Sunday, April 28, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: Aw, To Heck With the Week's Break, I'll Edit Chapter 1

And so the one week's break I planned to take was broken, and I did not take it, so now I'm editing Spanner Chapter 1 instead. This time I'm taking my time, since I no longer have a regular posting schedule to worry about and the muse threw at me some great ideas I dare not ignore.

First of all, there's Elle, the background character I fell in love with while editing Chapters 22 and 23 for Revision 4. I realized she's a much better fit than Karen for Chapter 1, so now she's replacing Karen altogether. Where Karen's handle in the flashback sequence was "Genki Girl" (which I settled on while in one of my "closet raver" phases when spinning out scenarios for the Project Notebooks between 1998 and 2001), Elle "takes a handle only a Rocker could understand: Whatsername." You probably already know where it comes from, but I'm setting up a running joke. She now has a full name: Eleanor Kayla Shears: Eleanor after her great-grandmother Eleanor (Nelly) Richter (who for some reason never even made it into Book 1), Shears as in Billy (yes, the guy who was Paul when Paul was dead is her great-grandfather, and he appears in Interlude 8).

Second, I changed the character of Jim Sparks the rogue cop to make him a villain in the first two chapters so I could give him a stronger character arc. Among the Team Spanner heroes, I replaced him with a gung-ho anarchist hoverboarder who races under the handle "Blackflag" and dates the precocious Elle. I'll spoil his fate: just as Neal Stephenson killed off the Cyberpunk Hero in the first chapter of The Diamond Age, this guy's the Shounen Hero I kill off at the end of Spanner Chapter 1. Elle will cry for him (in Chapter 2 and later), but Shira will regain sole possession of the protagonist role. Sparks is my Cyberpunk Hero (named after Akira's Kaneda, even), but he never becomes the protagonist and in fact is pretty much a pinball in Shira's game.

Third, I'm finding a whole lot of places to put references to later themes and plot threads that didn't even exist in my mind at the time. For example, Elle's decision to take the handle Whatsername foreshadows the women with no name at all who first appear in Chapter 12 and whom Leila joins in Chapter 13. For that matter, Elle herself may decide to go nameless eventually, but in Book 2. I also found more places to fit mentions of Kira, and so on.

In the "kill your darlings" department, I decided to remove Jennifer's rant about Ayn Rand and serial-killer fandom from the airplane scene. Sure, it sets up her later stint with the Slasher Hunters, but it stands out a bit too much from that scene. Instead, I had Jennifer and Elle react more emotionally when Shira informed them about her battle with Oliver, possessor of the Travelling Shovel of Death from whom she stole Leila's power crystal. I'll fit that now orphaned snippet of dialogue somewhere into Chapter 2, 3, or 4, since it's still important.

I even found both dialogue and narrative passages to condense. I thought I'd gotten them all by the last of who knows how many Chapter 1 edits in February and March of last year, but no. Turns out Chapter 1 wasn't as perfect as I thought. But doesn't it always turn out that way?

And so the final edit begins...

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