Tuesday, March 24, 2009
How To End Big
Today's been an interesting, low key day of work with Love Buzz. Hacking out bits of dialogue that were too wordy with Mauer and basically trying to get the first two chapters of the book ready for Oni to compile into a PDF preview that we will then start distributing through the web in the next week or so. I've gotten too many emails from people wanting to see a bit more of the functioning comic itself in all it's glory, and I'm hoping to have the preview together a couple weeks in advance of the pre-order cut off date, so we can finally show people a bit of what we've been doing. Stay tuned for more on that soon.
The other part of my day has been spent going through the old script, looking for ways to cut out or consolidate a few pages here or there, so Michelle can have a little lighter of in the weeks up to her impending deadline. In doing all of this, I've had to spend time getting familiar with all the old friends I locked away inside my head, since I finished writing the book so long ago. The bulk of the editing work will be coming out of the last four chapters, and I've managed to clean up a good bit, and actually just cut a lot out of one chapter and merge what was left into the chapter before it, so go me.
The thing I'm having trouble with now though and probably won't end up changing much, if at all, are the final two chapters. These chapters also represent a bit of a subtle transition between the Len that wrote Love Buzz originally seven years ago, and the man and writer I've grown into to this day and I owe it all to Oni's Managing Editor Randy Jarrell.
Here's how the story goes...
In the time shortly before the gang and I signed with Oni and they'd expressed interest in picking us up, Randy and I were going through some things over the phone. The strong points of the story, the weak points, and anything that might have needed to be changed. Randy expressed some disatisfaction with the ending I had. Upon hearing this, I was a little wounded to be honest. Love Buzz had a lot of shaky points, but in my opinion, the ending was pretty good. Without going too far into spoilers on how things turn out in the story, Randy told me that while things changed for both the characters in the end, he said the old ending was lacking in "growth" and that despite all the changes I saw, Norm and Maggie never actually got to a point where they actually "grew" as characters. He suggested a few ideas and told me I should rewrite the last two chapters from the bottom up.
Needless to say, after hanging up the phone, I felt a sudden rush of panic wash over me. At that point, I'd been about 5 and a half years with Love Buzz living in some form of stasis in the back of my head, and frankly, I was getting sick to death at the thought not being done with it. Even worse, the idea of going back and tinkering with something I'd considered myself to be "finished" with for over three years was something that even thinking about would make me want to get violently ill. I sat on it for a couple of days and groused to myself in normal, crabby fashion until I got exhausted with being mad about it and decided to get started. I mean, Oni fucking Press wants to publish my book. Even if they hated the ending, I must have done something right.
I went back over the script as a whole, got back inside the skins of these characters I'd frankly become sick of, and ruminated on what I could do to change things and make them actually say something if not better, then at least more poetically phrased than what I'd originally had. I backed up the old ending in my emails, and then deleted it off my hard drive and told myself I wouldn't use a damn bit of it in crafting the new ending. the process of rewriting those 30 pages took me a little over a week, but once I figured out what I wanted the new ending to "say" without deviating too far from the basics of where I wanted the characters to be with the original ending, it became a cake walk. I'd spent so long resenting Love Buzz for not being done, and not getting published repeatedly, due to all the different circumstances, that I'd forgotten all the things about the story that made me fall in love with it and the characters in the first place. Once I figured out the direction for the new ending, it reignited my passion for the story as a whole. It's a great ending. I like to pride myself on many of my current projects, that my strengths always lie in knowing how to end a story and end it in a spectacular and unexpected way. The new ending for Love Buzz is just that. Without even trying, I crafted an ending that made me fall back in love with Norm and Maggie and everything they represented about that time in my life, and even found a way to make it pertain to my life now, seven years later. Like I said, I owe it all to Randy.
Anyway, the prompting for this post I guess is just from be going back and re-reading the whole book for the first time the whole way through with the new ending attached. I may post the script for the original ending somewhere down the road, after the book is out, but part of me thinks I should also keep it a mystery, because the new one just blows it so far out of the water that I think showing the old, busted ending might cheapen the impact of the new one. Those last two chapters are really just something that not even I figured I was capable of.