Today I finished off Future Me, which started with a visit and warning from a future Grandpa Anarchy, and a corresponding rant from present-day Grandpa Anarchy, who is really tired of this high-and-mighty future self telling him what not to do.
He's always going on about causality, but that don't stop him from popping back here night and day to warn me about things. He really burns my britches. I'll tell you one thing, when I'm the guy from the future warning my past self about stuff, I'm not going to tell me anything either! See how I like them apples!
One of the main reasons I wanted to write this story goes back to my rewrite of Remember This. In that story, Future Grandpa Anarchy comes to warn him not to kill Carnival Act, even though he richly deserves it after committing one of the greatest terrorist acts the world has yet seen. The thing was, the story wasn't funny. It was my first Grandpa Anarchy story and I hadn't really gotten a handle on how I wanted to write him yet. Later, when I had a similar situation in Two-Fisted Christmas Ghost Story, I knew what the appropriate response should be:
"Beware!" the corpse moaned, shaking its chains. "I've come to warn you, Theodore Harold "Paul" Smith. You will be visited by three ghosts this night...."
"Cripes," Grandpa said. "Again?"
The ghost paused. It looked confused. "This has happened to you before?"
Grandpa Anarchy is ancient. He's been fighting crime for decades. He's the living embodiment of the pulp hero who never dies. Of course he's done this all before! And that should have been his response to seeing his future self as well: not you again! So when I did the rewrite, I added that in. It needed to be funnier, and it needed to be more true to the series, and that accomplished both goals.
So I was thinking, ok, he's been warned by his future self several times, at least. He must get tired of it. And before I knew it I'd written the above rant along with a few other bits of dialog and saved it as the file Future Me. I decided to set this at the scene of a garage sale where Grandpa is trying to get rid of all the stuff that his past sidekicks have built for him, which he never uses. That's pretty much what the Anarchy Cave is for, to hold all of this junk. He tries to sell something and his Future Self shows up to warn him not to. That was the basis of my new story idea.
When I started working on this story again, I decided to toss in several more things. I wanted to write a bit with Popeye Khan, an important character from Grandpa Anarchy's past who has been mentioned more than once but has never appeared "on screen". I had recently decided that he was the founder and leader of the Archons of Excellence, a group that began as a throwaway line in the story The Magic Knight:
“I am not evil,” the wizard snapped. “Now shut up and listen. Mr. Anarchy, according to legend only you can save my world. You must first fulfill several quests....”
“Quests?” Grandpa frowned. “Hey look, I didn't sign up for no quests. I'm not missing Thursday night pinochle with the Archons of Excellence just because you guys can't get your act together on your own.”
I had also decided that the Bronze Beach Bum was a member of this group, and, casting about for a third member, I created a Jamaican hero who I named Dread to Rights. Most of what I have in my Anarchy World History file is taken straight from the stories -- as in the above example, I frequently make history up on the spot while writing, and only add it to my files afterwards, but in a few cases such as this I've created characters and groups that have never actually been written about or mentioned in any of my stories. So here I had a chance to describe Dread to Rights and have him say a few things, and use Bronze Beach Bum again. And another idea: Grandpa recently released Sun Wukong the Monkey King from suspended animation, so why not have Grandpa introduce him to the group? Why not have him join the group? If the Avengers can have Thor as a member, surely my Archons of Excellence can have the greatest hero of Chinese legend.
I had two more ideas: I had established that OmiGen was a company just a few blocks from the Anarchy Mansion that routinely had scientific geniuses who became supervillains, often after experimenting on themselves (my nod to Oscorp from Spiderman). I'd written the story OmniGen Again around this idea, but I wanted to use the whole idea several more times to firmly establish it in the Grandpa Anarchy cannon. I had already written up a number if silly/generic scientists-turned-villain for later use, one of the few other examples of my having names in my world history files of people who hadn't actually appeared in a story yet. If I was having a garage sale at the mansion, why not have OmniGen's current scientific genius stop by?
One other idea I wanted to explore was this: who is Natural Twenty? In my story There Ain't No Justice I had decided at the last minute to toss in a geeky sidekick for Grandpa Anarchy, and I'm still not sure if it was a good idea, but the prosecuting attorney was an alien who was described as having a squid-like head, but I really wanted to make the connection to the D&D mindflayer more obvious, because a mindflayer lawyer just seemed like a scary idea all around. My problem was that neither Grandpa Anarchy nor Bronze Beach Bum were likely to know what a mindflayer was. At the same time, I was writing a story that didn't apparently have a sidekick in it -- and while I've written others like that, they're few and far between. So i decided that Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick Natural Twenty was there to call the prosecution attorney a mindflayer lawyer. It was one throwaway line, the name of the sidekick hinted at their D&D Geek credentials, but I didn't even describe them because it really had no relevance to the story.
I wanted to more fully introduce this character, and Future Me seemed like a good opportunity. The problem was that that this story happened soon after City of the Monkey God, with the appearance of Sun Wukong. That meant that Grandpa Anarchy's current sidekick was now Ravella the Traveler, a girl adventurer who was sort of a nod to "Dora the Explorer" (and maybe a nod to Laura Croft too, I don't know). There Ain't No Justice happens before City of the Monkey God. So what's the solution to this problem? Easy: Grandpa lost Natural Twenty somewhere on the trip back to Earth from intergalactic court, and then hired a new sidekick. Later, Natural Twenty showed up again, and so Grandpa Anarchy has two sidekicks at the moment.
Now, all of this stuff going on at once made for a very crowed story, but at the same time it made for a fun mix of chaos. I like Grandpa Anarchy stories that are chaotic and it's hard to get your bearings. So I tossed it all together, and by the time I was done I felt pretty good about the story I'd crafted, but there was a lot of dialog and stuff that simply got cut, and this included the entire explanation for why both Ravella and Natural Twenty were there. At best, I was able to get a description in for Natural Twenty, so now we know just a bit more about her. But in the interest of brevity and keeping things funny and to the point, I had to cut out stuff.
I did the same thing with City of the Monkey God, and there was so much stuff left over that I saved it all in a separate file named "Monkey Parts". I took all of the leftover bits from Future Me and added it to the same file. I don't know if there's anything in there I can salvage for any later story, but for now I didn't just want to delete lines of dialog that I thought were funny or helped explain some things.
Hopefully my stories are stronger for the fact that there's more going on than I can actually fit into the story itself. I don't know if that's really true or not, and it's hard to be objective about stories I've only just written. Anyway, I managed to finish a new story today, and I'm happy about that.
2013 Writing Goal of writing one Grandpa Anarchy Story a week Update:
Jan 19: DarkFireDragonNinja (begun several years ago)
Jan 24: OmniGen Again (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25: Veteran of the Bone Wars (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29: Nemesis (begun Dec 10)
Jan 31: Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3: There Ain't No Justice (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5: City of the Monkey God (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7: Future Me (begun Jan 31)