Monday, April 25, 2016

April -- Camp NaNoWriMo Report

April is Camp NaNoWriMo.  Like previous years, my plan was to write a Grandpa Anarchy story a day, and 30,000 words overall.  It hasn't really gone so well, but at least I'm getting some stuff done.

As I laid out last time, I had a plan (there's always a plan, until you get punched in the face).  I was going to write a series of stories in which Grandpa Anarchy had adventures out in space.  I had some story ideas for this, and I had three potential sidekicks in mind to work with -- Quantum Uncertainty Boy, Magical Mimic Cosplay Girl, and Suck It Up Buttercup.

Then in late March I tried to get some writing done in preparation for April.  I wrote a story at Norwescon that started out with Grandpa Anarchy teaching superpowered martial arts to some of his former and yet-to-be sidekicks.  For this, I included the characters that I knew were going to form their own supergroup -- Magical Midriff, Magical Manic Pixy Dreamgirl, You Go Girl, and Boy Gravity.

(On a side note, I also read the Boy Gravity story Sharp Dressed Man back in April I think at writer's night, and went back and revised my description of the character a bit, both in that story and in the previous story Asphalt Cemetary.)

For the purposes of my story I also included a new sidekick who was a speedster named the Spit Second.  I hadn't done a speedy character before, and she seemed to fit in nicely.

The villain that shows up in the story is a walking void creature called the Shadow of Evil, who somehow was a comic book villain come to life.  You punch him, you get teleported to another dimension.  I'd used him in a story called The Shadow Out of Joe's Mouth and Grandpa had failed to defeat him, but I brought him back for this story. Superpowered Self Defense, and demonstrated that Grandpa has since figured out a way to counter the creature.  Although the story ends there, it gave me an idea.

I had not really figured out how Grandpa and company get into space -- but another of my story ideas floating around was to bring back a superpowered lawyer named Legal Briefs and have him represent Grandpa Anarchy.  This had been suggested at another writer's night a few months back, after I read the story Old?  It occurred to me to have Grandpa and everyone involved defeat the shadow creature (off-screen) and then be put on  trial in intergalactic court on murder charges, because living voids are people too.  The way you defeat the Shadow of Evil is with a solar eclipse (according to the comic book), and the way you get a solar eclipse on demand is to teleport the shadow creature through space and time to where you know one will occur.

This meant Wayback Boy was involved, and since he was involved so was Kid Continuity.

I wrote Legal Eagle at the beginning of April, kicking off my Camp NaNoWriMo.  But I struggled with making the followup story.  At the end of Legal Eagle, everyone winds up in a random dimension courtesy of another, similar shadow creature.  This, then, was how I got my heroes into space and how I launched them onto a series of adventures.  My only problem was the sheer size of my team -- the two members of the Continuity Crusaders, four future members of The Nonhumans, Grandpa's current sidekick and the three other future sidekicks I'd planned to use for my stories -- plus Legal Eagle the lawyer into the bargain.  That added up to twelve people counting Grandpa Anarchy -- a very unwieldy number.  But off I went.  Next up on the docket -- the story called The Nonhumans, in which my cast of unafilliated former sidekicks decided to form a team.

At this point my idea was that they would wind up on an alien planet, then get rescued by Jennie Nova and Llahna (more characters!).  And I spun the first part of that idea into a story about them fighting giant worm creatures on this alien planet while holding a discussion about what to name their new supergroup.  I wanted to establish several of the characters as a new supergroup, and I like the setup where, in the middle of a fight, the heroes are holding a very mundane discussion.  It's funny on the face of it, so this seemed like a good direction to go.

I finished The Nonhumans, but it didn't feel like it worked.  The big revel was not only Jennie showing up to save them, but that she knew the name of their new supergroup before they'd finished forming it.  My idea was that there were already a bunch of comics based on their group, thanks to some fourth-dimensional beings that could see into the past and future and liked to make comics for some strange reason.  But even though I hinted at the aliens and hinted that Grandpa knew all of this ahead of time, it really didn't seem to flow well.  The surprise wasn't much of one, and didn't seem to directly tie into what came before (the fight with the giant worms).

At the same time I was working on the next story, which involved all of the unafilliated characters becoming temporary members of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes (with the silver bikini uniform -- I thought this would be a funny direction to go), and also Kid Continuity getting wrapped up in reading all of the new comics she'd just discovered and getting really excited about them.  I had some ideas about where that second line of reasoning could go, but again, the story wasn't coming together in my head.  I decided that I had at least two different stories here -- one, in which they're conscripted into the Space Babes and have to wear the uniform, and one, where Kid Continuity gets excited about the comics, and where that leads.  These are the stories Intergalactic Order of Space Babes (working title), Further Adventures of Grandpa Anarchy, and Punchathon.

So I set out to write the bikini uniform thing as a separate story, but I was still trying to improve The Nonhumans and so I also went back to that and decided that it was also at least two stories -- one about their fight with the giant worms, and one where they're rescued and it's revealed that their supergroup is already named, and that there's a comic about them.  I came up with a new ending for the worm fight story that I think is much funnier -- at least it works on some level.  This story I called Strike the Worm.

I struggled a bit with my revised story The Nonhumans, still about the superhero name and the team's rescue.  It all fell into place when I decided that there wasn't just a comic book, but a movie about them (or a tri-dee/interactive entertainment thing -- who knows what entertainment will be like in a highly-advanced intergalactic civilization?)  The movie idea helped bring the incongruity into sharper focus faster, which makes the end of the story have more of an impact.  Thus I finished a completely different (new, improved!) version of The Nonhumans.

I briefly considered writing a story about the interactive movie itself -- how the main characters could go to experience it, and wind up playing each other's parts -- but after some thought I really couldn't see an actual plot or anything interesting based on that idea.

The bikini uniform story was much harder to figure out.  I called it Wear the Uniform, which was a terrible working title.  At some point I realized that a story about them wearing new uniforms wasn't really a story, so it morphed into a situation where they suddenly had to go on a mission.  And I still think that will work -- I've written the beginning and the end, but making them meet in the middle is still confusing me.  But for now, this is the story I call Bombs Away.

Along the way I spun off a couple more ideas into separate stories.  The team registering as superheroes of the galactic empire -- separate story, called Girl Gravity.  One guy falling in love with Jennie's alien sidekick -- separate story, called Blue-Skinned Alien Babe, and then a second story idea based on that called Llahna's Girl.

But my new problem was that I introduced the idea of comics and a movie based on the new supergroup -- and then multiple stories went by before I explored that any further.  That didn't work at all.  The heroes would want to ask questions.  My only problem?  Explaining how and why the comic books exist wasn't a story idea in and of itself.

And then, as I tried to drift off to sleep last night, it came to me -- and I realized it was an idea I'd thought of a day or two earlier, then forgot about.  I got up and wrote it down this time, and that is now the basis for a story called Painted Into A Corner.

So at present my proposed book Weird Tales of Weird Anarchy begins with these stories that I've written or am working on:

Superpowered Self Defense
Legal Eagle
Strike the Worm
The Nonhumans
Painted Into A Corner
Bombs Away
Intergalactic Order of Space Babes
Girl Gravity
Blue Skinned Alien Babe
Further Adventures of Grandpa Anarchy
(maybe one or two more stories -- possibly Doom and Secret Crisis Wars)
Llahna's Girl