Monday, July 8, 2019

July Camp NaNo Projects

It's been so long since I wrote regularly that it's hard to get back into the habit of writing anything.  I have ideas and sometimes I jot them down but mostly I don't, and they come and go.

A few weeks ago I pulled up a story under the working title of Princess, that dealt with a pocket dimension contained in a broach that I was going to use as the supergroup base for the Daughters of Anarchy.  I'd written quite a bit on the "story" but it was just them explaining what the pocket dimension was, and exploring it, and it was all quite boring because there was no plot.  So I'd stepped back from working on it over a year ago to try and figure out what the plot would be.

Around the same time I conceived of this story, I wrote a sort of companion story called Prince Allwyn and Princess Erin of Arowen, which was a fable about a similar magical amulet.  It helped me encapsulate my ideas about how such a magical device could work, but at the same time, it wasn't the history of the amulet I was trying to write about.  I'd sketched out a history of that amulet though, and had envisioned a possible plot involving it.

Anyway while trying to work out how to rewrite my story, it occurred to me to write another fable about how this particular amulet came into being, because I had some ideas about that already.  For the past few weeks I've been writing and rewriting this story/fable in my head, but I haven't committed much to paper.  It's evolved into a sort of love story between a very old wizard and an immortal fairy, but I'm still not sure if I know how to start it.

So that was going to be my project for July's Camp NaNoWriMo since I was already working on it in my head... but in the meantime, I've come up with some other ideas that may be easier for me to work on and can help get me writing more.

I had an idea to compose a list of international superheroes for the Grandpa Anarchy universe.  I've been reading the My Hero Academia manga, which is about heroes and kids training to become heroes, and they reference the top ranked heroes a lot (strangely, all of the top ranked heroes are in Japan -- they don't specifically say their rankings are confined to Japan, but eh, anyway).  This got me thinking about who are the top heroes in the Grandpa Anarchy universe, and what would be their ranking, and that also got me thinking about how I don't have a lot of international heroes and maybe I should come up with a bunch of them.

Another aspect of this is that, when writing Grandpa Anarchy stories, I don't often start with imagining what powers a hero or villain should have, and consequently I write an awful lot of heroes and villains with fairly straightforward powers.  Either they're strong and tough, or maybe the can throw fire or water about.  Nothing much more esoteric than that, usually.  But the manga I'm reading involves a lot of interesting and exotic powers, and it makes me want to create more characters like that for my own universe.

So for the moment my goal is to create a new hero every day, from someplace other than North America, who has interesting powers.  My first one comes from Nepal and has the power to grow to a height of 40 or 50 feet.  He's half English, gets his powers from an ancient magical artifact, and has the head of a dog.  He's known as K2K9, or the Mountain Dog / Dog Mountain, or the Himalayan Howler.

I think a second part of the challenge might be to write a short scene / story involving each new character, but we'll see if I can manage that much.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2019 - Day One

I haven't posted anything to my writing blog in ages, so here's a quick recap:

In March 2018 I attempted to write a short story a day for Magical Girl March, and I mostly succeeded.  I continued writing into April to finish up my list of 31 stories, and I also completed Camp Nanowrimo for April which meant writing other Grandpa Anarchy stories.  However around this time I picked up the game Pokemon Go, and stopped writing or posting to my Grandpa Anarchy website.  I did not publish the last three magical girl stories, partly because I wanted to rewrite the big showdown story and I never did.

I've written very little since.  I tried to participate in Camp Nanowrimo for July and in regular Nanowrimo for November, but I accomplished nothing.  I continued to jot down story ideas and attempt to work on stories but got nowhere.  I worked on a Christmas ghost story that I'd begun in 2017, but I didn't get very far on it.  I began editing my volume 2 stories this spring and took a real mess of a story called Solar Sister and the Disco Trolls of Doom and tried to break it into two or three stories.  I wrote one new story out of this called Name Game that I didn't like very much, and I ultimately planned to write about four or five disco troll stories to replace the original one -- I imagine them as variations on a theme in the same way most of my Death Medal stories have been -- but I didn't get far on them.

(But I love the story titles:  Disco Inferno, Hot Stuff, Dancing Queen, and Get Down Tonight.)

I've placed a LOT of story ideas into my volume 11 folder (my current "working" stories folder).  I also created a volume 14 folder, "Grandpa Anarchy on Vacation", which was going to be my July 2018 Camp Nanowrimo project, consisting of stories in which Grandpa Anarchy is on vacation with two of his old friends and various former sidekicks take over as substitute Grandpa Anarchys in the meantime.  Even though I got nowhere on that project, the idea that Grandpa Anarchy has been on vacation over the last year that I haven't been writing is even more appealing to me now.

Anyway it's the first day of April 2019, first day of Camp Nanowrimo, and my goal is to simply complete some of the story ideas that I've had over the last year.  Today I'm attempting to tackle one of my more ambitious ideas:  a story in which the Literary Lemur uses a literary device known as Oulipo to craft his clues, and the conceit was that I would write one short confrontation scene five different times in five different styles, which is one possible Oulipo device.  This in itself is likely to be difficult, and to keep the story short even more difficult, but the fact that I'm employing a very verbose villain and also adding in a sidekick known as the Etymological Kid may make it impossible.  We'll see.

Other story ideas that I've created or worked on in 2019 and may complete this month:  Escape Goat, Virus, Punch 'Em All, To Punch A Hitler, I'm Not Saying It's Aliens, Die Glocke, Just Don't Care, When You're Dead, and Mission Briefing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Magical March Wrap-Up / April Camp NaNoWriMo

I feel I should provide a wrap-up of my March Magical Girl challenge.

I wrote 31 stories in about 41 days.  I've published 28 of them on my Grandpa Anarchy blog, and will publish the other three this week (I just finished the last two stories Monday and Tuesday).  All of this constitutes a new "book" of Grandpa Anarchy stories, although most of them don't involve Grandpa Anarchy and 31 stories is fairly thin for one of my "books".  Right now I have this listed as Book 13, although I will probably switch that around with Book 12, which is a novel-length idea that I haven't written.

For those that are curious:

Book 1:  Tales of Two-Fisted Justice is 32 (well, 34) stories, nearly all the early ones plus 2 newer ones, one of which is not actually written yet and have off-numbers, story 00 and story 05a.

Book 2:  Fists of the Anarchist is stories 33 - 60, including one novella-length story World of Hero that is unfinished (and is counted as 4 stories in my numbering system)

Book 3:  Anarchy is Forever, stories 61 - 101.  Christmas story Gin and Ginger needs a full rewrite.

Book 4:  Never Say Anarchy Again, stories 102 - 147, including unfinished novella Second Class about the Black Moon Maidens.

Book 5:  Steel Knights & Iron Maidens, stories 148 - 177, plus guest story, includes an unfinished Christmas Story numbered as 177 and an unfinished Unpossible Man origin story numbered 172, also an unfinished Nina Ballerina origins story numbered 173.  Also, curiously, there is no story number 174.  Lastly, there's an unfinished novella, Oz on the Half-Shell, but a large portion of the story is written.

Book 6:  Weird Tales of Weird Anarchy, stories 178 - 217.  Includes one unfinished story.

Book 7:  Serial Anarchy.  This is an unfinished serial novel.  I may renumber this at some point, right now it's actually listed in my files as Book 6.5.

Book 8:  High-Tech Fisticuffs, stories 220 - 262.  (Excludes stories 254 and 256-258.  Note that there is no story 218 or 219, although the Serial Anarchy novel is unnumbered).  This is where my online story collection begins, so virtually every story in this volume has been published online.  I do not think this includes any unfinished stories, although I keep threatening to rewrite the Ring of Hanubatum, which has not seen publication.

Book 9:  My Gun Is Sharp.  Stories 254 - 308 (Excludes 255, 259-262).  This collection potentially includes three unwritten and unnumbered stories, My Gun Is Sharp, The Tremor of the Earth, and Wings of Liberty.

Book 10:  The Companions.  I have plans for a volume of stories about Kid Anarchy in the 1920's and his various companions.  Several of these stories are partially written but none are numbered yet.  I may need to renumber this book.

Book 11:  Fist to the Face.  This is my current collection of web stories, right now consisting of stories 300 - 311, all written since February 2018.

Book 12:  Magical Girl Death Match.  A potential novel-length story, unwritten.

Book 13:  Magical Girl March.  Stories 312 - 342, which I just finished writing.  I imagine that prior to any publication I would add a few more stories to flesh things out a bit, but aside from publishing these on the web I'm not sure I could see producing an actual book with them.

In any case, that's what I managed for Magical March.  Right now I'm halfway through April's Camp NaNoWriMo, and so far I've just been finishing up my Magical March stories and counting them towards my total, which is about 12,000 words so far, half of what I planned to write.

As for new goals, one of my projects is to do a write-up of the various places/set locations in the Grandpa Anarchy universe, such as supergroup bases, notable restaurants, and the like.  I keep having to look up previous stories to remember how I described these locations, so it would be useful to have them all in one handy file.  That would be an easier writing assignment than more new stories and would be extremely useful in the future.  Of course, I still need to update my list of people that is only current for the first 2-3 books.  :P

I have a lot of incomplete Grandpa Anarchy stories to work on, but the two stories I was working on back in February before I switched to magical girl story-a-day mode were Princess, about the magical realm that is the secret headquarters of the Daughters of Anarchy, and a story temporarily titled Meet Cute 4, about a budding romance between Circuit Girl and You Go Girl.  (I'd actually stopped working on the second one so that I could figure out how the Daughter's of Anarchy's secret base works -- which lead to me writing the first one.)

Anyway yesterday I considered trying to finish either of these, but instead I decided to try and finish X Factor, an important story from book 6.  I wrote the stories in Book 6 about two years ago, and it was intended to work as a kind of novel with one story flowing into the next, but there were two stories that I never finished.  This was one of them, and I had it all plotted out in my head.

And... when I pulled up the file today, I discovered that I'd finished it.  Probably a couple of months or so ago, but I hadn't remembered that.  So... that was easy.  I read through it and edited a few things, but basically it's done and works pretty well.

That means I should either work on the other story in Book 6 that isn't finished, or get back to finishing the two stories I was working on in February.

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....