February 18, 2010

THE WRITE STUFF: CHAPTER HEADINGS ARE KIND OF IMPORTANT (PART FOUR)

Now we come to the final chapter of It Takes A Wizard, and from a writer's point it is both the strongest and the weakest chapter of the book. Endings are a bitch, and endings that are written under deadline pressure and without enough pages to put in everything that needs to be put in there... are a bitch on PMS.

At some point there was even an argument as to cut the final chapter in half as to make an earlier release date, yep true story, boys and girls, a release date that was simply there because it needed to be there was more important than delivering a good product, say, how is that type of thinking working out for Toyota these days? Hm? Toyota: We're Unstoppable! Or Toyota: We Break For No One! Man, that is going to cost Toyota billions and billions, and it will be years before they are going to recover. Don't believe me? Ask and google about Opel, where General Motors also did everything wrong for years, cutting costs, cutting quality... and as a result created shitty cars. Opel never really did recover, and today, all the managers and politicians are wondering, hey, how did this happen?

Idiots.

It doesn't matter what product, if it is a story or a car, you only ever have one chance to make a first impression, after that, class, it's over. You can never regain the currency you have lost with your audience. Not that anybody else but me cared about that.

Anyway, to the final chapter heading that you never got to see, and The Good And The Bad about the final chapter that I'm going to lay out in front of you.

CHAPTER NINE
IN THE NAKED LIGHT, I SAW

The title is taken from a line of a Paul Simon song. Recognise it? No? That's okay, though, it is from the legendary Sound of Silence, and it is part of the following...

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence.

Fools said i, you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
And echoed
In the wells of silence

Obviously, one of the underlying themes of the book is the dichotomy between darkness and light (that is almost staple food for fantasy, only that I wanted to elevate it here to almost a philosophical level), and one of the associations of light in the English language is that it is harsh, it reveals the truth, it allows for nothing to be hidden...

... it is naked.

And all it touches, all it reaches out to becomes naked as well. Funny how the English language works, eh? The Naked Light. The Naked Truth.  Nothing left to cover up anymore, and this is what this chapter is all about. The truth.

The secondary theme was also encapsulated in Simon's song.

I'm not going to say that Simon came to me before I wrote the chapter, for the longest time I had called the chapter It's The End Of Of The World As We Know It (And I feel Fine) ... but as much as I love R.E.M., that particular title has been used so often, and it didn't quite fit, and so when Simon came in, it was a relief, I have the Paul Simon Anthology on my iTunes, and whenever I write, I listen to certain segments of my playlists in order to create my own personal soundtrack that reflects what I want to convey, and all over sudden, Simon's song slipped in, reached into me with the following words...

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.
Hello darkness, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again... was the perfect encapsulation of the finale between Isaac and Everett, and to those who (perhaps even rightfully) criticised me for not going all-out war on your asses, this is the moment where God meets the Devil, and it reflects numerous things from literature, reaching all the way back not only to Revelations, but also to Milton's Paradise Lost (again).

'tis better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven, Milton's Lucifer says at one point. I quite disagree with that notion, as I show Everett to be broken by what he has done, as it is revealed that he wants it to stop, he wants it to end, and he wants Isaac, that figure of what was once pure innocence (as we learn in the flashbacks), he wants him to understand.

So don't you feel sorry! Everett screams at Isaac. You know how I would like you to feel? Angry! Mad! Hurt! I want you to feel... what it is like to be me! What it is like to face them, and you know... they are all that is left of you. The things you have done. And to face them alone.

Actions and consequences, class. That is what this is all about. Actions and consequences. And taking responsibility. And going with the themes of the Old Testament and the New Testament faiths, I offer Isaac a choice. Obviously, he is capable of all those things. Capable of madness and anger and rage, and he would have every excuse, let me repeat that, every excuse to kill Everett at this point.

But just as Hope had that choice when regarding Isac's fate in Chapter Three, I have the New Testament win. Why? Because I like to think that regardless of how much shit happens in this world, that if there is a god, he is kind and forgiving.

For if he is not, then he cannot be god, and if that is the case, then to hell with him, and good riddance.

Some critics may call that part of the ending a cop-out, and they have every right to do so (critics always have every right and never any responsibility, and while that is hardly fair, it is the way it is, so let's move on)

Everett, Isaac says. You are not alone in the darkness. Not anymore.

That part of the ending, I still believe, is a very powerful one.

Now let's be harsh and discuss the part that isn't good.

Let's discuss Nichole Bonaventura and her fate. Now, that part (killing her off in the way I did), that was a cop-out. And perhaps the kind reader thought to himself, hm, there was an awful lot of build-up, uh, for this? Two pages and boom, she's gone?

Yeah.... I didn't intend it to be this way.

If you go through the previous chapters, the secondary plotline with Nichole and her father, you will notice that I placed them strategically in a certain position, there is the military build-up outside the Magic Kingdom, there is the fact that Nichole promises the creatures Darkness Eternal at the ball... and it just goes into this?

Thing was, I knew that if I wanted to have my cake (the Isaac-Everett ending) and eat it, too, I needed to Michael Bay it for the ending, I needed to place the philosophical ending in a buffet of carnage and blood, and so this is what should have happened...

Nichole Bonaventura would have led an army of those creatures agains the assembled might of the US military in her quest to bring that Age of Eternal Darkness to the rest of the world, and she had waited for Isaac and Everett to be locked up and in their own little battle, assuming that neither one of them would make it out alive...

.. while she and the creatures who didn't want to be changed (remember, kids? If you stay here long enough, Isaac once told Hope, you don't want to change. You like it too much ) stage an assault.

Hope and her little band of survivors would have been caught in the crossfire of that epic battle, and it would only stop when Isaac and Everett both decide to end it. When there is forgiveness. When there is the Word of God.

Let there be light, Isaac says. And again, within the Sound of Silence, there is the answer. The light that comes is silent, it is not a bomb, it comes with purity over every living thing. Starts it all anew. Maybe right this time. Maybe with...hope.

Why wasn't that in the book? Because I realised that there was no way I would be given even more additional pages, that I would be given even more additional time, it would have been at least 50 pages more, and even with me playing The Fates and snipping the lifeline of Nichole the way I did, the book barely made it across the finish line.

It was one of those moments where the whore inside me won, and for that, I am deeply sorry. I was tired at the time, and I simply didn't have one more fight in me, but that can only be an explanation, never an excuse.

It would have made a better ending, and a better book, and I am sorry you didn't get to see it unfold the way it should have been.

And that is the last thing I have to say about It Takes A Wizard, at least for the time being. To those who care, thank you. To those who don't, well, I did say before that nobody forces you to read this blog.