Thursday, January 5, 2017
In Search of an Ending
I've been struggling to put together a story this week called Gate Into Danger. This was something I originally began work on over a year ago, at a time when I was binge-watching Stargate SG-1. I think I got about 3 or 4 seasons into it and at some point stopped watching, and haven't gone back to finish it yet.
Anyway, it seemed like a really good idea to do a Stargate-riff for at least one Grandpa Anarchy story, but all I'd written down were a bunch of jokes and references to a sidekick who liked to mix up metaphors. I had this story slotted for Book Five, but since it wasn't actually related to anything else plotwise and wasn't finished, I removed it recently when I was going back through my stories and making sure every story had a number and they were all numbered in order. It helped me to remove a story and use that number for something else. I dumped the partially-written story into my book 8 folder, which is my current working folder for the stories I'm posting on my blog.
I decided to work on it this week. There really wasn't much of anything written yet, so I was kind of starting from scratch.
First things first: I dumped the metaphor sidekick and put in Grandpa's current sidekick F8Wasp. Although it's fun to come up with new sidekicks for each story, it's also a pain, and F8Wasp is tied to an ongoing story that involves the new Anarchy Computer, Annie Two. I have a couple of things I want to do with that AI still, and I think F8Wasp should remain Grandpa's sidekick until I've done them.
Next step: describe the scene -- the setting, the dimensional gate, what Grandpa and F8Wasp look like. I try to borrow from what I've written previously as much as possible, and so I go back to the Annie Two story to copy/paste F8Wasp's description, and then rework it so it's not a direct copy. There's not really much there -- long black hair, a form-fitting costume of black and silver. Most of my descriptions of sidekicks are a couple of details and that's it.
For the jump gate, I have descriptions of a similar gate in several stories in Book Six, Weird Tales of Weird Anarchy. I think I've even said that one of these gates is in Grandpa's basement. There's definitely one in the bar run by Happy Jack in the city of Intersect, so I borrow that description and reword it. I also manage to slip in a reference/joke to the fact that Grandpa has one of these in his basement. I can't find where I actually say that, but I know one of my unfinished stories that I still want to write is a possible story for insertion into Book One in which Happy Jack appears in Grandpa's basement through the same gateway. I would really like to establish Happy Jack as a long-time friend and ally of Grandpa Anarchy, even though I didn't create him until Book Six.
I spend some time working out what the name of my stargate-like operation is, and I set it in the Cheyenne Mountain complex just like they do in the TV show. I recently referenced several made-up secret government agencies, and one of my running jokes is that Grandpa is in contact with more secret agencies with acronym names than he can keep track of, so I use that joke as well.
So far so good -- I have my setup. But where's the joke? I had a bunch of smaller jokes that frankly I don't have time to put in the story -- I need to get to the point. What I don't have is a major joke that can be the surprise or plot twist to give me a direction and an ending. Do they go through the gateway? What then? It'd be nice if Grandpa punches an alien god -- I jot down a few possible lines in case I manage to get to that point.
Maybe the surprise is someone comes through the gateway before they manage to go through it themselves? A god alien, perhaps? Someone that knows Grandpa or is looking for him? I've already done a bit of quick research and decided that my alien god, if I use one, will be Hasameli, the Hittite god of metalworkers and craftsmen. I wanted someone who was obscure, and Hittite gods as a whole are pretty obscure. But I also wanted to toss in something about the archaeologist (I've worked up names to match the three main characters from SG-1) finding writing that might allow him to decipher Linear A, the writing of the ancient Minoan civilization, because that would be a cool thing.
Actually it would be nice to use a Minoan god, but in fact since we can't read their writing we don't know that much about their gods. We have names passed down from the Myceneans via Greek culture or mentioned in Mycenean Linear B writing that might or might not be similar to the original Minoan names, if we can be sure those gods came from Minoa. Also, they're mostly goddesses -- the Minoans are thought to have had a matriarchal religion.
Maybe a different Grandpa Anarchy with a different military team shows up? That could be kind of funny, although I'm not sure I have the exact joke worked out in my head yet. Or one of Grandpa's other enemies or friends shows up? Maybe the Archons of Excellence have already conquered the alien god, or maybe the god is an old friend or enemy of Grandpa's.
This is generally how I work -- figure out the situation, and then ponder over what kind of joke or surprise ending I can reach from there. Usually my subconscious will toss something out when I'm half-asleep, so for now I'm just waiting for the right combination to fall into place in my head. ^_^