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...

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