The chapters of SILVER BROWN that are being tweeted at the moment have probably undergone more rewrites than any other passage in the first act. Three major overhauls in total, with countless additions and subtractions in between. The very first version of it was an unreadable abomination of nature. These things usually are when they’re first written. But it’s since evolved into something that brings amusement to at least some people.
Ripping pages out of SILVER BROWN and scattering them about these wretched social media networks has all in all been a valuable exercise, methinks. When I first showed the manuscript to friends and relatives, some would give me honest critiques. Mostly concerning easily correctable oversights. A particular deployment of punctuation that was too unorthodox for their taste. Important details that weren’t revealed early enough in the narrative. So-and-so didn’t respond like they expected in a particular scene. Things like that. But overall, their impression was always positive. I have yet to come across a beta reader who outright hated it.
Other reviewers were all smiles, raving about how great it was. I’m glad they enjoyed it, of course. Wouldn’t dream of taking that away from them. But the thing about positive vibes is that they’re like intellectual candy. The dopamine rush from that candy is certainly an upper, but it’s a fleeting buzz that ultimately doesn’t nourish. I need a big ol’ slab of protein every once in a while. The kind of cerebral amino acids obtained by piloting this yarn through a medium that is well known for having no shortage of critics.
I’m currently in the process of editing Act Two, which is a little more intensive with (hopefully plot-relevant) in-universe lore. To an extent that I’m starting to wonder if it warrants additional editing to Act One. A definitive answer to that query has yet to manifest itself. In the meantime, the first act as it is now is being offered as the main course in a literary barbecue. A research barbecue where I observe for myself which cuts of meat people find tasty and which they don’t, drinking in all that hearty broth from the people’s brainwaves. It’s been a damn good soup so far. If it was a literal soup instead of a figurative soup, it would have chickpeas in it and taste great with communion wafers and eye of newt. Can’t wait to see how that broth tastes when I start posting the chapters to come later that are actually weird…
Hey, it’s a new decade. Thank the Dagda. The Weenie Teenies (which I personally think is a catchier and more befitting name than the Two Thousand and Tens, so I’m just going to go with that) will probably go down in history as the worst decade humanity has seen since the 1940s. So I’m glad that’s all over with. Sure, it was a decade that saw vinyl LPs come back from the dead. That was the shit! But then there was a shitload of other shit that was as shitty as all shit. Hopefully this new decade will bring more shit that’s cool, like the aforementioned second coming of the long-playing record. May these Twenties be twenty percent as roaring as the last ones, so they don’t end as badly.
If this reminds you of someone, you’re officially not going crazy.
In this spirit of dispensing with the old and embracing the new, I’ve decided to prune a couple of characters out of SILVER BROWN entirely. There was a scene in one of the early drafts where my main character wakes up in the offices of one of the most powerful cyberwarlocks in Sector India. There, the witch Florys MacNab is approached by this warlock’s man Friday – an eight-year-old boy known only as The Kid.
The Kid grew from an intellectual seed that was planted in my brain by an Ojibwe elder from an ancient land we now call Minnesota, by way of a book he wrote I once burrowed from the library. He would tell me of a forgotten yesteryear well before there was any such thing as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, when the Ojibwe did not bestow names upon their children at birth. In those days, it was an ingrained part of the culture and tradition that a name be thought of as something one had to earn. Many kids didn’t earn those names until they were eight or nine years old. Some not even until puberty, or later. But finally doing something to earn a name was one of the most important rites of passage in a child’s life.
A few of the customs observed by the Society of Wheel Turners in SILVER BROWN invoke this bygone Ojibwe tradition to a certain extent. In the early drafts, young Wheel Turners in training were literally nameless. Hence, the reason why The Kid was just The Kid, and nothing else. I eventually had to dispense with The Kid entirely, because his sole function in the story was to reveal exhibition that had already been revealed. But the tradition he embodied lives on, albeit in a modified form. In the current draft, children born into the Society receive a totem from their council of directors when they pass a strenuous series of cybermagickal aptitude tests. The warlock of Sector India I mentioned earlier is known solely by his totem. His legal name is the one registered with SAAZMOL, which is why he doesn’t use it. He is instead addressed by his contemporaries as Lord Pukerabbit. There’s a whole explanation of the hidden meaning behind that appellation, but I won’t get into that here and now.
There was another character I had to get rid of when he ultimately proved superfluous. A utility program called Dunsmure the Bird, inspired by watching too many videos on YouTube like this:
I initially threw Dunsmure the Bird in the story to serve as a sidekick for Elmýr Garfield. In later drafts, Elmýr Garfield would gain the ability to shapeshift, his new powers reducing Dunsmure the Bird to a Jar Jar Binks – an unnecessary character that could easily be removed from the story without the story suffering any, and in fact should be removed. The bird’s jarjarbinksiness wasn’t the only reason I got rid of him, though. There’s already a character in the story who’s a talking ferret; I figured throwing in a talking bird on top of that would be laying it on a tad too thick.