I’ve read through this scene about twenty times in various different incarnations but only when I was reading it aloud to The Boy did I notice this little snippet of joy

‘Nothing.’ A car came round the bend illuminating them in the bright, white, round headlights. Jamie pushed Maya behind him.

Why in action packed sequence when both characters are on the run did I find the need to describe in excruciating detail the headlights? Unless the headlights use special ions (geddit) to defeat the fey a description is not really necessary.

I am SMRT! Back to the cutting board.


Revision neurosis

Was browsing the interwebs when I came across this on Libba Bray’s livejournal

‘I’m convinced that self-loathing is just a huge part of the writing process. The first draft is like getting dressed in a dark room, and revision is like being in the cruel, fluorescent glare of the dressing rooms in Macy’s with its three-way mirrors. Necessary and painful.’

Word. Except my inner critic is Trinny and Susannah combined and has a big pokey stick to draw attention to all the wobbly bits (back, inner critic, back). Thank god I’m not the only one who feels like this.

Anyway back to, yanno, work.

Procrastination thy name is Rowan

So you set yourself a firm, not to be moved deadline, that you will send your novel out for beta reading at the end of March. And you know that by then you have to work day and night to complete the revisions needed so the novel is in as good as state as it possibly can be. Knowing this would you:
a)revise in lunchtimes, after work, before work, forgoing sleep, food and all others things but the WORK.
b)practise your guitar hero skills until the 29th of March then panic and spend a frantic day shifting commas like deckchairs on the Titanic
c) Write 1,500 words of a new project completely unrelated to WIP, and excitably start drawing up outlines for the birthing process of your new baby.

If the answer is c then you are an eejit just like me. So I am firmly going to back away from the keyboard until all thoughts of my fabulous new project fade from my mind. If only if it was that easy …

Blade Runner Final Cut

Last night I went to the late night showing of Blade Runner Final Cut. It was showing at one of the best cinemas in my city, a small independent cinema that shows an esoteric range of films from indie, mainstream, and cinema classics. They also sell alcohol and home made cakes (last night I had chocolate tart – yummy).

I first watched Blade Runner late at night on TV, not only was it the old version with the cheesy voice over and the last scene was of them driving in the sun (because its all OK, kids!). It also had a couple of key scenes edited out for TV, in particular all of the eyeball scenes, I guess because of the violence. In this early version it was clear Dekkard was the good guy, and the replicants were the bad guys. Later I watched the far superior Directors Cut (not to be confused by the Final Cut :)) on dvd, but last night was the first time I watched Ridley’s Scotts remastered version.

So not only was I watching the film last night with these ghost versions showing in my head. I was also rewatching the film from a completely different perspective. Blade Runner came out the year I was born, and I think the first time I watched it I must have been 12 or 13. It was my introduction to noir films. I hadn’t yet watched Metropolis, Chinatown or The Maltese Falcon. I had never read any Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov or John Wydenham. I didn’t yet know why Blade Runner was such a good movie because I hadn’t read or watched the canon of movies that inform it. I just knew that it was brilliant.

Watching the film last night was like returning to a place you once loved, everything was the same and everything had changed. From the opening sequence with the shot over LA and the pouff of the flames erupting from the power station to the last scene with the origami unicorn. Watching it now having seen and read a lot of exceptional sci fi (and some extremely dire sci fi) added to my appreciation of the film.

At the moment I’m obsessed by editing, how making a seemingly minuscule change can influence the entire tone, plot, feel of a book. So it was interesting to look at how this works visually. The main change (from what I can remember) is the removal of the cheesy voice over. This serves to make Dekkard’s motivations much more opaque and his character more amoral. Sort of like changing a story from first person to third limited perspective, the voice over helps you identify with the character, by removing it allows you to make up your own mind. I think Ridley Scott also rejigged the chase scene at the end with Roy and Dekkard to up the tension. Of course now I want to go back and look at the two earlier versions and see if I can spot the cracks!

I always feel sympathy for the replicants: the desperate need to meet your maker and seek recompense for the flaws of your creation is fertile ground (see Frankenstein et al). The brutality with which Dekkard retires the replicants is too close to the violence they inflict on those that come across their path.

The little details intrigued me, the advertisements for the off world colonies, the fact that real animals were too expensive and replicants were cheaper, the fake memories, and asian advertisements. And there were eyes everywhere, the golden hue of the replicants eyes, the eye man, Priss spray painting over her eyes, Roy boring out Tyrell’s eyes. A good use of a motif for a film obsessed with our perceptions of reality.

The boy said that he found the noir elements overpowering. Like a rich meal the shadowy lighting, the incessant rain, the beautiful decrepid settings were a little much for his pallet. I loved it, of course. The lighting, the sets, the costumes. even the characters – everything was used, dirty, jaded.

Afterwards there was the eternal debate about whether or not Dekkard is a replicant (for the record I think its a yes the photos, the unicorn dreams, and Grak leaving the unicorn at the end (Oh Adama how I love you!) all seem to point to this. Although the film is ambiguous enough to not answer the question conclusively).

I’m so glad that I got the chance to see the film in the cinema


I spent most of this evening reworking a scene in my book. Fiddling around with a couple of key pieces of dialogue and trying to making them fit into the new flow of the story. And one after the other I deleted them. I think I kept about 300 words total of a 1,500 scene. I remember writing the original passage so clearly. I’d be trying for about a month to get Maya (my protagonist) out of her home town and to London. In my original conception of the book the scenes of Maya at her home were considerably shorter. But as I began to write the initial scenes grew, mutating, taking on a strange life of their own. Maya wanted, no needed, to spend more time at home.

My first pass at the scene in the club in London was awkward. There were a lot of things that I knew I needed to fix, but if fit the book as I had it originally conceived. Having finished the first draft my understanding particular of the characters, and the underlying themes has deepened. Even knowing this I still approached the editing of this scene thinking that I would integrate some key changed plot points, and polish some of the dialogue. I didn’t intend to cut it all. But once I started I could see the scene taking shape before me, as its true form had been hidden behind the extraneous words. Instead of feeling sad at all that work lost, I felt a sense of relief as I deleted each paragraph. I knew that I was doing what was right for the book

Doubt weasels

I’ve finished the first draft of my novel and I’m currently at that bit in the revision process where the doubt weasels are gnawing at me and I’m considering jacking it all in to go and bake.

The problem is that when I write I love what I’m writing, its fresh, its new, its undoubtedly an outstanding work of staggering genius. If the novel in progress was a person we would be at that stage in our relationship where I’m name-checking it every three minutes, whether the conversation is relevant or not, ‘Novel likes ice lollies too!’.

But editing requires a completely different mindset. When your editing you have to ‘kill your darlings’. And when your rewriting as well as editing (combining love of the project with a critical eye) well its a hard slog. Unlike when your writing a first draft and you can rely on the word count to keep you motivated, this is not much help when editing. Because you could have had a really productive morning and -1,4500 words. So instead I’m trying to rewrite for a solid hour. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway after wrestling with a mid point scene in which three characters intersect for the first time for most of the morning, I’m done. The sun is shining. Its a Saturday and The Boy is making neglected noises. We’re off to the museum. The doubt weasels will wait til tomorrow.