Sunday, November 27, 2005

Editing

Patroclus has a pretty sharp post about blog comments, which can exist as a strange wibbly world all of their own (I'm paraphrasing). I'm really more of a lurker than a commenter, unless I actually know the person writing, and even then my comments tend to be dull agreeable stuff along the line of 'They are a good band aren't they?/I haven't watched that film yet, but it sounds great!/Cats are funny!', none of which really move the argument along, so I usually wish I hadn't bothered.

The snow has gone, and it's raining. Fortunately, Matt survived, and Izzy took really a rather fabulous photo - of of those everyday locations turned mysterious and otherworldly through just a change in conditions. Maybe it's just that we don't get much snow down here.

I'm just finishing the first edit of the book - a more enjoyable process than I expected. The manuscript Agent Sarah sent me was marked up in a way Clearly Understandable By Boys: ie lots of marked pages with 'reduce by 30/50/70 per cent'. This means you can cut and paste into a separate document, bring out the metaphorical cold chisels (and occasionally chainsaws) and get it into shape before dropping it back into the book again. Grr, writing manly. The second draft will be, I reckon, about five to eight thousand words shorter, but much much better. I decided to drop two characters entirely, a strangely satisfying feeling.

Agent Sarah had a few comments along the lines of 'um... why does this happen?' to which quite often I had no reply, so out it came. I know Raymond Chandler was once asked during the adaptation of one of his books why a dead chauffeur was in the car being pulled from the lake (lightly referenced in the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang movie - four stars), and he had to admit he couldn't remember.

It's the action scenes that have been trimmed most of all. Mainly because as a hangover from both scripts and, to be honest, D&D, I like to know where my characters are at all times. Which would slow down a far greater work: 'Lizzy moved into the ballroom in a north-easterly direction, holding her dance card in her right hand, keeping more than five feet from the wall, lest she be considered a suitable subject for Wallflower Assimilation, but a good fifteen feet from Mr Darcy's Zone of Grumpiness - see accompanying diagram.'

Although I think maybe I need to write all that stuff first just to get it clear in my mind, then be able to cut to the important stuff. Too many scriptwriters' first books read like a uncommissioned script simply translated into a different medium, so I'm willing to do all I can to avoid that.

19 comments:

Who is this Dave? said...

Of course, we're all too scared to comment here now.

So none of us will. Ever again.


Ooops.

james henry said...

It's a worry. I like to fold some comments into the main post though, so it all grows in an interesting organic sort of way. I guess because when you write for telly, that's it, you're done and you can't change it, however much you might want to go back. With a blog, it's all much more fluid, with room to correct stuff, change your mind, apologize and so forth.

Hmmm.

Who is this Dave? said...

Oh, and please don't worry about commenting on my blog (how bold of me to assume you might even visit it) - any comment, however mundane, will be polished and put up with shiny spotlights all around it, alongside a notice saying 'look: a comment from James'.

james henry said...

I assumed that was standard internet protocol, actually...

/shiny spotlight

patroclus said...

Excellent paraphrasing - clearly your editing skills are honed to perfection :-)

I was about to start wittering on about medieval Arthurian tradition in French literature, and how even though it derives from the oral tradition, you can still work out where every single character is at any one point in time - and it all hangs together perfectly - but I think I've indulged in enough pretentiousness for one weekend...

james henry said...

Don't be a tease. More about french medieaval literature, if you'd be so kind. Proto-D&D spinoff fiction?

Possibly I'm looking at this the wrong way round.

patroclus said...

Hmm, well, I *think* I'm thinking about La Mort le Roi Artu, which is part of the Vulgate Cycle of French Arthurian romances, written in 1235. I just remember an offhand comment from my tutor to the effect that you could plot precisely where everyone was, and when, and it all matched up precisely, even when characters had been away for ages and done other things (as was the wont of the Knights of the Round Table).

Which got me all excited about how I was going to go off and create this really complex temporal-spatial map of it all. But then booze and indie music and sex got in the way, as they tend to do when you're 20 and a student. So, er, that's about the sum total of my knowledge on the subject.

It doesn't sound like a bad project, though. I'll schedule it in for when I've finished resurrecting the Lost Language of the Picts. Which comes immediately after finishing this annoying computer game I've bought.

Proto-D&D spin-off fiction? Surely there'd have to be some kind of twist in the, er, space-time continuum for that even to be possible?

Christ, I talk a lot of rubbish.

patroclus said...

Looks like I've got my Seven of Nine-style conversation-stoppers down to a T. Hurrah!

james henry said...

I was having a think, o paranoid one.

PP was thinking too. He tried to tell me what he was thinking about, but he used the word 'ontological' and I screamed and fell over.

Partly I was thinking about whether the writer of La Mort le Roi Artu used a thirteenth century equivalent of a flipchart and magic markers to make it all fit.

patroclus said...

Yes, exactly, that's precisely what I was thinking at the time. But then the union bar opened, and they had the Stone Roses on the jukebox, and...er...stuff.

I've never really known what "ontological" means either. Something to do with birds? Or is it teeth?

occasional poster of comments said...

Be glad you didn't do a philosophy degree, on oh so many levels, but principally the frequency with which the word "ontological" is used. That and "epistomological" - pertaining to the theory of knowledge, apparently, but couldn't tell you much more than that (the irony is not lost on me).

Ontology: a branch of metaphysics concerned with the science of being, it says here in the big philosophy book I nowadays stand on to reach high-up things.

wv: keveyzky - I'm sure I ate one of those in Prague once, might have involved cheese.

JonnyB said...

Nice post.

surly girl said...

i normally don't have a clue what patroclus is banging on about but i am strangely excited at the thought of all those people being exactly where they should be. i demand a complex temporal-spatial map.

wv: nerywhu - what nerys hughes' husband calls her when he's done somethng bad.

felinity said...

The commenting thing is interesting to me because my main blog is on LiveJournal (not solely populated by angsty teens and bad poets, whatever its reputation might have you believe) which is set up for social interaction through commenting much more than Blogger (or other similar sites). So there's much more interaction between journals and conversation between journallers. But depending on the writer, posts can become more like conversations, rather than standalone pieces which are all about the writing.

Stef the engineer said...

re: "Pride & Prejudice" D&D.

How about "Pride and Prejudice: the Fighting Fantasy book"

http://www.fightingfantasygamebooks.com/

"You are approached by a fine, tall person, with handsome features, but an insulting manner. Do you
a) throw your wine in his face (turn to page 223)
b) offer him your dance card (turn to page 23)
c) nab another glass of fizz and spend the evening getting shitfaced (turn to page 300)"

Play as Elizabeth, play as Darcy, five different endings.

Hang on; this could be a winner...

james henry said...

WRITE IT, man! WRITE IT!

Must also include pirates and zombies.

Wyndham said...

Chandler couldn't remember because he spent a good proportion of his life off his tits on scotch.

jk said...

I was about to side with James and admit to being a lurker, until my sister's trashy teen magazines. You know the type: "Feel a lurker coming on? A dab of toothpaste will sort the most stubborn spot"...


word verification: xmgkao - smug cow

jk said...

Ooops - sorry. That should be, until my sister's magazines came back to haunt me.