I began act two of Crimes with a series of goals in mind. First and foremost, I wanted the primary focus of the material to be effect, not cause.
I had no real desire to write the actual attack and subsequent torture of Faith and Buffy. There are just so many things out there that present that sort of brutality in graphic detail. I didn't believe that the world needed another example, so I decided I would offer a rough view of the events in retrospect.
Enough of the details would need to be presented that the reader would glean a sense of what had occurred between the acts. I decided to approach this in a non-linear fashion because it would add to the sense of confusion that would necessarily result from such an experience.
I decided that I would use a mental block to conceal the details. That idea matured into the concept of Robert Joseph Levy's charater Alex surfacing as a result of the trauma. She became a tangible line between the immediate past and the present, a gatekeeper of sorts through which the distant past could be viewed as well. I used her to create a profile that might culminate in the character we know.
The dream begins as a result of the gatekeeper being unseated. It seemed to me that that would eventually happen. Faith would see or hear something and it would trigger a memory. That single fragment would cause the rest of the pieces to return and that would overwhelm her much like what we see happen to Buffy in The Weight of the World.
And so I wrote, and then I stepped back to look. Without describing the event that triggered the change, what I had was so much one thing and then another. The events leading up to the dream seemed separate. There were a couple of ways to repair this. I could either write the trigger scene or I could blend the two.
I decided that writing the trigger scene was bad idea. The last thing this act needed was another 'uh-oh, bad things happened' sequence of events. Writing that sort of scene is difficult. It's so easy if you use that too much, to hit 'campy.'
Furthermore, fragmenting the dream added to the sense that Faith had lost her mind. It created chaos…and chaos was actually what I wanted. Showing the breaking point would've lent order to the act. Doing something easy that furthers your goal is always preferable to doing something hard that doesn't.
There were a couple of downsides to breaking up the dream. In its original build, during the section where Faith relives her fight with Angel, I had her begin to realize that she was fighting against herself. This didn't seem appropriate once the flow of the dream was interrupted so I removed it. As a result, it left that part a little flat, which is unfortunate as that was such a pivotal moment in her history.
So, yeah…fragmenting the dream interrupted its flow. In its original form the scene is a 17,780 word hell ride. Scenes that long don't happen often, certainly not in fan fiction.
I weighed the good against the bad and made my choice, but I'd still like you to have the opportunity, should you wish, to see it as it was.