Sunday, October 03, 2010

Writing Process

Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End

Palimpsest: "A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book that has been scraped off and used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin from Greek παλιν + ψαω = (palin "again" + psao "I scrape"), and meant "scraped (clean and used) again." Romans wrote on wax-coated tablets that could be smoothed and reused, and a passing use of the term "palimpsest" by Cicero seems to refer to this practice.

Sometimes I go a little nuts with creative processes, especially in groups. A palimpsest is the best model for the editorial process that I can find.

I'll share a little "behind the scenes" here, hopefully it's useful:

One hypothetical narrative writing process. Writer A and B come up with a concept for a story together. This should ideally be done when they are locked in the same apartment, with a nearly infinite supply of coffee and a complete lack of sexually desirable accomplices. They arc out the plots together. They then each write both of those scenes in screenplay format. Clearly they will work fast and furiously, because they won't get laid until they complete their tasks.

Now you have two screenplays. Enter a third meta- writer who takes those documents and re-writes them as a single screenplay. The previous two authors might develop issues with someone re-writing their work - why should they have the authority?! - but instead they'll be so busy trying to get laid, and drinking, and doing all the other things that writers notoriously would rather be doing except THIS STORY JUST WON'T GET OUT OF MY FUCKING HEAD, etc. (For those of you who like to show greater self restraint and then have the audacity to call themselves writers: sorry I just blew your cover.)

Finally, for bonus, one of the re-writers can re-write that script as a novel or translate it to comic format. But that's just getting wacky.


The process for Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End involved Stackhouse and I writing a screenplay based on Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning. We allocated scenes based on preference and voice, and had a single screenplay at the end. This went through a quick editorial pass - it needs more before it's ready for screens - and now I am re-writing a core novel from all I've gathered sitting on the original text for four years, and re-considering it in screenplay form with another writer.

This will be the way I intended the story to be. I'm not writing this again. After Party At The World's End,* I will most likely be moving on to Nyssa, which amounts to an origins story and further develops some of the cosmogeny of the "world myth."

Note to the world: I think I signed some kind of death-pact with Stackhouse tonight, in regards to never re-writing this particular book again after it is completed. (This does not include other works based within the Fallen Nation "world," of course.) If my body is mysteriously reduced to paste after going nuts and re-writing this book, you know why. But don't blame him. I asked him to.

* Do you like how I slipped that in there? To avoid confusion, I've decided to change the subtitle and simply suspend Babylon Burning on Amazon.

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