Cut to the Chase


Atrocity cues 2nd lead to dive into status quo ruining mischief and escapades with oddball old friend. Mr. Protag has to traipse across country seeking to drag him out of trouble, only to realise that said Old Friend is the very figure from his own nightmares. Old Friend gets everyone into trouble with lunatic obsession, causing 2nd Lead to ask himself what he’s really fighting for, whilst a kind of Mexican stand off ensues between the three as Mr. Protag finally confronts his demons.

In short, it’s the ending.

A bit of a jump in chapters there, you’ll notice. Quite what reflections i had on line editing this last section are a bit of a blur now, because, well, there’s been a little bit of a development. This goes against the whole concept of this blog run, which was supposed to be a little at a time reflection on the ‘finished’ text. But see, there was this development

I’m hoping there might be something substantial to blog about shortly, for good or ill.

Editing Notes: Smooth and polish, etc. Continuity of those key foreign phrases, some discarded, others firmly established.

Keyword style impressions: Is it all worth it? Bitter victory, bite-marks and dead birds,unexpected Jerkathon, abrupt suicide,fireworks in a forest, scripture proving my madness,the Good the Bad and the Ugly,Chinese lanterns,Pig’s head,Home Brew,If it bleeds we can kill it,i hate them but they’ve got me over  a barrel,You can’t always get what you want/but if you try sometimes, you’ll get what you need

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The Murder of Maia

 (41-46)A geezer from the past of our second lead comes onto the scene and agitates things.  With his options looking tighter and more bleak, 2nd Lead goes off the rail a bit, leading Mr. Protag to have to slap some sense into him. Crisis flash point pushes us toward the point of no return.

The aforementioned crisis point is a horrendous murder. Specifically the murder of a woman. This grates on my conscience somewhat. It grates somewhat more because The Bastard Wonderland has no female leads, and in fact barely any female characters at all, other than a mourned mother, a dubious ex, and an equally mourned (arguably mythical, loosely  imagined) deity. Then finally, when a real woman is actually in the scene, she gets this, and remains anonymous.

Part of me knows this might not look good. A book of men for men that occludes women.

My defence: for one thing, the masculinity of TBW isn’t just an absence of ladies, but a dearth of them – the men here are suffering the lack of them, often in a pitiful, misguided or comedic way (think Only Fools and Horses ).

Secondly, this dearth of women is largely in the context of  the foreign culture i mentioned in my previous post – we have a culture where women are entirely secluded. No its not fair. Yes, it is barbaric. But this story isn’t romantic enough that these cruel ideals are just swept away. And in a way, the murder is kind of symbolic, or symptomatic of this cultural state of affairs.

Is it okay to have murder (and rape) as long as you give the characters some depth? Some realism, and a genuine reason for the ocurrence? An interesting debate here seems to suggest so. And yet still, these oppressed women do not get a voice in TBW. The hard fact is, i took a risk. The female story and characters exist, are written. But i cut them from TBW. That’s right, i cut them! The ‘women’s world’ is a whole ‘nother book, (all being well, it will be the next one) because in the end, i decided that a well structured story was more important than a nod to positive gender politics.

Editing Notes – The usual – lots of cut and tidy

Keyword Style impressions – Burning streets, fisticuffs between friends, Nam Vet, you’re better off in the shit, Jack the Ripper, bottle matured, violent pat-a-cake

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The View from the Underworld

(34-36 of 65) Okay, we’re here, ready to start the thread that will lead through to The End. Our struggling heroes find themselves lumped together, doomed to a destiny of…street cleaning.

But it’s a foreign sort of street, an interesting one, i hope, with an odd, Karmic motivation for the cleaners that our Main Protag bangs his head against. Here we see relationships take off properly, basically built on winding one another up. Our Main Protag sets his chuntering on breaking the others resolve, but begins to see his own undermined.

I indulge myself with a many a vista – you can’t beat a good scene setting vista. There are probably too many, but i’m leaving them.

Editing Notes: The usual cut-and-streamline. I can’t shake the suspicion that these three chapters might be too long and repetitive, but but can’t seem to muster the spite to murder my darlings. I’m calling them ‘character development.’

Keyword style impressions: View from the underworld, Karmic madness, Dead cat and rotten cabbage, piss-and-vinegar, winding one another up, i-could-murder-a-smoke

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Comedy Seppuku

33 of 65, and we’re just about halfway there!

Our protagonist is dragged back to the masters like a dead bird, and the masters are not impressed.

Prior to this editing pass, i recently rewrote this his scene. One of the things that flagged it to me was it was one that had quite a trope-y feeling about it. Disgraced/naughty hero goes before unforgiving tyrant/authority figure/council, etc. The original scene was just too much like a scene from a bad star wars movie, so i gave it a bit of spin. My main Protagonist is useful in that he could turn the most sombre of occasions into a redneck bar brawl, and yet he shows a rare shred of what might be decency, or might just be plain old pride. He certainly sees character 2 in a more sympathetic light through it. And so i hope to have turned a cliched sort of scene into an important, character building one.

Editing notes:

  • chapter 33 was a little too long, so split it, wrote it to a sort of Dan dan Daaahhh!!!-ish cliffhanger before carrying straight on with it in a second.

Keyword style impressions

  • shame, exile, relegation
  • Ominous bad guy
  • blossom, silk and posture
  • Foreign philistine
  • comedy seppuku
  • Orientation exercises: Getting duffed up
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Loss of nerves

Hero is captured by enemy, (our second lead), who comandeers others to escort the prisoner. However, second lead is two chips short of a bag and his grip on authority leaves something to be desired. Being outcast, Character 2 soon finds more sympathy in his prisoner than in his peers, and starts to lose his nerve…

Whilst this happens, writer loses his nerve a bit, struggles with the limited time available and his familiarity with the text tempts him to rush, to think that it’ll do and that he shoudl deal with that bit in part three where it should be… etc. This is compounded by the fact that he has lost his USB with all the working files on, aiieee, etc.

<practical tip> Back up your work. Regularly. Don’t so much as breathe on the keyboard without backing up your work.</practical tip>

Anyway. Having escaped judgement, our protagonist is moving on to another set of difficulties, another world entirely. That’s if he survives the day.

Editing notes:  Some clumsy event continuity, the usual tidy and trim.

Keyword style impressions: More hot tropics. Indignation. Panic attacks. Swordplay, both crude and elegant. Did he really just do that? Last requests. City on a mountain in the jungle. I could murder a smoke.

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The night we met

Three small chapters broken by little cliff hangers for tension and pacing. Crash landing. New climates and architectures. An Alien place confirmed. Protagonist’s situation revised. The tense meeting of familiar character 1 and previously glanced at foreign character 2. First impressions of one another before our hero makes another run for it, falling foul of some lesser foreigners, buggering some more things up in his pathological bid to escape culpability…

Editing notes: Usual line edits, polish and momentum.

Keyword style impressions: crash, Humidity, indignant-yet-blase murder, ill-advised lairyness

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Crossing the Threshold

You’re never really out there,  ‘on an adventure’, like, until you meet a monster. Until you see something that you know can’t be real, except for the fact that you know it is. Whether you’re in your own attic, or on some far flung orient, this moment tells you more than mileage that you’re not in Kansas anymore.

So we come to part two, picking up where our protagonist left off with some high altitude action to keep him on his toes. In the old and oft cited schemata of stories laid out by Joseph Campbell (used in Star Wars, as everyone knows), meeting the guardian of the threshold is a crucial, testing moment for the hero. In this case, i hope its not a testing moment for the reader, as we haven’t had anything quite so fantastical happen thus far, but hopefully, you’d be sucked in by now, and i should say, when i use the word fantastical, i don’t mean wizards and goblins and dragons. I mean something unusual. And what’s more, this is not an action filler, random encounter type of adversary –  our guilt ridden hero is now left wondering if he has come to some sort of judgement.

A lot of editing for such a dinky chapter, but it’s one that has to have momentum.

Editing details:

  • Cut down on description of the beast – keep it nebulous.
  • Tidying and rearranging lines.
  • cut unnecessary words

Keyword style Impressions: Storm, seasickness and bones, heart pounding, Not in Kansas, Oh Shit…

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