Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Dark Magical Interludes

I'm probably going to sound like a broken record, but once again I'm  trying to go back and fix my series of magical girl stories.

I watched a video on Youtube.  Actually I watched a lot of videos on Youtube, but this one was about how certain anime shows create and build suspense, while other anime shows that are, on the surface, very similar, fail to build the same level of suspense.  The same things happen, but you don't see them coming, they're not broadcast to the viewer, and therefore you don't have the same dread that something bad is about to happen, it just comes out of left field.

This struck me as exactly the kind of problem I have with my current set of stories.  Villains show up and do things, but the reader doesn't see these things coming or always even know what events are connected to what villains.  No suspense at all, just random villains showing up.

Now, there are a few things driving this.

One, my stories are short and build to some sort of joke or surprise ending, so what I put into each story pretty much has to contribute to that story.  Even though I'm trying to string together a series of stories, each story has to be mostly self-contained.  I can't insert a short scene where this or that villain is revealed to be plotting against the heroes, if it has nothing to do with that particular story.

Two, I did not approach the project with an overall plot in mind, or a plan to build to any particular ending.  This is because I'm not writing a novel per se, but a series of linked stories, and each story is a self-contained joke of sorts.  Which is not to say I shouldn't have an end goal in mind, just that I don't think of these things because my normal approach is to write one story at a time, and whatever funny thing occurs at the end, however outlandish, if that's what makes for a funny story I do that.

Therefore, in one of my normal stories having a random villain show up at the end may prove to be funny, and I'll do that.  I don't have to know what's going to happen next.  In a project like my current one, I absolutely need to know what's going to happen next, so I can't write exactly like I normally do.

Third, I had this idea in the back of my mind that I didn't want to give things away too early, and this led to my current situation of having villains just show up seemingly at random because I haven't warned the reader about them at all.

Now, to my credit (I think), I did kind of figure out partway into the project who my major villains would be, and there were events that happened that were tied to them.  But if you didn't know what they were doing (which the readers did not) then it still probably came off as random, unrelated incidents.

So, this morning I decided to write several "interludes" -- short scenes that established some of what is about to happen, without giving too much away.  I call them interludes because I am not constructing them like my normal stories, with a punchline ending.  Instead they're just scenes.  The first one takes place before the first story in the whole project, and tells the reader that Stella and company have an enemy who wants to corrupt her -- although I deliberately don't reveal that much about said enemy.

I wrote two of these today.  The second one happens right after Queen Sable kidnaps Stella, something that our mysterious demonic enemy was planning to do.  The third happens right after Stella is apparently kidnapped again, and includes foreshadowing for another enemy that's about to show up.  I think I need to do one about Emperor Birol too, who shows up randomly several stories later.  There needs to be a short scene in which he detects Grandpa Anarchy and decides to kill him.

Anyway I wrote the first two and part of the third, and I have at least one more to write.  I *think* these will make the whole story arc flow a lot better, but we'll see.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Did I Write That Or Not?

So I want to write a story in which Black Dahlia and company teleport directly to a demonic Dark Realm.  Now, I have Dark Dr. Dark teleport all over the place, but he's the Supreme Sorcerer of the world.  I've established in previous stories that Black Dahlia does not have the ability to teleport over long distances.  Someone else will need to do the teleporting.

The question is, who can do this?

I have a teleporter in the Daughters of Anarchy, Magical Midriff, but so far as I know she does not do long-distance teleportation.

I do remember a story in which one of the League of Former Side-Kicks, who changed their name to Miss Enigma, joins forces with Dahlia, mostly as a business venture but also they can provide teleportation powers... I think.  Or someone else working with them can.  I don't remember the specifics.

Now, the problem is that I've written over 350 Grandpa Anarchy stories.  I vaguely remember when most of them take place, but I also forget some of them completely.  So I start by looking in Book 9:  My Gun Is Sharp.  This file contains 44 stories that I wrote mostly in 2017 and early 2018.  Most of these were posted to my web site.  There are also three unfinished stories, My Gun Is Sharp, The Tremor of the Earth, and Wings of Liberty.  The latter two are stories I still want to write, about what happened to the Gentleman Brawler and about a woman who requests Black Dahlia cast a spell that gives her wings and talons.  My Gun Is Sharp was largely a story title looking for an actual story, but since it's also the title of the book file, I wanted to write something.  But when I pull it up, there's a plot about Grandpa Anarchy going back in time to convince Mummy Ra to become a hero.  That's a story that I swear I've already written, but I don't remember the actual title.

Anyway I pull up a story called The Dream Ends, and this is one of those stories that I'd completely forgotten about, but it involves Miss Enigma and others leaving the League of Former Sidekicks.  Cool!  We're on the right track!

Except... this is one of the last stories in this "book".  The few that follow it are not the story I'm looking for.

The next folder is Book 10 -- Mahou Shoujo Blues.  These are all of the stories I wrote in March and April 2018 for Magical March.  They're all magical girl stories.

The next folder is Book 11 -- Fist to the Face.   This was the "book" I was working on when I stopped writing back in the spring of 2018.  These are all generic stories, there's no overall theme, but I don't see the story I'm looking for here either.  There are only a dozen stories here, including four "hero lunch" stories, a fairy tale story that was background material for an incomplete story about the Daughters of Anarchy, and a bunch of stories about Eve the Explorer, member of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes, because I went of on a tangent and wrote a bunch of stories about that one character.

So at this point I have to ask myself, am I even remembering a finished story?  I have a LOT of unfinished stories, some which are only a few lines or an idea, some of which are very long stories that I never managed to complete or make work.  Because this was my "working" folder, I have tons of them contained within.  I have these files:

A Thousand Ninjas
Afro Futurism
Anarchy in a Box
Another Secret Crisis Wars
Bad Trip
Battle Angel Josie
Candy Heart Mech
Cannot Scream
Chief Seattle Speech
Christmas Gorilla
Cisgender Sleuth
Cranium Tyrant
Crystal Hart
Dead Man's Hand
Death Roach Kid
Die Glocke
Dork Side of the Force
Escape Goat
Ex Habitu
Fox Con
Free Mason Conspiracies
Girl Power
Heartthrob 6000 Bit
Heel Turn
Here is a Potato
High Performance Chocolate
High Sis
I Want
I'm Not Saying It's Aliens
Infinity Donnybrook
I've Seen Cosmic Horrors Beyond Man's Power to Bear
Job Qualification
Just Don't Care
Less is More
Library of Dreams
Like Sparks Off a Cat's Back
Meet Cute 2
Meet Cute 3
Meet Cute 4
Mission Briefing
Nazi Hunter
No Politics
Oceans of the Void Black Maiden Fragment
Princess - Sleeping Goblin
Princess of Miramoor
Punch 'Em All
Regifted Heart
Season of Change
Some Ideas
Stargate Extras
That Other Party Idea
The King Am I
The Pomadour'd Pamlemousse
To Punch A Hitler
Top Hats and Bustiers
Two-Fisted Santa
Tyrone the Great
What Makes A Great Villain
Wheeling and Dealing
When You're Dead
Zuzus Petals

Naturally I have other unfinished stories in other folders, so you can see how it might be difficult to find a story that I think is finished, but might not be.  ^_^

I think for NaNoWriMo, I might just reread all of my stories and take notes.  My data file on who exists in the Grandpa Anarchy Universe is largely based on the first 3 books, or about the first 100 stories or so.  It's extremely out of date.

Oh well!  Time to look some more!


So after more searching I located a story called Enigma.  This was the story I was looking for.  It details Miss Enigma joining forces with Black Dahlia to establish a much larger and cheaper gender change clinic (which was a service Black Dahlia provided for many years at a million dollars per transformation).

The part I had forgotten about in this story is that it also includes Hexcoder, an app-based spellcaster who can teleport people across the world.  So that was what I was trying to remember.  The question is, can he teleport people to a demonic realm?

The problem I had is that I have Enigma listed as story 290, and The Dream Ends as story 307.  But the second story takes place before the first, so they're in the wrong order.  I think this is the second time I had trouble finding the story Enigma because of this discrepancy, so it might be a good idea to switch the two.

However, I then read the story Miss Devastation, which is story 296, and this story also deals with Black Dahlia and the Black Moon Maidens, and it involves a demon who wishes to become a super hero joining their group.  One of the things Miss Deva can do is teleport.

It seems much more likely she would be the one to teleport the group into a demonic realm.  That's right up her alley!

I did run into a spot in one of these stories where I said that Dark Dr. Dark couldn't teleport people clear across the world, but I've shown him doing exactly that several times so I just altered the sentence to "only Dark Dr. Dark can..."  But I have another sort-of problem here, in that Miss Devastation and Enigma both deal with teleporters joining the Black Moon Maidens or otherwise becoming partners with Black Dahlia and therefore available, and both stories state or assume that Black Dahlia didn't have access to a teleporter previously.  And I'm not exactly sure which story is meant to take place first.  But I can probably solve this easily enough, since Hexcoder is not actually a member of the team and may not usually be available.

The good news is, all three of these stories are completely written, and they work.  These are the kind of Big Plot stories that change how things work in my universe that I often plot and never manage to actually write.

The bad news is... all three of these DID take time to write after I plotted them... in some cases it was many months later when I managed to finish them.

Because of this, I have a major discrepancy:  in Miss Devastation, I give a very detailed tour of the Black Moon Maidens headquarters, the gothic dress shop Pandora's Closet, and Black Dahlia doing her magic gender transformation thing.  It's very clear that she has not yet made any deal with Hexcoder and Miss Enigma.

In Enigma, I state that Black Dahlia does not have the ability to teleport across the world.  Based on this, Miss Deva is not a member of the team yet.  (Or more likely, I need to explain why she's not available at the moment).

This is the kind of thing that happens when I plot stories that have important future connotations, and then fail to write them in a timely manner.  I still haven't written most of Second Class, where the Black Moon Maidens add a second team of heroes, even though that's a very important fact that affects all future stories.

(In point of fact, I've been writing my current stories on the assumption that Shaman Sally was not a member of any team and had thus joined Blues Summoner Stella's new magical girl group, the American Mahou Shoujo Association of Frosthaven -- but then in Miss Devastation it's stated that she is a member of the Black Moon Maidens second team led by Nina Ballerina.  See?  I didn't remember that because I haven't actually written the story!  Now I need to explain why she left, or is in two groups at once.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ancient Cosmic Horrors (Writing Update)

Here's what I've managed in the past week or so:

1.  Split Ghost and Shadows into two stories.  The first I titled Shadow Magic, and the second I re-titled Soul of the Matter.

2.  Wrote a new story set much earlier in the timeline called Double Trouble.  It turned out much different than I intended.  This required a bit of a rewrite for Purpose.

3.  Inserted a bit into my first story, Goodwill Ambassador, that establishes that Grandpa Anarchy has been told he will encounter an Ancient Cosmic Horror.  This is meant as a bit of a maguffin, since he and the others encounter multiple things that might apply.  I'm hoping it kind of ties things together a bit.  This involved rewriting most of my stories slightly to include references to this thing.

4.  Did some more rewriting to change dialog for Kin Katy, who says effin' a lot.

5.  Finished my idea for a confrontation which had the working title of Throne Room.  I wrote an entirely new opening for it from the POV of one of the villains, based on what I'd come up with for Double Trouble.  The final story was called Witch Queen of Titan.  I had proposed Witch of Titan as a good title for a story at some point, and it works here, although it was originally meant to refer to Queen Sable and now it refers to someone else.

6.  Almost immediately rewrote Witch Queen of Titan.  My first ending was to incorporate my Villain Emporium plan, in which about five or six different villains all show up at once.  This made the story really long and gave it an ending that was drawn out and had no punch at all.  After some consideration, I decided to go for a more dramatic, explosive ending (literally).  I don't know that it's funny but it has punch.

7.  Rewrote my ending yet again with the idea that it was all supposed to be from the POV of that one villain.  I think it also works better that way.

8.  Based on my new ending, I sketched out several follow-up stories as my cast of characters wind up in three or four different directions.  The first of these was Dark Teatime, which I finished yesterday.

9.  Today I finished Realm of Magic.  This was based on the idea that Candy Valentine can visit the realm from which her magical girl magic comes.  It was created by a wish from a magic ring containing  djinn, and it exists soley for her.  I had some ideas about what it was like, and how she and Katy and others could visit there after a big battle and get healed... but it took me a while to come up with a way to invert the whole idea, to make it more than just a friendly fairytale realm where everything is sugar and spice, because the way it was going up to that point, there would be no big surprise or twist ending, and I'm not sure the story would be interesting otherwise.  But I like what I came up with.

10.  Right now I have story titles that I want to work on, and I have ideas in my head for what should happen next.  Grandpa Anarchy is dead but will be revived.  I'm not sure that's a story in and of itself.  Dark Dr. Dark will retrieve him, so he can go anywhere after that.  Queen Sable and Stella are in Los Angeles with Black Dahlia and Danielle the goth store sales clerk, and several others have just arrived in Los Angeles.  Some people are still on Titan but the palace may have collapsed, or they may be battling a giant robot named Emperor Birol.  They might have teleported somewhere else, or perhaps only Prince Onyx did and the others need to be rescued.  I haven't decided if the girls in the Realm of Magic have to return to Titan also, or if they can choose to reappear on earth somewhere (like, maybe Los Angeles).  At some point Sailor Io visits Black Dahlia's gender change clinic, but I'm not sure yet if that can work as a story by itself.  I had plans for another character to be in this story, but now that won't happen.

I still have the whole Villain Emporium idea that I haven't really done anything with, and I have a lot of bits from several stories that I chopped out but saved possibly for later.  All of the extra bits from Realm of Magic got saved to a file that is currently titled Ancient Cosmic Horror Tea.  I may use some of it on a story about the girls leaving the Realm of Magic.  We'll see.

After some thought on the whole thing, here's what I've come up with.  My next stories are:

363  Disaster Station (working title)  This starts with Grandpa Anarchy and Dark Dr. Dark, and moves back to Titan where a battle ensues, and one of the actors from my Villain Emporium plot appears.

365  Scattered Seeds (working title)  This covers the people in Los Angeles, and possibly a visit from the demon Queen Sapphire.

366  Ancient Cosmic Horror Tea (really bad working title)  This would be the girls returning from the Realm of Magic.  I have some ideas about what needs to happen but I'm not sure where this is ultimately going.  One idea is that they return to Titan and there's no one there and nothing left but rubble.

367  Girls will be Girls  I still need to fit in this bit somewhere, but I don't know if there's a story to build around yet.

345  Goodwill Ambassador
346  Totally Like Sailor Moon
347  Motivation
348  Dark Kingdom
349 Double Trouble
350  Vlog Slog
351  Purpose
352  Out of Phaeton
353  Starchild
354  Trapped on Titan
355  Space Opera
356  Here Be Dragons
357  Shadow Magic
358  Soul of the Matter
359  Ring Thing
360  Wish Upon A Moon
361  Witch Queen of Titan
362  Dark Teatime
363  (Untitled)
364  Realm of Magic

Still working on:

Disaster Station
Scattered Seeds
Ancient Cosmic Horror Tea
Girls With Be Girls
Villain Emporium

Monday, September 16, 2019

September Writing Update

Completed Stories Since August:

345  Goodwill Ambassador
346  Totally Like Sailor Moon
347  Motivation
348  Dark Kingdom
349  Vlog Slog
350  Purpose
351  Out of Phaeton
352  Starchild
353  Trapped on Titan
354  Space Opera
355  Incident on Titan
356  Ghosts and Shadows
357  Ring Thing
358  Wish Upon A Moon

Working Titles:

Probably Something About Shadows (part 1 of Ghosts and Shadows)
Probably Something About Ghosts or Souls (part 2 of Ghosts and Shadows)
Stella's Story
Throne Room
Villain Emporium
Witch of Titan
Girls Will Be Girls
Goodwill Tour Fairyland

It's Monday, Sept 16 2019.  In the first half of September, this is what I've managed:

I came up with an idea that there had been a Grandpa Anarchy musical, and that one of the characters should sing part of it.  I came up with some lyrics, and a title of the musical, and who wrote it.  I stuck it into the beginning of Ghosts and Shadows, and then I had to face the reality that said story was already possibly three stories in one, and I was inserting yet another thing that had nothing to do with any of the plots.  I had:

1.  A confrontation with a shadow creature outside the castle, which I glossed over so quickly that it either didn't need to be there, or I needed to expand it into its own story.

2.  A discussion about whether Girlbot 9000 was a cyborg or not.  This was part of a working title called Ghost In The Machine that I wound up working in to Ghosts and Shadows.

3.  A discussion about whether souls exist or not.  This kind of spun out of #2, but became the central conceit of the story Ghosts and Shadows when I rewrote the ending.

4.  Possibly an entirely new plot about an old Grandpa Anarchy musical?

I have yet to resolve the first three, but I like my new ending for Ghosts and Shadows so what I want to do is rewrite the beginning into another story about a battle with shadow creatures, and then tighten up Ghosts and Shadows to be more centrally about the question of whether people have souls.  As for the whole cyborg vs robot question, I don't know what I'll do with that.  Leave it for a later story I suppose.

In the meantime, I took the bit about a musical and spun that out into its own story, Space Opera.  I also established that there had been two different musicals, one a rock opera that Grandpa Anarchy doesn't like, and that there had also been a Mister Anarchy radio drama in the late 1940's.

I came up with two story ideas that delved into the past of Blues Summoner Stella and Candy Valentine.  I haven't worked on the first, but the second turned into a story called Ring Thing, which fits right after the ending of Ghosts and Shadows.

I wanted to develop the motivations of Queen Sable more, and I didn't like how Trapped On Titan went, so I wrote a new introduction to her called Purpose.  I then rewrote Trapped on Titan, and I like both of these stories much better than what I had previously.  This gives me hope that my plan to rewrite Ghosts and Shadows will work out well too.

Last night I came up with another story that takes place at almost the same time as Ring Thing.  I called it Wish Upon a Moon.  I haven't decided if it really works or not, but that means I finished a story on Sunday to go with the one I finished on Friday, and I've technically written five stories this month -- four new ones, and a completely rewritten Trapped on Titan.

After all of this, I STILL haven't gotten to the confrontation scene in the throne room -- which actually won't be a confrontation scene, but that's what I was writing towards for the last 25 or 30 days....

Recent tweets about my writing:

Aug 30 
And once again I'm thinking about the stories I've been working on this month, and my inability to write actual stories and develop characters in the way that I want.
I did finish Ghost and Shadows, and it's a complete story now but I don't like it. 
Just for one example, there's a character in OPM who is called Steel Bat, because he's kind of a street thug who swings a metal bat.  Really simple character. 
But he has a younger sister that he's very devoted to, and this comes up several times.  It's one of his defining character points.
In my own stories, I wrote up detailed backgrounds on each of the four main characters in my magical girl group.  But it occurred to me that I don't even know if any of them have siblings.  They can't ALL be only children, right?
I'm just really bad at this stuff sometimes.  :P
Another thing I think I'm bad at -- heroes need a chance to shine.  Each hero has their own strengths they bring to a situation.  Too often I don't give you a reason to cheer for the hero.
I mean, I'm mostly trying to write 1,500 word short stories with a funny ending, but I need to be able to include some of that stuff as well.

Sep 3
I didn't write most of the weekend but last night I finally worked on one of the two stories I plotted out on Friday.  This one is currently titled Genie of the Ring, but since that gives away the surprise I'll have to rename it.

Sep 8
So I've written only one story in the first 8 days of September, and I don't even like it.
This weekend I tried to take one of my complete stories and tear it apart and write two new stories from that.  Trying to figure out how many stories I'm actually telling.
But after I cannibalized and sabotaged my story to try and pare it down to what I thought was "essential", I find that I still hate the results, and what I thought would be a good ending isn't.
Then I watch some anime and I'm like, why can't my characters be more dynamic?
I'm trying to get there but I keep missing the target.
Anyway I now have this story called Sense of Purpose that is about half of what the story Trapped On Titan was, but there's no good ending yet, and I don't know how to reconstruct what's left into another story.

Sep 9
Rewrote "Sense of Purpose" and I think I like it now, except for I can't figure out an ending.  Also it doesn't address a lot of points that I want to address but which don't really fit into this story, so... maybe I need to write yet another story after this.

Sep 12
Today I finished a story I titled Purpose.  The ending that I came up with involved Dark Dr. Dark suddenly appearing, and I think I like the results.
This was a story that I split off from Trapped On Titan, because like many of my "short" stories...
...the first draft of that one was going in too many direction at once.
So next I rewrote Trapped On Titan, and I think I managed to make that one work better as well.
So!  Time to go back and rework Ghosts and Shadows, which is what I was doing last week, right?
Well the thing is, I remembered that I wanted to separate the first part and the second part of that story into two separate tales.
They fight a shadow creature, and the fight was short and sweet and not very dramatic because I was working on an idea wrapped around Girlbot 9000, and the fact that Magical Girl Kin Katy doesn't believe in humans having souls.  (Girlbot 9000 is a ghost inhabiting a robot.)
So this by itself is possibly 2 different stories, one about whether Girlbot 9000 qualifies as a robot or a cyborg, or neither, and another about whether people really have souls.
I like the punchline for the second idea and I had leaned more in that direction.
But I had also realized that maybe they were breaking into the castle too easily, and they should have to fight more than one little shadow creature.
And I should make a bigger deal of Sailor Europa being able to destroy said shadow creatures with her light magic.
And I should play up the idea that Grandpa wants to punch them, but he's wearing a space suit and his Gloves of the Void are in a pocket inside the space suit.  So, you know, he should have put them over his gloves after he donned the suit.  This annoys him.
So that's like... possibly 3 stories instead of one.
But then I pulled up the story and I realized that I had ALSO tossed in a bit where Kin Katy sings lines from a Grandpa Anarchy musical.
The problem with this is, it's apropos of nothing in particular and doesn't contribute to this story, and since my story already is possibly three different stories in one, I had no business trying to shove something like this in as well.
BUT!  When I reread this tonight, I remembered!  I had started a story last week called Space Opera, which took place a bit earlier and dealt with the whole Grandpa Anarchy musical thing.
Also, the details got a lot more complicated.
There was a musical called The Grandpa Anarchy Opera:  Fists Against Darkness in 1986.
There was also a musical called Zero Hour Anarchy written in the late 1960's, but thought to be incomplete until the completed manuscript was discovered after the author's death in 74.
The 67/74 musical is pretty bad.  But Grandpa Anarchy likes it, and he hates the 1986 one, partly because the 1986 one is a rock opera.
Tangent to this, there was also a radio show called the Mister Anarchy Radio Show which ran from 1946 to 1950.
All this is stuff I came up with just so I could have someone make a joke about space opera by singing an opera (musical) song while in space, and then Grandpa could explain how the term Space Opera descends from Soap Opera, which described radio dramas that mostly sold soap.
(The Mister Anarchy Radio Show was supported in part by Atomic White Detergent, made by the W.H. Detergent Company in Frosthaven NJ, where Grandpa's from.)
This is the part where I point out that you can create a lot of backstory information and then maybe 2 lines or so make it into your story.  But I did write a cool intro that is the last scene from the last episode of the Mister Anarchy Radio Show.
And then, you know, a week later I'd completely forgotten I'd written any of this stuff, because I never managed to finish it.
The real struggle is between how quickly can I get to my possible ending, vs. how much of all of this backstory detail can I manage to cram in first.
(The answer is:  probably not much, especially not very much of the partial song lyrics I've come up with.)
So in short... I need to finish "Space Opera" so that I can  rewrite Ghosts and Shadows into A) Story about fighting the shadow creatures and B) story about Katy not buying that she has a soul.
And possibly C) story about whether Girlbot 9000 is a robot or what.
I'm not sure that last one is a real story.  At the moment it doesn't seem to drive any overarching plot.  But then, Space Opera probably doesn't either.  :P

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Trying to Find an Ending

It's Aug 27th and for over a week I've been stuck trying to finish a story called (at the moment) Ghosts and Shadows.  I composed this little rundown of my problems with this story as a series of tweets, but then I decided to rewrite it as a journal entry.  I don't do enough journal entries -- I've even tweeted at least a couple of times about my recent writing successes and struggles, but I haven't updated this journal in 18 days.

This is my 10th story of the month, part of a series of connected stories where Grandpa Anarchy sets off on an adventure with a new team of magical girls (well, former magical girls, they're all in their twenties now).  They were supposed to be introduced to other magical girl teams and superhero teams around the world, but the story quickly turned into a rescue mission to the moon of Titan orbiting Saturn, because things happening is more interesting.

Part of what I've done over the last 18 days is to rewrite these stories, add dialog, set up future plots, develop character a bit, change story titles, and even insert one story before several other stories I'd already written.  I tweeted about some of this.  As of now, here's what I have:

345  Goodwill Ambassador
346  Totally Like Sailor Moon
347  Motivation
348  Dark Kingdom
349  Vlog Slog
350  Trapped on Titan
351  Out of Phaeton
352  Starchild
353  Incident on Titan
354  Ghosts and Shadows

proposed stories:

Villain Emporium
Throne Room
Girls Will Be Girls
Goodwill Tour Fairyland

So!  I managed to write nine stories that culminated with them landing on Titan.  None of these stories really has a great punchline, I think, but all of them are passable I guess.  The next step was to detail how they enter the evil queen's castle/lair.

That's what happens next, but that's not necessarily a story itself.  A straightforward break-in and confront the villain doesn't sound like a Grandpa Anarchy story.  So, what's my angle?

I'd also been trying to work on the various characters, and when I'd come to Girlbot 9000, I'd written a long dialog about whether she was a robot or a cyborg.  I called this Ghost in the Machine, because that's literally what she is -- a ghost inhabiting a robot.

The ghost is an old hero named Freem Beam.  He had his body "confiscated" or taken away by aliens, and existed for several years as a disembodied personality.  So he's a ghost or spirit, right?  Isn't that what a ghost or a spirit is?  Well... maybe.  He wasn't a ghost because he'd died -- it was something highly advanced aliens had done to him.  The question is, is she a robot or a cyborg?  And really I don't know.  I'd say she's not a cyborg, there's no physical part of her that is human.  But she's more than just a robot.

For the opposing view, I picked Magical Girl Kin Katy, who I decided did not believe in the existence of souls.  She was a particularly good choice for this point of view because of her own background.  She was created when someone interfaced with an online game that was also an emerging alternate reality -- so she's a mental clone of the person who was playing the game, in a body designed by the game.  She's an MMO avatar come to life.  But the original person still exists.  So, does she have a soul?  How does an MMO game create a soul?  It's not programmed to do that.

In her mind, there's no such thing as a soul.

I wanted to spin this dialog into a story and decided to marry it to the actions of the group breaking into the evil queen's castle on Titan.  I even used Girlbot 9000's unique circumstances to help them get in.  Freem Beam exits the robot body, passes through the walls, and is able to trigger the opening of the airlock.

I liked that, but that itself didn't resolve the argument over man vs. machine or ghost vs. no ghost.  So I came up with a giant stone golem creature for them to fight, and had Freem Beam inhabit that.

And... that wasn't really an ending either, and also didn't seem very suspenseful.

I've been stuck at that point ever since.

I keep trying to imagine what about this would lead to a good ending.  Working from the angle of what they're doing -- breaking into the castle -- I came up with very little.  I could make the confrontation with the golem more interesting and suspenseful, I could have them battle other creatures, but none of that is driving any story narrative.

The central conceit of the story as constructed is the argument is over whether souls exist or not.  I hadn't really resolved the argument -- so, how could I do that in an interesting or funny or surprising way?

One idea I had early on, that I initially dismissed, was to have Magical Girl Kin Katy die.  She's the person who insists she doesn't have a soul, so if she exist as a ghost for a while and STILL refuse to believe she has a soul, that could be funny.  (And to be honest, I think that's the direction I need to go -- just writing this down has convinced me.)

I also had this idea for a random different villain to show up.  In two of the previous stories I'd detailed how Grandpa had raised, or how people he knew had raised, several different "super babies" from destroyed home worlds.  Two or three of them had left earth to become interstellar heroes, so it suddenly occurred to me that, having mentioned these people, I could now have them show up randomly.  Why not?

My idea was to have an interstellar superhero team lead by Super Joe (one of the kids Grandpa sort of raised) show up chasing an interstellar villain, who shows up randomly in the hallway of this castle on the moon of Titan where Grandpa Anarchy is because, why not?  And I imagined it being some kind of Edritch horror from outer space, which lead to me spending a couple of days rereading The Colour Out of Space, which gave me all sorts of ideas for a completely unrelated story that I could write, but didn't really lead to any kind of breakthrough on this particular story I was working on.

I also had dropped a reference in the previous story to an alien robot that Grandpa Anarchy had once fought on a moon around Neptune, with the idea that he'd show up later.  So what if he showed up almost immediately?  This spun off in my head into a series of random villain encounters that could happen one right after the other -- such as the mother of Tia Anne showing up to try and kidnap her daughter (she'd have to be a pretty bad person for them to resist returning a daughter to her mother, of course).  Anyway, all of this I wrote up as a possible separate story because it was far too much to append to the story I was working on.

I considered for a couple of days, trying to think about what funny or surprising thing could happen that would lead to a good ending.  Maybe I needed to scrap most of what I'd written and go back to the point where they're trying to figure out how to get into the castle.  They're stranded on a distant ice moon with no breathable atmosphere, hundreds of millions of miles from earth.  What funny or outrageous thing could happen?

I thought, what if a door to door salesman showed up?  You know, maybe he's a demonic door to door salesman.  Or maybe there's a demonic or inter-dimensional pizza delivery guy.  I like those ideas, they're weird, but they didn't immediately suggest a way to end the story.

Anyway, as I already noted, just writing this out has convinced me of how the story should actually end.  ^_^

Friday, August 9, 2019

Magical Girl Adventures on Titan

No sooner did July end than I actually began to write the stories that I'd planned to write a month ago.

This was intended to be a series of stories involving Grandpa Anarchy and company travelling around the world, being introduced to all of the international heroes and super groups that Grandpa knows.  But as usual things went off the rails almost immediately.  To begin with, since it was a magical girl group that was being introduced to everyone, I thought to reread all of the magical girl stories I wrote for March 2018.

Thanks to this, I decided to set my second story in Denver, CO, where a group of four magical girls who greatly resemble the Sailor Senshi now operate.  And since this was a meeting with them, I decided to have their enemy Queen Sable of Titan intervene.

This led to several stories  where the group flies out into space to the moon Titan, orbiting Saturn.  At this point I think I will be on story seven before the group even gets to the point where they meet a second super group.  >.>

How this all unfolds is a bit convoluted as usual.  My first story, Goodwill Ambassador, was largely written in July, but I managed to finish it in early August.  The second story was titled Just Like Sailor Moon (I'm not too attached to any of these titles though).  In this one I decided they would meet with the Europa Sailor Senshi of Denver.  But what could happen during this meeting, I wondered?  What if their enemy Queen Sable attacked?  What if she kidnapped someone?  That seemed to work and add some drama and a direction to go in, so I went with it.

I penned a third story called Dark Kingdom, which takes place during their fight to Titan about the Anarchy Saucer.  Then I began writing a story about their confrontation with Queen Sable on Titan.  But at this point things were bogging down a bit, and I had to ask myself, why did Queen Sable kidnap this person?  What was her motivation?  And for that matter, isn't that the very question the heroes would ask first?

This led to a bit of backtracking as I wrote a story that takes place immediately after the kidnapping, so that it happens before Dark Kingdom.  It also led to some rewriting of Dark Kingdom, and some new writing on Battle on Titan, my working title for the fourth (now fifth) story.  I've also sketched in a sixth story, and a seventh (where they will actually meet another group).

I have various bits and pieces of other stories that will take place afterwards, but I think the meeting with the second group will also involve several stories and a side quest.  And I want to create an overarching plot that ties everything together, and I have some ideas along those lines but I haven't really written much of that down just yet.

Anyway, for today I've finished a story I titled Motivation, which is story 347.  As of now my new stories look like this:

345  Goodwill Ambassador
346  Just Like Sailor Moon
347  Motivation
348  Dark Kingdom

in progress:

349  Battle on Titan (working title)
350  Girls Will Be Girls (working title)

Goodwill Tour Fairyland Stop
Ghost In The Machine
In Oz

I also came up with a new story idea that is independant of this current arc, which involves Chinese surveillance equipment in the Anarchy mansion being used by a Chinese villain to spy on Grandpa Anarchy.  I titled it Fox Con for now.  It's kind of a nebulous idea but at the same time, I think I can envision how the entire story should go -- I just need to figure out the exact details like who the Chinese villain is.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Another Camp NaNoWriMo, Another Fail

It's August 1st.  Camp NaNoWriMo for July is passed, and once again I failed to meet my goals.

My original goal was to create an international superhero a day, but this morphed into a planned series of short stories in which Grandpa Anarchy traveled around the world meeting with international heroes and super groups that he already knew, and introducing them to the members of a new super group whose stated goal was to aid and support magical girls.  To this end I wrote most of a first story, and a partial scene for another story, and jotted down notes for 2-3 more stories.  But I didn't complete anything and I got bogged down in working on the back stories of my four former magical girls who made up the super group.  The end result is that I did write some stuff, but not nearly the 20,000 words I set out to write.

This is a common theme for me because I once again have outlined a series of stories that might fill a book, so I placed all of these in a folder called "Book 15 - Just One Punch".  The name of the folder was chosen previously as just a name for a new book once I got to that point, so it doesn't really have anything to do with the stories I put in there.  So basically I have another potential book that's not written.  I have a lot of these -- Book 7 - Serial Anarchy is a planned novel with serial chapters with cliffhangers; Book 12 - The Companions is a planned novel with stories of Kid Anarchy in the 1920's and his various super powered companions; Book 13 - Magical Girl Deathmatch is a planned novel involving a magical girl smartphone rpg that kills people (totally stealing the germ of that idea from a series of light novels, but with a Grandpa Anarchy twist of course); and Book 14 - Anarchy on Vacation was what I ultimately planned to do a year ago for Camp NaNoWriMo in July, a story about Grandpa Anarchy taking a vacation, but with a secret goal to investigate the demon behind the ring that his wife used to use and that his grand-niece now uses.

I don't know when I'll manage to write all of this, considering I haven't written much of anything in the last year, but right now I'm still in the headspace for my magical girl/international hero story, and I've been rereading the stories I wrote back in March 2018 when I was writing a magical girl story a day.  They're better than I remembered -- but the problem is that I'd started working on a document that listed each magical girl and described them, and then as the month went along I got sloppy about it, so it was never finished.  Which is a lot like the document about the 30+ international heroes that I was working on last month, or the document detailing the new super group of former magical girls.  :P

For now, I'm going to continue reading my March 2018 stories, my "Book 10 - Mahou Shoujo Blues" collection.  I'm making minor story corrections and I'm working on filling out the document that details each magical girl, so I can reference them easily when I want to use them again.  That was where I ran into this in the first place -- I wanted to use them in my stories where Grandpa goes around introducing this new super group, and I really didn't have a good writeup on everything.