Monday, March 5, 2018

Magical March

Sunday evening I read through a large chunk of my Girls School fanfiction story.  It's a sprawling mess, but I've obviously put a ton of work into it and would like to bring it to some sort of conclusion.  However, I haven't worked on it since December of 2015.  I do like it a lot and enjoy reading it though, and wish more of it were written even though it's already several hundred thousand words.

This morning I discovered something called Magical March, or Magical Girl March.  This is a challenge for artists to draw a magical girl every day of the month.  Instantly I wondered if I could manage to write a magical girl story for every day of the month, and I started plotting a framework story in which a magical girl agency has been ordered by upper management to create a magical girl for every day of the month, following the template for the artist's challenge.  I borrowed from the magical girl agency in my Ranma 1/2 fanfiction story, because that was easy and I don't have to create a lot of new characters -- but I'm also worried that it will be hard to write 31 different stories that all, at their heart, boil down to "angelic being from this specific agency creates another magical girl".  So maybe my framing story is limiting my creativity.

(I'd want to work in a story about my new character Ex Habitu as well, so maybe pre-existing magical girls can count?  I mean, I would need to find a way to work that into my overall narrative.)

On the other hand, I feel pretty confident that I can manage 1 new story a day, or close to it (I wrote five stories this past week, some of them fairly long), but I'm already five days behind and my idea for the first story is somewhat lacking.  But I like the challenge so I want to try it.  I think I would have to post a new story to my blog every day if I am to do this properly.  The most difficult part would be coming up with names and descriptions / stories for each magical girl, but on the other hand it's not necessarily easy to draw a new magical girl each day either.  I would strive for failry short stories and not worry too much that each one has a big bang ending, I think.

Another concern is that I would be doing a story-a-day challenge for March, and leading right into Camp NaNoWriMo for April.  But again, I like the challenge of forcing myself to write, so we'll see.  The first challenge is simply to write the first story by this evening and post it -- maybe even write two, because I've got some catching up to do.  If I can manage that, then I'll have started the ball rolling.  ^_^

Sunday, March 4, 2018

In Search of A Trope That Doesn't Exist

Somewhere along the line, I got this idea in my head that I ought to write about a character who produces weapons spontaneously from her skirt, as in various well-known anime shows.  I couldn't name most of these famous shows, but I'd seen images and upon reflection was certain  that Mami of Puella Magi Madoka Magica had done exactly this.  As the above GIF shows, I was right on that score, at least.

I named my character Ex Habitu, meant to be Latin for out of the skirt or out of the dress, and a take on the term ex nihilo which means out of nothing.  Out of nothing is really where these weapons would be coming from, of course.  I have no idea if my Latin works, but then, neither does my protagonist.

I was also certain I had at least one image of Alice in Wonderland doing exactly this, and I knew of an anime show I'd never watched where a girl appears to do this.  I assumed it was a common anime trope of some kind.  However when I started  trying to research the subject, I found that while Spontaneous Weapon Creation is a very common anime trope, and pulling weapons out of your clothing, or hair, or other people's bodies is also common in anime -- girls specifically producing weapons from their skirt was not so common as to deserve any mention on tv tropes.  There are pages for a Hammerspace trope, a Trouserspace trope, and the above-mentioned instant weapon creation.  Pulling massive weapons out of small spaces or thin air is indeed very common in anime, but specifically doing what Mami does in the gif above?  Not as common as I thought.

Mami doesn't even do this trick every time.  She pulls guns from her clothing in many different ways, so it's really just a version of the above tropes.

But why had I thought this was so common?  I did a little research.  First, the other anime that I  was forgetting the name of.

This turned out to be a girl named Hitagi SenjŨgahara of Bakemonogatari, but the story is just that she stores office supplies up her skirt... somewhere... and can produce them and use them as weapons.  But the image of her producing all of these sharp-edged supplies from beneath her skirt, seemingly from nowhere, is so iconic that there's even a plastic figurine based on it:

So yes, I did have something I was basing this idea off of.  As for the third example of this, which convinced me that it was a common trope?  It turns out that there are a lot of images of Alice In Wonderland surrounded by falling cards, and quite a few where she is falling with the cards, and even a couple of images where she is apparently producing cards from her skirt.  In retrospect, it's obvious that the first of these images is copied directly from the Bakemonogatari image.

 I didn't actually have any images where she produced weapons in this manner, although thanks to The Madness Returns series of computer games, there are any number of images of Alice with blades or other weapons.  (In the game, she most often uses a giant rune-carved kitchen knife, which is the Vorpal blade, so that's what she's got in most of the artwork.)

Somehow the images of her dropping cards from her skirt merged in my head with the idea of Alice with weapons.

The sum of this story is that I created a character based on a trope that mostly doesn't exist.  My three examples were pictures of Alice In Wonderland producing cards in this manner, but not weapons; Hitagi from Bakemonogatari producing office supplies as weapons (but they were supposedly stored under her skirt all along); and Mami from Puella Magi Madoka Magica producing rifles in this manner -- which is only one of the ways that she produces them.  However, she does do it at least once!

Anyway this weekend I wrote a story called Dressed to Kill, not about the character who has this ability, but about the magical dress that she owns and where it comes from.  It turns out that Eve the Explorer -- the character I've written multiple stories about this week -- had it first.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Becoming Sally

I wrote a story yesterday called Casual Encounter, and I completed it.  It seemed like a fairly simple, straightforward story about my character Eve being in love with a cartoon alien girl, and wanting to sleep with some kind of similar alien girl.  She succeeds, but the alien "girl" implants eggs or larva into her, which are meant to gestate and then eat their way out of the host.  Mind you, Eve is an agent for the space babes, who have rebirth cloning technology, so in the final scene she's in a new body watching as her old body is devoured, and she throws up.

That was the gist of the story and how I ended it.  However, in the process of writing it I started with Eve propositioning her partner Muriel, who is an alien girl but not at all interested in "human mating rituals" or sex at all (her species is actually asexual).  Then I felt like including a scene where Eve travels to the fairyland of Amethyst -- which is really easy to do, the space station she's on has a gateway to a similar space station in orbit around the fairy world -- and has an encounter with a woman who is part fairy.  This scene didn't really feel like it advanced the plot, although it seemed like a natural progression in Eve's search for an encounter with an alien girl.  I was also interested in exploring her relationship with this fairy girl further, and I liked the mirror-image of Eve searching for an alien encounter, and the fairy girl searching for an encounter with a girl from space.

Almost immediately after finishing the story I began to rewrite it.  It seemed to me that I should include a scene where Eve meets the fairy girl Amaryllis, and perhaps explain more fully Eve's idea that she could satisfy her need for an alien encounter with a fairy girl (which doesn't work).  Then I decided that, if Eve were to visit the home base of the space babes (where she meets the alien), then she would be expected to say hello to her relatives that are there.  I should at least mention it, or explain why she doesn't... but it seemed more interesting to have her meet her mother and sister and grandfather.  For one thing, her mother would be interested in her love life -- does she have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

Once I started writing that scene, a few more scenes popped into my head -- one in which Eve visits a museum on the station that explains some of the history of the space babes and explains more fully one of the concepts I've inserted into these stories (which explains why there are so many aliens in the space babes that resemble human women), and then another where I realized that Eve -- having already requested green hair to more fully resemble the fictional alien girl she's obsessed with, would probably go all the way at some point, and request antenna and eyes that were solid blue.  These are the things that make the fictional Sally Stardust an "alien" girl, and it was fun exploring Eve's obsession with this image.

At this point my story is no longer the simple one about an encounter with an alien -- it's much more about Eve exploring her obsession with a fictional girl.  The ending isn't the punchline of watching a version of herself eaten -- it should be more about her realizing that her quest for a fictional alien girl is a silly, childish obsession, and in the end she should finally get over it, and maybe date Amaryllis from Amethyst again.  But I'm still working on finishing it.  ^_^

I'm not sure what I actually want to do with this story when I'm done.  Although I tried to be careful about how I described things, there are two sex scenes in the story, and so I probably won't publish it on my blog for that reason.  But the more I work on it and polish it, the more I like it -- more than the other three Eve stories I've written this week.  I think I finally managed to figure out these characters a bit.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

So Much For February

Last week I was working on my second romance story, currently still titled Meet Cute 4 but intended to be a full-blown romantic story of how Circuit Girl and You Go Girl become a couple, when I stopped to work on a background file explaining how the base for the super group known as the Daughters of Anarchy works.  You Go Girl is a member of this group, and I needed to figure out where their base was and how they accessed it.  I had a vague idea that it was not physically in this world, but some sort of  other realm that they had access to.  I spent a day working on my description of what it actually was and how it worked.

The next day I decided that, instead of just writing up a description of the base, I could turn it into a story.  I began writing Princess, about the group exploring their new base.  Now, my idea was that the base was a self-contained micro universe with a fairy spirit at the center.  This was a small kingdom, maybe a dozen miles across, with a fairy castle and a small town at the heart of it.  The fairy spirit was contained in a magical gemstone that acted as the gateway to the realm.  The concept for these tiny universes was that they were ideal play spaces for a rich princess -- a safe environment that nobody could locate or penetrate, and a safe space to play within because the fairy that controlled the world would protect the princess and keep her from harm.  Indeed, nothing existed in the world without the fairy bringing it to life or allowing it to enter, so there was unlikely to be anything dangerous within.

The two founders of the Daughters of Anarchy are formerly princess of a fairyland.  (It was kind of a dump, and their father sold it to developers.)  They know what one of these fairy gemstone things is, and when they're given one, they decide to transform it into their super group base.

In my write-up about the base, I'd traced the history of the gemstone and how it came into their possession.  However, when I began to write my story of them getting it and exploring it, I decided the leader of the group, Pixy Dreamgirl, would make reference to an old fairy tale or story that explained one of the possible pitfalls of these kind of pocket realms.  This went from "there was a story," to "this is the story of Prince Allwyn and Princess Erin", to describing the tale in brief, to describing it in more detail, to...

My story ground to a halt so that my character could tell a different story.  This... was not ideal, and yet I wanted to expand on the fairy tale further.  At this point, I knew it didn't belong in my story, but I had to write down the actual fairy tale to get it out of my head.  So again I stopped working on the story I thought I wanted to write, so I could work on some background material for that story.

What I ended up writing was a fairy tale called The Tale of Princes Allwyn and Princess Erin.  I finished it.  I have no idea what to do with it; it's a full-on fairy tale that I only wrote so that my character could mention it in passing.  But eh, I got it out of my head.

That wound up being the only thing I actually finished last week.  I worked on Princess some more, but it kind of bogged down again.  The problem with it is that, at the moment, there's no plot other than "let's explore this new land that we now own".  On the other hand, I decided after writing up the fairy tale that one of the characters from it was real and still alive, and living inside the same realm that my super group has decided to make their base.  There's almost certainly a story in that, but I haven't decided how to work it in and still fit in a good description of the place and what they discover about it.

This week I've written three new stories on a completely separate subject.  This started with my publishing to my blog an older story called Gadda Da Vida.  I wrote this I think in December around Christmas time, and the idea for the story was to play with an old science fiction trope, the shaggy god. In these, Biblical tales are explained in science fiction terms.  A very common version is that of a male and a female astronaut crash landing on a planet that is literally a garden of Eden, and the big reveal is that their names are Adam and Eve.

For my version of the trope, a shaggy god was responsible, and he transforms Grandpa's male sidekick into Eve, because that amused me more.  By the time I'd finished the story it seemed like I could write an additional story about the newly-christened Eve joining the space babes, because she got to stay out in space and go on adventures, and because it would be easy to become male again once her service with the space babes was over.  But it took me more than a month before I wrote Eve the Explorer.

Not long after this I decided that Eve would be a good choice for someone to crew the space babes space station that orbits earth, and so I included her in two more stories:  Beautifully Engineered and Hero Lunch - Tony's Diner.

I started thinking about the character again after publishing the first story to my blog.  Before Monday was done, I had written a new story, Grandfather Clause.  I'd only sort of mentioned in passing in Eve the Explorer how she'd decided to join the space babes, but I realized a more direct story about that could be inserted before that story, so that's what I wrote.

Next I began to wonder:  Eve joins the space babes to go on adventures in outer space... and they send her back to earth.  That's got to be a little disappointing.  What if she has to confront her family about what she's done before she's ready?  What if they meet her on the station when she arrives?

What if she's wearing a fancy ball gown provided by the King of Throga for her service to the crown, and the space station is overwhelmed with alien spider xenomorphs, and she has to go in with guns blazing?

This story, Family Affair, was a bit longer, but I managed to finish it Tuesday night.

Having finished that, I began to wonder if there weren't another story involving the dresses that the king has bought for her.  After all, they were supposed to send back holo video of them in these dresses, to please the king... instead they send back video of them completely destroying the dresses in a firefight.  Surely that wouldn't go over well.

So today I wrote Ballroom Blitz around that idea.

Mind you, every story idea spawns other ideas that don't really fit.  I wanted Eve to meet Jennie Nova and Llahna.  They do, but it doesn't happen "on screen".  I wondered if Eve would meet Grandpa's great grand daughters, who are junior space babe members (they are also related to the Nova family that founded the space babes).  Again, maybe she does, maybe she doesn't, I didn't have a chance to fit it into anything.  Maybe that involves yet another story, who knows.

I haven't decided if any of these stories really work as well as I'd like.  I want to get a better handle on the characters and then rework these stories to improve them, but for now... a whole bunch of stories about a former sidekick of Grandpa Anarchy, including three new stories in three days.  That's something at least.

I do need to get back to finishing Princess, and Meet Cute 4, and also give the second a real title....

Monday, February 19, 2018

Writer's Night for February 2018

Saturday was Writer's Night, held at Gene and Mike's place in... Shoreline?  North of Seattle anyway.

Quinn read a couple of screenplay/story idea treatments.  Well I say read, it was more just describing to us what the ideas were, that's why it's a treatment I guess.  Hopefully the feedback was helpful.

Chuck read another scene from I think his novel, or one of the related stories.  It was really a half-scene, I think.  The characterization was good until the protesters showed up, but I think everyone thought the protesters were too stupid to be real.  They were either bad straw men and badly written, or they were performing some elaborate ruse that would be revealed later on.  Since it was incomplete you really didn't know for sure.

I read my second "Hero Cafe" story, which I warned people was plotless, and I think the consensus was that it felt too long for something that really had no payout.  I kind of agreed just by reading it, I could see where some things needed to be trimmed.  But on the whole I think it accomplishes what I set out to accomplish, which is that the characterization is mostly good and it shines a light on an interesting part of my universe that I hadn't shown before.  If I can shorten it up and/or work in a bit more plot somehow, that will help.

Gene read an incomplete scene from one of his novels.  At this point I think Gene talking about which part of which novel he's reading a scene from is a bit like me explaining how this particular Grandpa Anarchy story relates to several others that people don't remember or never read/heard.  But anyway, it was well written.  ^_^

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet Cute

So, an update to my writing -- it's been about a month since my last entry.

I've finished three of the four "Hero Cafe" stories that I outlined last time.  The first one is Hero Lunch - Tony's Diner.  That's story 300.  The second I finished right after, and that's Hero Lunch - One With Everything.

These two stories set up the overall plan for all of them:  someone in the New League of Two-Fisted Justice invites Boy Secretary, their receptionist, to lunch.  They go to some really exotic location or restaurant.  There's no real plot other than that, but each story so far has ended with some sort of hero emergency, just to give me a snappy ending.  Otherwise they're more slice-of-life stories than anything with a plot or punch line.

Side note:  in book 6 I reshape the League of Two-Fisted Justice.  Multiple new members join, they split into two teams, they build a new fancy headquarters in New York, they hire Boy Secretary, and they rename themselves the New League of Two-Fisted Justice.  After that I wrote all of book 8 and book 9 (book 7 is an incomplete novel) and I'm now partway into book 11 (book 10 is intended to specifically be stories about Kid Anarchy and the companions he works with -- I've written parts of several stories, but have yet to finish any of them) and over all that time -- more than 80 stories written since I started my Grandpa Anarchy blog back in late August 2016 -- I have frequently mentioned the new members of the League, and their new New York base, and their secretary, and I've completely forgotten that they were called the New League.  :P  I will have to, at some point, go through all of those stories -- including everything I've posted to  the web so far -- to fix that.
Anyway!  After writing my first two Hero Cafe stories and starting on the third, I took a right turn and began working on a very old novella-length story, Second Class.  This deals with the expansion of Black Dahlia's Black Moon Maidens group, and it's a story I plotted for book 4, and the longer I ignore finishing it the more problematic it becomes.  I have basically never mentioned, in any subsequent stories, the new members of the group, save for what I've written in the last six weeks -- because I hadn't written about them in this story yet.  Nor have I mentioned the villains that they acquire in this story.  It's not that I bring up the Black Moon Maidens that often, but I really need to complete this old story so that I can build on what's in it.

And also complete World of Hero from book 2, another incomplete novella.  But I digress.

I spent at least two weeks or so working on Second Class.  I got multiple scenes written, and it seems to be coming together although I'm still not very far into the tale -- but I got a bit bored with working on a story that it seems will never be finished.  There's a certain satisfaction to working on a story for several hours and then calling it finished, and moving on to the next project.

So last week I wrote a new story, Going Home.  That's number 302.  This is, after a fashion, a fourth story in a series about Eve the Explorer, who first appears in Gadda Da Vida and then reappears in Eve the Explorer and right after that in Beautifully Engineered.  I placed Going Home in book 11, but it may belong in book 9 with those other stories, I don't know.  Although Eve also appears in Hero Cafe - Tony's Diner, actually, and that's in Book 11.

At the beginning of this week I finished my third Hero Cafe story -- Hero Dinner - A Slice of Time.  That's story 303.  I immediately began work on the fourth (and probably last) in the series, Hero Lunch - Happy Jack's, but I still had not finished it when I came up with something new today.

Several somethings.  Once again.

I was listening to This American Life.  Their episode for this week was called Rom-Com, about Romance Comedies.  For Valentine's Day, of course.  Immediately an idea formed in my head:  I should write a romantic Valentine's Day story!  I should write several!  I am generally quite bad about writing romance and considering or introducing romantic relationships in my stories, but I could think of several couples that would be fun to write about, so I instantly created three new story files -- Meet Cute 1, about Freya/Saturnae and Sarah/Continuitae; Meet Cute 2, about the villain Death Medal and his girl Miss Kid Gloves, and Meet Cute 3, which is probably about the Electric Bluejay and Walter, although I kind of want to fit in something about the Glass Cannon and Electrofrog.

And why stop there?  The term meet cute actually refers to new romances just getting started (which none of the above stories are actually about -- it was just a convenient term for creating new story files).  It's nice to write about couples that already exist in my universe, but why not create some new ones?  I'd have to figure out the details, of course, but that's the point -- to try and write more about people getting together.

The other thing was that I'd planned to write a Valentine's Day story, and I totally had forgotten to do it.  So I began working on that first meet cute story right away.  This turned into Ancient Festival, a story that I completed and posted this afternoon.  I've done that once or twice before -- write a story and immediately post it.  But I'm fairly happy with how the story came out.  It's not really one with a punch line, but as a story I think it works.

Now -- I need to write some more of these mini romance stories.  ^_^  Oh, and finish the last Hero Cafe story as well!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dinner at the Superhero Cafe

I finished yet another story on Wednesday, Jan 17th -- this is the one I called The Dream Ends.  I have serious doubts about the quality of some of the stories I've written this week, but I think this one probably works.  At this point, in order to completely finish everything I intend to put into Book 9:  My Gun Is Sharp, I simply need to complete the story Enigma, and write The Tremor of the Earth, and also come up with a story that actually has the title My Gun Is Sharp.  I'm not even sure if the latter is absolutely necessary, but eh.

This was also story number 299.  My numbering system is a bit wonky because I have a few stories numbered that have never been finished, and I've also "inserted" some stories into Book 1, which gives me a story 00 and a story 05a and 05b.  But roughly speaking I'm at 300 stories now.

I've been reading a manga called The Flying Witch.  It's kind of a low-key, slice-of-life story with no major plots going on -- just the tale of a young girl learning to become a witch, and her interactions with friends and cousins and strange creatures.  It kind of reminds me of Yotsuba! in the way it tells little stories of little consequence, but which are still very enjoyable to read.  There's an anime out too, I only discovered this past week.

Last night I read a story that involved a visit to a witch's cafe restaurant.  The building looked like an old, abandoned temple until you performed a proper prayer ritual before entering, which broke the spell and revealed a nice, modern cafe.  The waitress was a ghost whom no one could see (messages from the ghost would appear as written notes laid on the table), until the witch cast a spell that revealed the ghost to everyone.

They had a good lunch and talked to the witch who ran the place.  There were some misunderstandings, and the ghost was shy and put on a mask for a while after she realized they could see her.  Nothing important happened, but it was a charming little story anyway.  ^_^

So I got to thinking, could I tell such a story set in my Grandpa Anarchy universe?  I had just the day before reread part of The Ring of Hanubatum, and in that it's established that the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes has a space station Terra orbiting earth, and that they also have set up a steampunk-style space station above the fantasy land of Amethyst, and that you can travel from earth to Terra Station to the Amethyst station and then to Amethyst relatively easily and quickly.  One of my most recent stories took place station Terra as well.

First idea:  What if there were a gateway in the New York headquarters of the League of Two-Fisted Justice that led directly to the space station?  I could write an interesting story about how the league's secretary routinely travels to the fantasy world of Amethyst, just to grab lunch.

Come to think of it, one of the characters in Amethyst is Tony the Fry Cook from New Jersey, who has a magical skillet that produces whatever food you want instantly -- at least, diner-style food.  Maybe he's married in Amethyst and runs a diner, and his wife bakes wonderful cakes and pastries?

I'm still working on the details of this largely plotless story idea, and so I don't know if it will work or if there will be some kind of joke or way to wrap it up at the end.  But my mind went from that idea to others.

Second idea:  Grandpa Anarchy has an interstellar gateway in his basement, his "Anarchy Cave".  I haven't used it too much but I've already established that one place it can connect to is Happy Jack's bar in the interdimensional city of Intersect, where they also have a gateway.  So far I've treated it as something only used in emergencies or on other important occasions -- for example in My Sister the Computer when F8Wasp and Amelia Bloodraven used it to travel to Intersect, with no plans to return for maybe years.  But what's to stop Grandpa Anarchy from popping over to his friend's bar for lunch?

Third idea:  In two very old stories, The Chef that Time Forgot and Historically Accurate, I established that Marianna Kidd is a time-travelling chef who runs a place called the Slice of Time Bar and Grill, which uses ingredients exclusively from past periods of history.  It's exclusive, membership is by invite only -- but I never actually established where this restaurant is, nor used it much after those stories from Book 3 (stories 71 and 80 out of 300 that I've written -- these are from sometime in 2013 I believe).

Fourth idea:  Dark Dr. Dark teleports around the globe and has bases for himself and for the League of Two-Fisted Justice scattered around the world.  Where does he pop off to for lunch?  Possibly his private monastery retreat in Nepal?

I don't really know where I'm going with these ideas, but right now I'm hoping to write 3-4 stories just about people popping out for lunch in unusual places.  ^_^