I read through the first half or so of the new book yesterday, and my instincts about what I'd likely need to cut were pretty much on target. I'll be cutting a lot of scenes out of the beginning and then beefing up the middle. In "hero's journey" terms, the Crossing the First Threshold part comes way too late in the book. I extended the "refusal of the call" for too long. It needs to be somewhat substantial because it's a big threshold to cross, but probably not five chapters worth. And I need to change the opening scene because it's kicked off by something that I thought would be important in the book but that I didn't end up using all that much.
After that much reading and thinking, my brain shut down. I guess I was still in convention recovery mode. So I took a shower, put on my pajamas and watched a brainless movie -- Jupiter Ascending. I'd recorded it off HBO a month or so ago, but there was a glitch in the recording that seemed to cut off the ending, and I knew it wasn't just the movie having an odd ending because it cut straight to the technical part of the credits, skipping the stuff about director, writer, and cast. Since I'd zoned out midway through the movie, I found another showing and had the DVR grab it.
And it still didn't make much sense. It was kind of like they found script pages from various other movies and stuck them together. The visuals were pretty spectacular, and the cast was full of "what are these people doing in this movie?" kind of actors, but the script was basically a stereotypical bad YA novel that borrows heavily from other films. It starts out as The Terminator, only our heroine is a maid instead of a waitress and she's being stalked by alien assassins instead of a killer robot from the future. And she faints and has to be carried away by the hot soldier sent to save her instead of running away with him. Actually, she gets carried around a lot. I guess it makes for a romantic visual with her in the arms of the beefy guy who has magic space rollerblades, but it really adds to the sense of the damsel in distress. There are some bits that make me think of Signs. Then we have the brief Princess Diaries interlude, followed by the segment right out of the movie Brazil (including a cameo by the director of that movie -- perhaps an attempt to avoid a lawsuit?), and then we have some Phantom Menace costuming, and then the part I never seem to manage to watch because at that point in the film I feel compelled to read Facebook, and then there's a dash of Revenge of the Sith mixed with The Empire Strikes Back, and then I don't even know. Maybe some Xanadu? It's a good thing I didn't see this in the theater because I was compelled to blurt out the obvious lines from the scenes that were being borrowed.
I can't really recommend this movie, but at the same time, you really kind of have to see it. Turn off the sound and play some good classical music and use it to facilitate daydreaming. It could be like a kind of meditation because it's certainly good for emptying your mind.
Unfortunately, I was too tired to use it for good brainstorming background, and I still need to come up with a new opening scene. Hmm, what other brainlessness does HBO have to offer?