Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and milder

Just a quick check-in, I’m headed out the door to work a job in CT all weekend. Yesterday was mostly spent on ANGEL HUNT — made more cuts to the first third of the book, got rid of a lot of dialogue that went around in circles, dumped unnecessary adverbs, made the description active instead of passive. I’ve cut nearly 4K out of that section, which is close to what I needed. The initial scene, which used to run just over 4 pages, is not 2 1/2. Yes, I lost some of the verbal sparring between Lianna and Lucius DeWitt, but the scene is tighter and has more resonance with the rest of the piece. Zeke’s first mention is now on p. 8 and his first appearance is on p. 11. I’m thinking of having another short scene with him somewhere in the first nine chapters. He’s not named yet, but his presence is both felt and foreshadowed. Whereas in the serial, I had to draw everything out as long as possible, now I’m cutting and reshaping to make the story move and make every element that appears matter in the overall story. Do I lose some fun and interesting interactions? Yes, of course. But, overall, it makes for a stronger book. I even managed internal cuts the fight scene with the Witch Hunter, and yet get everything done in it that I needed to get done.

Printed it all out — a total of 22 pages cut from this section, it’s shorter and tighter, which is a good thing. Will take the chapters with me.

Since I have to gut Chapters 10 and 11 and restructure them completely to make a bridge into the next section of the book, I might combine those two chapters. I can probably make a few internal cuts with the sphinx — although it’s one of my favorite sequences — and tighten the other two challenges that gain her entrance into the Library. Also, more has to actually happen within the library; the reason for the attack has to be clear, and she has to leave the library with tangible facts that help her in the hunt, not just personal insight.

I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Did some outlining on a project and some work on one of the short stories.

Spent most of the afternoon and evening watching the Olympics – watched the Men’s Hockey, Finland vs. Belarus (Finland won, 5-1). The Finnish team looked good,a nd it was a good game. Lindsey Vonn got the gold, good for her, although all the crashes on the course were disturbing. I felt the cameras were far too intrusive after her win, but she’s done so much press leading up to the event that it wasn’t a surprise. I much prefer Shawni Davis’s tack of giving minimal time to the press before he competes, and talking when he’s done. A similar rule should be enforced for athletes as we enforce for the actors backstage — no guests after half hour, giving actors time to get into make-up, costume, and headspace for the performance. And believe me, I am the ultimate Dragon at the Gate when someone wants to mess with my actors!

My favorite, last night, was, of course, the snowboarders. One can’t help but admire what they do out there, and how could anyone not love what Shaun White brings? People tend to forget just how smart he is, in addition to his athleticism. He’s built himself a business empire in a really smart way. He gave an interview when he was about 14 saying it sucked that he got kicked out of school for lack of attendance, because he was getting A’s, and that if he was a figure skater or a horseback rider, they’d have taken his sport more seriously. He’s being taken seriously now, and he deserves it. I also like and respect the fact that he does a lot for other people and causes that interest him without manipulating everything he does into photo opportunities. He’s public when he’s performing, and he delivers. And then he goes off and lives his life and does what he believes in. He knows when to have fun and when to be serious, and he’s smart enough not to buy into his own press. For a 24 year old, he’s got his head screwed on pretty straight. And one of the things i really enjoy about the sport as a whole is that the joy is still in it, the excitement. I think a lot of the joy has gone out of sports like figure skating and swimming and some of the rest, because they’ve been over-corporate-tized. Yes, snowboarding’s gaining a lot of corporate sponsorship, but they don’t seem to have the minute-to-minute control over the athletes that a lot of other corporate sponsors do, and I hope snowboarders in general retain their free spirit, let’s-push-it-further quality.

I still think this is the worst-handled coverage of any Olympics I’ve ever seen. There’s no artistry — and, if you’ve seen well-covered sports, camerawork for sports is a special skill. AND good reporting is an art. The fact that the TODAY show has the unskilled, unqualified, unprepared Jenna Bush Hager running around asking lame questions rather than hiring qualified sports reporters who cover the various sports year-round shows how far the coverage has fallen.

I did sneak away from Olympic coverage here and there to watch most of HUMAN TARGET. The episode was a good, one-hour action movie. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the lack of development in the antagonists still bugs me, I still enjoy the scenes with the three leads, and can’t wait to see what Jackie Earle Haley brings to any scene he’s in. His choices are detailed and clear without being self-indulgent. So, even when I know where a scene’s going (and I’ve fallen into the rhythm of the show, so there are very few structural or plot surprises for me at this point), I look forward to what he’s going to do next. I had problems with the camera work in the last scene — it felt as though the camera’d slipped down a few inches instead of set where it needed to be set for the scene, and the framing annoyed me. Fox is not showing another episode for three weeks — the ratings are decent, although they’ll probably drop off during the Olympics, but they’re not giving the audience a chance to grow by shifting around time slots and then not showing it for a few weeks. Very frustrating.

But what I’m learning from the show I’m applying to my own work, when appropriate, as far as structure — and I’m more conscious of making my antagonists more dimensional!

I meant to stay up and watch the Czech vs. Slovakia hockey game at midnight last night, but I was too darned tired. I had weird dreams all night, so don’t feel well-rested.

I need to grab some breakfast, finish packing the writing bag and head out. Will try to post from the site — at the very least tomorrow, I’ll post the link to the essay.