Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spanner R5 #amediting Update: The Post-NaNoWriMo Slowdown

I haven't done much editing this first week of December. Partly, it was the expected slowdown after a particularly frenzied late-NaNoWriMo Panic Time. It was also a busy week for me, requiring this night owl to wake up early because of the requirements of his early-bird mother's schedule, meaning loss of sleep, morning lethargy, afternoon fatigue, and headaches, leaving me too confused to do much editing work at all.

But I have in fact done some editing. After the Intro, Interlude 0, and the two introduction chapters, every chapter either has its own plot or otherwise fits into the main plot. For example, the new Chapter 3 (the first chapter of the flashback thread, now called "The Emergent Pattern") used to be episodic like the two chapters before it, but now has a coherent plot involving a choice so pivotal that the character who chooses it seems to be the real protagonist for most of the story, through both the flashback and present-time sections, a choice reinforced in the last two chapters of the flashback section only to be undermined at the very end. The new Chapter 10 (the present-time chapter "Escape to New York"), by contrast, is not relatively self-contained but carries on two sets of tightly intertwined threads from the previous chapter (8: "Hunting the Hunters") to the next (12: "Last Train to Grand Central"), one involving the villains in New York, the other involving the heroines speeding from Seattle and Los Angeles toward New York. Looking over the plot, it seems the flashback chapters are more episodic and the present-time chapters are more serial.

The other thing I've been focusing on is Shira's character arc. The main character of the series needs a strong character arc more than any other character. But Shira's arc is the hardest to successfully plot because of the three primary ways she acts:
  1. she misdirects and otherwise tricks people, and hides in plain sight;
  2. she rapidly adjusts her strategy to changing situations; and
  3. she does what one least expects even when the situation doesn't change.
"Hunting the Hunters" (new Chapter 8) is a good example. Ostensibly Shira's in Washington, DC to save a young niece (Lucie in Revision 4, now Melodie) from both a pedophile senator and a team of assassins; but though she fails that mission due to another unexpected factor (the arrival of Drusilla's most dangerous priestly acolyte), she manages to steal Leila's power crystal from one of the assassins (Oliver), the one who claims ownership of Leila by marriage arrangement and also wields NaNoWriMo's infamous Travelling Shovel of Death (whose craving for blood he of course indulges). Shira surprises him by stripping naked in front of him specifically to fight him, whipping out her lead-loaded lemon-yellow Go-Yo™, stealing the crystal while he's still disoriented, and disappearing in front of his eyes. The example I just added is toward the end of "Prelude to Ascension" (new Chapter 19), when an attack on Shira through the computer in her head forces her to adjust her strategy just a little, but enough to change the outcome of "Spanner in the Works" (the last chapter) completely.

I hope that once the weekend's over and I get caught up on my sleep, I'll get my editing back up to speed. New story ideas must be fitted in and old darlings must be killed when they don't fit. Anyway, back to the scratch paper...

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