Friday, April 26, 2013

On Spanner Book 1: Thoughts on the Fourth Revision, Plans for the Fifth

I began the Herculean labor that was the Fourth Revision of Spanner Book 1 back in February 2012, jumping the gun on NaNoEdMo that year. It's now April 2013, almost a full month after this year's EdMo ended, and it still seems hard for me to believe I just finished. It proved to be the toughest part of the job, much more difficult than merely writing it. It got even tougher once I got past Chapter 10, where the third draft ended; in places, the fourth draft became a whole lot different from the second, especially when I got toward the end (which was admittedly quite weak in the second draft).

Well, it's done now, and it's much closer to what I want despite all the crazy new ideas my delirious and overworked muse threw in (pretty girls without names, anyone?). Where previous versions were the equivalent of alpha software, this is the beta. The Fifth Revision will be the equivalent of bugfixes.

Before I finally unleash the ebook edition, there's a few more changes I want to make in one final one-pass edit. First, there's the central love arc, which revolves around Shira and Leila but isn't limited to just them. Still, I need to strengthen it so you can feel the full sublime and destructive force of their love from the moment each first appears separately in Chapter 1 until the final poetic stanza, for it's the story's driving force, the irresistible force flinging itself at the immovable object that is the Conservative Revolution. Second, I'll need to strengthen the forces of resistance: Jennifer (a relatively minor opponent, and only in the relationship line), who tries in vain to keep Shira with her and away from Leila and then throws herself into relationships with two other girls only to return to Shira in the end and make the core couple a threesome; Governor Brinkman, her grandfather and clan patriarch, who insists on marrying her off in order to form a political alliance between clans that eventually fails; Oliver, the one she's being married off to, who finds his "Intended" in the arms of another woman, who proves too dangerous an opponent; and the entire school establishment at Bangor High, to whom their love is as dangerous a political threat as the Student Union.

Beyond the relationship arc, there's the School Arc of Chapters 5-21. In Chapter 4, when the Teachers Guild dissidents and Student Union organizers first meet, I need to set up the two sides of the conflict more strongly. We need to get a sense of the kind of threat Peter T. Ross is even before he first shows up in Chapter 6. I have him described as a hedge fund manager who raises horses for the rich on the side. However, financiers have a heroic and magical aura in this series, one I'm playing up for Ross in particular in Chapter 25 (in Book 2), and they find the source of their heroism in Ayn Rand (though Rand herself would have scorned them as unproductive parasites leeching off actually productive companies, a lower form of business type than even her politically connected but still productive villain Orren Boyle). His appearances in the office behind the principal's at Bangor High in Chapters 6 and 21 are the epiphanies of a god descending to earth. Another major player who needs played up more is Henry Becket, particularly after Chapter 15 when his superhero team take over the Party.

There's a few other characters I want to give a more prominent role. Chief among them is Elle, who didn't fully emerge as a character until Chapter 22, after which I fell in love with her. I realized she makes a better player in Chapter 1's Spanner Incident than Karen does. As for Karen, I need to make her more prominent in the Student Union plot thread so as to justify her near-martyrdom in Chapter 19 and the ensuing Team Challenge in Chapter 20.

There's some other things I need to change. Some of the characters need to talk more British, including the Canadian, Australian, and Irish characters; and the Rockers should use a lot more British street language than they currently do. Some of the narration should be less journalistic and more poetic, or vice versa. There's still a bit of filler. And there's the formatting and stylesheet experiments I "pulled my punches" on in Chapter 23 R4 that I'm going to "supercharge" in R5, in not just Chapter 23 but 15 and 22 as well.

This edit will take nowhere near as long as Revision 4 did. After all, I was still throwing in all kinds of new stuff, up to and including the kitchen sink (or, more perversely, the bathroom one). I'm done with the big edit. The rest is just fixing and fine-tuning. And just like last February, I'm impatient to start.

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