Friday, June 22, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: Editing Chapter 4 and the Art of Killing One's Darlings

GLaDOS: Caroline deleted.
Just a couple weeks ago I came up with this scene to open up Spanner Chapter 4 with power, based on a real incident. I put a lot of work and heart into it.

Sorry, didn't fit the story. "Coffee Shop Massacre" deleted.

When editing, writing teachers insist, you must be willing and unafraid to "kill your darlings" — that is, edit out scenes you love, scenes that are awesome, because they detract from the story. It's like the story about the French sculptor Auguste Rodin: when he was making his statue of novelist Honoré de Balzac, the sculptor’s students raved about the magnificent hands until he got so frustrated he chopped them off. The part, he chided, must not detract from the whole. So far I've killed a number of my "darlings" in the first four chapters. This scene that quickly grew into a sequence just happens to be the biggest.

So what did I replace it with? An even newer scene, tying into Chapters 1 and 15, about how the High Corporates, billionaire oligarchs called "Incorporated", have been hogging all the celebrity. Within Chapter 4, it connects to the major scene in which a High Corporate actually appears. In the Chapter 4 context, it must underline the moral decay of Corporatist society and make it clear that the decay starts at the top. I also mention smart drugs; some Corporates chomp them down like candy, the way some Patriots take steroids. Even more interesting, here's an article by a free-market economist that says banks aren't even capitalist businesses at all; the salient point: fiat-money systems like the current American greenback eventually end in hyperinflation and must be replaced with commodity money (read: gold), preferably without government interfering to start the vicious cycle yet again. For the alliance of State and Bank is the enemy of the free market.

Another new replacement scene, related to the central Shira-Leila romance that tentatively commenced in Chapter 3, involves a Caliphate terrorist group holding hostages. A few of the women defect to the terrorists. Jennifer even cynically comments that such easy Stockholm Syndrome has become such a regular occurrence that it's become the only success Al-Qaeda in America has, since suicide bombers (like the two Shira kills in Chapter 3) only succeed in justifying enthusiastically bloody American retaliation. So what makes these women so vulnerable? American women, Jennifer scornfully explains, are relentlessly instructed by the official State ideology and propaganda to find spiritual salvation in surrender to a man in the exact same manner the man is to find salvation in the Nation. So when they get captured by enemy warriors skilled in exploiting this weakness, these will-less women are easy prey. Jennifer's explanation inevitably becomes a harsh criticism of Twilight and the Mormon doctrine of salvation through procreative marriage it's based on.

I found one later scene very hard to write: the parents' meeting about the impending School Arc beginning next chapter. Something I read yesterday provided the key, a magazine article about how the "iron law of oligarchy" inevitably destroys all populist organizations and movements; as Shira's Rocker anarchist dad, whom I'm throwing in, sums it up: "You get leaders, you end up with aristocracy." The solution, he suggests, is networking: only if the people participate in their own revolution can they prevent it from turning it into yet another Conservative Revolution.

My guideline for editing Interlude 3: pit the IP Defenders of the corrupted Corporate application of the Rule of Cool against Rule Of Cool Incarnate. The man who sends the IP Defenders after Rebel Styles is another of the High Corporate supercelebrities now introduced at the beginning of Chapter 4. And what does Rebel want? Why, to take out some Corporate supercelebrity. Or so she says. But then, every mere terrorist longs to become famous for killing a High Corporate...

Update on Chapters 2 and 3: Chapter 2, it turns out, didn't need any extra editing. It's now officially complete. In Chapter 3, I corrected the vague dialogue in one scene, tightened the wording in another, and added a word I discovered was missing; now that too is complete. So now Spanner Revision 4 is now complete up to Chapter 3.

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