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|Saturday, July 7th, 2018|
|Twice Upon A Time: The Novel
For the third time in my life, Paul Cornell has written exactly the words I needed to read.
The first time was early in 1992, when the blazing hot prose of Timewyrm: Revelation kept me awake — sitting in a hotel bathroom to finish devouring the book long after my roommate had wanted to go to sleep, compelled to keep reading by the feeling that a flower was opening in my head, a first glimpse of just how layered and human and emotionally true one of these Doctor Who adventures could be. That the same crafting of words and motifs that I'd been learning to appreciate in Steinbeck could be turned to flesh out the characters at the heart of my own personal mental landscape, and find something rich and real to say with them. It's one of the many moments where I think I learned how to write.
The second was the summer of 1995. The girl I'd thought I was going to marry had just dumped me, and I was adrift. Out of college, working an entry-level job, seemingly cut off from most of the life I'd built up at school — I had no idea how I was going to manage to get from where I was to a place where I'd be happy again, and not alone. But then, while curled up and recovering, I settled down with a good book: Human Nature. And Paul's deft painting of those moments as John Smith and Joan Redfern were drawn together — that sense of heart-opening possibility, the realisation that once in a while the stars could align and the most romantic thing you could imagine actually could happen — filled my heart with the knowledge that everything actually was all right. That even the wrong bits wouldn't have to stay wrong forever.
(Just a couple of months later, it happened to me and Kate.)
Fast forward: it's 2018, and we're bloody exhausted on every level. Kate and I are holding on to each other for dear life, as two years of ever-escalating political horrors are now coming pretty much daily: a wave showing no sign of breaking. Surely stealing children from their parents will be the last straw. Surely when I point out that seeking asylum is perfectly legal, and that innocent refugee families who have followed all the rules and committed no crime at all are having their children taken from them, and being told that the best way to see them again is to confess to a crime and go back to where they're likely to be killed — people will realise the pure Kafka madness of America's new policy. Surely my own mother won't ignore it when I tell her about this... Surely my heart won't break. Surely I won't despair.
And in the depths of this soul-weariness, Paul Cornell comes back to Doctor Who for one last time, to novelise the farewell of a Doctor I loved. A story which, onscreen, left me cold — simultaneously glib and wordy, with shrugged-off sentimentality in place of the genuine hard-won triumph which characterised Peter Capaldi's Doctor for me. (Neither Doctor's motivation for refusing to regenerate rang true for me on-screen.) But Paul Cornell had been finding depth in dashed-off raw material ever since he took a brief Terrance Dicks description of the Doctor and turned it into a heartfelt principle worth clinging to. Perhaps he might just pull it off again.
( Read more...Collapse )
Somewhere in the distance, I can still hear TARDIS music.
|Monday, May 14th, 2018|
|Monday, February 19th, 2018|
|What I Want
In the midst of this latest attempt to persuade Americans to do nothing about their gun problem, I was struck by someone asking:
“Explain exactly HOW you intend to get America's numerous owners of guns to surrender their arms should the qualifiers for ownership be chsnged, without riots or causing civil war?”
And that got me thinking.
How do I intend for it to happen? Exactly the way it happened in Australia, for the most part — or indeed the way Americans generally actually *do* respect laws when they change, and are willing to comply with them even when things which were previously legal become illegal (from CFC-spewing fridges to the previous assault-weapons bans).
But what about the cold-dead-hand crowd? What about the people who the authorities know are outright determined to violate the law? What do I think should happen?
What do I want?
I want the Feds to treat them with all the grace and dignity they use when they swoop in on a brown-skinned man stockpiling fertilizer.
I want them to see the world respond to them not as American patriot martyrs, but as new names on the short list of ratbags headed by the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh.
I want peoples’ alarm to focus on what those nuts were planning to use all these guns for.( Read more...Collapse )
|Thursday, August 10th, 2017|
|"Hell Bent" Revisited
Well, it’s only taken me two solid years of hindsight, but I think I’ve finally figured out a way to make Hell Bent
work a lot better!
At the end of Doctor Who series 9, I adored Heaven Sent
, but thought its resolution in Hell Bent
was the dampest of squibs. But the thing is, it’s the kind of misfire where I have nothing but sympathy and understanding for everyone involved. A Doctor Who showrunner is absolutely up against it at the best of times, and we can tell from Steven Moffat’s schedule that he was more miserable than usual while doing Hell Bent
… It’s the end of the series, the deadlines are ganging up on you, your last script went surprisingly over budget so all you’ve got left in the till for this one is £2.50 and a bit of fluff, it’s time to make a traditional end-of-series-miracle out of no money and no time, oh and you won’t have time for a lot of rewrites because they’re shooting Christmas right after this one, so you’ve only got maybe five weeks after this to write another whole script from scratch… I’d be tearing my hair out!
Fortunately, hindsight is cheap. And with the luxury of all the time which Moffat and company didn’t have, I’ve been able to think of a few key changes which would have brought the same basic story across in a more effective way — and without breaking the budget, either!
I. The Matrix
The opening chunk of the story, with the Doctor making his stands in the wilds of outer Gallifrey, had a stark poetry to it which I admired… but whenever they cut to action in the Capitol I could hear the story creaking.
Now, I always knew part of that was simply my old-school-fan (and old-school-Who-novelist) perspective on the Time Lords; I’ve read, seen, and listened to a lot of tedious Gallifrey stories, and they hit a lot of the same notes over and over again. So when Hell Bent
reaches the scene where Rassilon and his High Council are listening to the Cloister Bells and fretting over the latest predictions from the Matrix, my heart was already sinking.
(I really do think anyone doing a Gallifrey story is putting themselves behind the eight-ball — literally the first thing we found out about it is that the people there are cosmically
dull. Even the few writers who’ve managed to come up with a take on the place which made it genuinely fascinating — Robert Holmes and Marc Platt among them — couldn’t catch that lightning in a bottle a second time.)
But I think this material would be hard going even for non-die-hard viewers who don’t have that level of overexposure. Because there’s a fundamental problem with all this stuff about the Hybrid, the Matrix, et cetera… none of it happens on-screen at all
. It’s talk about a nebulous future threat, or talk about this awesome database of dead Time Lord minds which, on-screen, has to be represented by a couple of corridors, old monster props, and Time Lord extras on Segways… none of whom actually do
anything to any of our main characters, or even talk to them. It’s almost emblematic of the inherent tedium of Gallifrey that the main thing people are worried about is that something at some point might actually happen
Really this is the eternal challenge of bringing across something which is loaded with fannish backstory: how do you sell the impact of these ideas now
, to people who neither know nor care about their previous appearances? Just talking solemnly about it isn’t enough. World Enough And Time
is an example par excellance of how to give it impact; it takes plenty of story-space not just to show us the Mondasian Cybermen, but to build them up gradually, giving each note of their appearance a punch, so that instead of them just looking low-budget you’ve been led to think about why
they look like humans under surgical gauze, and everything that makes the image harrowing. But what can we show the audience, which will give some of that impact to the Matrix and the Hybrid storyline?
When RTD wanted to dramatise Gallifrey facing a prediction of temporal doom, he gave us a mad Pythia-like priestess muttering and scrawling on a conference table in the void. That’s fairly awesome, that’s visual, it’s someone doing something that brings across both their oracular nature and the madness of the Time War. And the characters are presented with the prediction onscreen, and must immediately work out what to do about it. It’s present tense.
So how can we bring the Matrix and the Hybrid on-screen? How can we actually show the viewers a database of Time Lord ghosts, wraiths slaved to making predictions about the end of everything? How can we show them these dead minds?We use Clara.
Consider the following restructure. Cut all the scenes about the Sliders patrolling the cloisters in the real world. In their place… instead of Clara walking through a glowing door into Gallifrey, we see her frozen in the moment on Trap Street and the Time Lords take her out, still frozen
. And hook her unmoving body up to the Matrix terminals. They’re going to upload her mind and interrogate her there
“There” is a surrealistic intercutting, with Clara in Trap Street, then the Cloisters, maybe her apartment or bits of set from Heaven Sent
— all jumbled together for maximum nightmare effect. The Matrix ghosts swirling around her, trying to pull her into becoming one of them. Demanding that she tell them what she knows about the Hybrid, to add to their predictions. What Hybrid? She can’t get a coherent answer. But it’s relentless.
As far as Clara's concerned, she's dead and she’s in hell
And the devils are demanding information that she doesn’t have.
It’s a reflection of Heaven Sent
, but from a different angle — where the Doctor’s story was one of the long slow grind of grief, Clara’s is a peak moment of anxiety and a struggle to hold it together. Which reflects where she was before — Clara had summoned up all her courage to be brave for that one final moment, but now that moment is stretching on and on and she’s still trapped, she can’t escape her fate but it’s just being prolonged and she’s on the verge of losing it…
And then the Doctor arrives. This new harsh, emotionally raw Doctor. (Is it even him, or is it another Matrix illusion? Perhaps first do one, then the other, so Clara really doesn’t know what to believe.) He appears to have gone into the Matrix to hold back the Matrix wraiths, and gets them to coherently tell her about the prediction of the Hybrid — we get visuals of that too, showing us a crumbled Gallifrey and something in the future Cloisters.
You can even get the Matrix wraiths confronting the Doctor directly about his past, rather than having the Doctor just tell tales of his old encounter with them. Again, cut out the third-party narration, have them talk about it to each others' faces.
But of course what the Doctor is really there for, is to get Clara out. Back into her body, breaking the time bubble, and out of the clutches of the Time Lords. And we’re back on track. (Though again we can lose the beats in the “real” Cloisters, having covered them while escaping from the Matrix; we'll have covered all the same pages of story beats, just in a different setting. The Doctor and Clara can go straight from the extraction chamber to stealing a TARDIS from the workshop set, which the crew already has left over from Name of the Doctor
Seen from the inside, the Matrix experience becomes harrowing, and the stakes more immediate. It’s not just that they’re on the run, the Doctor and Clara are already in a bad place.
And the beauty of this approach is, it can be done without blowing the budget. The Matrix action can be realised using sets and props you already have. The only extra cost would be a voice artist or two to give voice to the wraiths; maybe an extra day or so on the shooting schedule because of the use of multiple sets rather than just the Cloisters. The Hybrid prediction can be shown with a single CG shot built around the “destroyed” model of the Capitol dome already created for Day of the Doctor, followed by shots of the ruined Cloister set from later in the episode with something
shadowy walking ominously towards the armchair…
II. The End Of The Universe
Anyway. Once the Doctor and Clara flee Gallifrey, we’re into the next difficult chunk of the script: twenty-five solid minutes which are basically just continuous dialogue between three people in different combinations, in two or three different rooms. This is where you can really hear the last couple of coins clinking in the budget jar. My heart really went out to Rachel Talalay, when it comes to working out how to keep this much talking visually interesting!
And here… Again, I think the action could be brought much more in focus by dramatising the threat of the Hybrid in the present tense. How? Well, we’re eventually told that the Hybrid is the combination of the Doctor and Clara, acting together, and that the Hybrid eventually stands in the ruins of Gallifrey… but they never actually do this together
Rather than parking Clara in the TARDIS for the scene with Me, they should face Me together. They land on the future Gallifrey, see the destruction... and conclude that the as-yet-unseen Me has caused it. They close in on Me, treating her as the threat, trying to take her down somehow. (Perhaps they have to break into the time bubble she’s using to sustain herself.) But in the process they demonstrate through their actions the recklessness and the way they egg each other on which Me then calls them on.
Ideally, what they’re doing at that moment should actually be shortening the remaining life of the universe
, even that close to the end. With Me being the one pointing out that the destruction they've seen around themselves is not her doing, it's just the natural end of things... but what they're doing is making it worse.
If we actually see Clara and the Doctor acting in this completely unchecked way together, as opposed to just the Doctor going off the deep end, that shows why they’re a danger to the universe, without having to rely on vague “and you could trash the web of time” threats.
(Perhaps there could even be an implication that the universe is only ending so soon in the first place because
of the Doctor interfering with the structure of time, by saving Clara… and that the collapse will keep working its way backwards from here. If I were taking a completely free hand with the story, I’d suggest that the universe is directly falling apart now because the Doctor is bending the web of time to breaking point by keeping Clara alive… but I doubt Steven would go for that, since the final script seems to want to want to give Clara as much still-alive wriggle room as he can manage.)
Anyway, the knock-on effect of having Clara present in those scenes means that when she realises the Doctor wants to wipe her memory… she needs to run back to the TARDIS, lock the door (just long enough to delay him), and pull her stunt with the neruoblock. Then we’re back onto the script as it stood, though at least with a little more onscreen dramatic action along the way.
III. The Coda
And then the finale… here’s the only bit where I’d really like them to actually change the underlying point of a scene rather than the details of its unfolding.
Again, for me, the whole story seems to be leading thematically to the idea that Clara has to go back to her resting place now. Given the whole theme of hubris running throughout series 9 — first her hubris which got her killed, than the Doctor’s in trying to bring her back — the only satisfying ending would be for both Clara and the Doctor to accept their fates. The Doctor accepts his; she talks a good game about having accepted hers… but then she decides to put it off, take a detour and have fun for an indefinitely long time, despite her continued existence apparently threatening the very stability of the web of time. And despite the repeated warnings throughout the series such far about the dangers of two time travellers egging each other on, and specifically the dangers of two quasi-immortals doing so with no human anchor… this is supposed to be an okay note to leave Clara’s story on?
So if I could have my way… just lose the last couple of pages of Clara’s material. She disappears in the other TARDIS with Me, to go back where she came from. It’s less upbeat, but it’s more right. But the thing is, I recognise that this is a case of me trying to tell my
preferred story — as opposed to the other two sections above, which were me trying to come up with refinements that would sharpen Steven Moffat’s
And even without that fix, strengthening the journey along the way would go a long way to giving the episode more resonance. As it stands, there's such a gap between its epic ambitions and its thin-stretched realisation... even these small, achievable shifts in emphasis could have helped it pull off its aims that much better!
|Monday, January 30th, 2017|
|Why it matters why it happened
Well, it's official. The White House has confirmed to CNN that they deliberately excluded any mention of Jews from their statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day because they didn't want to privilege Jewish suffering over the other people who were killed: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/28/politics/white-house-holocaust-memorial-day/index.html
Know why that scares me so much? To quote the Anti-Defamation League's director Joseph Greenblatt... the UN established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial, but also because so many countries -- Iran, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, for example -- specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler's attempt to exterminate Jews, "opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what it was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people."
What we have here, is a "Holocaust remembrance statement" which is *specifically refusing to remember why it happened*. The Nazis didn't build an industrial-scale genocide machine to wipe out trade unionists. The Wannssee Conference was not called to discuss the final solution to the homosexual problem. Romani were sent to the camps, but they're not the reason they were built. The implication that they just *happened* to kill more Jews than everyone else put together -- no.
The Holocaust was not a generic suppression of enemies of the state; it was specifically built on religious and racial hatred. Hatred of us.
And ignoring that fact doesn't just play into the hands of those who hate Jews; it plays into the hands of those who want to target *other* minorities -- who don't want people to notice that the mechanisms used to target them have been used before.
Look at the Nazis' publication of the personal details of Jews who had committed crimes as small as pickpocketing, as part of their smear of the entire race in "The Jew As Criminal". Then look at Breitbart's running feature naming-and-shaming black criminals in their "Black Crime" section. Now look at Trump's executive order -- apparently written by ex-Breitbart boss Stephen Bannon -- which declares that the US government will publish lists of all immigrants who have even been *charged* with a crime.
All this has happened before. We must make sure it never happens again.
And we see this familiar strategy all over the place... when a group is being victimized, so often there's a push to deny that they're being singled out for victimization, from people who want to distract from the injustice at the root of it. Why should we single out Jews as having a special claim to the Holocaust? (Because the orders establishing the camps sure singled us out.) Why say "Black Lives Matter", when surely *all* lives matter? (Because black lives are being disproportionately threatened and taken by police in ways which other races aren't.) And those gays -- why do they need all those anti-discrimination protections, aren't they special rights somehow? (Because no one's actually trying to invalidate straight marriages, or deny people service for being straight.)
We have to recognize this sham neutrality wherever it occurs. It's been used on us, it will be used on others.
And just to add injury to insult... within hours of this statement, still on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump suspended America's refugee intake as part of the whole Muslim ban. Meaning that, immediately after saying the Holocaust wasn't particularly about the Jews... he returned to the sort of targeted refugee bans from World War II which closed this country's door specifically to Jews. The refugee policy which literally meant that Anne Frank died; as the Post just pointed out, if the US had accepted Otto Frank's bid for asylum, Anne would likely be alive and well today. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/24/anne-frank-and-her-family-were-also-denied-entry-as-refugees-to-the-u-s
Think about the parallels here. Specifically because they don't seem to want you to. This is the sort of thing we said "never again" about.
|Letters to Mom, volume 1
Hello Mom (and friends) --
I've been trying for days to write and post an essay about why we, as Jews, have a moral imperative to support bringing in Syrian refugees. It all hinges around the Four Questions from the Seder, and the wicked son who asks "what mean ye by this service?" To which the answer is, "it is because of what God did for *me* when I was a stranger in Egypt".
The Haggadah adds, for *me* and not for *him* -- for had the wicked son been there, he would not have been found worthy of being redeemed. But I'd also add: for *me*, rather than for *them*. This is not a distant problem, separated from us by time and space. We are the refugees. We are the strangers in a hostile land. We are the ones fleeing oppression, heading into the desert with no guarantee of a place to receive us, with nothing but hope that we can find a new home.
We are the Jews who -- within your living memory -- were turned away by the US as they fled Hitler, over groundless fears that they could be Nazi spies. Our refugees were barred from this country. Even the ones who had passed all their "extreme vetting" -- if they had relatives back home, the thinking went, they could still be pressured into serving as Nazi spies.
The arguments are the same. The paranoia is the same. Our response must not be the same.
At Hebrew school they taught me that the whole idea of the "chosen people" was not a privilege, but a responsibility -- what we were chosen for was to be an example of the best behaviour to the world. That includes putting decency above expediency, and accepting risk in the name of what is right. We must be worthy.
These people are not abstractions. If Dad's own parents had waited longer to try to flee to America, they would have found its gates closed to them.
There is more, but the rest I think has just been covered in this wonderfully annotated Washington Post essay. Read it, and keep your hearts open. This is about us.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2017/01/25/the-united-states-also-denied-refuge-to-jews-fleeing-hitler-fearing-they-might-be-nazis/
|Monday, September 19th, 2016|
|Homicide And Old Lace
Just rewatched an episode of "The Avengers" -- the proper Avengers, John Steed and company, none of this Marvel gubbins -- which I haven't seen in nearly thirty years: "Homicide And Old Lace". Good God, it's a particular kind of genius.
As someone who's occasionally had to salvage a complete dog of a film project, I have a real affinity for the inventive rescue job, in which the producers use footage in ways they'd never intended to try to make something out of nothing. And in this case... During the few months when Brian Clemens was sacked from "The Avengers" before returning, his replacement had produced a cold mess of an episode, Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke's "The Great Great Britain Crime". Contrary to fan legend, it was actually finished -- but it was 63 minutes long, it veered between painfully straight-faced bits and lame jokes, and it had massive plot-holes and characters being idiots to advance the story. Even by Avengers standards, it made no sense. Clemens salvaged the other two episodes produced while he was away, but he wanted to bury this one deep.
Fast-forward a year. They're about to be cancelled, they're behind schedule and down-to-the-wire for their last American airdates, they're way short on money, Brian Clemens is in dire need of sleep... it's time for desperate measures.
What we got is like if Gene Roddenberry, when writing "The Menagerie" around the original Star Trek pilot, first got really really drunk.
Just over half the episode (27 minutes) is the edited highlights of "The Great Great Britain Crime" -- reworked for comedy, stitched together with silent-movie music and a lurid pulp narration from Steed's boss Mother. Plus he throws in clips from other old episodes, similarly recut for comedy. There's only about two-and-a-half scenes of new material with Steed -- all the rest is a framing story, with Mother telling a story to his spy-adventure-loving maiden aunties.
But what makes this episodes something special is how dear old aunties Harriet and Georgina are *merciless* to the story -- seizing on every plot hole (why *does* Steed go along with the villains' plan?), every unbelievably idiotic authority figure ("Did he marry into an important family?"), every convenient bulletproof vest, even the villains firing a machine-gun on an ordinary London street with no one noticing -- and forcing Mother to justify them on the fly. What it is, is like sitting in on a gleefully malicious notes session with Brian Clemens as script editor, skewering everything the writer has tried to get away with. ("They had reached an impasse," intones Mother. Harriet: "What does that mean?" Georgina: "It means they'd run out of plot.")
I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dicks and Hulke to switch on the episode when it finally aired...
But to top it all off, the restitching of the old scenes is a masterclass in how you can lop out swathes of dull footage and still make the results flow. All the missing explanations are neatly covered in one new scene between Steed and Mother (who wasn't even in the original episode). In an elegant bit of plot judo, they use a blatant implausibility in the shot footage (a bomb goes off right beside the baddie and *doesn't* kill him, just blows a hole in the wall) to justify lopping out an entire redundant action sequence (the bomb actually *does* kill him and they can skip chasing him any further). And the half-scene mentioned above is where they've presumably replaced a serious action sequence with a comedy one -- in just four shots they manage to do a stylish little fight in which *every single actor* is doubled, both the long-gone guest actors and the regulars, so you never see a single face clearly. And it's seamless!
Avengers generally fans hate this one, presumably because it's Just Too Silly. But as a writer, and as an editor who knows what it's like to go to war with uncooperative footage -- there's a sort of malevolent enthusiasm to the whole thing. It manages to make the cliches look deliberately stylized, and find wit in the witless. That's a hell of a job.
|Friday, November 20th, 2015|
Well, I went off on one. Below are my thoughts responding to a couple of people in a college friend's Facebook entry, who were knee-jerking about Syrian refugees. Slightly edited for coherence.
For context, one person said "Assume 1% of these refugees has lepresee (sic) and we'll see a different response on whether they accept them without qualification into their own homes", while the other said " It doesn't say 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,your suicide bombers '. ISIS has already stated the goal of infiltrating the refugees. How stupid are we?"( Read more...Collapse )
|Friday, September 4th, 2015|
|Let's Rewrite Hitler! Or, Series 6 Re-Revisited
Okay, after a tangential discussion on Gallifrey Base, I've had people ask me to pull together my thoughts about how I would have liked to see the last half of Doctor Who's
series 6 play out. Back in the day I wrote a couple of reviews talking about how Let's Kill Hitler
and The Wedding of River Song
unfolded, what left me unsatisfied, and some of what I wish I'd seen instead
. But I figure it might be good to reconstruct all this in the form of one coherent essay...( Read more...Collapse )
So. Does that give series 6 more of a satisfying shape? It's got a few advantages: easing the overcrowding on Hitler
, moving the emotional turning-points to the finale and putting them center-stage, putting the Doctor/River partnership explicitly at center stage, and bypassing the need for a Teselecta revelation by delaying their plan until later (meaning that he didn't plan it all along until after
And it gives each episode a single clear dramatic focus. In short, Hitler
should be River choosing her proper parents over Kovarian and her programming; Wedding
should be her choosing life with the Doctor, and he with her.
|Monday, May 25th, 2015|
IT'S DONE IT'S DONE THE MANUSCRIPT IS OFF TO THE EDITOR AHAHAHAHAHAHA *clutches chest* *keels over*
This has been the single most hypercompressed rewrite period following the read-through for any of our books -- a casualty of the first draft coming out significantly longer than planned (and thus eating up a couple of extra weeks), followed by a week of rewriting before
the read-through to deal with known issues. Fortunately, the book at the read-through was in much better shape than usual, so there was a lot less to do than on some of our previous works!
After nearly twenty years, I think we might finally have a decent grip on this writing thing. Or at least parts of it...
Anyway, the book is now off with the lovely folks at B7 Towers, who will inevitably come back to us with further things to fix. But as it stands? I have that quiet satisfied feeling that I think we've pulled it off.
Oh, and the final count? Just under 75,000 words.
|Saturday, May 23rd, 2015|
Right. Chapter 8, at last you are mine!!
Have significantly improved the actual-plot-event-to-witty-banter ratio.
|Thursday, May 21st, 2015|
All this time that we've been grinding our way through the last push on the Blake's 7 novel... Kate's had a short story in progress that she's been itching to get back to.
I've just finished reading the latest version, and I am *humbled*.
It's an honor to be married to a properly powerful writer -- someone who can reach the sort of truth that I've never been able to articulate. But she's inspiring me to keep trying.
|Wednesday, May 20th, 2015|
For those following along from previous Mediasphere updates: the tongue-tangle caused by having characters named Vila, Vargo, and Vidge has been resolved; Vargo is now named Garov. (The joys of Terry Nation names, they work in almost any order.) Sadly this means sacrificing the joke Peter Anghelides pointed me to, but the overall read is better for it.
And that lengthy Vila babble in Ch 2 which I wasn't sure whether it was brilliant characterization or a huge self-indulgent mess? Is now about 25% shorter, and much farther away from the self-indulgent end for it...
|Sunday, May 17th, 2015|
|Mediasphere read-through cont'd
Mediasphere readthrough now finished -- with loads of delightful input from Dirk Schmitt, Jamie Boyd, Kyla Ward, Jacob Moriarty, and the incomparable Lizz Vernon! Only one significant plot issue unearthed -- a situation which, as Kyla aptly put it, it was clear in retrospect what must have happened and how the characters reacted to it, but we just hadn't bothered to write any of those scenes.
After a pub dinner out and Lizz's best film-crew war stories (one of which is going straight into the book), Kate and I were left dancing through the aisles of Woolworths to "Freeze-Frame". Such a weight off our minds!
|Saturday, May 16th, 2015|
|Mediasphere read-through, Day 1
Day one of the Mediasphere read-through successfully concluded, with oodles of help from Dirk Schmitt, Kyla Ward, Jamie Boyd, and Drew Bowie. Only a few bits so far that need to be lightly spruced up, and nothing that's catastrophically wrong. The air resounds with the eternal triumphant cry of the writer: "My God, we've gotten away with it!!!"
|Friday, May 15th, 2015|
Dammit, this book is not getting any shorter.
But it's making significantly more sense...
(ETA: Read-through draft -- around 73,000 words.)
|Wednesday, May 13th, 2015|
I just did the worst possible thing for someone who's trying to rewrite their prose - I read a bit of Raymond Chandler immediately afterwards.
Reading out his pitch-perfect description of a similar setting to one I'd just tried to write prompted mournful cries of "FUCK YOU, CHANDLER!" from both co-authors...
|Wednesday, May 6th, 2015|
...that moment when you realise a sequence you'd written separately had never been pasted into your main file, and so your draft is 71,500 words long, not 68,000.
...Um, Xanna? What's the actual target length range again? It's gonna shrink in the rewrites, but even 65K seems like a distant memory now...
(ETA: They're not worried. Whew. No need to gut it. Still, this is a classic "Sorry about writing such a long book, we didn't have time time to write a short one" moment...)
Anyway, here's the plan at this point. Normally we finish the first draft, immediately have a read-through with some of our friends, and then spend a month rewriting to fix the inevitable problems which we find when viewing the book as a whole. But because getting the book up to this point took a couple of weeks more than originally planned -- partly because it came out significantly longer, partly because the day-job crunches took up more than their fair share of time -- we now have a bit less than three
weeks till they want the finished manuscript. And because of peoples' availability (not least, mine), we've had to push the read-through off to next
weekend, not this one. So we'll have a bit more than a week to fix whatever issues we can find on our own, and then about another week to fix anything our readers find. Ulp.
If it's any consolation, we know there enough things wrong with this draft that we'll have plenty to do before the read-through... hopefully we'll fix the big issues before anyone ever sees them!
|Mediasphere: Draft Zero
4:32 AM. Done.
All this time, I've known what the final line of the book would be.
But I just came up with a new one.
|Tuesday, May 5th, 2015|
About two months ago, I posted, "Chapter 4 will never ever ever ever ever ever ever end."
Tonight I finished it.
The last sequence I had to go back to fix was a scene between two Mediasphere denizens, which could very roughly be described as "Russell T Davies seduces Mary Whitehouse". This, as you can imagine, took some doing.
Looks like we're going to be around 67,000-68,000 words.
Only the last epilogue scene to go now...!