Saturday, June 4, 2016

Chapter Adverse

Under the weather and staying in today. And I have -- despite all experience to the contrary -- fond hopes I might finish the schematic for the Holocron board/ducklight ver. 2.

Not the PCB itself; I have some realism! I need to play with heat profiles and thermal vias, double-check footprints, and of course clean up the silkscreen...and I haven't even routed the board yet.

So of course I'm taking a short break to think about the next chapter in the fanfic.

If I had a proper outline, I'd have a pretty good idea what had to happen in each chapter. The same exercise, after all, takes place fractally within each chapter, within each scene, down to the line of dialog or sentence of description.

As an example, in my last chapter I had a "bit" I wanted to do; Alister gets talked into learning how to shoot, but unexpectedly turns into one of those gun collector types who go into raptures about Broad Arrows and Suicide Sears. This framed out as a series of snapshots where he brings more and more unusual guns out to the shooting range. A number of "beats," to use that useful bit of theater terminology. I needed Alister getting a bad start, Alister trying a different gun, Alister bringing out the first unusual gun, and finally Alister talking glibly about his latest unusual gun. As it worked out, I built those beats around several specific handguns; a SIG-sauer P226, a Colt Police Positive, a Whitney Wolverine, and a Nambu Type 14. With a Gyrojet for the payoff gag later.

Between those scenes would be more dry history lesson, so I'd planned to send some mooks into the manor and have a nice knock-down fight to finish the chapter on a high note. Except that this parallel structure, in which each Alister scene was followed by three other scenes, drove my page count too high.

This is the problem of writing serial style. I know where I'm going and approximately how long it is going to take, but the details I'm figuring out only a chapter or two ahead.

So now the exercise is looking at how many "beats" there are in the fight, and seeing if these stretch out to fill a chapter, or if I have to add other business. And there's another problem. Once the fight is over I've got several revelations I can make, and that will pad out the page count, but I don't want the climax of the chapter to occur around the middle.

For pacing reasons, then, I'm contemplating having the discussion of who the heck Amanda is while the armed men she has sent are still crawling around the manor looking for the Wraith Stone. And there's the planning at the moment. I have "bits," but I don't have beats. Daniel has to talk a mook down. Teal'c has to show off his mastery of the manor's hidden passageways, and the gyrojet needs to be taken down from the mantlepiece and fired a few times.

Once I've broken it into beats, and arranged and interleaved them in a way that supports the overall arc of the chapter, I can do a little division and see how close I will make it to my target word count this time.

And it is midnight, and I still feel awful, but the schematic is almost finished -- just need to add the resistor ladder for the function buttons, the resistor for the capacitance sensor, and a couple more decoupling and power smoothing capacitors. Oh, yeah, and figure out a footprint for the mercury tilt switch I managed to score on eBay.

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