So far, the majority of the Postmadern Era of Elmer Studios has been in the form of “rebuild” MSTings, ones that are re-workings of older material, specifically Delta Invasion. As has been mentioned before, “rebuilding” Delta was a substantial motivation for getting this whole project started, and, in many ways, it formed a style guide for everything that was to come.
However, there was one big problem with the Rebuild of Delta concept. Simply put, there were no “raw”, un-MSTed copies of the fanfic known to exist anywhere on the Interwebs (Wheather this was a bad thing was another matter, of course). The original was hosted on a Geocities page, which wasn’t a good start. Added to that, the fic was pulled from that site sometime over a decade ago because it no longer met the author’s “vision for Evangelion” (That it had become an internet laughing stock because it sucked might have also factored into that). No traces of it could be found in Web Archives, and even the most intense Googling turned up blanks. In short, our old MSTings were the only copies of Delta Invasion left out there.
However, we would not be deterred.
“Rebuilding” each chapter of Delta Invasion is a multi-stage process. Rather then working from a “raw” copy, each rebuild starts life as a copy of the original Elmer Studios MSTing. Pulled from its archive, the fic is then laid out and “stripped down” for the new MSTing. This process is a surprisingly time-consuming and labour-intensive one, going through the fic and repairing broken lines, patching together sentences and paragraphs and trying to restore the original narrative.
It’s not easy. The, uh, fantastic writing in each chapter of Delta means that we’re often working with “best guess” figuring of what goes where. The presence of the riffs also doesn’t help any, resulting in often needing to “work around” what’s there to reassemble the text into a coherent (and I use the term broadly) whole. The results are, admittedly, not perfect. There are doubtless plenty of legacy mistakes, accidentally deleted words or lines, things out of place and the like. But, until someone coughs up their secret stash of the “raw” Detla, that’ll have to do.
The riffs themselves present something of a poser. The original plan was to completely “clean slate” Delta and start over; that plan didn’t even survive the first chapter. Instead, when going through each chapter, we isolate and keep riffs we like. It’s not an easy process; to qualify for survival, a riff must meet several criteria. It can’t be a badly-aged reference, it can’t be cringe-worthy, it can’t be based on something since known to be wrong, it can’t be a meta-reference and it can’t be referring to other MSTers or MSTings (Though while we do still have the latter, they are somewhat differently employed these days). Even then, those “survivors” are often reworked, edited, moved around or even reassigned to make them fit better with the new continuity.
And once we’ve done all that, then the hard work begins.