Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Grandpa's Dreamquest

Camp NaNoWriMo began on Saturday, but I didn't get much written.  So my plan for Monday was the same plan I'd had since last week -- to finish a couple of short stories.  One has the working title The Glass Cannon, the other is titled Deathcop 2000.  I managed to finally write the first half of Glass Cannon on Sunday, but then I was having trouble with the second half because I didn't have a very good ending in mind.  By Monday I had a slightly better idea for an ending, but still wasn't sure about it.  Meanwhile I don't really even have a setting for Deathcop 2000 yet, let alone a punchline/ending.

The plan was to finish those, so that I'd have enough stories in my queue for the rest of the month and beyond, and then work on finishing Oz On The Half-Shell.  But I wasn't very inspired.  So instead I started going through my Unfinished Story Ideas folder, which I haven't looked at in maybe two years.  An awful lot of the files in here do not even qualify as story ideas -- some are titles, some are bits of dialog that I thought were interesting at the time.  For example:

Deadly Rainbow -- this file consists of nothing but the title, which I apparently liked at the time.

Computer Is Alive -- consists of the following bits of dialog:

Humans are the only animals foolish enough to ask that kind of question.
Grandpa, that's an amazing insight.
No it ain't.

Arachnope  -- consists of an actual idea and some dialog.  The setup is a villain named King Spider who has arachnophobia and thinks spiders are the most terrifying thing in existence.  This would be the sort of villain who threatens people with tarantulas, and would be too scared to actually use any spiders that are poisonous.

So as you can see it's a mixed bag, and there's a lot of files in there that I just need to delete and forget about.

However I pulled up a file named Dreamquest of Unknown Anarchy, and found that I'd actually written most of a first scene on a story that's obviously a take-off on Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath.  I really liked that scene too, so I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the scene and working out where to go next with the story.  The idea is to make fun of the original tale, but to not write something as long and boring as the original.  Just a few short scenes  taken from a much longer narrative, but we skip over the boring parts.

I read the plot synopsis of the story found on Wikipedia, then copied it to my file to reread.  But that's light on details.  I need details before I decide which parts of the story are most worth parodying.  I downloaded the full text of the story as well, and saved it to a file -- but I had no plans to read the whole thing.

When I got home Monday I downloaded the four episodes of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast that covered the book.  I listened to them over the next  three days.  Based on my notes in the story, I already had a good idea of what I wanted to do for the next couple of scenes, so by Tuesday I had three scenes written.  Then I had to decide how to wrap things up -- I only wanted maybe two more scenes at most.  But on reflection, it seemed best to just jump to the end and have Grandpa do a quick recap of all the things that had happened in between that didn't actually get written:

"Okay," said Grandpa, "we've started a couple of wars, we've negotiated a couple of treaties, we've been to hell and back -- and I mean that literally, we've been to the underworld kingdoms at least twice now -- we've visited a dozen weird places with weird names populated by weird creatures, and frankly most of those names felt made up -- and we've skipped over all of that because it's boring as heck.  In short, we've spent weeks and months in dreamland doing only the unknown gods know what.  Are we done with our quest yet?"

After listening to the final podcast and thinking about it for a day, I had an idea of how to  wrap up my story.  The actual Lovecraft story has a rather trippy and psychadelic ending, and it isn't at all clear what really happens.  My ending had to be different, and more funny.  I finished it this morning -- 4,050 words.  Combined with the first half of the Glass Cannon story that I worked on Sunday, that's 4,550 words written so far for April.  I'm suppposed to be averaging 5,000 words a day, and it's the 5th, so I'm not too far off my pace.  If I can find a way to finish Glass Cannon today, that will probably get me to 5,000 words.

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