Writing: Dream last night

I have vivid dreams sometimes. Last night was especially interesting and honestly, I kind of want to write it out because it WAS so interesting.

So the dream is in third person, like I’m watching a tv show or reading a book with a good imagination (ahem).  The setting is a weird mix of classical Indian and Japanese.  And there are things that call out that it is a weird mix.  Most of the people in the room think nothing of it, but there are 2 men dressed as Middle Easterns but clearly fake beards (I mean, pretty good – but in modern terms “clearly fake”) who make comments about stuff being unusual.

The room is set for a party.  And there are several young women who are considered to be psychic who will be “summoning the dead to speak” tonight.  Of course my foreign men scoff at this witchcraft nonsense, but the two young women most involved are quite serious.  One is considered one of the greatest beauties in the land as well as an extremely powerful psychic.  The other is also beautiful, but not AS beautiful and much more demur about her power.  They had names in the dream and they are already fading.  So we’re going to call them Haughty and Demur.

So Haughty is bragging that she is going to bring back some powerful general or king or demi-god  (the language is such that it kind of means all three?).  Demur doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but doesn’t argue enough and sets up for the ritual lighting the candles the six psychics are going to use as shields or something.

The two foreigners are wandering around trying to find the trick at this point and pointedly being told by onlookers not to interrupt or disturb the ceremony.  It begins and it’s as weird and lovely as anything on TV.  A doorway hovers in the center of their circle – golden gilt edges that move and twist and roll.  Like snakes or vines on moment and then rolling waves of water the next – it was a cool effect my brain made.

AND – this is where the dream got weird and special.  One of the walls in the room turned clear – and on the other side of the glass – ALIENS.  The two foreigners swear, the onlookers all start talking.  Haughty yells at her acolytes to concentrate but several FREAK OUT.

And then the mystical door opened and a demon came through.  Not as cool as some of the other stuff my brain made up – this was like a minotaur kind of thing with lots of green slobber.  All hell breaks loose.  The two foreigners pull six-shooters and open fire.  Haughty is grabbed by the head and something sucked out of her (soul? I dunno).

Demur is the one who saves her, stepping in and using weird language to drive it back.  As it steps back through the door though – it becomes a GORGEOUS man and winks at her.  It/he (Demon) blows her a kiss of yellow flame and it emblazens on her shoulder (uncovered – I wish I could draw so I could recreate the mixture Indian sarong and Japanese kimono outfits)

So Demur collapses and her father (no idea her dad was in the room!) comes over yelling and hollering – turns out HE’S kind big and powerful…. anywho.  Everyone is freaking out. Demur gets put on a couch alone in a room and the two foreign dudes come in – one of them has his beard kind of sagging on one side right now.  Demur confronts them about not being “arabs from the west” and they finally admit they’re not.  She offers to help get them out of the palace through some secret tunnels she knows of.

Turns out these are the passages the ALIENS use to “tend” their “zoo” (these people).  The foreigners are space-men.  The dream moves to the alien environment there and gets way more confusing (and it’s already fading!! noooo!)

The demon now can cross because of the mark he left on Demur.  He offers her powers to save the 2 dudes (she might have a crush on one of them).  They pick up a red-headed chick.  Demur ends up having these awesome psychic golden chain-things she can lash people/aliens with.  One of the space-men was more techy, the other more the weapons/sharp-shooter/sneaky dude…..

And too much of that second half has faded but it was COOL.  To me.  I’m not saying my imagination is a healthy place all the time – but dreams like this…. damn they’re just fun.

Writing: damnit!

The downside, as I’ve said before, to writing “the story I want to read” is when I notice an old file, open it – have an inkling of what I intended and go “damnit. I wanna know what happens!”

I totally did that with a ~1 pg document.  There is a teaser.  A tiny, itsy-bitsy teaser that is driving me crazy.  I don’t remember who the villain was going to be, I have just enough to be curious.  I guess it wasn’t my worst beginning…. You tell me.

Prologue

It is so small and weak. The voice was quiet, pleading.

Their species is not weak. It is almost a bark, with an angry edge to it.

Our younglings are just as helpless. They are not as loud. A third tone, almost a soft musical chime to the worlds.

Do as you wish your highness. Keep it as a pet if you so choose, but if it ever looks the least harmful, then we will kill it on sight. A final, fourth voice said.

The pink mewling creature was lifted up and carried off the hulk of the ship.  As they left they passed the crews that were dismantling the pieces of the ship.

You must admit, came the fourth voice¸ they are good with machines.

They have already integrated too much of our technology the harsh and angry voice said all we can do is win by attrition.

Not all the quiet voice said, Please give me a chance. I am sure there is a way to make it work.

The plan has merit the sing-song voice added.  What can it hurt?

The creature suddenly opened its mouth and let out the most horrendous noise.  All four stopped moving and stared at it.  Then they looked to one another and the chiming voice said, It is hungry.

She is hungry the voice which had been angry no longer was, instead sounding shocked.

So be it, the fourth voice, As king I decree that we shall no longer seek them out.  Princess Risha’lla will raise the thing.  It is not deaf and her plan will be given the time needed to see possible success.

I will not fail you father the soft voice, Princess Risha’lla said.

Chapter 1

“Sir, the orgalla have entered the system,” the helmsman said.  “Shall we meet to escort them?”

“No, wait for them to reach us,” the captain said and moved from his seat on the bridge to the view port at the gunner’s station.

The ship he saw was massive with three smaller ships around it.  His own vessel ran a crew almost a thousand men and women with space to spare for recreation, a dome garden and three sets of quarters which could be used to expand for families if the ship ever was placed on local patrols instead of being on the border patrols.  The ship approaching was at least three times the size of his vessel.

“The price of being good at my job…” the captain muttered as he looked at the ship.  He then went to his chair and sat back down, “Lieutenant, please let the ambassadors know that the orgalla have arrived and we will be meeting them in approximately an hour.”

“Yes sir,” the communications officers quickly turned and began to relay the message to the ambassadorial team on board.

“Captain Chou, the orgalla are requesting to link to our nav comms,” the communications officer reported.

“Link them in so they can follow us into the port,” Captain Chou said firmly.  The young man took a deep breath and sent the signal.  The orgalla were still the monsters parents told children about to scare them.  Some of the colonies still had massive damage from the orgalla almost twenty years before.

“Commander Lorant, you have command until I return,” Captain Chou said.  “Lieutentant, please make sure the ambassadorial team isn’t running late this time.”

The captain did not have to rush to get to the docking bay which would allow them to access the orbital planet access point, but he did not pause to think or talk to anyone either.  The collar of his dress uniform was a little loose, but he didn’t try to figure out a way to tighten it now.  When he arrived two of the attachés were waiting, but none of the ambassadors had arrived.

“Was an hour not enough to time for the ambassadors to be able to dress and assemble?” he asked the attachés with a frown.

“I apologize sir, I know that Ambassador Irvine is on the way,” one of the two said.  As he spoke, a woman swept into the room.  She had chosen to wear a formal gown instead of a suit.  It was appropriate that she had chosen the historical garb of her people, but the long sweeping sleeves trailing across the floor behind must be heavy and hot.

“Am I truly first to arrive?” she asked.  “This is a disgrace!  Ashley, call Poul and you should get Yewoul too.  It is not like any kikital to be late.  I’m sure he’s been detained by Poul.  Oliver I want you to call Etcorm, Deneph and Risyk.  Find out where they are.  I apologize Captain, I thought an hour was more than enough time.  Especially because Deneph doesn’t need to put on clothes or brush fur in anyway.”

“Thank you Ambassador, it is appreciated to know that it is not a lack of protocol,” Captain Chou said with a smile.

“No, I agree with you that we need this peace,” Ambassador Irvine said.  “If my ancestors hadn’t gone to Mars then we would have been destroyed by the Chinese, I understand better than most that we need to expand safely.  The orgalla are too powerful not to make sure they are on our side.  I just wish Earth had sent someone other than Poul.”

“It doesn’t help that the North Aligned States never really saw much of the fighting in the last war,” Captain Chou said.  “Hence they had the power to have Poul selected.”

“Well, he is here now, so we’ll have to make it work,” the woman said firmly.

It was only a few minutes before the other ambassadors arrived.  Ambassador Poul Westmire represented Earth itself, while Ambassador Johanna Irvine represented the human-colonized planets everywhere else.  Poul was wearing a white tuxedo with a white turban around his head.  His thick beard had been combed and greased into a pair of points down his chest.  Johanna was wearing the long blue and silver kimono she had brought which had once been worn by the last royal princess of Japan as she fled to Mars, the ships built and piloted by Australians and then flying to help Australia and Japan escape the Chinese invasions which turned half of Earth into a single empire almost three hundred years ago.  The princess had died on the trip to Mars because of a terrible pregnancy combined with seven months in space.

Short Story: Mastermind or Not?

I look out over the city.  There are cheers.  I hate it.

You see, the problem is that I tried to be a villain.  I never actively tried to help people.  In fact, the problem with my city was the morass of super-heroes.  It was actually a problem because you had “heroes” like Betsy Bobcat – a literal bobcat that had been given human intelligence.  Her thing was people illegally feeding pigeons.  Did you know it was illegal to intentionally feed pigeons?  I didn’t.  Then there was the strongarm-super-fast Mr. Thumbs.  Something about his thumbs was special I guess.  He was annoyingly particular about people speeding through lights.

I hated them.  I hated that one of the speedsters gave my dad a jaywalking ticket and when my dad tried to argue it in court he was given 30 days in jail for “anti-superhero actions.”  A misdemeanor that not only lost him his accounting job but made it nearly impossible to find another.  He died two years later because of an accident at the construction site where he’d found work – but you know, where was a superhero to make sure the working conditions were actually safe or whatever?

So I began tinkering with gadgets that year.  I was studying to be a superheroes’ gearhead theoretically.  I lied.  A lot.  You see, they have psyc tests to try to weed out anyone who might turn villain.  I knew this and so I lied.  I told a hum-ding-whopper of a lie and even when there were supers who supposedly sensed or smelled or whatever lies – I passed right through.

You see, my super power is unique. I am technically super powered you see.  I negate a certain amount of super power.  For some like Betsy the Bobcat I could mostly negate their power.  I don’t mean to.  It isn’t something I can turn on and off.  But if it’s a power like Mr Thumbs’ strength, I bring him back to human-range. I didn’t know this until way later though.

So you see, the normal people – non super heroes – actually kind of hated the supers.  They were obnoxious BUT they did “good” and everyone was a little afraid of them.  Well, I hated them too and I wasn’t normal. And I convinced my teachers I wanted to be super’s gearhead.  So I learned and I plotted.  I had a plot to remove the government and replace it with myself, but I knew I would need to deal with the plethora of superheroes who would try to stop me.

It wasn’t until I had the bulk of them neutralized, many of them now normal people themselves, that people began treating me differently.

You see, every time I robbed a bank or broke a supposedly villain out of jail – and by “villain” I mean it was non-violent criminals of stupid things like “anti-hero activities” – well, apparently I wasn’t alone.

And then I went against Mr. Thumbs.  He was tough.  Beyond his super-human strength he wasn’t an idiot and he did his research.  He had figured out where I had been educated and was prepared for most of my usual tech.  I actually broke out a villain named Mastero to help me beef up to deal with Mr. Thumbs.  It was really Mastero that taught me I had power not just luck.  You see, his power was psychic shock, but he couldn’t do it to me.  Mr. Thumbs threw him through a wall with steel beams and broke his back.  I made him a special chair later, but it was also rigged to suppress his powers.  But he did teach me what I needed to know that let me defeat Mr. Thumbs.

The mayor tried to give me the key to the city.

Damnit.

So now they are having a party.  For me.  I can see young people dressed as me.  Wearing the dark black and purple I adopted when I turned villain.  Wearing the little tophat at an angle.  They all seem to have it on a headband.  Mine isn’t, but they don’t realize there’s a spider-shaped piece under it which contains my distilled blood.  I’m pretty sure it will subdue most supers, but I haven’t really been able to test it.

The school is closed.  I made sure of that. And as soon as it was closed the government said they couldn’t afford to rebuild so they will be watching for super-powered children in normal schools and giving them “alternate educations” there.  I might have had one of my lackeys take the job heading that team of teachers and they will be making sure those kids just want to be normal. Or gone.  I don’t care which.

But damnit, now my plan is ruined. The government loves me.  It’s supported and sometimes even gone beyond my own desires to make sure the city is managing rather than overrun by superheroes.

I am supposed to be the villain damnit.

Writing: When I doubt

When I doubt; when I feel unsure;
I remember when I was given kindness.

As I stand on the precipice of decision;
The moment stretches into eternity;
I force myself to take another breath;
I remember who is the hero of the story.

It isn’t me. It isn’t you. It is us.
Plural.

The stranger frightens me until I remember
They are a friend I haven’t made yet.

The dragon looms monstrous and evil
to defend the princess from her kidnapper.

It isn’t me. It isn’t you. It is us.
Plural.

Today I am the supportive teacher.
I will help someone else rise higher.

Today I am the guardian at the gate.
I will keep out the wolves and the night.

As I look into the face of the poor;
I listen to a tale of global woe;
I wait in line behind a crying toddler:
I remember who is the hero of the story.

It isn’t me. It isn’t you. It is us.
Plural.

When I listen to a leader; When I look for the truth;
I will remember when I was given kindness.

I will speak accordingly.

Writing: Writer vs. Reader Opinions

I didn’t have a good title for this post, but I’ve tried 3 times to write something similar and it hasn’t worked yet, so we’re going with this title for the time being and maybe someday I can come up with something better (I’m open to ideas!)

The thing is, I’ve been reading books lately by male authors and I’m surprised by how much I am liking the female characters.  I’m reading a Brandon Sanderson book right now and damn if he doesn’t write females that I like.  And variety.  They aren’t all simpering male-hunters or just background or evil hags or… pick any of the stereotypes that plague female characters.

I also can’t help but see elements of discussions of race and equality in books lately.  I’m seeing political discussions that I’m not sure whether the author meant them or not.  Authoritarianism vs. independence, responsibilities of leaders to those they lead – I can’t tell if the art is reflecting my own thoughts or if the authors I’m reading are also picking up on the political climate of our world.

They say “art reflects life” but could my life be reflecting in art?  I don’t know.  But sometimes when I get hit by something that makes me go “did they reference Kapernick kneeling or am I imposing my own experience there?”  There have been multiple times in reading books that have come out in the last year or two I feel that way and it’s getting freaky.  I can’t decide if my brain is twisting or if society is filtering into these authors’ words.

Writing: Editing process

I have 2 types of editing I do.  One is the “technical” editing of words, grammar, punctuation, etc.  I (like many writers apparently) pretty much hate this part of editing.  It needs to be done and I know that.  *But I hates it. (*Gollum’s voice there)

So I get myself through it by brute force.  I start at the end and take it one sentence at a time.  Occasionally, I’ll print a page off (double-spaced) and red-pen mark up the grammar.  I have even been known to diagram a sentence to prove to myself I’m not being grammatically evil (or I am because I want to be evil).

I find by working backwards, I don’t get caught up (errr… usually don’t get caught up) reading what I wrote.  This is the danger.  Reading is much more fun than editing and if allowed, my brain will begin reading what I’ve been writing and sinking back into the story and characters and world. It’s trudging drudgery but I can slog my way upstream (pun intended!) by starting at the end and working my way up.

In some ways, that is the easier kind of editing.  There are hard-and-fast rules for grammar.  The second kind of editing is “Content” – and Content is King.

Content editing is everything from “did I use a thesauraus – or does it sound/feel like I did” to plot to character relationships to themes and “oh shit, that is totally not the message I want to send!”

Content editing is damn hard.  Content editing requires WORK.  There are no rules.  And there are.  Consistency is a huge rule.

My family was laughing at me when we gathered for Mother’s Day brunch because I brought a piece of paper I’ve been making noodles and notes on.  I kept holding up this paper at people (which looks like a picture to most people) and saying “Can’t you tell I’m making a plot line!”  I thought it was hilarious because to anyone not me it looks like a bunch of lines with random words and numbers jotted around it.  But to me it’s plot and world building and even some character arcs in there (yes, this is a continuation of my post on magic)

I don’t have as good a method for this.  I frequently chew on plot for a long time.  WHY is a big question in my content-editing.  WHY is the protagonist the person changing the world.  WHY are they “the chosen one”- I love when there is a prophecy that actually could fit some % of the world but the protagonist is the one who ends up there for…. REASONS.  Those reasons drive much of my world building, character arc, etc.  “Why does she think SHE is supposed to fix it”  and “what in her life led her to believe this totally opposite thing from society?”

Sometimes I end up doing full re-writes because I have so much I have to fix I think I might as well start over.  This particular magic-based-plot is on version 3.  Version 1 rambled through 3 different villains (I kept trying to “redeem” people) for about 25,000 words.  Version 2 is a messy 98,000 words.  If I was a better writer (or editor as the case may be) I might be able to edit it into the place I want it – but I’m not.  I don’t know how to edit the giant swaths of Version 2 that would need to be edited.  And some of them are pretty significant plot points that need to be built up or torn down or some of both.

So I’m starting version 3.  With all the plot building, magic system, character building, and world information I’ve built over the previous 2 versions. This is my method. I don’t think it’s the best (certainly not the most efficient) but it’s mine. I can read-edit and make plot-notes, comments, etc. but when it comes to going back and polishing a plot-arc…. damn that’s hard to do!

 

Writing: I want to write a TV Show

I have been re-listening to Ready Player One – and it has made me go from “dislike” to “UGH THE WORST” on the movie.  I have moved my dial from “well, you can tell it was “inspired by” to “were they even trying?!?” And I know, they probably had a ton of difficulty getting rights to stuff (stupid copyright holders probably being greedy, selfish, bastards).

But part of the problem is containing that scale into a movie.  I have been tumbling through my Plex list of movies and IMDB to see if I can think of a single movie that gives a scale to the universe that RPO should have had and honestly, the closest I get is Star Wars IV A New Hope, but that is journey movie – they have 3 major locations (Tattoine, Death Star/Alderaan, and Yavin) and they are SO DIFFERENT it helps.  Now, it might also be that I grew up so entangled in all three of the orignal movies my mind immediately includes all that information when I watch the first one.  I won’t say I can 100% I disassociate from them.

The Pilot episode would definitely be about Wade getting to the Tomb.  Episode 2 would be getting through the tomb & end as Art3mis comes in with drawn blade.  Episode 3 would be like 1/2 chat with Art3mis.

It would have to be more than Wade.  In my TV show, there would be a side plot that develops pretty early in Season 1 (probably episode ~4-5) of 3 sixers who hate IOI.  One would be indentured. One would be the “disaffected rich kid” (daddy works for IOI) who can’t win anyway ’cause of Daddy.  The third…. I haven’t decided.  Maybe just a smart-but-truly-socially-inept young girl who got conned into it and only after the contract was signed understood the true cost?  Maybe starts out as a “true blue” and gets disaffected later?

Anyway, I would build out the world of sixers with a “sympathetic inside team.”  Their plot lines would revolve around seeking some of the high-profile artifacts that show up at the end game – like the tablet the sixers use to find the 2nd key.  These three would be the ones that found it/acquired it.  Instead of just “buying” all these at auctions – sixers need to keep their skills up and these three do… They hate IOI, but it’s “work or worse” for all of them.

They would also get to have “personal avatars” and I think one of them (maybe the third poorly defined character) would have a romantic relationship with H – at first hoping to use H to find shit out and then realized H is amazing and she can’t imagine not being in love with him (her). Kind of a truth to pansexuals of “I don’t care what your gender is – I love YOU” towards the end.  They would have to meet on the final battlefield and the poor sixer chick knows who H is but H doesn’t know it’s her…. oh it would be beautiful tension!

I understand that not all IP’s were willing to get in on a movie – but maybe if they could be a shown a script that shows the depth and beauty of how their specific IP will be loved and honored…

I know, I’m all kinds of adorably naive about greed and whatnot.  Maybe HBO will pick me up and buy the TV rights…. We know they can do special effects right!