Monday, January 27, 2014

Unfinished Story Project Continued

I'm starting to have doubts about my project here, but I want to finish it anyway.  I just don't think it's helping me get any real writing done -- but it should be very valuable when I get around to attempting to write some of these starter stories.

Anyway, Friday I decided to up the ante on my Unfinished Story Ideas writing exercise.  Instead of just writing a few lines of dialog or figuring out a direction for the story to go, I've decided that I really need to introduce a villain and a sidekick for the story and provide descriptions for each.  That gives me a more firm foundation for what the story entails, helps me nail down my ideas better.  Of course, after making that decision I did no work on the project all weekend.  ^_^  Anyway, with my new goal in mind, I've attacked my list again:

Death By Clown

This is a brand new file that I created last night.  Because I needed another clown-related story  title, I guess.  Right now I have this pegged as the female version of Carnival Act unleashing a plague of flying carnivorous clownfish on a town.  Sidekick is The Mighty Sea Turtle!

Grandpa Anarchy The Musical

Although I still don't know what the plot of this story is, I've added two songs based on very popular songs from musicals:

Face punches, fist fights and smashing of villains,
Last-second rescues that stops men from killin'
Bad guys entrapped in a wiretap sting
These are a few of my favorite things

(To be sung by Grandpa Anarchy I think, although I think I will alternate verses from each of the members of the League of Two-Fisted Justice.)

If I were a villain,
Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a nasty man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy thief,
Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.

I'd build a deep vast lair with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the midst of a volcano.
A fine death ray to reign terror from above.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
A shark tank and a ledge from which to shove.

I'd fill my moat with spikes and gators and poison frogs
For the heroes all to fear.
Growling just as noisily as they can.
With each loud "snap" "chomp" "grrr" "grind"
Would land like a trumpet on the ear,
As if to say "Here lives a villanous man."

(Probably to be sung by a hero who wants to become a villain -- or who does become a villain.  Very likely one of the members of the League of Former Sidekicks, who probably don't view themselves as villains after all.)

So my villains for this story would be one or more members of the League of Former Sidekicks.  My sidekick?  I dunno, Exit Stage Right Kid.  Co-starring the League of Two-Fisted Justice.

Hundred Perfumes Of The Wind

I added more to this one:  a bit about the Fleurs du Mal, the "flower of evil" by Charles Baudelaire, which came up on a search for "evil poetry".  My poetry-spouting villain for this one is Graveheart, the villainous Warrior Poet, and my sidekick is Can O' Worms, whose greatest attacks are all based on things a five year old would do.

Killer Asteroid

There's no real villain in this, unless you count the killer asteroid.  Jenny Nova and friends will be guest stars of the story.  Grandpa's sidekick will be a young woman who is talked into joining the space babes... other than that I don't have it nailed down yet.  Possible other Babes:  Sally Starship, Nina Nitrogen, Kitty Quasar, Stella Galaxy.

Loose Lips

The villain is a so-far unnamed giant octopus or other such monstrosity in the center of the city.  Unpossible Man and one other member of the League of Two-Fisted Justice are helping Grandpa fight it, probably their new female member -- Daisy, Warrior Princess, and the sidekick is... Money Ball, who wears a three-piece suit and uses a baseball as a weapon.


My villain is Baron Barnstar, the villain of luck.  All of his attacks are based on luck.  Probably he always succeeds until he fights a real hero, but then he's lucky enough to always escape.  Or something.  The sidekick for this one is going to be The Silver Spoon, a kid from a wealthy family who is only biding his time as a sidekick until Daddy builds him a Bat Cave.

Maginficent Bastardry  

I have so many files like this where I'm not even sure what the plot is, I just had a title that sounded cool.  It's like when you have a great idea for a story title or band name, but you never write them down.  I write them down, and then I have to figure out what they're supposed to be about.  My villain for this one is The Mercilous Montebank, a black-hearted scurvy scalawag if ever there was one.  I imagine the look of a sewer carney or a ringmaster for a diseased rat circus.

Come to think of it, I need a story about a ghost ship inhabited by carniverous zombie rats.

Anyway my sidekick this time around would be Kid Leotard, a high-flying trapeze artist in the style of the original Jules LĂ©otard.  A boy who wants to make the wearing of leotards for men cool again.


The idea for this story is that Grandpa gets a new look -- a makeover.  These are common in comics all the time of course, and I imagine this is being done in concert with the Grandpa Anarchy comic to boost lagging sales  -- but also because his current sidekick is The Sartorial Sultan, a young fashion-conscious man who very much wants to reinvent Grandpa and make him cooler.  Think leather biker boots, black duster (full-length coat like a cowboy might wear), the return of the diamond mask, leather gloves, black outback hat, and nice black slacks with a pinstriped shirt and black tie with the anarchy logo.

Grandpa only has to dress like this once.  Just like the comics, he will eventually (or swiftly) go back to his old look.

I thought for a villain it would be fun to give an old villain a new makeover as well, so I picked The Literate Lemur, who will of course wax poetic about renewal and rebirth and the great circle of life, with many quotes.

"Why the eyepatch?"
"Because it signifies that you're a scrapper, a down-and-dirty fighter.  It shows that you've been in fights and are a tough customer who keeps coming back for more."
"Folks already know that about me."
"But the eyepatch is more frightening.  It puts fear in the hearts of your adversaries."
"Yeah, if it all the same to you, I'll go without it.  I don't know why I gotta do all of this stuff anyway."

Maps Of Vampires That No Longer Exist

I've decided that the title of this story suggests a yet-to-be-named vampire that is no longer a vampire -- something like Vampire Doll, where the spirit or essence of the vampire has been placed inside a doll, only the results are more like Chucky than my favorite goofy vampire manga.  So you've got a magic-using evil Raggedy Anne or Andy who is really a 500 or 1,000 year old vampire nobody remembers, and Grandpa has to stop it.  And the solution involves locating the vampire's grave (that's where the map comes in).

And the sidekick?  Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Hunter.  I could be talked into Little Miss Muffet, Vampire Hunter, or any number of other nursery-school and fairy-tale characters, as long as it's dumb sounding.  Jack Sprat Vampire Hunter possibly.

Mechanical Advantage  

This originally wasn't a story idea, it was just the name of a possible sidekick suggested by my friends Dave and Kristin.  I used Mechanical Advantage (a giant mecha sidekick) in Zero Hour.  The problem is that he shows up as kind of the punch line of the  story (not a very successful one I'm afraid) and then he doesn't appear again.  A story exploring who he is, where he came from and who built him is not a bad idea.  Also I like the image of a giant mecha that was once Grandpa's sidekick gathering dust in the Anarchy Cave.  I think there's at least three people who could have built Mechanical Advantage:  Geothermal Jenny (who is a villain, thus not very likely); Mia Nevermore (who starts out as a villain then turns hero later -- building robots is her specialty); or possibly Micro Bat, who is himself a robot built by Geothermal Jenny but is self-aware and capable (in theory) of building his own robots.

Right now I'm working from a theory that Mechanical Advantage was an early Mia prototype that she threw out as inferior.  That's why it broke down, and that's why Electric Bluejay and company (including Micro Bat) haven't been able to fix him.  But Geothermal Jenny (the villain of the story) builds her own giant mecha, and sudddenly fixing Mechanical Advantage sounds like a great idea.  And Grandpa's sidekick is Paul the Plumber, a guy with plumber's crack who thinks he can fix anything but only makes things worse.  Probably Mia will need to get involved in order to fix Mechanical Advantage.

That's my idea anyway.

Mister Buffalo

Mister Buffalo is the villain.  I think the sidekick is Comic Book Larry, unless I come up with a better name, a guy who reads a lot of comics (but never pays for them) and who is very disappointed that Mister Buffalo isn't who you think he'd be.

Murder Is Painless

This is one of those story ideas that probably sounded better when I came up with it, but the basic idea is that killing non-human enemies is perfectly okay, and Grandpa can go to town versus things like vampires.  (Not that he necessarily stops at murder in any case, but in theory a hero code makes killing human enemies something that is, at the very least, frowned upon.  Vampires are just fine.)

So... my villain is a vampire, hopefully with lotsof skeletons, zombies, and supernatural mooks to plow through.  I'm working on a name of Vlad Horowitz, Viscount of Shelby Island in the New Jersey river (or something like that -- some small island that sank 100 years ago).  And for a sidekick, Damsel Daphne who wears a white nightgown and is convinced that being bitten by a handsome vampire would be cool.

My Guy

This is a story about Sun Wukong and Ravella the Traveller working together as a duo.  They're married, and Sun Wukong is basically a god so... I don't know, the story idea was about how much Ravella is amazed by Sun Wukong and that he loves her.  Not sure if that's even a plot idea per se... but I envision them going up against a Chinese triad or something similar.

Never Give Up Never Surrender

For this plot-free idea, I imagined Grandpa Anarchy getting beaten down by a villain over and over.  I need someone big and tough for such an encounter.  Who?  Someone like Mister Buffalo is supposed to be, but isn't.  I considered a "Mr. Buffalo, unrelated to Mister Buffalo" but then I realized Buffalo Gal would work.  And maybe Comic Book Larry (or Comic Book Kid) is still his sidekick.

Still don't really have a plot or any idea how to resolve this though.

Performance Review

This story sort of got told with The R Word, or at least the part of it that might involve Grandpa being forced into retirement.  But I still thought a government board inquiry into Grandpa's remarkably bad track record with sidekicks could be fun, and I think I just came up with a good ending... the latest sidekick-turned-villain shows up to fight Grandpa.  I just have to figure out who it is... the joke should be that he has good excuses for why all of the other sidekicks were likely to turn villainous, but the latest failure is a very happy peaches and creme care bear sidekick turned villain because of Grandpa.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unfinished Story File Project

I've been in a real writing funk lately, getting little accomplished over the last 7 to 10 days.  So I came up with a new project today.  I have a very large file of Grandpa Anarchy "story ideas" which range from partially-written stories that I am currently working on to simple ideas and mere story titles that I've jotted down and placed in this folder.  Most of them sit there untouched month after month, and I forget what they were even about.  So today I made it my goal to pull up each of my "unfinished" Grandpa Anarchy story ideas and add something to the file -- to "work on" each one, if only adding a single line.

I'm not sure what the point is -- I'm not exactly getting any "real" writing done here.  But it's an interesting exercise, and justifies my having all of these files.  It makes me think, makes me work my imagination a bit.  And it familiarizes me with the story files I have again, and maybe gives me some ideas of which ones are worth working on at the moment.

Here's what I have so far:

story #59,  Stronger

I know what this story is about already, I have a bit written, and I have it scheduled for my second book because I think it's one of the "important" stories that reveals more of Grandpa Anarchy's past (which is why it's numbered).  Grandpa and a sidekick go back into the past to the point where the Gentleman Brawler died.  Grandpa has a chance to save the Brawler, or get revenge -- or is all of this in his mind and they're not in the past at all?

What I did was add some bits of description for the scene in Butte MT in 1920.  One of the parts I hadn't figured out was what sent them back -- I imagined a riff off of the portal guardian thing in City On The Edge Of Forever (Star Trek episode).  But after considering it I decided a god or alien guarding a portal would be more fun -- someone who spoke casually and used goofy aphorisms and cultural references, like quoting from the song The Time Warp, and even knowingly paraphrasing from the Star Trek show.  Some instant goofy dialogue came to me and I wrote half a scene.  I think with a little work I could finish this story now.

A Clown In A Clown Store

This is a funny line from a customer at work several years ago.  "Do I look like a clown in a clown store?"  I didn't have anything on this yet, other than it involved a fight with a clown.  Grandpa's arch nemesis was Carnival Act, a sort-of Joker villain, but he's dead.  But an alternate female version of him exists in another universe and I had plans to bring her to this universe to replace the original.  This could be that story -- so I added some dialog to that effect.  Now I have something to work with.

Probably involves Carnival Act.
"Remember me, Grandpa?  I'm the Carnival Act from the World of Hero.  I'm the only Carnival Act there is, now!"
"Did you ever feel like a clown in a clown store?"
"What does that even mean?"
"Oh, nothing much.  Pick a clown, what's your poison?  Round and round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows!  Except me of course!"
"You're nuts."
"Why thank you very much, I do try!"
"It wasn't a compliment."

As you can see, this isn't even sustained dialog, just some random lines to give me something to consider.  That's what I'm doing with most of these files.

Already Failed

Based on a line I heard from someone somewhere that the phrase "A chance worth taking" only makes sense if it succeeds.  If you failed, then maybe it wasn't worth the chance you took.  Grandpa has a different view of things -- if you don't take a chance, then you've already failed.  Of course, as the hero Grandpa usually succeeds at whatever chances he takes.  I added some dialog along these lines, and the seed of an idea for an ending, maybe after taking several chances with various versions of the aphorism "you can't succeed if you don't try."  Nothing ventured, nothing gained!   Etc.

Baloney Chord

I don't know why, these two words combined in my head and were strange or funny enough to make a story file with that title.  For this one I have no idea where I'm going, so I copied stuff from the internet into the file to think about -- the wiki entry for bologna, the urban dictionary definition of balony, the lyrics to "Baloney Again" by Mark Knopfler (which came up on a search for "baloney chord" -- ie tabs and chords for the song with that word in the title).

Banana Also Rises

I have my doubts that this story even needs to exist.  I wanted to write a story about the Second Banana Society responding to aid a sidekick, which is their main mission after all.  I wrote some stuff about a sidekick calling them, he's in the Andes facing a giant stone Inca god or something and Grandpa's dead and he doesn't know what to do.  Some of the Second Banana members show up, maybe they assemble a giant money mecha with banana attacks, I don't know.  I just jotted down some possible ideas of where to go with this.

Beneath The Skin

Basic idea:  a villain unleashes the monster within Grandpa.  Suddenly Grandpa needs to be stopped by his friends!  The joke, of course, is that nearly all of them are really looking forward to it.

I added a few lines of dialog, nothing much.

Bombs Away

This is a story about an explosivekinetic -- a guy that summons bombs with his brain.  His name is Brainbomb.  Silly premise.  I added some possible dialog.


Based off the currently popular idea of a villain who allows himself to get captured so that he can manipulate the heroes and destroy them from within (seen in Avengers and several other recent movies).  Wrote a little bit, still not sure exactly where I'm going with this but got some ideas.

Dark Lord Of Midnight

This was a very old file with some dialog about a super-powerful evil villain that Grandpa remembers as an annoying neighborhood kid.  Not sure where I'm going with this but I added some more dialog.

Death Of A Mook

The idea here is to tell a story about the negative impact that comes from killing some random villain's henchman.  But I added dialog that made it sound like the mooks son has returned for revenge.  Not sure exactly  where to take this idea but it still intrigues me.

Dues Ex Machina

This was an empty file, and either I misspelled the word Deus or I had some clever idea that I don't remember.  I decided to leave it as dues and jotted some ideas about union dues from nothing, and unionized sidekicks or a union of mechanized sidekicks.

Enter The Fury Fists Of Death

This is just a reminder that I need to do a Bruce Lee riff at some point.  I really need to do some research first, watch one of his movies for inspiration or something, so that's all I basically did was write that I needed to do that in the file.

Falling Down

All I had in this file was the line "Does the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier ever NOT fall and crash?"  That's the joke, basically, but I'm not sure if I have a Grandpa Anarchy universe equivalent to S.H.I.E.L.D. or their helicarrier.  I've written one story with such a giant ship (it crashed), but it was a heli platform of the villain Baron Climate Change.  But maybe he has a lot of them, who knows.  Another idea is that the Archons of Excellence have such a helicarrier, or maybe I need to invent a new government organization that has one.

I added some stupid dialog.

Fare Maiden

Another story title.  I added some suggested directions -- rescuing a princess in a castle in an abandoned part of New York's subway system.  Throw in a giant crocodile, whatever else you might expect to find in the sewers beneath New York.  Let your mind wander.

Fear Of A Clown Planet

This suggests a world war z-style "clown apocalypse" event.  I can envision a story that happens right in the middle of the event, with no real explanation for how we got there or how things are eventually resolved.

Final Call

The conceit here is that if you call your wife or girlfriend that means you're about to crash and die.  (As Iron Man attempted to do in the Avengers movie).  Grandpa refuses to call anyone -- he doesn't have anyone to call per se anyway, but he knows it's the kiss of death.

Glass Cage

What's sad about this is that it's essentially the same plot as "captured".  I don't know if I need both, but this one has different stuff written in it.  It's focused a bit more on the idea of the glass cage -- similar to the one Magneto was held in -- but in Grandpa's universe it's there to be shattered when the villain escapes, and nothing more.

Gone Again

Death takes a holiday.  That's the joke -- death always takes a holiday.  Grandpa takes his place for a night, or something.  I added a bit of dialog.

Grandpa Anarchy And The Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog

Here's an example of a story file that is only a title and nothing more -- and not even a title that suggests anything to me anymore.  It's an old file.  I'd written "No idea yet, just a title" and that was it.  So I pulled it up and wrote a few bits of dialog:
"Giant frog demon in the middle of downtown Scranton.  Tell me where I've heard that story before?"
"You've had this happen before?"
"Well, no.  Not a giant frog per se.  But giant things, yeah.  Lots of them."
"It ain't easy being queasy."
"Is that a Kermit reference?"
"Don't know what would give you that idea.  Come on, let's kill this thing."

So now I have the suggestion that this is a fight with a giant monster frog in the middle of Scranton NJ.  I still don't really know where to go with it or what the punchline might be, but at least it suggests something now.

Grandpa Anarchy The Musical

Other than the idea that Grandpa doesn't want to sing or be in a musical, I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  Maybe villains and sidekicks who deliver all of their lines in song?

Hundred Perfumes of the Wind

This is an interesting line from a poem, and it puts me in mind of a villain who spouts poetry.  I imagine this is a high-minded, high-class villain, maybe Asian, Chinese even -- someone who appreciates art and beauty, and who thinks all else in life is meaningless and sees greed as an end goal in itself.  Anyway, I wrote all of that down as I had no ideas for this story besides the title previously.


I added a couple of lines of dialog to this, but the basic idea is already there -- Grandpa's sidekick is Illegal Immigrant Boy, and they're supposed to be protecting congress from a terrorist.  It kind of writes itself from there, I think (or I hope so).

Lights Out

This appears to be a very old story file that is an older version of the story I tried to tell in World of Hero (saving a virtual world from destruction).  I'm not sure I need this one, but I added some lines to it.

Love, Grandma

This comes from a confluence of things in my head, including the pirate villain mom in Laputa Castle In The Sky, the mother of the two thugs in The Hogfather and a Radiolab story that included the line "Grandma means chaos".  Grandma Chaos is a criminal and the mother of a clan of criminals.  A note in the story suggests that one of Ma Chaos's daughters is the child of Grandpa Anarchy, which would make her his third child if I go ahead with that idea (which I probably will if I ever finish this story).  Wrote a couple of lines.

That's everything A through L.  That's all I managed today.  Back at it tomorrow!  I have a lot of titles left to work on.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rewriting For Character

The last few days have not been very productive for me writing-wise.  I was expecting to get a lot of writing done over the weekend, but I mostly did nothing.  I wrote very little last Thursday and Friday as well, and I wrote very little on Monday.

Mostly what I have done is reworking bits of stories for character development.  One of my problems is characterization, in getting character voices right or making them distinctive and drawing their personalities out for the reader.  I watched Galaxy Quest last week -- I've been using my Amazon Prime account to stream movies on my iPad -- and I really like Galaxy Quest, I like how the characters are well-defined.  In particular I love Fred Kwan, the tech engineer, who is completely laid back and calm, unfazed by anything.

One of the characaters I've had trouble nailing down the personality for is Unpossible Man.  He's a big, super-strong, invulnerable kind of guy, but very laid back, which has  tended to mean he completely fades into the background and has no character at all.  I spent Friday going back through stories that he'd been in and trying to rewrite dialogue with more of a Fred Kwan feel -- in particular, finding a few places to throw in the phrase "That's a hell of a thing," one of many favorite lines from the movie.

I also spent some time going back over scenes with DarkFireNinjaCatgirl in them and rewriting them to include more geeky stream-of-consciousness babble, which is something she does.  She's like Goku from the comic strip Elf Only Inn.

I did a very little bit of rewriting on several story projects over the weekend.  On Monday I tried to work on Unpossible a bit, and this got me back to the conundrum of figuring out how Unpossible Man works and talks.  This story is an origin story for Unpossible Man, where you learn that he's pretty much always been strong and invulnerable, with no real explanation -- no big origin story after all.  But my idea was that he likes to tell more fantastic origin stories all the time -- ones that are contradictory and often make no sense, such as he's from another planet, his powers come from his high-tech power armor suit that just happens to look like spandex, he was bitten by a radioactive wombat, etc.  Most of these stories include an explanation for why he can't fly -- which seems to be a sore spot for him.  My idea was to interweave different origin stories as he's telling them with scenes from his life growing up that demonstrate what really happened.

That story still hasn't really come together well for me, but it occurred to me that if telling tall tales about the origin of his powers is a  trait of Unpossible Man, then it should be present in other stories.  In particular, the three Amethyst Road stories and the three Return to Amethyst stories.  They're travelling, which would give him ample opportunity to tell tales, and since each is a three-story arc, I could tell a different origin story in each story of the arc -- and they're meeting new people on the way so he has new people to tell his story  to.  So I spent some time going back  through those stories and adding in these little origin story asides, and it really helps him stand out as a personality much better.

Lastly I borrowed again from Galaxy Quest -- another favorite of the movie is the "red shirt" extra Guy, who doesn't have a last name, who is convinced he's going to die because that's what happened to him in the one episode he was on the show.  I love that character, he really helps make the movie.  In Return to Amethyst I have a curse placed on Grandpa Anarchy where each day at 6 PM he gains a new sidekick, and soon he has several and they become more expendable than ever (and two of them really are gotten rid of quickly for laughs).

So I decided one of them should have that same "I'm expendable, I'm going to die!" mentality, and rewrote several scenes accordingly.  I think he needs to be one of the heroes at the very end of the story now.

So that's what I've accomplished -- not a lot of new writing, but some editing & rewriting for character.  I also completely reorganized my Grandpa Anarchy folders and placed all of my completed stories and background information files in my more public Dropbox folder so my friends can see them if they want -- for what that's worth.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sometimes I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

So.  Second Class, my current big-plot Grandpa Anarchy story (more of a Black Moon Maidens story actually).

Scene One

The first big plot -- the biggest plot -- is a cult leader who kidnaps Black Dahlia's brother, perhaps in revenge.  So the first scene I wrote involved the Black Moon Maidens  taking out the cult, but not finding the leader (who they were apparently looking for).

The naked woman strained against the ropes.  "Do not fret, girl," said the priest.  "You have been chosen for a magnificent purpose -- you shall be the sacrifice that will summon Lord Shag Sogoth back to this plane.  Yours will be the first death of many, as our dark lord sweeps away this wicked world in  the great cleansing...."
The priest filled a chalice with seawater and passed it around the circle.  He faced east and then north, west, and south, turning counter-clockwise and drawing a complicated symbol in the air and then speaking the name of one of the elder gods.  Once the ritual of banishing was complete, he faced the altar again.
"Ancient Shag Sogoth," he called out, "whose power is over 9,000.  He of ten eyes and a thousand tentacles who wields the glaive of souls lies sleeping within he vacation house on the shores of the oceans of the void, only three blocks from Dorgon's Sushi Bar.  It is not a deep sleep, nor the sleep of the dead, but a light nap after a filling meal.  He dreams of pink kittens and blue butterflies."
The gathered acolytes responded in unison, "Yes, Shag Sogoth dreams of kittens and butterflies!"
"But only so he can crush them when he wakes!" exclaimed the priest.
"Shag Sogoth dreams of kittens and butterflies!"  The priest chanted this phrase over and over.  Drums beat a pulsing rhythm with a faint calypso flavor.  The cultists swayed back and forth.  The lights flickered.  The temperature in the room dropped suddenly.
The priest raised a long knife high into the air.  Behind him a catgirl appeared.  She was dressed like a ninja and wielded a sword.
"Nya!  Surprise!" the catgirl exclaimed.  "Sayonara, asshat!"  She drove her sword into his back.  It emerged from his chest, skewering the cartoon crab.
I tried to inject some silliness and humor into this scene.  Before writing it I really hadn't thought much about who their leader was or why he wasn't there -- but they can't catch him right away, so someone else is leading the ceremony and that person dies.  They don't catch their man.  (And, incidentally, Black Dahlia arrests the other cultists instead of killing them, as Grandpa would do.)

It seemed like a good start to me.  I moved on to scene two, in which Jay Medberry (Electric Bluejay) of Temporary Superfriends explains who they rescued and what he's found out about the cult leader before a discussion of his search for a female tech-expert heroine for the Maidens.  Dahlia is set on adding at least one more person to their team but they have no tech expertise whatsoever.  I made this point by having them lift a smart phone off the cultist they'd just killed, but they can't even break into it to get information on the leader, Jay has to do this for them.  Also, I tossed off a line about Jay having Tsunami Lass and Spirit Summoner Sally track down the cult leader's house but they found nothing.

This was another thing I hadn't planned to do, but it made sense.  I didn't want to write that scene, so having Jay toss it off explained something that didn't actually need to happen on screen.  But now I had established that Jay was involved in the investigation, and that he was employing Tsunami Lass and Spirit Summoner Sally to do that for him.  These happen to be two of the heroines who he is trying to convince Dahlia to add to her team -- so it doesn't hurt to introduce them doing stuff.

I expanded on this with another scene a few days later in which Sally, Tsunami Lass, and Dog Is My Copilot (who is the secretary at Temporary Superfriends, but a very useful in tracking someone given that she's basically a dog person) find a body while tracking the cult leader.  I decided that it was odd that Jay was so involved in a Black Moon Maiden investigation, so I added a line about how this cult leader had killed one of his people, and he really wanted the guy brought down.

Okay, so far so good, right?

New Scene One

Except that I had a lot of people chasing after this villain, and I hadn't even really established who he was or why people hated him so much.  I mean, his cult was trying to summon a dark god, okay, that means he's dangerous, but he wasn't even present at the time?  And why does he want revenge on Dahlia if he hasn't really interacted with her yet?

So I decided to write a new first scene -- a prologue -- which introduced the hero that worked for Jay who this cult leader killed.  I managed a passable scene, very short, that established that this hero worked on his own, wasn't that experienced, had tried to track down the cult leader and had been caught and trapped.  The villain was about to kill him, end of scene.

New Scene Two

But now I had a new problem.  It just seemed too weird to write a short scene introducing this villain and then jump straight to a scene where the Black Moon Maidens were trying to kill him and his cult.  Talk about instant plot advancement!  So I wrote another scene between Jay and Dahlia in which Jay explained who the hero who had died was, what he'd found out about this cult leader, and how he wanted the guy brought down.  It's at this point that the Black Moon Maidens are brought in on the case, at Jay's request.
"His name," said Jay Meberry, "was the Concrete Duck.  He was a bright kid but too reckless.  He registered with us, but he really had no interest in being a sidekick, or working with others.  He wanted to be a hero.  He wanted to fly solo."
"And it got him killed," said Black Dahlia.
Jay nodded.  "He was working on a kidnap case.  He left notes...."
Dahlia studied the folder.  "Wilhelm Chatsworth?  Why does that name sound familiar?"
"He was a history professor at Sanford Schuster U.  He disappeared last spring."
"Ah, I remember now.  My brother's a student there, he mentioned it.  They said he was a strange guy who got too deep into the occult -- believed in ancient magic and elder gods.  The school was about to fire him when he simply vanished."
"Yes," said Jay.  "Apparently he's assembled a cult.  They call themselves the Brotherhood of Apophenia Dawn.  They're trying to call down an elder god to the mortal plane...."

Basically there's a lot of stuff that I'd said in other scenes, only it made more sense to put it here.  This also involved moving a lot of introductory type stuff from the later Jay/Dahlia scene to this one.

New Scene One

Having explained a lot of what was going on in scene two, I was free to go back and rewrite scene one again.  My first attempt had not been very intimate or visceral, it was just a "here's the hero, he's captured, the villain is going to kill him" sort of straightforward set up thing.  Not that I really think my newer version is all that visceral, but it's an improvement, and there was a lot of explanatory/exposition stuff that I didn't need to add since it was not in scene two.

Paul opened his eyes and stared up at broken ceiling  tiles.  The room was dark, and something was in his mouth.  He tried to sit up.  Ropes held him down.  And everything came flooding back.
He'd been tracking a villain --  a man named Wilhelm Chatsworth, who'd kidnapped a woman to sacrifice her, in order to summon a dark god.  It sounded crazy but Chatsworth was dead serious.  He was steeped in dark magic, and had loyal followers.
Paul looked around.  He was in an abandoned office building, tied to a desk.  Chatsworth was nearby, studying an old book.  He glanced up and smiled.
"You did well to find me," Chatsworth said.  He was tall, with a craggy face and graying hair, dressed in a nice suit and power tie.  He'd worn a black, hooded cloak earlier, but without it he looked like the professor that he, in fact, was.  "I really must congratulate you.  There are several very powerful heroes endeavoring to find me, but you found me first.  And who are you, I wonder?"
"I am the Concrete Duck!" Paul growled.

I am, of course, a little worried about being too dark, or not funny, since these stories are funny at other points.  But it's meant to be a dark scene.  It's hard for me to find the balance sometimes.

Anyway, I'll probably rewrite the scene yet again later to try and improve it some more.  But right now, I like what I have vs. what I had for a first scene the first two times.

So Where's Our Villain?

Now this is all well and good, but I still didn't know why our villain wasn't in original first scene where the Maidens take down the cult.  But I'd decided that our cult leader Chatsworth has a transformation spell that allows him to disguise himself as other people.  This will allow him to assume the identity of someone close to Dahlia's brother, so that when he realizes who the brother is, he's in a position to use that knowledge.

It occurred to me that if he can transform like this, that maybe he'd taken the precaution of disguising himself before the big sacrifice.  Maybe he'd suspected they were going to be caught.  Maybe he was there all along, in disguise, posing as one of the other cultists they arrested.

I really liked this idea because it played into the whole "Grandpa Anarchy would just kill them all" idea.  Dahlia decides to not be, in essence, a mass murderer, and that decision causes her problems.  Of course, it will also have to have positive repercussions because I don't really want the message to be that she should mass murder bad guys to prevent the occasional future problem.  For one, I have another villain show up who is not very evil, more of an annoyance, but who is the tech genius Dahlia is looking for.  She convinced this person to turn to the side of good -- one example of her softer tactics working to her advantage in a way that would never happen for Grandpa.  I also want one of the cultists to help her out as well.

But!  Big Bad Chatsworth is captured, and escapes, and vows revenge.  This involves a couple of more new scenes, which I'm working on.  And I want an earlier scene with Dahlia's brother that sets up some of that plot earlier.

Original Question:  Do I Know What I'm Doing?

I'm well aware that I'm not the kind of writer that plots things out extensively before writing.  For this story, I had some nebulous plots that I knew the basic arc for:  1)  Cult leader kidnaps Dahlia's brother (and a subplot for that involving a weird Halloween party in which Dahlia's brother and friends dress up as the Black Moon Maidens);  2)  Dahlia's search for a tech heroine, and their encounter with nominal villain Mia Nevermore, a robotics wizard, who they convince to join their side; 3)  Nina Ballerina quits the League of Two-Fisted Justice and eventually joins the Maidens.  They add several other heroines at the same time and form a second response team; and 4)  Fire Maiden is kidnapped, taking place roughly at the same time as the team is getting ready to rescue Dahlia's brother -- thus, the need for two different teams to handle everything.

But clearly a lot of the actual details I'm figuring out as I write, which is why I kind of have a two steps forward, one step back approach.  Things I write in one scene make it clear that I need an earlier scene to explain things.  It's kind of an organic process for me when I work on a story this big.  And even though I'm always convinced that the scene I'm currently writing or rewriting is improving the story, I'm at the same time never sure if I really know what I'm doing or where I'm going.  The whole super soldier serum plot that I've spliced onto all of this is probably not necessary to anything, but is not a full-fledged story on its own.  It seemed to work placing it in the middle of all of this, but I may change my mind later.

"Nyaaa!"  DarkFireNinjaCatgirl bounded into the room.  She dropped six vials of a greenish liquid onto the desk.  "Courtesy of the Continuity Crusaders!" she exclaimed.
Dahlia stared at the vials.  She picked one up and inspected it carefully.  "Yes?" she said.  "What is it?  Energy drink?"
"No, silly!" the catgirl replied.  "It's super soldier serum!  Just like what gave Grandpa Anarchy his powers!"
Jay picked up a vial.  "People have been trying to replicate this formula for years," he said.  "The super soldier experiment was deemed a failure when Walter Lutton failed to develop any special powers.  Later, once they realized that it had worked on Grandpa Anarchy,  the formula had disappeared."
"Nyaa!  Of course it disappeared!" the catgirl said.  "Last night I stole it from a vault in 1941!"


Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6th -- Second Class Update

Things are going well so far.  I only got one new scene or two fully written on the weekend, but I finished 2-3 more today.  I have abut 6-7 completed scenes on the story now, and it's starting to come together.  That includes taking the villain that I made up in scene one and fleshing him out a bit, then writing a prologue that gives him a bit more spotlight.  He's going to be the big bad of the story, I want to establish him as a menacing presence early.

Still not sure if all of this will hold together but so far so good!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Second Class

In keeping with my New Year's resolutions, I got right to work on Second Class the last two days and now I have the first two scenes fully written.

I think I've decided to write this as a multi-plot story that will probably be novel-length, a short novel at least.  We'll see, but it's enough plots to run pretty long.  The problem is that my overall idea/goal is "the Black Moon Maidens hire new members and form an entire second team".  In order to accomplish this, most of my plots have to happen pretty much concurrently.  For one thing, the impetus for having a second team is that the team has two problems at once to solve -- which is two of the plots right there, one involving Dahlia's brother getting kidnapped by cultists, and the other involving Fire Maiden getting kidnapped by a stalker.

A third plot involves Nina Ballerina leaving the League of Two-Fisted Justice (doesn't fit in anymore) and later joining the Black Moon Maidens as leader of their second team.  Obviously, this has to happen at the same time.  A fourth plot involves the team's search for a tech-minded member, which is Dahlia's top priority before they add anyone else.  This one involves a new villain that they fight more than once, and later convince to "come to the good side".  While this doesn't absolutely have to happen at exactly the same time, it fits naturally into everything going on in this story.

The last big plot is an idea I had a couple of weeks ago... in another story, DarkFireNinjaCatgirl helps out the Continuity Crusaders and is rewarded some of the super-soldier serum that gave Grandpa Anarchy his strength, toughness, and longevity.  I thought, "What if DarkFireNinjaCatgirl brought back enough for the whole team?"  I wrote up a scene that dealt with this idea, but there wasn't an actual plot there -- I mean, maybe Black Dahlia kind of objects to the idea, but the other members would probably embrace it and then she would eventually too.  Where's the story?  Where's the surprise?  The serum pretty much works as advertised, so there's no "Surprise!  You grew a third arm!" sort of scenario I wanted to explore.

But if I place it in the middle of everything else I'm writing here, it adds one more bit of intrigue.  I think Nina would want some of that serum if she got the chance, and Dahlia might be inclined to give hers to her brother since he's already been placed in danger once because of her.

So anyway... two scenes written on a very complicated story.  We'll see how far I get on it!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Addendum to 2014 Writing Goals

I have a list of stories that I would really like to finish writing, so I'm going to list them here.

Grandpa Anarchy Stories

Return to Amethyst Part 3 (needs title)  I've finished parts 1 and 2 of this fantasy trilogy.  Not sure how much I like it, but I need to finish off part 3 now.

World of Hero  A story from 2012 that desperately needs a complete rewrite, which I've started more than once.  This is supposed to go into my 2nd book.  It's an important story in the Grandpa Anarchy cannon, and one of my oldest unfinished (or un-rewritten) stories.

Stronger  A story idea / partially plotted that I've penciled in as the last story of Book 2.  It's an important story that deals with Grandpa Anarchy's back story and history, so I want to see it written.

Second Class (working title)  This story as plotted is actually a series of at least 5 different interwoven plots.  I have not yet decided if it's possible to write them as five separate stories, or if I'm talking about a Black Moon Maiden novel here.  (I think I even came up with another plot thread this week for this group).  Important things happen in this story and I've already written stories that happen after those events, so I need to write this.

Unpossible  A story about the origin of Unpossible Man.  I'd like to finish this one as well.

Performance Review, The Eagle Has Landed  Two shorter and less important stories that I would like to see finished.  They help flesh out Grandpa's back story a bit more so  they are more important than more random stories.

Fan Fiction

Girl's School, Third Magical Girl Arc (Kahotep Adventure)  As always my massive fan fiction story Girl's School is my #1 priority, but if I can finish out the current story arc I might be able to come to a sort of "soft" ending -- meaning I could wrap up some of my major plots, but still leave myself room to write more.  That's the goal anyway.

I Can See Clearly Now  This was not a long story -- five short chapters -- but I never finished the fifth chapter.  It's a very, very, very old story that I still want to finish.

A Goddess In Oz  My Ah! My Goddess / Oz crossover story (that also crossed over with the Sandman).  I really liked this story and I had a complete plot for it, so I'd like to see it finished.

Other Original Fiction

Otherworld Blues Stories  I actually have at least two massive stories plotted for this universe, but I'd like to write some smaller stories involving the characters, since it's hard to say if I'll ever finish the big ones.

Jubel In Oz  I have an original Oz story plotted and partially written that I'd like to finish.  That would be a good goal for this year.

Tai-Pan Stories

Bitch, Chance Encounter, Blanking the Lady (variations), Zesh and the Bitted Throug  I have an awful lot of Tai-Pan stories plotted or partially written, but the ones I'd most like to complete are the first two Vashti stories, a series of stories under the title Blanking the Lady (which is a complicated project so I might not tackle it this year) and the story of how Zesh wound up in a Plutonium Rock band.

I should probably include the story of how Vashti comes to the Quantum Lady, but there's very little written on that and it's another big story, so not this year.

Goals for 2014

So my goals for this year are to continue writing as much as I can.  Specific goals:

1.  Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a week.

Since I did this in 2013, I want to see if I can keep doing it in 2014.

2.  Write a Tai-Pan story every 2 months (6 in the year).

This is what I actually managed last year so it's a goal I can achieve if I work at it.

3.  Finish the third "magical girl" arc for Girl's School, and try to wrap things up.

I actually have more plots planned for what happens after the current arc I'm working on, but I'd at least like to finish what I've started first.

4.  Write 4 short stories set in my Otherworld Blues universe.

This would be one of my other original fiction ideas that I've had in my head for some 20 years, a furry-related world.  I'd like to actually have something I can read based on this universe, something to show for all of the time I've spent thinking about this place.

5.  Draw a picture each month.

This is still a good goal even though I failed at it completely in 2013.

5.  Publish Book One of my Grandpa Anarchy stories, edit 2nd book, assemble stories for 3rd book.

I want to finish the goal I set for myself in 2013 and get book one published.

6.  One-off story/pamphlet thing for Emerald City Comicon/Some other con.

Still an idea I could work on.

2013 Goals Final Tally

Last January I wrote:

"For years I've followed up my November NaNoWriMo success with a pledge to get more writing done for the new year, and for years I've failed.  I used to blame my addiction to the online game City of Heroes, and it's certainly true that I wasted a LOT of time playing that game (wasted, but thoroughly enjoyed).  But the lack of an MMO to turn to has not automatically resulted in me writing more.  I've watched more movies, I've done much better at getting 50 minutes of exercise a night on the treadmill, I've read a lot more news and generally goofed off on my iPad a lot.  But I haven't written that much more."

So my big goal for the year was to write more -- which I accomplished in spades.  I definitely think I've learned something this last year -- it's become much easier for me to put a story together when I want to.  I kind of went in spurts, failing to write for several months and then writing a whole bunch in August and September.

Here's my final tally on my 2013 goals:

1.  Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a week.

I actually wrote many more Grandpa Anarchy stories in 2013  than I needed to to reach this goal.  My final tally was 61 stories for the year.

January 2013

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)

February 2013

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)

March 2013

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)

April 2013

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

May 2013

June 30:  Dark Anarchy
July 1:  Ruse
July 1:  The R Word
Aug 3:  Space Kraken

June 2013

Aug 3:  Triple Aaar!
Aug 4:  Take Me Back to Constantinople
Aug 4:  The Chef that Time Forgot
Aug 5:  The Time of Your Life

July 2013

Aug 6:  Endangered Species
Aug 7:  Anarchy Is Forever
Aug 8:  Brothers and Sisters
Aug 12:  Self-Made Man

Aug 2013

Aug 13:  Hackernaut
Aug 15:  Gutbucket Magic
Aug 17:  Questionable Judgment
Aug 17:  Zero Hour

Sept 2013

Aug 18:  Your Stupid, Stupid Minds
Aug 20:  The Statue Got Me High
Aug 22:  Black Moon Rising
Aug 24:  Pick of the Litter

Oct 2013

Aug 24:  Pandora's Closet
Aug 25:  Magic is a Bitch
Aug 26:  Transformation Station
Aug 26:  Youth is Wasted on the Young

Nov 2013

Aug 27:  Historically Accurate
Aug 28:  Curse of the Teenager
Aug 28:  I Was a Teenage Ballerina
Aug 29:  Vows

Dec 2013

Aug 29:  Damsel in Distress
Aug 30:  X Chromosome
Sept 02:  Fate Maid to Order
Sept 26:  Deep House of Horror

2013 Bonus Stories:

Sept 26:  Crystal Weenie
Sept 27:  Arbor of Pain
Sept 27:  A Good Start
Sept 28:  Hero's Sacrifice
Oct 09:  It's a Dirty Job
Oct 15:  That Sinking Feeling
Oct 21:  Serum Theorem
Oct 21:  Final Act
Oct 23:  Tryout Trouble
Oct 27:  A Glitch In Time
Oct 29:  Return to Amethyst:  Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Dec  18:  Unfinished Business
Dec 31:  Return to Amethyst:  China Town

This goal  was a smashing success.

2.  Write a Tai-Pan story each month.

I did not achieve this goal, but I wrote or finished 6 stories and that's a vast improvement over what I had done in the last several years.  So success, I say!  Final tally:

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
Aug 31:  Ballerina Blues

3.  Work on anime fanfiction / original fiction each week a little bit.

I really accomplished nothing on my other original fiction.

As for my anime fanfiction story Girl's School, I did nothing most of the year but in November for NaNoWriMo I tackled it and did a great deal -- I finally connected up the chunks of story that I had by writing the final missing scenes and missing arc, and finally tackled the second half of the third magical girl adventure, which is as far as I've written the story.  I got to 50,000 words for November before I finished this arc so I still need to work on it, but I've started publishing my story again now that I have everything lined up to go, and I should be able to publish everything else I have in the coming year, for better or worse (since the story kind of goes off the rails a bit when we hit the magical girl stuff).

So overall I'd consider this goal a success as well.

4.  Draw a picture each month.

I did not draw a single thing in 2013.  Perhaps not surprisingly, we didn't publish a volume of the Artist's APA either.  I only got 1 submisison for my June 2013 publication date, so I didn't bother to publish that, but I had intended to at least come up with some pages for my own submission and then publish what I had.

5.  Edit Grandpa Anarchy stories for publication.

I made some progress on this goal but didn't achieve it.  I arranged the stories in order that I'd want in my first book, and reread through them and did editing and rewriting.  I really need to convince some friends to read through and edit what I have at this point, and/or assemble it for publication and then ask for copy editing.  Also I requested/comissioned a cover illustration from someone, but since I haven't set dates I don't think it's been a priority for anyone to help me on any of this.

I assembled a group of stories for a potential 2nd book as well, but haven't done more than that.  At this point I have enough stories for at least 3 books if not more, but not all of them are probably worthy of publication.

6.  One-off story/pamphlet thing for Emerald City Comicon.

I did not do this.  It's something I could attempt again for this year's con I suppose.