Monday, October 13, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: Abandoning the "Non-Novel" for a Coherent Flashback Structure

In the original version of the new Spanner Book 1, I split not just the old Chapter 1 apart but various chapters from all over Book 1 R4 into shorter new chapters made up mainly of single sequences, then trying to organize them on the order of John Brunner's "non-novel" Stand on Zanzibar. After I moved the timeline forward to 2018, enough major plot elements changed along with the characters' ages that I find myself combining chapters again. Here's a short rundown of the first five chapters alone:
  • Intro: To the end of the original version, which hadn't changed all that much in 4 years, I tacked on Chapter 1's date tag ("19 August 2018") and its associated epigraphs, followed by the new R5 scene in which Shira gets her mission which becomes the Spanner Incident that is the focus of the new Book 1.
  • Interlude 0: To the already unorganized mess that is Revision 5's new Interlude, I'm merging the chapter that previously followed it, called "The Age of Unreason". I plan to reorganize so that the entire "old Jennifer meets young Jennifer" thread becomes a single scene followed by the flash-forwards that gives this Interlude its name, "Foregone Conclusions". I may move some villain scenes into the next chapter, or not, depending.
  • "The First Blast of the Trumpet": From "Welcome to Spanner's World", I moved the short Leila scene and expanded it. A new action sequence introduces the myth arc I borrowed from Jack the Giant-Killer (which the title references) and has our distaff Jack, Shira, killing her first "monster" in the series, here a transhuman mercenary with multiple Bioroid bodies. The double epigraph to the original Chapter 1 are now here; previously it was in a chapter I'm not keeping, "The Beginning of the End"
  • "Welcome to Spanner's World": In addition to the various epigraphs to various later chapters in Book 1 R4, I inserted some epigraphs and character quotes taken from "The Age of Unreason". In place of the Leila scene I moved to the previous chapter, I inserted the entire chapter "Escape from Harmony", which is basically her escape scene from Drusilla's "halfway house". Spanner himself became the focus for a new opening intended to foreshadow the very last chapter ("Spanner in the Works") and an extended version of this chapter's final sequence with added backstory.
  • "The Point of No Return", formerly "The Day of Destiny": The original chapter is now a framing sequence for the series of flashbacks that used to be the chapters "Beauty Queen on the Television Screen" (containing Leila and Shira backstory) and "The Bright-Eyed Girl" a.k.a. "Bright-Eyed Captive" (Amanda's backstory), then rearranged things to my satisfaction. But the result is that this has become quite a long chapter.
What I did was abandon the "non-novel" approach with its single linear continuity intercut with its related short stories, essays, and collections of "happening" fragments for a coherent flashback narrative. I abandoned the nonlinear structure of Stand on Zanzibar for that most complex of flashback structures, the one which structures David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. The structure of Enter the Monkeywrench is far from identical to Mulholland Drive's, but I'm modifying that template even without the content (since I plotted what is now the final chapter, "Spanner in the Works", along with the Intro before that movie even came out). Thus, the flashback and background chapters I wrote for the first version of Book 1 R5, I'm either incorporating into other chapters in their entirety or breaking up to put in more than one chapter. That's how, for instance, the entire chapter "Escape from Harmony" became the replacement Leila sequence of "Welcome to Spanner's World". I've settled on long chapters this time, not short ones; "Spanner in the Works", after all, is one of the longest chapters in the book.

So far, of the first five chapters, I've finished all but Interlude 0. I'm continuing to stick to my decistion to abandon chapter numbers in the Fifth Revision, since I'm no longer doing Spanner as a comics or TV novelization but simply as a novel.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: The New Direction

Resetting the first four books of Chaos Angel Spanner four years in the future has changed some things, some in major ways. Admittedly, the new Book 1 had become something of a mess in the edit. I was attempting my own version of the complicated structure science fiction author John Brunner used in his 1967 masterpiece Stand on Zanzibar. Shifting the timeline forward allowed me to remove the backstory and pseudo-essay chapters that were getting me in trouble. Now I'm combining chapters and putting parts of some chapters into others. Even the Intro, which I thought I got completely finished two years ago, isn't untouched; parts of what was to be the following chapter got moved there, including both the prologue and the quote section from Chapter 1 R4.

I've simplified Book 1's structure. I'm building on a flashback-narrative structure that alternates "present day" and "earlier today" chapters for the first two-thirds to three-quarters of the book, after which I may alternate the long climactic chapters with shorter chapters containing crucial backstory reveals. Various character threads get introduced in the second story chapter ("Welcome to Spanner's World") and split apart in all directions only to collide in the final two chapters ("Prelude to Ascension" and "Spanner in the Works") and the explosive climax. All the main story chapters will remain, but I'm adding a few new scenes and moving some of the backstory there. Moved into the story chapters, backstory flashbacks will need to serve as important reveals or Shocking Revelations, or I'll move them elsewhere or edit them out. My goal is to make it more readable for the casual reader who's used to similarly structured thrillers.

I'm expanding Leila's role in Book 1. Originally I had her appear in three scenes: one toward the beginning, one in the middle, and one near the very end. This worked when the new Book 1 was merely Chapter 1, the equivalent of a television pilot episode. It doesn't work so well when what was a chapter expands into an entire novel. She's one of the most important characters in the entire series, more important to the action than just being Shira's love interest, so she deserves an expanded role in the volume that introduces her. And so instead of just sending her off toward Seattle sleeping in the back of her aunt Ariel's car at the very end, I'm putting her front and center in the climax. She wasn't in the original "Spanner in the Works" from 2010; now she's one of the reasons it happens.

So far I've added to the Intro and finished the first story chapter, "First Blast of the Trumpet" (the name's a reference to the folktale Jack the Giant-Killer, in which Jack begins the battle against the final giant by calling the villagers to his aid with his horn, and from which I'm taking the series' myth arc). I have three scenes left to do in "Welcome to Spanner's World", two existing scenes to edit and one expansion of the final scene. I've taken several quotes, from both characters and real-life people, from the now omitted chapter "The Age of Unreason" and inserted them in "Welcome..."; other parts will go into Interlude 0 and into later chapters.

My goal is to get as much of Book 1 edited before NaNoWriMo as I can. Here goes...