Thursday, August 1, 2013
Today's project turned out to be the three-part fantasy world trilogy called Amethyst Road. Specifically, I've recently retitled them: Amethyst Road: Shadows, Amethyst Road: Princess Kiss, and Amethyst Road: Who Do Vodoo, just to make it more obvious that they form a sort of trilogy or tell one overall story.
I decided to reread and edit these three stories because I'm working through a rewrite of There Be Whales (and a possible companion story Triple Aaar!), and the first story in particular features a winged monkey scientist called Scientifically Curious Nikko. As mentioned yesterday, Nikko is one part sci fi horror movie scientist, one part winged monkey a la Wizard of Oz, and one part Curious George. He's Grandpa's sidekick, and he's controlled by a yellow cap (controlled by the man with the yellow cap, in other words). I hadn't really explained where Nikko came from or how he'd become Grandpa's sidekick, but the Amethyst Road stories form an adventure in an Oz-like land, so it's very likely he met Grandpa during those adventures, even if I doesn't specifically appear in those stories. I was working out the back story for Nikko when I decided it was time to re-read the three Amethyst Road stories.
The real problem story of the trilogy was the first. It didn't end well. I thought I could get away with that since it was the opening salvo to a trilogy, but it was really an unsatisfactory ending in several respects. The opening story has our heroes already in the magical fairy land, travelling the Amethyst Road to the Amethyst City to plead their case with the Necromancer King. I introduce a large cast of characters, establish that the are travelling through a dangerous woods filled with nightmare shadow creatures, and then they're attacked by such creatures and cannot fight them, since they're fighting shadows. The story originally ended with them all being smothered in shadows, Grandpa going down as he shouted his defiance.
Which would be okay as a cliffhanger ending in a multi-chapter story, maybe, but worked less well as a near stand-alone Grandpa Anarchy story. And by worked less well, I mean didn't work at all.
Story two opened with them having already having been rescued from the shadows by a woodsman character with a magic axe. That was a very unsatisfying way to resolve the problem, too, so I had at least two problems -- a weird, downbeat ending without any kind of punch or resolution (or point, really) and a rescue by a brand new character that happens almost entirely off-screen.
It occurred to me today to rewrite the ending of Amethyst Road: Shadows in such a way that the shadows suddenly find common ground with Grandpa Anarchy and friends. ("What? You're Grandpa Anarchy? I've read all your comic books!") This seemed like a more satisfying ending, a sudden twist that was more humorous, but then I'd have to significantly rewrite the opening to the second story, as Wrandall the Woodcutter isn't just their off-screen savior, but also a new travelling companion and integral part of the second story. If he didn't need to show up to save them, what then?
But the answer was obvious once I considered it. First they're nearly swallowed up by the shadows, then one of them recognizes Grandpa and they make friends, and then the woodcutter shows up with his magic axe to "save" them from the shadows, by killing their new friends.
Ah! Now that is a sufficiently twisted and satisfying ending in the Grandpa Anarchy tradition! And it allowed some of the "rescue" to happen on-screen, so that solved my other problem.
Suddenly Amethyst Road: Shadows seemed to work rather well. I went on to read Amethyst Road: Princess Kiss, and I concluded that this story actually works much better than I remembered. It's much longer than the usual Grandpa Anarchy story, but it contains a fully fleshed-out plot in the form of a three-part quest that the heroes go on to undo the curse on the forest that they're in. In that sense, it doesn't feel aimless or too long -- it's just long enough to tell the story, I think. And it ends with a little twist of its own, so I'm pretty satisfied with the second part of my trilogy all around.
The third part works nominally well too, I think. It's not the strongest story I've written, but I think it works well enough. I am now convinced that all three stories are publishable as they are, so I've moved them fully back into my list of stories to go into the first book.
The real question is whether I can rewrite There Be Whales well enough to satisfy myself that it can be published -- not to mention writing the companion story Triple Aaar! Those two stories are the more likely to be pulled at this point..