Sunday, June 28, 2015

#Spanner R5 #amediting update: 9 (But Really 12) Chapters for the Serial Novel's Part 1; or, Some Rough Plotting

I've finally settled on the number of chapters in Enter the Monkeywrench part 1 (9, not counting the 3 chapters numbered "0") and their final order. Now complete: the Intro and Chapters 0 and 1.

I switched the order of Chapters 2 and 3. In Chapter 2, we find out the violet-eyed girl (Leila in earlier revisions and later volumes) not only is scheduled to be sacrificed in order to turn a dead man into a god, but actually wants to be; and I realize, I need to evoke a feeling of dread. Chapter 3 is where we see the vision driving the COPCO Crime Prevention Division's precogs mad; in a new ending, we'll find out that the sacrificial priestess who intends to sacrifice the violet-eyed girl just happens to be the division president, and even the company CEO is afraid of her. I think this order works better.

Chapter 4: Shira, chief "troubleshooter" for the Wilder Foundation, gets her mission from the Foundation chairman (Thurston), meanwhile fending off African witch hunters as only a level-4 Charmer can.

Chapter 5: the series' major antagonists panic. Chapter 6 is the section "The Man with the Plan" from the old Chapter 1, expanded and revised; sure enough, a plan is involved, to deal with not only the "angel of chaos" killing the precogs but Shira too.

Chapter 7: Shira, Thurston, and the blond girl (Jennifer) have to explain a few things to the others. They hammer out some rough preliminary plans and do a few experiments. And they prevent an attack by the left-wing terrorists of the Socialist Revolutionary Organization — including Shira's "squib" half-sister Talia.

Chapter 8: The first phase of the villains' plan is set into motion.

Chapter 9: And Shira and company fend it off in what should be spectacular fashion. And Shira takes the mission. End of Part 1.

There's my own rough plan. I'll be deleting some scenes, writing some new ones, even importing one from Chapter 2 R4. After that, I'll smooth the continuity so everything leads to the cliffhanger ending.

Speaking of the cliffhanger, I added one new scene to the end. Will Becket, the vampire super soldier who sank his fangs into Osama bin Laden's neck (and the series' Char Aznable figure), makes his first ominous appearance in the story. And all he says is, "It has begun."

Monday, June 22, 2015

#Spanner R5 #amediting update: The New Plot of "Enter the Monkeywrench" Part 1, With Cliffhanger

The new opening section of Enter the Monkeywrench, originally the longer chapters 1-4 but now numbered 1-7, has a distinct plot with a cliffhanger ending. What Hugh Howey did with his now famous Silo Trilogy was revive the Golden Age science-fiction serial-novel tradition in ebook format. Such A.E. van Vogt novels as Slan and The World of Null-A actually read like Saturday-matinee movie serials in prose; Jommy Cross and Gilbert Gosseyn wouldn't be out of place alongside Commando Cody. I realized, I can do this too. Movie serials, and the short '70s TV revival of the format in the series Cliffhanger!, are actually a major influence on my writing. Of course, unlike the classic Republic and RKO serials, and much of Van Vogt's work, I go out of my way to avoid the plot contrivances that are a danger of the serial format, whether in movie serials or serial-format TV shows.

The final Enter the Monkeywrench Chapter 1 turned out to be entirely new material. I introduced a new character (a corrupted Edison Carter whom I named "Jack Campbell" after a certain SF magazine editor whose public decline is infamous) and killed him off. I introduced characters I'd previously saved for later. I established the stakes for the novel. In the previous chapters — the Intro, Interlude 0, and Chapter 0, in that order — I established the stakes for the entire Chaos Angel Spanner series.

I decided to split those four long long chapters I'd novelized out of comics issues and TV episodes into shorter chapters that focus on single characters or groups of characters. In the new Chapter 7 I'll combine the threads as they converge into a monster cliffhanger.

With the Intro, the new Interlude 0 ("The Monkeywrench Cometh", the actual introduction of the character Spanner to the series, reworked from Interlude 14 R2 and Interlude 6 R4), and new Chapter 0 ("First Blast of the Trumpet", a reworking of my original R5 Chapter 0 idea) at the beginning and the new Chapter 7 with its cliffhanger at the end, I could release this part as an ebook in itself, possibly even for free, with the four sequels that make up the rest of the novel priced at one dollar (or pound, or euro) apiece.

In fact, this is how I'm rewriting each part of Enter the Monkeywrench, leading up to the biggest cliffhanger of all, the one at the end of the novel, which has remained substantially the same through all the versions of Chapter (now Book) 1 since 2010.

Come to think of it, I may still be doing that comics/TV serial-novelization thing after all...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

#Spanner R5 #amediting update: Final Plot Reorganization: The Path Is Now Straight

I had something of a dry period. I added and subtracted some things, but I never finished a chapter except for the Intro. Suddenly I realized that the flashback-heavy structure of Chapter 1 R4 was not suited to a full novel. So I've made one final reorganization of the plot so that all its events occur in order, making the plot both less confusing and more relentless. Those "fixed patterns" Jennifer sees in the beginning? They will relentlessly converge until they collide in the final chapters.

I'm also shortening the chapters. Each chapter will follow one plot thread or series of related threads at a time, another way of uncomplicating the plot. It won't seem so indigestible. By shortening the chapters, I should be able to shorten the book as well, even though there will be more chapters.

As a bonus, I decided to throw in a terrorist faction I hadn't thought of using for at least a decade and a half and which previously existed only in a series of index cards and a few scattered entries in a mid-90s Project Notebook. That faction is one of many that Brinkman sends after our heroines in the new Chapter 1.

I'm doing all this because I intend Enter the Monkeywrench to be the introduction to the Chaos Angel Spanner series. I want it to go down easy. Once I've seduced my readers into this strange world, then I can get as complicated as I want, starting with the dual timelines of Book 2 (Rock City Blues). Besides, Enter the Monkeywrench takes place on a single day; the other volumes stretch over weeks or even months.

Next comes the actual throwing around of scenes. Now that the Intro and Enter the Monkeywrench Chapters 0 and 1 are all but perfect, I've already started.