So this all sprang from the material I had to cut from the tail end of Chapter 1.
Probably my strongest certainty when preparing the story for JukePop was that I could not include Brian's full backstory in in the first chapter. It would be way too much, too soon. But, the story was the story. Brian begins the story in the care of someone who actually HAS all the answers to his questions and has no reason to withhold any of it from him -- who in fact NEEDS to explain everything to Brian in order to successfully protect him.
Sevellis would tell all. But if I let him, the first chapter would be a giant infodump with no clear ending point.
Once I solved the pacing problems I was having with the beginning of the chapter, though, I realized that the best breaking point was just before Sevellis tells his tale, and that the promise of that info would be the cliffhanger that closes out the chapter. Not exactly a gun in the face, but something that would hopefully pique people's curiosity.
The question of where to drop the orphaned exposition remained. I wanted to keep each chapter moving to a different place and different situation, at least in the beginning, and I knew that the next big event in Brian's story would be him watching the funeral. It didn't take long for me to realize that I could intercut the funeral with flashbacks to Sevellis's exposition.
You tell me how well it works.
As for the ending: originally, this chapter was only supposed to be the funeral. Then, the funeral with flashbacks. But it as I planned out the structure of it, I realized that the entire thing was a dude feeling sorry for himself and remembering something happened a few days ago. That's it. Brian made no progress. The story didn't move forward; in fact, it kind of took a step BACKward.
I'd been waiting years to write this funeral scene, but it needed something else. A third act with which to inject some life back into the tale. And what better ending than the event that was originally supposed to occur towards the beginning of Chapter 4. I'm all about pacing and reveals, and this one just felt right.
I'm really looking forward to delving into Chapter 4. I hope you are too.
Every chapter you write is the most difficult one you've ever written... until you have to write the next chapter. That's just the way it goes. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if this one turned out to be the exception. This sucker was tough.
I fell into the trap of loving my own words. Back when I'd originally written the exposition scene between Brian and Sevellis, it went very differently. Brian was angrier, Sevellis had more magic, the backstory and setting were somewhat looser and undefined. As discussed above, I had written myself into a corner... but it was such a beautiful corner. The characters were robust and distinct, their dialogue snappy and emotional. The tension ebbed and flowed, with the exposition woven throughout in the most natural way. Sure, it was a bit rough and overlong, but I really enjoyed it. (Maybe someday I'll post it as a deleted scene.)
Anyway, as I developed the story more, all those details I had come up with on the spot were changed and defined. None of it fit, which meant that the whole thing needed to be reworked. And I knew it!
But, while writing the new scene, I'll admit, I spent a lot of time trying to get the old dialogue to work within the shiny new context. I spent so much time trying to shoehorn the old scene into the new one that all I could do some nights was move old paragraphs around and pull my hair out. What I SHOULD have been doing was writing all new one.
As it stands now, only a fraction of Sevellis's speech and I think one exchange remains from the original draft. The rest is all new. I figured it out eventually. But it's one of the reasons this chapter came in late.
Let this be a lesson to you new writers out there!
Once you've realized that you have to kill your babies, do not try to resurrect them later on. If you turn your cutting room floor into a pet cemetery, your old ideas WILL come back and eat you.
ABC, baby. Always Be Creating. Remember that and you can't go wrong.
I'm sure the score to 2007's Atonement was wonderful and deserved every accolade it received... but James Newton Howard's Michael Clayton score deserved an Oscar.
As subtle, understated, and pervasive as the movie it complemented, this album is a treasure trove of low-key, atmospheric mood music. Contemplative, dreamlike, and surprisingly emotional (again, like the movie). It's perfect writing to write to.
For this chapter, I went with the final track on the album, 25 Dollars Worth. In the movie, this plays over George Clooney's face as he rides through Manhattan in the back of the taxi cab. It's the shot that ends the movie, and it blows me away every time I see it. Seriously, if you have not made the time to see Michael Clayton, you are doing yourself a disservice.
I needed something that captured the inherent sadness of a funeral, but also had an undercurrent of hope, or new beginning. A funeral for the living, rather than the dead, if that makes sense. I also needed something that shifted tones to appropriately fit the chapter's bouncing around. When I landed on this, it was so perfect that I ended up listened to the track on loop while writing most of the chapter.
In last chapter's bonus blog, I said I had three actors from Marvel's cinematic universe in mind for three of the characters in the Gatewalker film adaptation that exists solely in my head. Nobody answered my challenge to guess who they are (you bunch of shy suzies), so I'll be revealing each of them as their characters reenter the story. The first is Brian's stalwart guardian and (as revealed in this chapter) Magicist Supreme! (Magicist Majora?) (...ew)
should be played by
Sevellis basically exists because I wanted to write an Anthony Hopkins character. An older gentleman with a youthful twinkle in his eye and a wry, understated sense of humor. And, when he needs to, he can bring the fury. You'll get to see more of that next chapter.
I did receive one interesting casting suggestion in the JukePop comments section. Daggers author K.R. Cross offered up one Josh Peck as a potential actor for our protagonist Brian.
Not bad. He's a little too old, and a little TOO New Yawk (believe me... not every teen in NYC has the thick accent -- in fact, most don't). But he's one way to go.
Which actually gives me the opportunity to reveal a little something about Brian himself.
I have a very clear sense of who he is, what his quirks are, what he likes, what he fears, what he hates... but the one detail I have left intentionally vague is the color of his skin.
1) The nature of Brian's predicament allows for him to be any color without having to reflect the Earthbound culture of that color. He's adopted, his real parents are long gone and from another dimension, he was raised in an ordinary middle-class family whose ethnicity I have also left blank. You know they're strong, you know they're tight-knit... that's all you need to know. He didn't grow up White or Black or Hispanic or Asian or identifying with any other culture the people of Earth identify themselves with. He grew up New York. His personality was shaped by open-minded parents living in one of the most open-minded cities on the planet.
Who he is is not determined by the color of his skin. He's a human being. Period.
Being half-hispanic and all-caucasian myself, I have something of a vested interest in this kind of portrayal. I'm ready for more people to be judged by their actions.
But that's just my little soapbox. The second reason is much more fun...
2) When I read a story, I like to imagine myself as the main character. It's only natural. It's escapist! I want to be the hero saving the day and getting the girl. That's an easy fantasy to invest in when the main character is a white (or partially hispanic) male with brown hair and brown eyes, because HEY -- that's just what I look like! But, I imagine it's not so easy for someone who doesn't look like that. They don't get to be the hero. They have to stay out in the audience.
By making Brian race-neutral, ANYone who reads the story can put themselves in his shoes and experience his journey firsthand.
Well... unless you're female. (Sorry ladies. I'll catch you on the next one.)
SO... what that means is, in the Gatewalker movie, ANYONE could play Brian! Andrew Garfield, Donald Glover, Dev Patel, Dante Basco (can you guess the connection between those last two names? TRIVIA!)... anyone.
Though, all of those actors I just listed are too old.
So, start throwing actors at me in the comments below! And don't just stick to one ethnicity. Branch out! Try to find the right actor.
As always, thanks for reading.
Until Chapter 4!