There Will Be Blog

I’VE been having trouble with editing Artemis.

The first problem was that what I had to do seemed overwhelming. I’d be looking at the typescript and thinking, I have to think up and write these new scenes to add more backstory to this character and that character, AND I have to have to look for and change bits where I see problems, AND I have to fix the grammar accidents AND mop up the odd spelling mistake, AND I have to do ALL THAT in a single pass and OH MY GOD MY BRAIN IS MELTING DOWN. And then I’d stare at the page like it was the headlight of a freight train coming along the tunnel to turn me into meat-splat. Well, I think I found a solution to that problem: don’t try to do it all at once. So, what I’m doing now is reading back through the ‘script and as I go along, I make simple changes only—obvious spelling mistakes, missed or doubled words, in-yer-face grammar fuckups, and so on. Anything needing more work than that, I mark for later. I might hit a part where I can say, this needs a touch more dialogue to foreshadow something that comes later, or I might spot the ideal place for a new scene that’s needed. So for those things that need some actual wordage, I slap in a comment to say That new scene I need with rabid wombats goes HERE, or I’ll highlight a sentence and add a comment like, Alice remembers the man who shot her brother with a Nerf gun filled with lemon custard. It seems to be working; I don’t lose the momentum of the read-through, I have the right places marked up with the right changes, and then later, when I’ve done every chapter, I’ll gird my loins for the actual writing of new scenes, etc., knowing exactly what I need to write.

(As it happens, a couple of days after making that decision I read something along the same lines in Chuck Wendig’s book, The Kick-Ass Writer, to the effect of, editing needs a plan just as the actual writing does. Well, there’s a plan that works for me.)

The second problem is finding quiet time. The last few days have been particularly bad on that front. Last Monday, I made the above decision about how I’d approach the editing, and a second decision, which was I Will Edit At Least One Chapter Every Day. Tuesday, the second part was already in tatters; that morning I did an hour of day-job work then had to head out for several hours for an appointment, then in the evening we had tickets to see Seether and 3 Doors Down, and we didn’t get home and to bed until 2:15am. Four hours later, up and back at the day-job . . . and then I found out that the family who were expected on Friday had arrived two days early, so off for an evening visit we went, and bed was after midnight again. Thursday, day-job was followed by a barbecue with just-mentioned family, and at the same time I was on the work laptop helping out with an emergency release of a web application. That night, bed happened sometime around 1am. By Friday (yesterday) after day-job I was so exhausted I could barely think straight; editing was not an option. I read a book for the thirty seconds it took for my eyes to feel like they had lead weights on them, then basically died.

Oh, well. At least I got a good night’s sleep last night and today I was able to edit two chapters, which makes me feel a whole lot better. And I came up with another damned good idea, which revolves around the fact that a few weeks ago, in preparation for the visit of aforementioned family, I cleaned up the basement and made it into what is essentially a second living room. And it is a place of light and wonder. Being underground, it is cool, and because the windows are small and face the back of the house instead of the front, it is also quiet—no noise from a motorbike left idling in the street for twenty minutes at 5am (curse you, evil neighbour), no banging and clattering of garbage trucks. There is no TV, or radio. And so, when the family has left for home, I will be making that excellent room my personal Fortress Of Writerly Solitude. Awesomeness will follow.

Until next time . . .

That Scene In #GoT

WE recorded Game of Thrones season 5 on DVR, and then watched the whole thing over two or three days. Well, to be honest, we watched up to episode 5 together then Kate watched the last five episodes back-to-back while I was asleep because she had to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, GODDAMMIT.


To get to the point, I’d already heard about the scene with Ramsey and Sansa, so I wasn’t surprised when it happened. And you know what? I don’t really see what the fuss was about. Was it graphic? I didn’t think so. Mostly what we saw was the look on Theon’s face. Was it necessary to the story? That’s a bit tougher. The story needed something that would start moving Theon back to the land of the non-zombies, and there were probably other options. He’d grown up with Sansa to the point where they were almost brother and sister. Something that hurt her would have to hurt him. Could Ramsey (or even Roose, for that matter) have done something less nasty to hurt Sansa in a way that would still be enough to give Theon the kick in the brainpan that he needed? Like I said, that’s a tough question, and I’m not sure how to answer it. As it is, though, I can’t imagine writing such a scene in any of my own work—I think I would try very hard to find an alternative. [Update: A small clarification here. What I’m saying here is that the writer of the scene—whether that was GRRM himself or the episode’s scriptwriter—could, had he wanted to, have done something different, including not having the scene there at all and relying on Sansa telling Theon, in a later scene, what Ramsey’s doing (which, actually, she does, although it’s almost in passing). It wouldn’t have had the same gut-punch but all the same the point would have been made, so the scene was almost certainly not necessary.]

But that leads to another observation, which is that we’ve seen much worse treatment of people over the course of the series. Daenerys and Drogo’s wedding night. Locke’s men attempting to rape Brienne. Joffrey and the the brothel girls, and his torture and murder of Ros. Those are just a few that stand out; there are certainly more. And they were all painful to watch. So I have to say that, while the Ramsey/Sansa scene was in the same league, I don’t quite understand why it received quite as much attention as it did when those other scenes didn’t. You want controversial? What about burning Stannis’ young daughter Shireen alive? I don’t recall seeing a lot of uproar and hand-wringing over that one, and it was horrific, guys.

So, will I stop watching the show in protest? No. My biggest concern is, now that the show has overtaken the books, that the direction the story takes will be more driven by the showrunners and less by GRRM, and that as a result we start to see some really unjustified crap. But that’s a wait-and-see.

Until next time . . .