Thursday, June 21, 2012

About the Identity rewrite

As I announced at the end of “Divergence,” I’m rewriting Identity, and it seemed appropriate to explain this decision, which I’ve taken for several reasons. A writer’s style and capabilities are constantly changing, and were it for those reasons alone, I would not be rewriting this story, though they’ve played heavily in what I consider room to improve. Rather, my biggest concern has been, in my opinion, an error in presentation.

When I originally published the first chapter, “In the Cold Rain,” I did so as a single unit. That was about 30-35 thousand words in one big chunk, and one reviewer said point-blank that it was long (addictive, perhaps, but long). I stayed with this for chapter two, but as I continued, I felt unhappy with the structure, and building off the numbered sections I’d been using in Echoes, I split off each section as an installment in its own right, and typically, these were shorter, as small as 3000 words on the small end to 12000 or so with “Scars,” but again, much shorter.

Nevertheless, one big problem with this structure was that the story’s first chapter was spread out over five or six “effective” chapters when it wasn’t designed to be told that way. It’s also very heavy in flashback right off the bat, with the scenes taking place in the present at Jusenkyō being very small in comparison to the backstory that takes place in Japan. More than that, it gives the impression that the relationship issues will be the overriding focus of the piece when, just one chapter later, they aren’t dealt with at all.

So ultimately, my hope is to present a more uniform experience, one that gives a better idea of what kind of story Identity is right from the start. It is a serious tale, with heavy action components, but the Ranma/Akane relationship is also very important to the character growth. It’s a tough balance to find, but I believe I can do it, and in doing so, I can tighten up the prose considerably, making it more consistent with my style and philosophy of storytelling at this time. When I started Identity, I worked under the theory that the audience should understand as much as possible right away to fully appreciate what they were reading. In the years since, however, particularly in the last twelve months, I’ve moved away from that view. I still believe in clarity, but some things need not be approached or discussed right away, and benefit of limited viewpoints keeps things tractable, organized in a way that the audience can discover things as the characters do.

Two chapters totalling about 30,000 words are completed for the rewrite, and I’m working on the third. There’s a lot of new material, though some is recycled or minimally altered from the original version. I hope that this will lessen with subsequent chapters. Currently, chapter one is an expanded battle between Ranma and the Sorcerers at Jusenkyō which introduces them and explores Ranma’s state of mind. Chapter two is similar to “The Village” in its entirety, but streamlined a bit to stand on its own.

Overall, the changes I have in mind for the story will make some things play out a bit differently, but the story is recognizably Identity. I do not know when I will finish this rewrite project, but rest assured, I am fully invested in the completion of this story, as I always have been.


Anonymous said...

The only thing I can say is , be very sure you want to do this. I have seen more then on fanfic get to a certain length and then go to a rewrite only to die on the vine.

Kjyl on SB

Muphrid said...

Yeah, I hope not to lose steam with this. Having a couple chapters written beyond "Divergence" should help keep me focused on what will come after. Thanks for the thought, though.