Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Goals Day 14: Spirits of Stone

I am slowly slogging my way through Return To Amethyst Part 3:  Spirits Of Stone.  I may finish it tomorrow, or by the weekend at least.  It's slow going but I think I'm making good progress; I've gone from not really having any idea where I was going except for a few end details, to having a very good idea of where I'm going -- and from half a scene to nearly three complete scenes, which is probably half the story finished.

In order to get this far I had to figure out exactly who the enemy was, what she was planning to do, and how she got to where she was.  I tend to not figure these things out ahead of time as a rule, and if it's a one-off villain in a two-page story, it doesn't matter.  But this is a much longer story and one of the reasons I was having trouble with it (and why I didn't know what to call it) was that I didn't really know where I was going with it.

Queen Annatanzanite is the Wicked Witch of the South.  She has kidnapped Princess Amethyst and plans to sacrifice her to the Obsidian Spirits on Fairy Solstice.  That's pretty much as far as I had gotten.  Our heroes, after a long journey, have entered her lands and have one day left to rescue the princess.  I already could sense that I had neither the time for a journey to the center of the kingdom, nor the narrative drive to sustain anything of the sort.  Thus, I'd settled on the Queen capturing them right away.

I sat down and tried to figure out who the Queen was, what she could do, how she came to power, how she was a threat, what were her plans.  What, for that matter, was the "Fairy Solstice"?  It's not a given that this fairyland is on a planet that orbits a sun, or that the people who live there understand this (if it is true).  But there were seasons, surely.  After some thought, I decided that it was through some agency of magic that the sun grew weaker and the days shorter in winter, and the sun grew stronger and the days longer in summer.  Or at least, that's the explanation the people will give.  At this point in the story I may not even reveal this explanation, other than to establish that what is meant by the Fairy Solstice is the longest day of the year, but at least I've done enough world-building to know what the apparent answer is should it come up.

Next, Queen Annatanzanite.  It's all well and good to call her a wicked witch, but in the Oz books witches typically had very specific powers and spells.  It wasn't like they could do just anything.  I had by now decided that a rat-person witch was going to rescue the  heroes from the dungeon, so I proceeded with the idea that the rat people -- I named them the Ratmalkin -- were the locals who had been subjugated.  Queen Annatanzanite had a magic item that allowed her to control winged cats, ala the Wicked Witch of the West and her winged monkeys.  Winged cats do not make a great army -- they don't follow orders well or work together well -- but they were natural enemies of the rat people, so she was able to conquer this land with just her winged cat army.

I threw in a line about her next conquering the straw people.  My adventures had earlier run into (and easily defeated) a straw man army.  Turns out this was the remnants of those driven northward after Queen Annatanzanite had conquered their people (which was of course, easily done).

I liked this tie in to earlier events, but a better one came to me:  the Post-Traumatic Disorder Tiger had told a story about war between his people and the vegetable people of Kalhoun.  The next part of the story seemed obvious:  Queen Annatanzanite invited refugees from that war into her kingdom, then molded them into a stronger and more disciplined army than her winged cats.  She had conquered the rest of the southern kingdoms with her army of vegetable people.  They were the main soldiers found in the kingdom.

But of course, she wanted more, and a vegetable person army would only take you so far.  There was a legend about a fierce and warlike race of obsidian trolls who had once conquered this land and threatened to conquer all the lands around Amethyst City.  They'd laid siege to the city itself, and then had been driven back by a united army and perished in the valley of the Ratmalkin.  They were so fierce that none had surrendered.  All had perished, and it was said that their spirits still haunted the hills.

Queen Annatanzanite's plan was to give life to the obsidian spirits once again, through blood sacrifice of a virgin princess on the shortest night of the year.  They would form a new army with which she would conquer all.

So anyway:  now I know who the villain is, what the threats are, and where the story is going.  Knowing all this, it was pretty easy to come up with a workable title for the third chapter of my story, something I'd been unable to do when I had not really known exactly where the story was headed, other than "rescue princess, defeat witch".  And I've managed to make sense of some of the stranger things that had appeared earlier in my story.  Sort of.

At this rate it seems clear that I won't work on any non-Grandpa Anarchy stories by the 15th, as I'd planned, but I will at least be nearly done with this older story that I've been working on for much of the past year.

Today's story idea file is titled:  YOLO.  Because Grandpa Anarchy has died a lot, so there's probably some fun I can have with the idea of "You Only Live Once".  No idea beyond that, but I created a file and saved it for possible later development.

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