Sunday, January 6, 2013

The (Re)Making of a "WHAM! Episode": Spanner Chapter 15 R4

Spanner Chapter 14 is completely edited now, with the last two installments posting this week. Now I turn from the difficult to the epic. Chapter 15 will have no flashbacks and scenarios to insert, no backstory reveals to remind you that "everything you know is wrong" (title of a future chapter, by the way). The skeleton of the Revision 1 and 2 narrative will remain intact, including certain pivotal scenes (even if they're not in the same places they were in R2).

However, I'll be changing enough of Chapter 15 for Revision 4 that it'll seem a completely different creature in comparison to the R2 version. In fact, I still find myself throwing in new ideas even as I begin to edit: the central three girls' nude swim to Seattle using dolphin-type flippers in 15.1, the disguised anarchists in 15.2 infiltrating the freelance police COPCO temporarily hired, the video body paint from 10.5 advanced technologically to give Team Bremelo's nudefighters cloaking ability (plus even more new cyberpunk elements added to the originals), Dick Becket actually using his superpowers in rage during 15.5 (his public-domain superhero identity: the Scarab, eighth of his Phantom-type lineage), and so on. I'll be strengthening story elements already present: the concert-style holographic projections of King Patriot's Ego and a 900-foot Jesus America; the hacked copbots actually arresting everybody in range before they start beating each other up; Leila's own newly developing superpowers (which I wrote about over a decade-long span in the Project Notebooks), the end of Amanda's network-reporting career, etc.

My goal for Chapter 15 is the same as that for the aborted Revision 3 version: a genuine "WHAM! Episode" after which nothing will be the same again, either in the in-story politics or the story itself. Of course, looking back, I notice Spanner actually began with a wham (both the Intro and Chapter 1) and is liberally sprinkled with wham throughout; Shira herself is a master of the Wham Line, even if she doesn't use this skill as liberally as she should. But this is the first big one after the "seventh-episode twist" that actually occurred in Chapter 8 (Shira rescuing Leila from suicide, followed by them becoming a couple, kicking off the central relationship line), with the next big "wham" scheduled for Chapters 22 and 23. But what happens in Chapter 15 has repercussions that echo throughout the rest of the series and even threaten to destroy not just the American Empire but the world. The difference between Revision 4 and previous drafts is that, because it allows an editor to separate, combine, and rearrange scenes, yWriter5 makes it easy for me to build a rising narrative and even send it spinning out of control (which it's supposed to do in 15.5).

I will say no more. Instead, I'll go back to editing Chapter 15, with this parting comment: if you've read the Revision 1 or 2 version, the final version will surprise you.

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