Friday, May 10, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: Distractions, Slow Going, and At Last, Clarity

Things are starting to get clear in Spanner Revision 5. For one thing, Shira finally has her big provocation in 1.1: she sets money on fire, right in front of the camera while predicting the death of not just the American Empire and its Conservative Revolution but capitalism, period. She's wearing nothing but a ripped Doc Savage type shirt in a different color. She just threw her Challenge: prove me wrong, or I'll laugh at your wails when your Empire burns. I facepalmed: how come this never came to me in four entire drafts? Now I finally have an explosive start to the main story equal to the future destruction of Earth in the Intro.

Otherwise, it's been slow going. Mostly, I've written notes, suggestions on how to revise that may or may not become obsolete as I finish chapter after chapter. I'm mostly done with the Peter Ross of SPEC scenes, though that inspired new idea for 1.1 may get me changing the Ross scenes in 5.6, 6.2, 6.6, and 21.6 yet again. I hacked the stylesheet so that I have the High Corporate characters speaking as if they were gods on Olympus, with Chapters 1, 2, 5, and 6 edited accordingly.

And distractions. Not from books, videogames, or TV shows, but entirely new stories. Three short stories plus ideas for one more story and two books. So of course I wrote them down. Here's the opening sentences:
  1. He was about to scream the Shahada and attack when the guitar hit his face with the force of a hundred fists.
  2. These days only headless nude waitresses served the tony restaurants where Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited executives power lunched.
  3. Anastasia Blaise was born with the anonymous beauty of the surgically Resculpted and the aristocratic gift of no conscience.
And one cover idea for one of the novels: instead of the standard "running man" motif found on the covers of way too many standard thrillers, a man flailing in mid-air as he falls to his death off a skyscraper (the setting of the novel's framing scene), with Shira herself apparently mirrored in all the motion-blurred windows.

Meanwhile, for Spanner R5 I'm working the two main villain-related themes more into the story: the death of capitalism (the Corporates) and "pride goeth before a fall" (the revolutionary hubris of both Corporates and Patriots). One more new R5 theme I'm kicking myself for not coming up with during the first four drafts: the class divide between "freemen" and "workers" in which "freedom" is defined in Platonic and therefore aristocratic terms as freedom from work. Right now I'm editing a scene in 1.2 where I plan to introduce the new theme. It continues...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#amediting Spanner R5: The Nonlinear Edit, or Back and Forth and Back and Forth

During the first week of the final ebook edit for Spanner book 1, I find myself settling into a pattern: going back and forth across the book, following story threads and character arcs, making little tweaks and major transformations here and there.

Remember the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg over the valley of ashes in The Great Gatsby? I had that image in mind when I decided to put a huge Big Brother-like image of the fat angry face of SPEC chairman Peter Ross over the principals in their office. And I'm putting that image in every single scene set in the principal's office. Likewise, I made major changes to Ross' own early appearances in Chapters 5 and 6: I made his first appearances in effect epiphanies of a god, a Revision 5 theme I'm working on involving all the High Corporates and not just the Beckets, then revised the confrontation in 6.2 so that Shira, Leila, and Jennifer sent him reeling. He ends the scene "shocked at the inscrutable female mind" when his problem is that he, like most High Corporates, can't even conceive of a Populist hero's mentality grounded in reality. His final scene in 21.6 seemed to be perfect in Revision 4, but now I'm going to revise all his Chapter 21 appearances in light of the Chapter 4-5 revisions and add Elle to his 21.6 scene, with her replacement of the injured Karen in that scene (she's in the first confrontation in 6.2) being a major plot point.

Most of the major edits so far have of course been to Chapter 1. As I mentioned last post, I removed Karen and reduced Jim Sparks to a minor villain who gets a lucky break, then replaced them with Elle and a new "shounen hero" character specific to the chapter. I've also been slipping in references to later threads and themes to establish them at the beginning and prepare the readers for the later events. There's still a prop and a character I've neglected in later chapters, the Gospel of the New Genesis (which by Chapter 23 becomes the center of the Dick Becket-Ariel Shield feud) and the seventh Scarab. I could always find somewhere to fit them in.

I also added a new CSS format. Basically it's for lines of dialogue spoken by High Corporate oligarchs on large video screens that reinforces the impression that they are (as their spin implies) living gods. The ones I've applied it to are Steve Jobs (or rather, his ka) in 1.7, Henry Becket in 2.1 (with Rebel Styles' lines getting formatted in another new format), and Peter Ross in 5.6 and 6.1. In 5.4 (IIRC) I've reformatted the stadium announcers' bombastic announcing in the script-type format (based on play scripts adapted to comics, not movie scripts).

In 10.1 I'm changing the identity of the first nameless woman, from the tall brown-haired one to the short slender Asian one, because the latter is Ayla's mother; the reunion is in 13.4 in Revision 4, and I'm moving that to 10.1. I plan to set up her appearance with a few cameo appearances in Chapters 7-9, after Ayla arrives at Shira's apartment. I'll introduce her roommates in minor roles in 10.5-6 (the song war and its aftermath), and after that build up this thread around Leila until she finally goes nameless in 13.2.

Not used from the Revision 3 plan: the love scene on the beach in 14.6. Now I have a study in contrasts and the perfect character for it. I'm looking for a place to put the Shira vs. Charmian tennis match. Not used from the Revision 4 plan: the scene in 23.4 where Radica gets shot down and only Liz can rescue her, and the one planned for 23.6 in which Willa applies violin torture (sound-cannon amplified this time) to the one who deserves it most, her ex-husband the Party Chairman, still in his superhero uniform.

I haven't started this yet, but another plan I have is to relentlessly brand everything to an annoying degree in order to represent the total marketization of society, with Corporatism playing exactly the same role in the American Empire that Islamism does in its symbiotic enemy the Caliphate (which itself is "Jihad vs. McWorld" gone berserk). And I've reverted the name of the giant corporation that own China to Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited.

The muse is happy to get back to work now that I no longer have to work on a schedule. Back and forth is just fine with her. And so the nonlinear edit continues.