Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Passion Opera

I haven't been posting for a bit. Mostly because I've been getting myself into the Twitterverse, and also because I've been editing The Stone That Sings like a fiend. #amediting #amwriting and such. Mostly because I have gotten a very thorough Beta who has been extremely helpful in letting me re-think some of what was written and how it impacts the reader.

This current edit is more than a line edit, though I find more than enough typos to keep me busy. This is also an examination of structure, and also the amount of expository text I've used. In a way, I'm seeing the first edition as less of a complete novel and more of parts of a novel and some very in-depth outlining.  As it is, the second edition is adding 30K or so more words on top of the first and not filler, but interactions that were glossed over in the first edition that really should have been fleshed out initially. As I start to flesh out those outlined sections, I am discovering new uses for existing elements within the story that help tie it together as a cohesive whole. The Passion Opera is one of them.

In The Stone That Sings, I initially used the idea of the Passion Opera as a way to show the values of Betazoid society, and in that role, it served very well. As I progressed, I realized that references to Passion Operas could also be a way for Juliette's mother and father to pass cryptic messages to Juliette over a compromised communication system.

But, in order for that to work, I realized that Juliette and her family were very in tune with the myriad of Passion Operas of Betazed, and it became less of a past time for them and more of an indicator of their class and sophistication. She attended operas, and holographic productions while good enough for the galaxy at large, didn't work as well for Betazoids, let alone the 433rd most prestigious family on Betazed. Does that mean Juliette puts on airs? Maybe some. It comes with the territory.

It also made sense to bring the Passion Opera forward again when Juliette meets the Klingon Loresinger, Groth. Stories were a point of bonding for them and an opportunity for Groth to suspect Juliette was not the Vulcan monk she pretended to be. Groth himself became a way to show how stories were still a universal constant, but the role that those stories played across the universe varied by culture.

Groth pushed himself upward with his staff. His gate was deliberate, each thud of his staff a challenge of wood, sand, and stone. The pathway along the outer wall was bordered by motes of light embedded in the stone. He was quiet until the T’Mar and the rest were far away.
“Know well, Novice, that I have traveled far to hear the songs of the Galaxy. I have recited the great chants of Qu’nos, and seen the Clan Dances of Orion -- now that's a sight not yet for your young eyes, to be sure. I have heard the Terran Symphony of the Third War, and the Seven by Seven Trill Sermon of Mak’ala.”
“Those must have been magnificent experiences.”
“They are to stories of a full life well lived, and yet there are many more to be heard and sung. I have also experienced three Betazoid Passion Operas -- experienced, yes. After all, once does not just see or hear those, do they?”
Juliette felt her heart pound in time with the loresingers staff as they walked in silence. She let him break the silence.
“You have a gift girl. A mighty one at that. I have never seen the fiery spirit of House Kor and Grilka so cooled. And so, know that I know -- your eyes are black, your blood flows red, and your deception is revealed. But this is no Klingon song, where liars are gutted and consigned to the hell of prevarication. Few will keep your secret better than I.”
And while the idea of Passion Opera was that they were more about emotion than substance -- they also took on some of the aspects of a Passion Play: They communicated the morality and values of the time, but were highly idealized, so that there is a moment when Juliette, who many times fancies herself in a Passion Opera, is actually in the "real world" where things are not always just, and not everyone lives happily ever after. Juliette's relationship to the passion operas changes as she does, and the operas become a symbol for her growth.

This also becomes more of a vehicle of this piece in relationship to Star Trek as an idealized whole, a comment on the Passion Play that had various levels of success in tackling moral questions, in that this world is a little more complicated, and everything cannot be solved with a replicator or a transporter, and that some things are not fixed by understanding, but perhaps through understanding can be better handled and realized.

A theme I've tried to keep throughout the editing is that aliens are alien and that they do not form a homogeneous whole, and are not required to be a homogeneous whole -- that tails and scales and black eyes are not just superficial external markers, but indicators that there is a whole history and culture that grew up and managed to get itself to warp travel, though perhaps for very different reasons.

I hope this next edition gives even more depth to Juliette, P'Nem, Danek and T'Mar as they all work through their own version of a Passion Opera.

Back to work!

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