All this exposition. If there’d been more pages in the scene I probably would have figured out some means of injecting a full summary of Everything into West’s monologue.
In my defense, this scene’s become almost vestigial since the rewrite began. At the time I was brewing what would become this chapter, a frequent – nay, constant – complaint (read: “suggestion”) about ATC was that it didn’t make any sense. Specifically, there was no context. Turns out that a lot of people actually like those enormous bricks of florid, purple prose Chris Claremont (and those inspired by him) pepper their pages with like so much buckshot.
Me, I hate that shit. It’s great when it adds something to the story, but more often than not it either drags it down or gives too much away. I’m not saying this scene doesn’t do either (or both, in loads)… but there’s this thing called “conversation” (in which people talk at length), this thing called “action” (in which people punch each other until they explode), and more importantly… there’s this thing called “pacing” – which is why people almost never do both at the same time. This is a talky bit, obviously.
There’s a marked lack of narration boxes in my work – Thad’s internal monologue is about as close as it gets and even then it’s obviously a monologue and not a brick of prose. While I may be paying for it in the long run, I’m satisfied that I’ve managed to stick to my In Media Res guns and to do this sort of exposition through the story itself, instead of a titanic blob of Omniscient Narration.
‘cuz man, given the kind of story that this actually is, in totality… going third person omniscient at any point – narrating, at any point – would just totally blow everything all to hell. Location captions are as far as I’m willing to go.
If you have to spell it out with words – if pictures just aren’t good enough for you – write a book. Me, I see this thing more clearly than I can articulate it. So it’s a comic, and will continue to be one. Even if the novelization could be done in a third of the time.
It wouldn’t, actually – unrestrained by the constraints of sequential art production, I’d go all Stephenson and write out every single little scene that occurred to me. I’d be able to write out all of the little fun bits that would be great issues of an ongoing series but don’t actually fit into one of the major installments – and I’d be able to write that chapter in a month or two, instead of the six-plus an illustrated version would take.
That’s the great thing about comics – even big stinking epics. You learn FAST that if the story can live without it, then out it goes. Even revised and tweaked and expanded, the Second Edition of The Dualist leaves almost every single plot cut I made the first time around on the editing room floor. The bits I’m adding weren’t part of the original drafts and outlines – they’ve been added because the original drafts and outlines had arms, legs, and nipples that were lopped off, and it’s turned out that yes you do actually need a liver.
So while the rewrite may get a bit florid at times, it’s now coming from a more developed perspective. It’s obvious – it’s always been obvious – that The Dualist is part of a bigger story. With the second edition, I’m hoping there’s enough bits and pieces, hints and indications as to the general shape of that story so that the reader comes away from it with some basic clue as to what’s going on.
While the basic story existed as a skeleton when I started work on this thing a billion years ago, the first edition really was being built in a complete vacuum. Side-by-side, it really shows. I just hope it comes across as interesting and readable as opposed to arrogant and pretentious!
Mastering notes, 2016.12.06 – Minor dialogue adjustments.