapter 3. None of this is under my control; since I'm one of those storytellers who lose control of the story to their characters, my job is to keep them in continuity. One change that was completely unconscious till I noticed it: as more characters dare to love more intensely, some of my writing has become more boldly, even defiantly, sentimental. And this in addition to the subjective approach to love scenes I originally developed for the comics version and translated into modern poetry. I should expect more of this to emerge in later chapters. As Karen insists on reminding her author, love is the key to the whole story.
I'm going to take a rest for the night and take a walk. I've already procrastinated enough stuff just so I could sustain edit mode on those first two chapters. Who knows, I might find my muse and inner-editor tag team wrestling me back to Chapter 3...