Sunday, January 12, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: A New Attack on the Chapter 2 Mess

Every time I look at the current state of Spanner Chapter 2 in yWriter5, I have to admit it's a complete mess. Out of frustration, I took an alternative solution: adapt it back into a TV script in Celtx! It worked like a dream on 2.1. Then, looking back at the Revision 4 version, I had a sudden realization: 2.2 and 2.3 are in the wrong order! The events in "Ghost Hunting" properly follow those of the "homecoming" sequence in the final version of 2.1 and what in R4 is 2.3, especially since it covers a six-day period. So I picked through the many potential scenes that had been piling up over the past year, picked the ones I judged were the best fits for the R5 continuity, and turned them into 8 pages of script.

Now the script versions of 2.1 and 2.2 are complete. Some of the changes:
  1. The "Leila comes to Bremerton" sequence that has been in the story since Revision 1 is no longer a group of scenes put together (dream, two flashbacks, and a scene in the present), but an intercut thread that takes all place in the story present. Now I slap my forehead and wonder why I didn't do that in Revision 2.
  2. I made 2.1's victim, Tremayne, the villain of the week instead. Not only did I change the identity of the villain Rebel Styles kills through the TV screen in 2.1, I had her do it at the end of the opening scene, as a true TV-episode "teaser".
  3. It's no longer just Leila who gets a dream scene. Shira does too, as part of the new "coming home" thread. Nike — that is, the victory goddess whose body is the corporation — tries to attack Shira in her own dreamspace. Followed by...
  4. The "Call to Adventure" in the form of a literal phone call from Teachers Guild president (and Hope's archnemesis) Dr. Jenna Hunter to Shira. Shira accepts, of course, in the expectation that their respective plans will eventually collide. This is the first event in what will become the School Arc in Chapter 5.
  5. The interrogation scene I put after "Ghost Hunting" in R4 is still the penultimate scene of 2.2, but now part of the "coming home" thread rather than the sequel to "Ghost Hunting". Shira tells her future Javert or Zenigata exactly why she pulled off the Spanner Incident — and why she'll get away with it.
  6. In Chapter 1 R5 (finished but not yet posted), I turned Shira, Desiree, Elle, and Akimi into hoverboard racers. After the interrogation scene, it's not COPCO or CPMC that punishes them for the Spanner Incident, but the CEO of the Xtreme Racing League. And it's not for doing the crime, or even getting one of their number (R5 new character Rico X), but for doing it without his permission (read: the opportunity for him to profit off it, Corporates being Corporates). He fires them and claims their racing handles as his "intellectual property" which he's now forbidding them to use. This is Shira's cue to bring up Kitsap Kouriers:
    Elle: What'll we do now?
    Shira: Remember that courier place at Seventh and Park [in Bremerton]? They'll be more than happy to hire some off-season superstars.
  7. And, looking at the unused yet named "index cards" in the Celtx project, 2.3 is about to begin with the end of the Leila thread, the actual homecoming in the "coming home" thread, and the introduction of the first of the nameless women (the mysterious Asian one; conveniently, as the new manager of Shira's apartment building).
  8. Last but not least, the chapter name itself. Up until R4, it was "Sex Bomb". That's now the name of 2.6. The old name for 2.6 is now the chapter title: "The Dangerous Type".
Then there's "Ghost Hunting", which began as the entire Chapter 2 in R1. For 2.3 R5, I'm going to cut it apart into its constituent scenes and intercut in a series of new short scenes of Shira being interrogated by Locke, Diana, or J.T. in which she simultaneously denies being part of Rebel's assassination-by-TV of (now) minor villain Jesse Jameson and reveals just what kind of threat Rebel really is. So that's next up. After that, 2.4 and 2.5 should be easy enough before I get into the third and final real challenge of this editing session: 2.6, with its many flashbacks and its ending sequence from R4 that I'll be intercutting into it.

And so it continues...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Projects: Finish the Spanner Edit, Write Book 0, and Get Published

The holiday season was my excuse to slack off from editing and writing at the end of 2013. The combination of a Blu-Ray player and a new widescreen TV didn't help. That's over now. I've had my year-end vacation. It's back to work. And the muse is obliging with the craziest story ideas I've had in a long time:
  1. The entire plot to Spanner Book 0, complete with new title ("Banned in Japan"). Now it begins with a Yakuza-Triad war interrupted by a certain masked prankster and graffiti tagger who goes by the handle Spanner, and ends with a political crisis that may end in a devastating war between an increasingly fascist Japan and Chinese Communist Party (Holdings) Limited.
  2. A new graphic novel idea incorporating the "Blake Island incident" repeatedly referred to in Spanner Book 1, and which takes up one night during the time period of Spanner Book 0. On the night of July 14 this year, Jennifer will kill 52 hitmen, mercenaries, and serial killers. Now I know how it begins: with her and some far more broken female former child soldiers robbing the Seattle Triad (under flashy young boss Ringo Wing) of money, sex slaves, and a snuff pornographer who resembles an infamous web cartoonist, as dozens of disposable gangsters die John Woo style (I ask myself the question: how would Lone Wolf and Cub artist Goseki Kojima do a "heroic bloodshed" shootout?). Because it's so action-oriented, it will not be called "The Jennifer Theory"; I'll have to find yet another new story to match that title.
  3. Three final tweaks to Spanner Chapter 1 (Jennifer's "Red Baron name" changed from Blonde Phantom to White Phantom; Shira kicking Johnny-Johnny in "his nonexistent manhood" to begin a recurring motif linked to the Blake Island incident and ending in Chapter 11; and a rewrite of the fourth flashback) and such a complete overhaul of Chapter 2 R5 that I'm even switching the positions of 2.2 and 2.3 to avoid pointless time reversals.
Getting that graphic novel off the ground necessitates, of course, that I start drawing again and actually improve my skills so I can actually draw real comics. I decided I'll even throw in a "comic within a comic", of the bad-webcomic kind, which I'll draw in the inferior style I abandoned in 1999, when I stopped trying to ape Masamune Shirow (and failing) and began developing my more recent Clamp-influenced style, which I'm now modifying in a more Takeshi Obata direction that allows me to incorporate more of my "school of Alex Raymond" influences: Neal Adams, Ryoichi Ikegami, Tony Wong, and Raymond himself (with elements taken from Will Eisner and midperiod Frank Miller).

Meanwhile, I'm going to get one non-Spanner novel published this year. In March, during NaNoEdMo, I'm going to pick one previous NaNoWriMo novel and edit it to as close to publication quality as I can in one month. I have four options: Bad Company from 2007, Black Science from 2008, Dirty Pop from 2009, and Freefall from 2013. Once I feel it's ready for release, I'll publish it online. Thus, after 25 years of practice and planning, I will become a published author at last. Then in April, now that Script Frenzy is dead, I'll throw myself into NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) the way I do FAWM. To be a NaPoWriMo winner, you must write a poem a day for 30 days. I'll do my usual stuff inspired by the Surrealists and Beats, of course, but I'll also make my first attempts at traditional forms such as the sonnet, ode, and villanelle.

Above all, 2014 will be the year I complete the final edit of Spanner Book 1. Last year it took me 5 whole months to edit Chapter 1. One reason is that I completely changed certain older story elements (e.g. removing Hope and Karen and replacing them with Elle and new character Rico) and threw in new ones (e.g. the propaganda-video opening). I will not spend that much time on any later chapter, no matter how much I change it, not even Chapter 2 which I'm radically overhauling. Books 0, 1, and 2 are set this year, so I plan to get at least Book 1 published this year, Book 0 if I can squeeze it in.

And so it begins again...