Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Blue Thoughts

The whole bird theme had been a joke, really. Cardinal’s joke, specifically. None of us found it funny, but it’s not like the rest of us had any better ideas. He’d said if we were going to be superheroes, we should stick to a theme, some sort of iconography people could instantly recognize. He settled on the bird idea when he was trying to think of how to fit us into primary colors.

I thought that was really weird, honestly. I vaguely remember from my old comics that hero teams tended to consist of more specialized characters; you’d have your strong guy, your energy guy, your space alien tech guy, your one animal themed character, a wizard, and a mad scientist. Or something like that. And their colors were usually not coordinated, since most teams consisted of people who already had their own solo comics, and thus had their own style independent of the others.

I later found out Cardinal was a huge fan of those goofy Japanese hero-team shows. Still was, even though he was in his mid-thirties. The kind of show where a handful of teenagers all got their powers from sci-fi wristwatches or magic amulets or something. Say a phrase, hit a button, and poof, they’re covered in fabulous spandex and bike helmets, each one a specific color. They’d all have the identical powers of knowing martial artists and shooting laser guns. Also, they had giant robots.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Land of Mesora

Note: A work in progress, this may be subject to change.

A near-copy of the state of Missouri, which for unknown reasons, got bounced off into its own pocket dimension. In actuality, the state was copied over on a conceptual level, but the original is still back on Earth. Everyone inside the state was likewise copied, as was all flora and fauna. No one on Earth is aware that anything happened at all, while those within the pocket dimension know only that five years ago, the state of Missouri was suddenly sealed off by a mysterious and deadly mist.

The land is accosted by mutants and monsters created by the Mist Wall. However, the rise of superhumans has been a boon to keeping civilization going, both to defend against supernatural threats, as well as provide ways to compensate for the lack of resources and failing technologies.

After the first chaotic year of this event, civilization has stabilized for the most part. The country holds a total population of about 4 million. Unfortunately, the only resources available to the survivors are those that were within the state when the Mist Wall appeared, meaning that resources are now incredibly scarce.

Friday, July 21, 2017

An Old Webcomic

Decades ago, I had pretensions to attempt web comics of the sprite variety. I never did more than a one or two-pager thing. Loathe though I am to do anything resembling fan fiction on this blog, this is probably the only half-way decent example from back in the day.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My Process

I am partly an outline-follower, partly a discovery writer, when I’m actually accomplishing anything. I’m very much a start to finish writer. I have sometimes written scenes out of order, but when I do, I usually have to re-write them from scratch when I catch up to them anyway. While I think at heart, being a discovery writer keeps me more engaged on the project, once I know I have something to work with, having some idea of what's happening in the next chapters really helps give me something to kind of guide me so I don’t feel like I’m completely flailing. I don't usually have an exact ending in mind, maybe a vague idea, but it'll come to me as I write and map ahead a bit.

So, the process might go something like this:

===============================================================

SARAH STRONG #1

Sarah walked down the street, squinting in annoyance against the sunlight. She hated this time of year, with the sun lancing into her eyes from the horizon right as she got off work. Even her sunglasses didn't help. She held up her hand as she...

(Whether I start with an outline or not, I keep the outline beneath the actual text of the story, so I can quickly check on where I'm going.)


SAMPLE OUTLINE
1) Sarah is walking home from work. She cuts through a park. As she does, she sees a group of kids playing baseball. Then, a big thug dude is harassing them. Sarah goes over to stop him, is startled to notice his bestial features, which the kids don't seem to notice. However, once Sarah starts interjecting, other adults come to investigate, and the thug dude runs off.

2) That night, Sarah dreams of seeing a strange wizard-like figure who explains that she is one of those rare humans "sensitive to mystic forces". This enables her to see monsters hidden in the world. The wizard gives her a magic talisman, saying it will give her power. She wakes up and the talisman is there.

3) The next day, walking home again, Sarah is holding the talisman in her pocket. She sees the thug dude again, this time with a small posse. He's harassing the baseball kids again. Sarah goes over to intervene, and she feels the talisman charge her with power. She fights the group, and though the thug dude is strong (he's some kind of ogre-werewolf thing, figure it out later), she is able to punch him clear across the baseball field. The kids help her chase off the posse with their bats.

...

End Issue) Sarah talks to wizard and accepts role as defender of the city. Maybe set up for issue #2?


===================================================

So, from there, I start to write. As I write, I might start deviating from what I put in the outline. Maybe I get to the part where she sees the baseball kids. Maybe I decide I really don’t want to bother making named characters out of the kids, and instead, I change her walking through the park to walking through an alley, where she encounters the thug dude almost trying to mug her, only to be interrupted by Sarah ducking back onto the side walk to take the long way home. If that sticks, then I proceed with the outline. I know I want part two to happen pretty much as is, so that stays. Part three, will then end up back in the alley as she tries to re-encounter the monster with her newfound powers. She fights the monster, has a second dream where she affirms her devoting to protecting the city. And that’s pretty much Issue #1 finished, probably too early, but it’s a start.

Alternatively, I stay with Sarah going into the park, and in the process, I name a few of the kid characters and they start having dialogue I find entertaining. Before I know it, I suddenly have a three or four supporting cast that I’m warming up to, so the park seen goes a little long. Part two happens as I wrote. Part three sees more interaction with the kids, and the possibility that there is more going on; after all, why would the werewolf-ogre be after them? Maybe one of the kids is also a mystic-sensitive person, or has a magic device the ogre wants. So I add a few more parts to the outline to figure out where it’s going and keep me on the track. So, Sarah helps the kids beat the monsters, and then the final part happens, Issue #1 wrapped up.

Or I just keep writing and see where it takes me. Maybe as I’m writing the reveal of the werewolf-ogre’s motivation, I hit upon the idea that he’s actually trying to get back something the kid stole, so now the roles are in reverse. Now, suddenly, Sarah has to stop the thief kid before he does something dangerous, the werewolf-ogre is revealed to be a monster hero himself. Maybe the kid gets away, or maybe he doesn’t. From here, the rest of the kids may think of her as an enemy and she has to work to gain their trust, or they think she was in the right, and they become part of her supporting cast, or they have served their purpose and are never seen again. Either way, Werewolf-Ogre is now another supporting character who can become her crime-fighting partner, or just a character who returns on occasion to do something interesting.

Either way, Issue #1 now wraps up here, and further plots to be explored in Issue #2

=======================================================


So, that’s about how my process works. I used to outline the whole issue (referring to this in terms of comic book issues), and change as I went, now I tend to outline three to five chapters, and as the work proceeds, I kind of just let the writing process lead me to discovery. Once I get a few chapters in, I outline a few more chapters, adjusting for new discoveries, and so on, until it’s finished. And, that’s pretty much it!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Toyah

A Land of Mesora story.

1.1
In the midst of a smashed-flat neighborhood, surrounded the splintered and shattered homes, Toyah hunted for treasure. The little blonde-haired girl in a dirt-brown tunic slowly picked her way down the street. As she shuffled, slid, and skipped around the twisted wrecks of cars and trucks, climbed and jumped over fallen trees, she would occasionally pause and peer at her surroundings. On her shoulder, a small plastic and tin owl likewise swiveled its head, the tiny red beads set in its wide eyes sparking. Despite several stops, neither seemed to find anything interesting. Not until they were three blocks deep into the street did the owl make a fluttering of its plastic wings. The limited movement allowed by the simple hinge was useless for any sort of flight, even if it had been made from the right materials, but its rapid clicking alerted the girl that it had seen something. When she looked at it, the owl turned its tin head so that it’s beak pointed directly at a house three more plots down. The girl hurried over, scrambling over a crumbled brick half-wall, its metal grating lying in a tangled mess among the debris of the neighboring home.

Toyah appraised the building as she approached. Stopping a few feet from where several jagged spears of snapped frame stuck out from a heavy slab of concrete, it was clear there would be no climbing inside herself. She crouched down, noting that the slab and wooden frame slats hung over the ground by about half a foot, cloaking in shadow a broken, ground-level window that no doubt led into the basement. Toyah stood back up and opened the leather satchel she’d been lugging with her. Her fingers touched an object of polished wood, and she pulled out a wooden doll painted like a nutcracker soldier.

Toyah set the little wooden soldier down upon the grass. The red and blue and tan facsimile of a man wobbled for a moment, then righted itself. Its tiny, simple hinges squeaked a bit from long disuse. The young girl pointed forward, towards the massive pile of destroyed wood, brick, and metal. Taking a moment to make sure it had oriented itself, the little toy soldier waddled forward. Its legs were jointed only at the hips, forcing it to walk in a stilted shuffle, especially over the grass. Toyah frowned. This wouldn’t do at all. She picked it back up and inspected the legs. The whole toy was about eight inches tall, as long as her forearm, and the legs were wooden posts twice as thick as her finger. She concentrated for a moment, and the toy vibrated for a few seconds. Then, it went “limp.” The stiff material couldn’t sag, as such, but it’s limbs, which had been resolutely held forward, now dangled towards the ground, as the head turned slightly to the side as if at rest.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Final Story of Salvador Roberts

NOTE: First draft, not yet proofread, written in two days. Expect NaNoWriMo levels of roughness.




THE FINAL STORY OF SALVADOR ROBERTS

ONE
"Die, demon!"  Akira slashed forward, his enormous sword gleaming in the moonlight.

Yuriko frowned and side stepped his thrust easily.  Akira immediately shifted into a backswing, bending gravity to increase the force of impact. Yuriko simply blocked the strike with her forearm.  Her arm's small bracer cracked a bit, but Yuriko herself seemed unfazed.  She glanced at her bracer.

"Hmm... cute," she said flatly.  Akira immediately leaped back and prepared another thrust.  He shifted his weight forward, bending gravity once more to increase his pull towards his target.  Yuriko stood there impassively.  The split second he began to shift forward, Yuriko suddenly appeared less than an inch from him. Akira's eyes barely had time to widen before her open palm smashed into his face.  Akira shot straight across the street, slamming through the display window of the store that was there.  Akira managed to maintain his wits enough to make a gravity field which took away his inertia.  So, rather than continue to smash through the building, he simply dropped to the ground.  After a moment, he struggled to his feet, glaring at Yuriko.

"All my years of training, and it still amounts to nothing!" he said.  He cursed.  He was holding back.  This was not the time for conservative displays of power.  Obviously the full force of his Elemental Key must be brought forth.  He reached for his sword and blinked when he realized it wasn't with him.

Yuriko hefted the enormous blade in her hand.  "This is lovely craftwork," she stated.  With a single hand, she did a few practice swings.  Akira couldn't help but feel slightly intimidated.  The sword literally weighed half a ton.  Akira himself could only wield it due to constantly using his gravity powers to make it light as a feather.  And here, this small woman wielded it with all the effort of a weightlifter wielding a toothpick.  She was indeed an above average demon.

Yuriko glanced from the sword at Akira.  She smiled humorlessly.  "Come now, human.  I do believe a fight between you and myself would be pointless.  I have no specific desire to harm you, and though you may wield the Moon Key, I could easily break you in half."  Yuriko casually tossed the sword at Akira.  Akira caught it, wobbling only slightly as he adapted his power to the added weight.  In the split second he was preoccupied with readjusting himself, Yuriko was suddenly less than a foot in front of him again, standing as though she hadn’t moved at all.

Akira grimaced as Yuriko leaned forward.  She had to float a few feet off the ground to bring herself eye to eye with him; for a moment, both human and demon suddenly realized the comical perspective of this fight: Akira, the one wielding the 8 foot blade which it would take three men to lift, the one who stood a full two heads taller than his opponent, and at least a foot broader, was being stared down by a small, cute, and seemingly harmless young woman.  Yuriko smiled with a slight giggle. “That said, I do admire your enthusiasm. And the size of your… sword…”



Oh, for fuck’s sake! Who would even read this crap?

Xjdbdbvpb%(^*#ORG#Rfwqbvpdfb!

***

There was a long, exasperated sigh. Salvador Roberts took his hands off the keyboard and sagged back in his chair. He stared at the ceiling with an expression not unlike someone who just discovered his car had gotten side-swiped. He grit his teeth for a moment, bringing his hands to forehead and closed his eyes, letting out a second long sigh.