Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Camp NaNo Report April 25 2017

For a while there things were rolling along with Camp NaNoWriMo, and then they came to a screeching halt.  But in the last couple of days I think I've managed to put things back in order again.

Before Norwescon I managed to finish three stories -- New League of Two-Fisted Justice, Upgrade, and Ghost Cop (my Deathcop 2000 story).  While at Norwescon I finished Mummy Dearest on Thursday, Brain Salad and Second Law My Metal Ass on Friday, and then Lingua Franca Fractura on Saturday.  Sunday I didn't manage to write much, and I was wiped out by the con and didn't write for most of the following week, but I had three story ideas I was playing with, titled Dues Ex Machina, Grimdark, and Snopes and Larpers.

I managed to finish Dues Ex Machina and Grimdark Fantasy on Sunday the 23rd.  That made me feel better since it was the first thing I'd finished in a week, but they were both short and not very good.  On Monday, I decided that Grimdark Fantasy was so bad that I needed to start completely over and rewrite it.

My original idea for this story was just that Grimdark Oz is pretty pevailent.  I think it was triggered by a comment to that effect that Mike said at Norwescon, but anyway, it's true.  So I figured, I've done a Grandpa / Oz story, but I hadn't done a Grandpa / Grimdark Oz story.  But Grandpa would have a policy of "Not Under Any Circumstances" for Grimdark Fantasy in general and especially Grimdark Oz.

So that was the germ of the idea, but I wasn't sure how to put it into a story.  My first though was just that a bunch of twisted Oz characters show up on Grandpa's doorstep asking for help, and he slams the door on them.  That was the concept in a nutshell, but it didn't seem like I could work it into a funny story.  It was too direct, there was no real surprise.

While I thought about it I also realized that even though Grandpa says his number one rule is "No Grimdark Oz Adventures", in fact Grimdark Wonderland is much worse.  It's always darker and more twisted and more bloody -- and also more common.  So I thought I could work that into the story as well.  But then, you like to do things in threes, so if I'm going from Grimdark Oz to Grimdark Wonderland, what's next?  What's the big surprise?

I thought, you know, Grandpa's probably a huge fan of Windsor McKay's Little Nemo's Adventures in Slumberland.  He grew up in New Jersey around the time that comic was in print.  And nobody does Grimdark Slumberland.  Grandpa would see that as a refuge from the insanity.

My initial story Grimdark Fantasy begins in the middle of a fight in Oz.  Grandpa wakes up from having been knocked unconscious, and is brought up to speed on their adventures in a twisted version of Oz.  Their car had been brought her by a tornado, they'd already landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and killed her, and now they were allied with some kind of resistance movement.  Grandpa wants to leave as fast as possible, and his sidekick has this world's equivalent of the silver shoes (ruby slippers), so he grabs the sidekick and has him activate the spell -- click heels together three times, say "I want to go home".  But the shoes fly off (which is something that happens in the book too) and in this case Grandpa and sidekick are tumbled into a twisted Wonderland, which Grandpa declares is even worse.  And then he makes a comment about if you see a walking bed let me know, that's Windsor McKay and nobody does Grimdark Slumberland.

It was... not a very good story.  There was no real punchline, and it tried to cover quite a bit of territory far too quickly to really establish anything.  I felt if I was going to visit twisted Oz and twisted Wonderland, I needed to take the time to explore both of them more.  Also, while I'd borrowed characters from the second Oz book, I hadn't included Jack Pumpkinhead or Tip, and I'd instead included a punk Dorothy with  tattoos, a half-shaved head, and a snarling pitbull Toto.  That image made me laugh, but I didn't like the way I threw some characters from one book together with some characters from another book, with no explanation.

Even more, it seemed to me that if you wanted a really twisted Grimdark Oz, then instead of having the Wizard of Oz or the Wicked Witch of the West as evil ruler, why not have Queen Dorothy of Kansas?  After she defeats the Wicked Witch of the West she has control of the winged monkeys, and if she doesn't set them free, then she can use them to take down the Wizard of Oz and rule the land.

Another thing:  I'd given the Tin Man a gatling gun, and I'd tried to transform the Scarecrow into a kind of Frank 'n' Furter looking character, but that didn't really work too well in my head.  By bringing back Jack Pumpkinhead and Tip, I could make Tip  the one who dresses up like a mini Frank 'n' Furter -- and that made sense in a twisted way, because in the original story Tip turns out to be Princess Ozma, who'd been transformed into a boy as a child.  But my Tip isn't about to let anyone transform him back.  ^_^

Working from the Rocky Horror idea, I began my new story with Grandpa and his sidekick on the side of the road.  Their car has already smashed the Wicked Witch of the East, which infuriated the Munchkins who were loyal servants of the witch.  They've escaped, but now their car has finally died.  I was thinking of moving next to a mysterious castle or house a la Rocky Horror, but Old Mombi's cottage made more sense.

That gave me a chance to have a mirror handy for an escape to Oz.  Here they meet a much darker Alice, based a bit on American McGee's Alice and Alice:  The Madness Returns.  Things turn bad but Grandpa sees his walking bed and jumps on it, escaping into Slumberland, where he's very disappointed to realize that even this place has been hit with the Grimdark stick.

The resulting story is about 3,500 words.  I had fun with it, got to develop the characters and situations a little bit at least, and even managed to borrow some dialog directly from the Marvelous Land of Oz and directly from Alice In Wonderland.  So I think it's more entertaining, with a better ending, although still maybe not quite as good as I'd like.

I called the new version Say No to Grimdark.

I think maybe I'm finally in the right mood to go back and finish up Oz on the Half-Shell now.  Obviously if I want to rewrite World of Hero then that's going to happen after Camp NaNoWriMo is over.

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