Sunday, July 22, 2018

Graven: A Web Serial

I'm pleased to announce my first web serial project: GRAVEN! Despite my many ideas, I have struggled for many years with writing long form heroic fiction stories, be they continuous sagas or episodic adventures. This project is largely an experiment for me to learn how to write a longer story, as well as an exercise in self-discipline. It may be a bit of a rough ride, but I intend to stick it through to the end. If you decide to give it a read, let me know your thoughts, and I hope you'll find something to enjoy along the way.

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In 2029, mysterious structures called Doorways appeared across the world. Any human that entered immediately disappeared. Thousands were never seen again, but every once in a while, someone would come back out after a few days, garbed in strange clothing and possessing superhuman powers. Despite the odds, many of the desperate, ambitious, and hopeful surged through the Doorways in search of personal power.

Eleven years have passed, and the world has undergone catastrophic changes as the result of superhuman conflict. Entire continents and civilizations have been lost, a supervillain epidimic threatens those societies that remain, and the world's greatest superhero team has just been destroyed. In the wake of this latest tragedy, the world's first superhuman returns to America, seeking to gather a band of powerful bounty hunters. Together they hope to track down the source of these disasters, and perhaps save what remains of the falling world.

Click here to begin the story!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Wyld Hunt

The Wyld Hunt was one of many post-Old Multiverse series concepts that sort of uniquely evolved through the background of several other setting and series concepts. Many of these characters were either background characters in the supernatural side of various hero settings, or were intended to be the "magic-themed" members of various teams. At some point, they just sort of developed their own continuity independent of whatever other hero stuff was going on, and I realized that didn't really fit in a standard superhero universe.

Ergo, this sort of became my first dedicated urban fantasy/modern fantasy type world, with no connection to a superhero universe proper. Although, rechecking these notes, I see that I still had them be tangentially related to an version of Tabitha Cain universe, which sort of still fits, given that at the time , given there were a couple figures in the Wyld Hunt lore that were part of the Tabitha Cain stories at the time. Eventually, however, I realized I didn't actually want to write a bunch of tedious "monster of the week" short stories, so, like most of my series concepts, this never really got off the ground.

I did, however, use several of these characters in co-writes and forum RPGs, so I can at least say some of these guys got some actual mileage in the written word, unlike a lot of characters I made concepts for, but ended up never using.


BACKSTORY
In the two thousand years since Tabitha Cain forced the Elder Gods to remove much of their influence, as well as most of their creations, from Earth, humanity has moved on. Technology brought power to the masses and the horrible creatures of the night were driven back by increasingly deadlier weapons.  Magic was left behind due its difficult and often impractical learning curve. By the time the later 1800s rolled around, the only authentic practitioners of magic were those who were innately born with magical talent or empowered by accident, and monsters had become virtually extinct. Humanity was on the fast track to a bright future ahead of them, with science as their new beacon. Soon enough, by the mid 1900s, people practically dismissed the supernatural as little more than an archaic notion.

This, however, suited the monsters and mages of the world just fine. Humanity was letting its guard down. Their technology was making them soft and lazy, easy pickings. And though they spread like wildfire across the world, there were always nooks and crannies in which the predatory forces of the supernatural could hide. Some simply tucked themselves away in dark allies and sewers or in the increasingly shrinking wilds. Others insinuated themselves into human society, hiding in plain site.

Thankfully, those with ill intent were not the only ones who retained their supernatural power. Over the decades, empowered champions and defenders rise to protect humanity from the shadows they have forgotten to fear.

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.