Wednesday, July 31, 2013
I wasn't very satisfied with There Be Whales, and upon further thought, it occurred to me that I had perhaps two stories going on at once, or enough material for two different stories.
One story involved Grandpa and his sidekick in space with Jenny Nova and her friend Llahna, stopping to investigate a distress signal and meeting some pirates. In the original story the pirate captain is somebody Grandpa knows, and he had a crew of robot cowboy samurai pirates.
The second story involves who Grandpa's sidekick is -- Scientifically Curious Nikko, who is one part science fiction horror movie scientist, one part Curious George, and one part Oz-style flying monkey. I don't really explain how he came to be Grandpa's sidekick, but the ending of the story turns on his scientific curiosity and his desire to study the giant space whale that's about to eat them.
What I decided was that There Be Whales would be much shorter and work much better if the whole point of the story were a scientific expedition to discover and study space whales. I may be able to work in the back story of how Nikko and Grandpa met, too. But if I remove everything dealing with the emergency beacon and the pirates, I'll have a shorter, stronger story.
I created a second story file called Triple Aaar, which would be all the bits that I'm taking out of There Be Whales. Grandpa and company respond to a distress signal, discover the pirate ship, and... well, I don't know, exactly. I kind of want to explore the robot cowboy samurai pirate angle, and was thinking that each member of the crew was a different combination of "cool" things, such as nazi zombie hobo pirate or vampire ninja catgirl pirate. There seems to be some joke material there, but I don't know how far I can push it, since I really haven't found the punchline to the whole story yet. I mean, obviously one possibility is they fix the ship's engine, and then the pirates hold them up -- but that's way too obvious to be a surprise. So I'm still thinking about it.
I was really hoping to get the story done today too, but I haven't worked on it enough. I wanted another story to count against my July total, but maybe tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Today's editing project was There Be Whales. Only I'm not sure what, if anything is wrong with it -- other than it seems much longer than it probably should be. But reading through it tonight, I didn't find much that I wanted to chop out. I cut a few short sections and tightened it up a bit, but on the whole I like how the story ends, and most of what's in the story... I'm just not sure if it really works at the current length, even after I chopped it down a bit. I cut it from 2,891 words to 2,551 words... still quite long for one of my silly Grandpa Anarchy stories. Probably too long, but meh. I think I need someone else's opinion on it at this point.
Anyway, I gave it an attempted rewrite.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Depending on how you look at it, I rewrote five or six stories last week. Monday I rewrote Dancepocalypse. On Tuesday I reworked Stone Temple Space Raiders. On Wednesday I rewrote Soldier's Men, and on Thursday I rewrote Dig My Grave. Then on Friday I rewrote Dig My Grave again, and in the evening began a rewrite of Fryer Out of Time, which is in theory the sequel to Dig My Grave. I finished that rewrite Saturday night.
Sunday I did nothing. But another thing I did on Saturday was take a couple of simple steps towards publishing a Grandpa Anarchy book. I selected thirty stories that I would like to include in a a first book of Grandpa Anarchy stories, and I placed them in a folder in my drop box so that friends can help me edit them. I only really talked to Chuck about this since he was the one that told me I still had time to do a book -- but it will be best if I can get help from several others also.
My tentative story list would include the first eight stories that I wrote before last November (all of which I've read at Writer's Night) and then a selection of the next twenty-some stories. I removed World of Hero because it's one of my longest stories and one of the least-ready to publish, but I included the Amethyst Road stories even though they're probably not publishable as is either. But they do include Circuit Boy, who appears in two other stories that would be in the book.
Of the other stories included, I've read Shadow Over Scranton, Stone Temple Space Raiders, and Two-Fisted Christmas Ghost Story at Writer's Night. Of those I haven't read, I'm quite certain that Roasted and Mostless In Capertown work as is, and probably Turncoats and Double Trouble. The list also includes the very recently rewritten Dancepocalypse, Stone Temple Space Raiders, Soldier's Men and Dig My Grave.
That leaves a few stories that I either know have problems or at least need to be tightened up a bit -- There Be Whales, Contract, Supper Soldier, Nemesis, My Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal... and the story I rewrote today, Sex Slaves of Sirix Alpha Six.
Sex Slaves was a fun story built around 50's science fiction tropes, but it was, like many of the stories I wrote back in November 2012, a story without a strong (or surprising, or funny) ending. I reworked it today, tightening it up and giving it a very different ending, and I think it probably works better now. Well, I know it works better, but I'm not sure how much better.
I should probably look at There Be Whales tomorrow, since that involves some of the same characters. But having glanced through it yesterday, I have to say that I already like how it ends so it may need nothing more than tightening up.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Today's project... was actually the same as yesterday's. This morning I had a breakthrough on the idea of reworking Deep Fat Fryer. What if he weren't simply a friar, but a black gospel-style preacher who dressed like a fryer and preached the gospel of setting zombies on fire?
Suddenly the character clicked in my mind, so I spent the day reworking Dig My Grave. Again.
From here I clearly need to rewrite any other story in which Deep Fat Fryer appears. To the best of my memory that is World of Hero, which I'm in the process of rewriting anyway, and Fryer Out of Time. I had the impression that Fryer Out of Time was one of my more pointless stories, but rereading it, it actually works better than Dig My Grave did before I rewrote it. I can rework it pretty easily, I think.
"Have I told you my origin story -- the reason I hate Doctor Totengräber?" asked Deep Fat Fryer. "Brother Anarchy, have I told you how I was saved?"Deep Fat Fryer was, like Grandpa Anarchy, a member of the League of Two-Fisted Justice. He was a burly black man in a bright red robe decorated with sequins and golden flames -- the sort of thing Friar Tuck might wear if he were a member of Funkadelic.Grandpa, dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit and fedora, punched a corpse. It was like hitting uncooked turkey, and had the same effect. The zombie, stitched together from parts of different bodies, swung an arm which the old man easily avoided."Yes," said Grandpa, swinging at the zombie again. "I was there. I don't need to....""God has given you a gun, Brother Anarchy!" exclaimed Fryer. "Use it!"With one clawed paw, the third member of their team tore the zombie's head from its shoulders. She growled softly. Dog Is My Copilot was a young girl with a dog's head. She had gray fur and a bushy tail, and wore a plaid skirt of blue and white and a blue jacket. She was one of the better sidekicks Grandpa had had in years.The three were in a brick-walled tunnel. Mold and slime covered the walls. Putrid green water pooled in the center of the passage. Rusting pipes and valve flow wheels jutted from the walls."It began when I was employed at King Totengräber Burger Joint," said Fryer. He paused. Ahead in the gloom, more zombies moaned and shuffled about aimlessly. "Brothers and Sisters, the congregation has gathered, and is ready for the baptism of fire. Please bow your heads...." A ball if flame appeared in his hands. Grandpa pulled his sidekick behind a large pipe."May the fires of heaven cleanse you!" Fryer yelled, tossing the fireball. It exploded. Flames shot up the passageway. When the smoke cleared, zombie corpses lay on the ground."Like a Thanksgiving turkey deep-frying disaster," said Grandpa admiringly."Little did I know," Fryer continued conversationally, "that Herr Totengräber was not just the king of mystery meat hamburgers, but the king of manufactured zombies. He was working to overtake the city with an army of reanimated corpses!""Yes, yes," said Grandpa, "I've heard all of....""I should have seen it!" said Fryer. "The fry cook with the stitches who shuffled and never spoke, only moaned, that should have been a clue! But I was young and needed work. I was manning the counter that day when you gentlemen showed up."
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I'm still not entirely convinced that Deep Fat Fryer should be (or dress as) some sort of friar. My friends at Writer's Night have tried to convince me otherwise more than once. I even wrote Fryer Out of Time in order to introduce an otherworld version of Deep Fat Fryer who was a friar. I don't consider that story very successful, but maybe it can be salvaged. In the meantime, I'm still pondering whether to rework the original Deep Fat Fryer.
In any case, today's edit/rewrite project was Dig My Grave, the first story I wrote that included Deep Fat Fryer. This story needed work in a big way. As written, the story basically read like this:
A. Grandpa Anarchy, Deep Fat Fryer, and sidekick Dog Is My Copilot are fighting zombies in the sewers.
B. Deep Fat Fryer tells his origin story.
C. They meet up with his nemesis, Dr. Totengräber. Words are exchanged, and they prepare to do battle.
You may notice a lack of anything resembling a plot. Not that most of my Grandpa Anarchy stories really have plot per se, but at least they have a point, or a twist or joke ending. They're not supposed to just meander until they're done. This story didn't even have a good one-liner to end on -- it had Deep Fat Fryer saying, "Let's light it up!" which is kind of his stock phrase, he says it a lot. Not an interesting ending, or an interesting story.
The main point of the story was to introduce Deep Fat Fryer and tell his back story. I liked Dog Is My Copilot as well, though she didn't do much in the story -- I've since used her in 2-3 other stories. So I came up with an ending that tied more directly to Deep Fat Fryer's backstory, which gives me a good reason to have him tell it. Then I went back and started the story right at the point he begins to tell it. By the time he's done telling it, we encounter the villain, and have the ending which has been set up by the telling of the backstory.
I think that works much better. It may not be one of my best stories, but at least, now, it is a story.
"Did I ever tell you my origin story -- the reason I hate Doctor Totengräber?" Like Grandpa Anarchy, Deep Fat Fryer was a member of the League of Two-Fisted Justice. He was a burly man in bright red pants with golden flames on them, a red beret, and a white shirt with a red and gold crown on the front.Grandpa, dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit and fedora, punched a corpse. It was like hitting uncooked turkey, and had the same effect. The zombie, stitched together from parts of different bodies, swung an arm which the old man easily avoided."Yes," said Grandpa, swinging at the zombie again. "I was there. I don't need to....""Use your gun!" said Fryer. "I told you!"With one clawed paw, the third member of their team tore the zombie's head from its shoulders. She growled softly. Dog Is My Copilot was a young girl with a dog's head. She had gray fur and a bushy tail, and wore a plaid skirt of blue and white and a blue jacket. She was one of the better sidekicks Grandpa had had in years.The three were in a brick-walled tunnel. Mold and slime covered the walls. Putrid green water pooled in the center of the passage. Rusting pipes and valve flow wheels jutted from the walls. Ahead in the gloom, more zombies moaned and shuffled about aimlessly."It all started when I got a job at a King Totengräber Burger joint," said Fryer. A ball if flame appeared in his hands. "Stand back a second...." Grandpa pulled his sidekick, Dog Is My Copilot, behind a large pipe. "Fire in the hole!" Fryer yelled, tossing the fireball. It exploded, shooting flames down the passageway.When the smoke cleared, zombie corpses lay on the ground."Like a Thanksgiving turkey deep-frying disaster," said Grandpa admiringly."Little did I know," said Fryer, "that Totengräber was not just the king of hamburgers filled with mystery meat -- he was the king of zombie manufacturers, working to take over the city with his army of reanimated corpses!""Yes, yes," said Grandpa, "I've heard all of....""The fry cook with the stitches across his forehead should have been a clue," said Fryer. "The way he shuffled and never spoke, only moaned. But I was young and I needed the work. Anyway, there I was, minding my own business -- well, doing my job anyway -- until the day you guys showed up."
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Today's edit/rewrite project was Soldier's Men. This is a strange little tale but I liked the setup a lot. Like several of my stories, it was probably too long and without enough of a punch line, but I didn't see a way to make any major revisions other than to tighten it up and remove excess words and repeat statements. It's shorter now, and hopefully punchier because of that -- but it doesn't really have a great twist ending. Instead, the whole idea is a bit twisted:
"You okay Miss?" Grandpa asked, helping the girl up. "Mars Lasagna" was written across her chest.
"Oh thank Goddess!" she exclaimed. "I was in over my head."
More soldiers appeared. "Now two ruts a humors eh wows Elder Miss No!" one shouted.
"Humorous ruts to you too, buddy," Grandpa replied, leaping forward.
"Thresher got pit!" the soldier commanded.
"I'll thresh you, you nonsense-spewing ninny!" Grandpa ducked a clumsy punch from the creature and slammed its head into the wall.
"He's not talking about threshing," said the girl. "He said: Stop right there."
"He did?" said Grandpa, punching another soldier. "Because it sounded like gibberish. You have information that you're not sharing with the rest of the class?" He smashed the last one into the ground, where it twitched and sparked.
The girl looked away. "It's going to sound ridiculous...."
"I've seen lots of ridiculous in my day," said Grandpa. "Try me."
"They're... creatures out of my imagination," she said. "I've written stories about this place. I never thought I'd be trapped here though."
"It happens," said Grandpa. "Go on."
"Their leader is called Soldier's Men," she said. "All of his followers -- his soldiers -- are named after anagrams of his name. For example, 'Denim Losers' or 'Mindless Ore'. Anagram, see? It uses all the same letters. When they shout something like: Now two ruts a humors eh wows Me No Sliders! what they're actually saying is: Now we must show our worth as Soldiers Men! Only in place of 'Soldiers Men' each uses their own name. They're all basically him, and not him."
"You're sure about this?" Grandpa looked doubtful.
"Trust me," she said. "They speak in anagrams because I imagined them that way. I love anagrams. That's why I named myself Anagram Lass."
Grandpa frowned. "Isn't your name Mars Lasagna?"
"No, " said the girl, "that's an anagram of my name." She smiled. "It's really clever if you think about it."
"Calling yourself Alien Pasta Dish is clever?"
More soldiers stepped into the alley. "Hold that thought," Grandpa said. He jumped forward, pounding and smashing. When he was done, he said, "Look kid, I'll make you a deal. My name's Grandpa Anarchy, and I need a new sidekick. You need rescued. Stick with me and be my sidekick, and I'll get us out of here. Deal?"
The girl nodded. "We need to contact the resistance...."
"Resistance? eh? And why is that, Miss Lasagna?"
I had fun with this story, coming up with the names and phrases that the characters use. After editing it today, I think it's in as good a shape as I can manage to make it. It reads much better, it just lacks a really big-bang ending. But on the whole, I think I accomplished something today. ^_^"They'll know the way out," she said.
My goal for the week is to edit and rewrite some of the stories that I plan to publish, eventually. Yesterday I tackled Stone Temple Space Raiders. This is a story that I read at Writer's Night a few months back and, unlike many of my Grandpa Anarchy stories, it did not go over very well. The problems were at least twofold -- one, the story was too long, and two, there was absolutely no surprise at the end.
What I did yesterday was to shorten it up quite a bit and give it a new ending, working from the idea that if the original ending was obvious to the reader it might become obvious to the characters as well. I'm not sure if the new ending works much better, but with the story shortened at least the overall effect is improved. I'll have to go back to it again and see if the new ending really works, or if I can come up with something else -- it was hard to imagine an ending that was completely different from my original one that worked as a surprise.
Today I may tackle Soldier's Men, a story built around a fun premise but I can't remember if it actually worked as such. My Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal is another I'd like to look at -- as well as Contract, Dig My Grave, Fryer Out of Time, Oceans of the Void, Solar Sister and the Disco Trolls of Doom -- as well as the really big stories, some of which I know need work: World of Hero, Amethyst Road, What You Should Know, Supper Soldier. A lot of the stories I wrote during NaNoWriMo are suspect, since I was finishing them off and going straight to a new story the next day. But the "big"stories are ones that I want to make work -- they involve larger parts of Grandpa Anarchy's back story, history, and important companions. They're stories that need to be in any compilation.
Monday, July 22, 2013
I've failed to write any new stories lately, although I've been reworking World of Hero. It had a lot of problems -- very little characterization or character development, a straightforward plot with no twists or surprises or anything very interesting, not a lot that was funny, etc. I've been trying to rewrite it in a series of short sections, each of which works as a sort of joke or has some sort of punch line -- sort of like how Vonnegut wrote in Cat's Cradle, as an example. I think. Anyway I do think I've improved the opening of the story, but the plot itself is going to require some major work. But I have a few ideas.
At Writer's Night on Saturday I read The Devil in the Details. I think everyone liked it, I didn't really get any big negative comments, but one thing I did do while reading was to edit out several sentences on the spur of the moment because I sensed that they added nothing to the story. I went back and rewrote that section to match today. I also read the first two new sections of World of Hero, and while I think people liked them they still need work, and the story really needs to start moving along after that. But the problem is that I still have some things to set up before the story gets going... so I have to think about how to restructure things there too.
Today I read through Dancepocalypse and rewrote it quite a bit, setting up the beginning better and trying to chop bits out of the middle to shorten the story, which seems to go on longer than it really needs to. I think I've improved it, and I think it works better than I remember. I really need to go through all of my stories like this and rework them to the best that I'm able, if I want to publish them, but for today I reworked this one story, and I think it works better. This is one that I haven't read to anyone else yet (I have a lot of those still).
I've waited too long to really get these published by Rainfurrest, but if I work at it I can still probably get something published by the end of the year. Maybe. I need to get the stories in the best shape that I can manage, and then ask friends to edit them, and get at least a cover illustrated or maybe find a way to get several interior illustrations too. Lots to do.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
...which might be a better title for the story I was working on tonight. The current title is Take Me Back To Constantinople.
For the last week I've been theoretically working on the story Performance Review. This is actually one of my oldest Grandpa Anarchy stories, plotted back when I'd only written about 8 stories total. I'm not entirely sure it even needs to exist, or that there's a good punch line for it, but the idea was that Grandpa Anarchy had an annual review before the government organization that grants him his hero's license. He's had a terrible record of things being broken or destroyed, villains getting away or escaping again, and especially of sidekicks that not only didn't last very long but became villains.
I thought I could get a lot of mileage out of that, along with the threat that Grandpa Anarchy is never going to die or retire so you're stuck with him. Possibly even the threat that you can't really not license him, because he'd just turn vigilante and that would be worse: better the devil you know than the devil you don't, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, that kind of thing. Having recently written The R Word about an attempt to force Grandpa Anarchy into retirement, I thought it was time to finish Performance Review. But the jokes involved are mostly retreads of what we've seen in other Grandpa Anarchy stories, so I don't know. I want to delve into the government agency that regulates super heroes, but I'm having a hard time seeing how the story could really work well.
In any case, I decided to work on Take Me Back instead tonight. This one doesn't have a punchline yet, but it's my first real time-travel story so that should be fertile ground for a good story. I had planned to use a villain called the Revisionist Historian, but it sounds like more fun to have Grandpa talk about his fights with the Revisionist Historian... which may have happened in the past, or the future, or maybe they didn't really happen because that history was later unmade. After the first few time alterations it's hard to keep track.
So my real villain is Kid Calculus, the time and dimension-hopping former sidekick and member of The League of Former Sidekicks. I want to develop him more, and it makes sense that he can not only travel dimensionally, but through time as well. And attempting to alter time would kind of confer full-fledged villain status on him. It'd be kind of a milestone, not just trying to take down Grandpa Anarchy, but doing evil for evil's sake. Or something.
I have a trilogy of time-travel stories planned, and I figured I needed the same time-travel sidekick for all of them, so I've created the Wayback Kid. I still need to work out exactly who and what he is, to develop him a bit, but he's the first sidekick since Kid Calculus that has powers of this sort. My other two stories are kind of Nebulous in plot. One is The Chef That Time Forgot, which involves Grandpa and Wayback Kid coming across a Time Chef of some sort trapped thousands of years in the past that Grandpa already knows. I have this idea that this chef runs a restaurant where they serve meat culled from trips to the distant past, so they could do T-Rex burgers or whatever, really exclusive meals for the rich and powerful. My third time travel story also involves this Time Chef, and is called Endangered Species, in which Grandpa and sidekick are helping the chef get something that is unique... like, for example, minotaur meat (there's only the one in Greek legend, you know).
So that's what I'm working on. I haven't actually completed a new story in over a week, but I wrote a bit tonight.
I created three new story files today, none of which are real or fully-formed ideas but whatever:
Maps of Vampires That No Longer Exist This is just a misreading of a headline (Maps of Empires...) that amused me. And I haven't really written a Grandpa Anarchy vampire story yet.
A Clown In A Clown Store Based on something a customer once said to a coworker at work ("What do I look like, a clown in a clown store?"). It's one of our favorite phrases now, and so I want to use it as a story title, and Carnival Act is Grandpa's #1 nemesis....
Mechanical Advantage My friend suggested a sidekick named Mechanical Adavantage, so I saved the idea as a story file. No idea where I'm going with that one yet either, and I'll probably change the name if I do go somewhere with it.
Monday, July 1, 2013
I managed to get some writing done this last week!
Goal 1 - Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a Week:
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)
Feb 10: Roll of the Die (begun Feb 10)
Feb 11: Trouble Focusing (begun, Nov 21, in theory)
Feb 19: Dead Again (begun Feb 18)
Apr 24: Most Dangerous (begun Feb 09)
Apr 27: The Thing in the Suitcase (begun Feb 16)
June 24: An Inconvenient Airship
June 25: Continuity Error
June 27: The Devil in the Details
June 30: Dark Anarchy
July 1: Ruse
So I'm now 6 stories behind my goal, but it's looking much better after 5 stories completed in the last 8 days.
Goal 2 - Write a Tai-Pan Story a Month:
Feb 16 The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz (January Tai-Pan story, 10,000 words)
Feb 23: Space Miner Blues
Feb 23: Banker Blues
Mar 07: Hair of the Throug that Bit Me
Mar 17: Cursed Be Ye Who Moves These Bones
Nothing new to report. I'm now a month behind my goal.
Goals 3 & 4
I did not draw anything or work on non-Tai-Pan non-Grandpa Anarchy stories.
Updated Story Ideas List:
Dark Lord of Midnight
Dec 11 Troubador Grandpa Anarchy faces a singing villain
Dec 12 Love, Grandma Grandpa Anarchy vs. Grandma Chaos
Jan 15 Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog
Jan 26 Toolbar Wizard
Jan 30 Thunderbird Blues
Jan 31 Hackernaut
Feb 03 Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Feb 09 Gutbucket Magic
Feb 12 Brothers and Sisters
Feb 13 Stronger
Feb 16 Mister Buffalo
Feb 17 Pandora's Closet
Feb 19 Anarchy Is Forever
Feb 24 Hero's Sacrifice
Feb 25 The Crystal Weenie
Feb 25 Alien Space Bats
Mar 09 Killer Asteroid
Apr 09 The Apocalypse Meme
Apr 24 Your Stupid, Stupid Minds
Apri 24 Never Give Up, Never Surrender
Apr 29 Throw Me a Trope
Apr 30 Timey Wimey Ball
Apr 30 Time of Your Life
May 05 Gone Again
May 25 Take Me Back to Constantinople
June 05 The Chef That Time Forgot
June 05 Maid Service
June 06 Endangered Species
June 06 Patent Troll (finished 6/27, retitled The Devil in the Details)
June 15 The Ferver and Furor of the Führer
June 15 Retirement
June 17 An Inconvenient Airship (finished 6/24)
June 25 Continuity Error (finished same day)
June 25 Dark Anarchy (finished 6/30)
June 28 Ruse (finished 7/1)