author’s note – writing chapter 7
Posted by jeanne
well. i’ve completed 7 chapters. manuscript formatting (12 pt, double spaced, 1-inch margins), it comes to 261 pages. and it’s only the first of six sections. so that won’t do, obviously. i’m not writing a sextet, it’s not good enough a story, in my hands anyway. maybe neal stephenson could do it, but it wouldn’t come out the same. probably would be a good thing.
and plus, making a thick tome isn’t what we’re going to do. we’re making a graphic novel. all the struggles i’m going thru in writing the chapters, all the struggles of the past year and a bit, have been only first draft struggles. when it comes time to take it down to a graphic novel, it’s going to have to lose 89% of the verbiage, which can only help it.
we sat and watched the commentary on the pixar movie brave, which we love, and they were talking about the same process i go thru when i work on a chapter. you try everything, and everything’s either okay or horrible, but nothing is smooth and shiny. and then something clicks, some new angle you hadn’t thought of before, and the whole thing starts flowing. it’s the same process even on a multi million dollar project, as on this tiny project that costs nothing, written in my basement. so that’s cool.
it’s been a real struggle to write these seven chapters, even this last chapter, having made the breakthru in chapter 5, when kurt does a lot of drugs and all that science is turned into metaphor. before chapter 5, i was trying to include the science as real knowledge, as if some team of independents sat down and wrote themselves a videogame, and a true genius took today’s discoveries and put them into a quantum computer. but it was not only boring but preachy, because i tried to work all those political bits and pieces that are also happening now. and this doesn’t work. you can’t possibly reflect the present in such a work, because the whole point is that there is no present you can isolate as THE present. the present moves on, and what you have is an immediately outdated science overview masquerading as adventure fiction. like the celestine prophecy (hak fui).
so it all has to go to metaphor. and, in truth, it all is metaphor, whatever its pretentions to reality. ultimate truths. never mind for now. the story is badly written, and has to be not only eviscerated and resurrected, but also boiled and shrunk down to almost nothing. this whole first section will eventually fit into a 32 page comic book. (22 pages and ads etc.). so, six issues and a final bound graphic novel. that’s what i’m aiming for.
and as i toddle off toward that goal, i have to remember to remember that i’m not writing a thousand pages for my health. no, wait, i am writing it for my health, because if nobody ever sees it, at least i’ve been thru it, and concentrated on these thoughts, and these processes i’m writing about. i’m writing a thousand pages, also, because i’m on a mission, and it’s to say these things because i have to. you won’t understand that, and i’ve written about it in other author’s notes.
i was looking over chapters 8-14 the other day, arranging everything the way i do. i put chapter 7 away, added it to the section one file, and printed the whole thing out for reading aloud to jim. then i got out chapters 8-14 and separated out the individual chapters into their own documents, and spread them out on top of my desktop. then i opened the comments document, where i save all the deleted bits and ideas about the chapters, and the research document, where i keep all the news articles and websites i’ve found that pertain to this story, and looked at all the tidbits i’m going to have to move into the separate chapters. that’s a whole day’s work, so i’m not doing it now, just setting it up. then i read thru the chapters, which is to say i read thru the notes, and the character arcs, and the various political and scientific and consciousness points i intend to talk about.
interestingly, to me, was finding that at the end of section 2, chapter 14, josh and anomia find themselves in the game antarctica, which has been blocked since chapter 9. this is the point when i will be writing about antarctica without ice, which is the point at which i want to be in iceland so i can write about it first hand. as i remember, the game doesn’t start until the middle of section 3, but from chapter 14 on they start to experience the gameworld for real.
section 2 will have a whole different structure than section 1, and i’m not sure how that’s going to work out, because i don’t really remember. i spent a year on section 2, and haven’t looked at my chapter structure for a very long time.
reading the chapters to jim, i am astounded at how quickly they go by. it’s been 3 sessions and then nathan’s portion to read each chapter, and we’re on chapter 6 already. i think it’s clunky, but jim has been amused the whole way along, especially in chapter 5 when kurt made the quantum computer. that’s the wild chapter where i threw science to the wind. kurt makes way technical statements that nobody understands, and jim thought that was hilarious, where i thought it was pompous. and my reader could only barely work thru it. i haven’t heard from him since…
so it’ll be a few minutes until i can get back to the story, dragoncon and all that. but i’m thinking about it.