Chapter 2 has been more or less the same through three drafts. I didn't do more than add scenes and do continuity corrections to the Revision 4 version. Not so in the final version. It's already vastly different. Since in its current state it's nearly twice its proper size, I'll be throwing out scenes I thought would be permanent. A lot of the scenes are entirely new. Here's the changes I have planned so far:
- Willa Taunts Becket: in a videophone call. Ex-spouses Henry Becket and Willa Richter-Thomas have been bitter enemies since their one-month marriage in 1992. She has a special fondness for taunting the humorless old bully. Major themes invoked: fate/destiny and the death of capitalism. New.
- Women with No Name: three new scenes introducing three characters whose first R4 appearance was in Chapter 12 with one retconned into 10.1 just because I was short of my desired word count. Sure enough, they demanded I put their real debuts in Chapter 2. Over the next 2-3 chapters they'll explain (and not in a single chunk of exposition) just how they manage to have no names at all yet be some of the most vivid and individual characters in the whole series. And they have relevant new backstory too. And this is partly because of what I found happening to major character Leila in R4: the moment in Chapter 12 she went permanently nameless, she became a stronger character than she was when she had a name. In fact, she became her own person; because of this, after that moment, "the girl with the violet eyes" will never go by a name again — and for R5 she insists on taking away her sister's and twin brother's names too, because she loves them so much, especially because she doesn't want Brinkman to forcibly marry Fiona to the evil Oliver in her place. (Actually, one of the nameless women, the blond rockergirl, does that in the R5 plan for Chapter 7. But that's later...) New.
- Shira vs. Sparks: The final Shira/Sparks sequence "The Dangerous Type" (formerly the title of just 2.6, now the name of the entire chapter) is now a full-blown confrontation between two people on opposite sides of the Law, one trying to catch the other, who are highly attracted to each other. Sparks is still a villain until Shira lowers the WHAM! that destroys his world, as carefully reconstructed as his face. Even their flashbacks are now weapons. Shira makes his head spin just from the sheer number of names she's got, surrounding her like an obscuring cloud or nimbus (I swiped the metaphor from Henry James, incidentally, though he was describing rumors rather than aliases). Intercut with the "Becket's mother" sequence I added to the end of Chapter 2 for R4, it now makes for a strong conclusion complete with triple cliffhanger. Revised.
- Rebel Styles and the Dying Patriarchs: Now the child-succubus videogirl kills one of them at the end of every section except the last, which will be the new introduction to major villain Byron Scofield. To the mystically minded villains, Rebel's the "Babalon" to Spanner's "Choronzon", and they know Shira's somehow connected to both. Revised.
- Norma Jean Presley: the alleged daughter of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley and the cult object of a schismatic Church of Elvis sect in Japan. I created this character while the two celebrities were a married couple for a short time back in the 1990s. Now I've brought her back, and she starts seriously haunting Shira here, this ghost of a celebrity who never was. Added.
- The Cults of Mammon and America: Wasn't America supposed to be the nation of the Enlightenment? Not according to the Corporate aristocrats and the Patriot warrior caste of the Conservative Revolution. They turned America into as fanatically religious a nation as the Caliphate itself. This, of course, will ultimately backfire. Theme now foregrounded in R5.
And so the great work resumes...