Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bolt from the Blue

 This will be a needlessly long description of my recent writing process, which probably interests no one but me.  I think I will publish it but not post to Twitter or anything.

In the beginning there was a story called The Return of Normal.  I had envisioned bringing one of Grandpa Anarchy's old enemies back to life, and this would be the story about that.  As I got closer to writing it, I decided that the spirit of Victorian Honesty St. Normal would possess a clone body in a resurrection station set up by Glory Ashes, making him a version of her that is only 10 years old, because the clones were not fully grown.

I wrote the story, and it involved a battle with a demon.  Almost immediately after it was done, I considered that the battle had been too easy.  Surely I could kill Miss St. Normal, and it would be okay because his/her spirit would claim another of the Glory Ashes clones?  (I figured there were at least four available).  My plan was that later, he would be adopted by Julia Judas, the mother of Glory Ashes and the CEO of Omnigen Inc, and a nominal enemy of Grandpa Anarchy.

Then I thought, what if I kill Grandpa Anarchy too?  The existence of resurrection chambers has led to Grandpa dying rather frequently.

Then I thought, what if Grandpa's spirit accidentally possesses another of the Glory clones?  Oops!  Grandpa's accidentally become a girl again!

Now, I have to admit that this is kind of a fetish of mine and therefore I've used this kind of ending as a joke far more than I need to -- it's not really a surprise anymore.  And yet, I was still mulling over the idea.

Second, there was the "next" story I was planning to write, which I'd titled Real Girl.  This was based around the idea that the robot known as Magical Girl Anne (another version of Annie Two) would be visited by a being known as Eternia the Watcher.  Eternia's thing is magical girls, so I thought, what if she shows up and offers to make Anne human?

At first this struck me as a great idea.  The new girl could be made a daughter of Grandpa Anarchy, whether he really wanted that or not.  Of course she's far more knowledgeable than a typical child but also possibly quite naieve about being a living creature.

The more I pondered this story in my head, however, the less it worked.  I mean, the basic idea is:  Goddess shows up, says Hey, want to be a real girl?  Robot girl says yes.  Boom!   She's a girl.

I couldn't come up with a version of this that included any surprise or twist ending.  Eventually I wrote a portion of the story in which Anne herself points out that there's no surprise involved, and therefore this does not make a good Grandpa Anarchy story.  It seemed to me that the A.I. that works with Grandpa Anarchy might be self-aware about how everything he does revolves around stories.  He can do what he does because he's the hero of the story.

And then I thought, well, in that case, maybe Eternia transforms Anne into twins -- or even triplets!  The prospect of Grandpa suddenly having three super-smart daughters amused me quite a bit.

So!  These things were in my head when last Saturday morning I woke up about 2:30 or 3 AM, and I not only had an idea for a story in my head, I had ideas for MULTIPLE stories in my head.  I had to jump out of bed and write them all down.  Even knowing that maybe most of this would turn out to be unworkable junk ideas formed while half-asleep, I was excited at how many stories I had spun out of my current proposed setup.  My ideas went like this:

What A Waste It Is:  Grandpa decides to remain in the 10-year-old clone body of Glory Ashes, on the theory that it's a waste to immediately destroy the body and he'll probably get killed soon enough, and resurrected in a clone of his old body.  But weeks go by without a single death.

Just Like Miss Anarchy:  Grandpa fights crime as Miss Anarchy.  Miss Anarchy is a fictional teenage female version of Grandpa Anarchy that appears in the cartoon series Girls of Two-Fisted Justice.  A REAL Miss Anarchy fighting crime would be a sensation for fans of the show.

Real Girl:  My proposed make-robot-girl-Anne-a-real-girl story.

My Own Daughter:  Julia Judas attempts to adopt not only Miss Normal, but also Miss Anarchy, in an attempt to take over the estate of her rival.  But she has Grandpa's demonic lawyer Mal to contend with, and Mal has already drawn up paperwork proving that Miss Anarchy is actually the daughter of Grandpa Anarchy, rather than Grandpa himself.  After some negotiation, it is established as "fact" (via paperwork trail at least) that Grandpa is the father of both Miss Anarchy and Miss Normal -- and that Julia Judas is the mother!  (This may not mean they slept together -- as the head of a genetics company it probably means that Julia "borrowed" Grandpa's DNA, or something.)

We Meet Again:  Kid Anarchy and Prof Victorian Honesty St. Normal once fought each other over the fate of the city and the world.  Now they have a fight over clothing, as sisters.

Entourage:  Miss Anarchy and all her relatives and siblings show up to the premier of the live-action movie version of Girls of Two-Fisted Justice and create a scene.  There's Miss Anarchy and Miss Normal, Glory Ashes, and also the three adopted Anne triplets, perhaps at least one version of Annie Two as a robot, possibly F8Wasp and Miss Bloodraven, Possibly Grandpa's great granddaughters Elsie and Kelli, possibly his granddaughter the Russian Eagle as well.  And then, Grandpa Anarchy himself shows up!  Is this some evil doppleganger assuming a disguise?  Miss Anarchy would know immediately.  Or perhaps Miss Anarchy has decided to remain who she currently is, and "resurrected" Grandpa as a separate person?

Custody Battle:  Now that Grandpa is back, he fights with Julia Judas over who is going to raise their two "daughters".  This would be an all-out war in the fashion of villains and heroes doing battle of course, not just some courtroom drama.


I began working on these stories immediately, starting with What a Waste.  The idea here was that Grandpa would decide to remain in the Glory Ashes clone body, on the theory that he was going to die sooner or later and it was a waste to just kill that body off before this happened.  I also wanted to deal with the aftermath of The Return of Normal, where the base gets partially destroyed, and where it's implied that Grandpa and St. Normal are now in clone bodies of Glory Ashes, but none of that was shown or confirmed.  So I wrote a section where they wake up the clones, figure out who's who, and then go back to the main base to get clothing for the two.

At this point I was referring to them both as girls and calling Grandpa "Miss Anarchy" which is the name of the cartoon character and a name that has been applied to Grandpa as a girl before.  I also thought it would be funny to have Grandpa complain about clothing made for girls, even if it's just jeans and tee shirts with Disney princesses or My Little Pony or whatever.  But it was here that I realized that if Grandpa is annoyed at being treated as a girl, he should say so, because optional gender identity is more of a thing these days.  Even Grandpa knows that now.

I rewrote parts of this story several times.  First, Grandpa declares his preference to be  treated as a boy.  I decided to call him "Master Anarchy" instead of Miss Anarchy.  Then, I rewrote it so that the other characters anticipated the gender identity question from the start, and even provided boy's clothing as well as girl's.  I struggled to figure out:  did I call Grandpa a girl, before he states his preference?  Did I just say "the child?"  It's not like I need worry about offending my own characters, but....

Eventually I settled for something in between the two approaches.  Glory Ashes and Miss Trinity (Annie Two) do not anticipate the gender issue, but quickly realize that Grandpa would prefer to be called a boy.  Grandpa is surprised he has the choice, but happy.  They send the maid back out to get boy clothing.

This was all well and good, but my story had little punch or direction.  It meandered, and I had no idea for a good ending, or how to Grandpa would decide to fight crime as Miss Anarchy.  In fact, the direction I took with gender identity moved him further away from that idea.

Instead I focused on a new story.  Forget conversations about clothes and gender -- I wanted an action story with Miss Anarchy!  I wrote this story fairly quickly, and came up with a good ending.  I called it Inevitable, because here is where Miss Anarchy swears she's destined to die soon, but it fails to happen.  This was the first of the stories I finished, and I knew it worked.

Next:  how did we get from "treat me as a boy" to "I'm Miss Anarchy, just like in the cartoon show!"?  I went back to the previous story and quickly realized that the sudden switch was the entire point of the story -- the surprise at the end would be Grandpa's sudden reversal.  And the reason for the reversal?  Grandpa's lawyer Mal shows up to remind him that the Girls of Two-Fisted Justice cartoon show is a half-billion dollar enterprise, with a live action movie about to come out, and it would be great if the real Miss Anarchy made a few public appearances.  I retitled the story Free Advertising.

With those two stories sorted out, I started working on the idea of St. Normal and Miss Anarchy both becoming adoptive daughters of Julia Judas.  This story was called My Own Mother, and I soon realized that I had too many ideas for a single story.  I split this into My Own Mother 1, 2, and 3 -- the first ending with Miss Anarchy asking to be adopted, the second involving negotiations and formal acceptance, and the third one -- which might take place later -- is the court scene where everything is hammered out, Mal gets involved, and possibly Miss Anarchy is legally defined as the daughter of Grandpa Anarchy.

I tried writing the first two at the same time.  Neither came together, however.  The first I retitled Mother's Arms.  I wrote a bit where a robot burst into the complex to "invite" Miss St. Normal to become the daughter of Julia Judas, then I scrapped that scene.  Instead I wrote a scene where this had already happened while the others were out fighting crime (the story Inevitable).  My problem with this story was that it really didn't make sense for Miss Anarchy to ask to be adopted by her enemy, even as a temporary ruse that she didn't intend to follow through with.   I was trying to force the characters to do things that they wouldn't actually do, and I knew it.

In addition, not much was happening in the story.  "Something random and unexpected needs to happen!" I thought.  "What if the great granddaughters of Grandpa Anarchy suddenly show up?  They're dressed as Space Babes, and they want to take Miss Anarchy on a space adventure!  Maybe this is another idea from Mal, with an eye to a future Space Babes tie-in for the cartoon, or a spinoff series?"

I liked this idea.  Then I considered what might happen if Miss Anarchy, as she currently is, travels to the Eieio Empire in space.  They may very well have a genetic record of Glory Ashes already on file, and would then declare Miss Anarchy an illegal clone.  (Which, technically, she is!)

I liked this idea even more, and immediately wrote about two-thirds of it.  I titled it My Clone Sleeps Alone.  But at the same time I was trying to finish Mother's Arms, and I was writing a large chunk of My Own Daughter 2, which I retitled Mother's Treasure, and not only did both of them refuse to come together, but I also ran into a conflict between two stories.  My plots for Mother's Arms and the subsequent My Own Daughter hinged on Miss Anarchy being a clone of Glory, but My Clone Sleeps Alone ends with Miss Anarchy in a new body, because, you know, ILLEGAL CLONE BODY.  I even considered having the space adventure story take place after the big meeting with Julia Judas -- and I finished both Mother's Arms and Mother's Treasure with that in mind, but I knew as I wrote them that they didn't really work.  I had Elsie and  Kelli (Grandpa's granddaughters) show up in the first story, then hang around through the entire second story, waiting to drag Miss Anarchy off on their adventure -- and that was an additional problem for the story.  Basically Mother's Treasure wound up being a long, boring discussion without action, and with these two other girls just sitting around waiting for it to be over.

Sometimes you have to write the wrong story before you figure out which is the right one.

I had also come up with a possible idea for My Own Daughter.  My first thought was that Miss Anarchy could have Mal and/or Annie Two write up whatever paperwork was needed to prove that Miss Anarchy was not Grandpa Anarchy herself, but his daughter.  This was part of my original idea as listed above, of course.  But I realized a paternity test could disprove this easily, and we are talking about the CEO of a genetics company.  So then I thought:  what if Miss Anarchy has something which can summon Eternia the Watcher?  She probably owes Grandpa a favor for something in the past, so that's entirely plausible.  Then Miss Anarchy asks Eternia to "make her the daughter of Grandpa Anarchy" (so that the paternity test will show this), and in order to do that, Eternia has to separate Miss Anarchy into two people -- the father and the daughter.

Thus, Grandpa Anarchy reappears, but Miss Anarchy remains.  I really liked this idea, and it would explain why Eternia is around and offers to make Magical Girl Anne a real girl (I still plan to write that story),  but it also seemed to hinge on Miss Anarchy being in the clone body still, which she would not be after the events of My Clone Sleeps Alone.

Currently I'm still trying to figure out how these story ideas can work and coexist with each other.  I rewrote Mother's Arms and retitled it Orphan White (not really a good title) and one thing I did was rewrite the whole bit where Miss Anarchy is desperate to keep tabs on St. Normal,  to the point where she begs to be adopted herself, and changed it to an offhand comment, "She could just adopt me as well!"  Then they go off on their space adventure.

I re-plotted Mother's Treasure, and gave it the name Trust Mother.  My new idea is that Miss Anarchy doesn't even remember suggesting that she should be adopted, and Julia Judas convinces her somehow to sign a contract, without Mal's oversight, which includes numerous things designed to trap Miss Anarchy in the role of a Judas daughter forever, and grant control of the Anarchy estate to Julia Judas.  I really like this more sinister approach, with the villain being more manipulative and actively nasty, but... I'm still not sure how Miss Anarchy would ever agree to sign such a contract, unless she's blackmailed, mind-controlled, or mentally impaired somehow.

Part of this idea involves Julia getting rid of all the Grandpa Anarchy clone bodies stored on earth, to make it impossible for Miss Anarchy to become Grandpa Anarchy again.   (Which would be foiled of course if I introduce the idea involving Eternia.)

I had one other idea that came out of My Clone Sleeps Alone, and it was this:  if the Eieio Empire is concerned enough about the illegal clone created with their cloning technology, they might show up on earth and insist on shutting down or changing all of the  resurrection stations that Dark Dr. Dark has set up.  This could ALSO lead to all of the Grandpa Anarchy clones being removed, since at this point their records show that Grandpa Anarchy is now Miss Anarchy, and there should not be any clones based on who she was previously.

But I haven't decided to write that yet.

So... I've written five stories this week, but  three of them are being rewritten, and two of those have been completely written more than once.  ^_^

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