Proofreading is done. Yikes. There’s a lot that can go horribly wrong grammatically in six hundred pages.
I have to say, at least 80% of what I had to correct was the result of one thing, and one thing only: deleting a passage, and then not re-reading the entire paragraph before moving on. Again, it comes back to transitions and flow. What, to me, is a seamless transition is to the reader what a former stage acting colleague of mine referred to as a BAFT. A Big-Ass Fucking Transition. But for me, it’s more like a Broke-Ass Fucking Transition.
When Macbeth has to go from cordial to crazy in Act III, that’s a BAFT. When Homer Simpson says, “Screw Springfield, we’re going to Alaska,” that’s a BAFT. It’s a sudden, extreme, but also properly motivated change in a character’s attitudes and behavior, or the direction of a scene. Break the cause and effect chain and suddenly your audience is left asking, “WTF just happened?”
When Calis is trading sword swipes with a Dove swordsman in one sentence, and the next sentence presumes she is already prone and disarmed because the intervening space has been cut, that’s a Broke-Ass Fucking Transition.
Sometimes, I intentionally employ that as a matter of humorous juxtaposition, like when Calis punches her brother in the nose; it jumps right from the cause to the aftermath like an old Looney Toons gag. That kind of juxtaposition is great.
But when edit pass after edit pass leaves thought fragments dangling in the manuscript like so much vestigial appendix, the question becomes: “What is this even doing here?”
Typically, those make good candidates for plain old cuts. Just take the red pen to the whole paragraph, or the offending sentence, and leave it out completely. Obviously, it was unimportant enough that it was partially cut last pass, or else the fragment wouldn’t be all that’s left.
The trickier ones are the ones where the subsequent plot assumes that event to have occurred. Now, if you’re wrestling to keep your word count under control (like I was), simply re-adding whatever was cut (if you can’t remember what that was, that’s a good reason to keep daily or weekly draft backups!) may not be the best option. Then it’s time to get creative with the grammar and still try to get the point across. Sometimes, I fail miserably at that. Sometimes those fragments are the most recent attempt at doing precisely that.
But hey, it’s text on a screen, not cuneiform etchings.
Highlight. Delete. Try again.
So, I am still recovering from my Revolutionary Girl: Utena induced depression. Sometimes, as a creative artist, you encounter something so amazing you say: “Wow, I wanna do that.” Just ask the legions of people who entered film school thanks to Clerks or Pulp Fiction. Then, sometimes you encounter something so amazing you say: “Well fuck. I can’t top that, so I think I’ll go become an accountant.”
I can’t say everyone will have this reaction, but that was how I reacted to Shojo Kakumei Utena. As I’ve written about before, gender roles in fiction are something of a professional interest of mine. So, when RG:U started, and thrust every obnoxious stereotype it could think of down my throat, I nearly stopped watching. But, what I was treated to was a brilliant, patient deconstruction and subversion of each. After the last episode came to a close, I was left with the disconcerting feeling that I wasn’t going to see anything quite that cool for a long time.
This was a stark contrast to my experience with Avatar. While I found it just as moving, I saw it more as a sign of things to come. More films will be trying to imitate it, and advance that technology. RG:U is 13 years old and it slipped under my radar for that long. Meanwhile, nothing similar to it is out there that isn’t too cute (I realize the irony in saying other things are too cute when RG:U’s principal image is a rose), or too obviously targeted at 12 year old boys. Even other works by the same writer, director, or artist are missing something.
It’s genuinely difficult for me to pin down what made it great when there was so much about it that could have gone so horribly wrong in other hands. After all, I thought I was going to hate it at first because of how over-the-top the visuals were, and how forceful the image of the rose was. But somehow the drama trumped all that.
So, I retreated to my novel and wrapped up the final 60 pages.
That’s right. It’s done.
Now, I have a finished, complete work that is almost ready to submit. It just requires a proofreading pass. So now, I wallow in my post-RG:U proofreading and count the days until I encounter something just as awesome, bolstered by the silly hope that someday soon there will be a fan out there who thinks RG:U can’t hold a candle to the Chronicles of Delmyria.
Hey. I can hope.