Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Setting a Foundation for Urban Fantasy

I’ll be honest, most of my time lately is spent on trying to become a real adult, and desperately trying not to be a real adult. So I've been slacking in the writing department. I was trying to do some plotting while I was at work, but people kept coming in and wanting things. Very distracting.

It falls into the realm of urban fantasy, in a contemporary world with supernatural elements. This involves something called the Masquerade, which is the outward appearance that the world is normal. The public at large is unaware that creatures of the night roam the streets or what have you. So I can have an ice cream parlor, but no one knows it's run by vampires. Because that would make people uneasy, to say the least.

This saves me, like, half of world building, since half the world is already, well, built. It's just the supernatural underworld that I need to work on. And of course raises the question of whether there are creatures besides vampires in this world. But that's a slippery slope. First you add werewolves, then ghosts, then rakshasas and shtrigas. Then angels and demons. You get my point. Once you add one thing, it's hard to know where to stop. So I think we'll stick with strictly vampires for now. We can always add later if we have a good reason to.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

On the Nature of Immortals

Sorry about the lack of post yesterday. I've been a total slacker lately.

I've spent the past few days thinking about vampires. As one does. The thing about most vampires is that they are deceptively old. Sometimes a story will follow a fledgling vampire, but there's always some in the fictional world that are 100 or 300 or 5000 years old. That's just how it works. What else would be the point of being immortal? That brings up the issue of backstory. Because there is a lot of it.

So, my story involves vampires and apparently ice cream, but I have no idea about the plot or the characters. I've been trying to figure out just who my main characters might be. And when vampires are involved, that involves things like how long they've been a vampire, and what shenanigans they've gotten up to in that time.  That's potentially a lot of history. And you may or may not know how much I love history (It's a lot).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cause of Death: Plot

This is a late post and I apologize for that. At 9 pm, I suddenly realized, shit, it's Tuesday. I'm not sure why I didn't write it yesterday. Netflix was probably involved. At this point I have no idea what this post is about. I'll be just as surprised as you.

All right, let's talk about murder. There's bound to be plenty of death in this upcoming vampire story, so let's revisit Mad's Greatest Hits of Murder.

I have killed a lot of people. A lot of characters, I should say. In a previous post I shared an excerpt where I gored a big-game hunter with a mammoth tusk. And that was, what, fifteen years ago? I have a long history of this.

Friday, August 19, 2016

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Now, this was not an independent idea. It was a collaborative effort with some friends at work.

The Creamatorium. It's an ice cream parlor housed in a former funeral home. They keep their ice cream in the corpse cooler, and give all the flavors morbid names. I think it's the best idea ever. And I don't have the resources to make it a real thing, so it's going in my vampire story. I'm not sure the role it's going to play as of yet, but maybe it’s run by the local vampire den (or whatever you call a group of vampires. A colony? A wake?1 A warren?).

A quick google search tells me that the Creamatorium is not a new idea, and other people have thought of this. I didn't look into it too much, as I don't want it sullying my ideas. I don’t want to steal anything from anyone, but if I happen to come up with something similar, well, that's all right.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Perks of Being a Vampire

I'm thinking about writing a vampire novel.

At the moment I'm in between projects. The Camp NaNos are over for the year, and NaNoWriMo proper isn't until November. What’s a wayward writer to do?

I'm not sure if I should just start writing something now, or start planning for November. I think that an undertaking like this is going to take some preparation. For me, this involves charts. Tables, technically. Spreadsheets?

I said to myself, "Self, wouldn’t it be great if there was a list comparing all the vampire folklore?" It would be great, and there is a list (Thanks, wikipedia). I copied all the relevant information into Excel so I could do… nerdy Excel things. I'm not going to get into that.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mad's Musical World Tour

We’re taking a little trip today. Anyone who's spent any time around my iPod has probably asked at least once, "Is that in English?" A lot of the time, no, it's not. Do I know what it means? Sometimes.

On several occasions, I've set out to find foreign music, specifically bands that perform in their native language. Typically, I'll pick a country, then look up lists of bands from there. I'll listen to a bunch until I find something I like. Or sometimes, someone will share a band with me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Mistake of Mammoth Proportions

When I last delved into old stories, I mentioned a story I started about an island inhabited by living mammoths. That sounds dumb every time I say it,  but there you have it. I was going through my old notebooks and papers the other day, and I found it. So I'm going to share it with you.
I have a tendency to set stories in the current year unless there's some specific reason to put it in the past or the future. My notes indicate that the prologue takes place in 2000, while the story proper is in 2002, so it's reasonable to assume that it was written sometime between those dates. So would have been 12-14. Keep that in mind because this is awful.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Noodle Incident

I was going to move forward from Camp NaNo, but what's the hurry? Let's stay here a little longer. There's no need to rush off to some new project. I wanted to share some snippets with you. At least one I've already put on facebook, so it might seem familiar to some.

But first, let's talk about the Noodle Incident. The name comes from a Calvin & Hobbes comic, and typically refers to some event that is mentioned but never explained.

I'm rather fond of noodle incidents, because they hint at a backstory that I don't have to actually create. You reference some random event (the randomer, the better), and it might tell you a little something about the characters. Was it some kind of trouble they got into? Was it an adventure they had?

Now, my Camp NaNo story from July, Once Upon a Writing Desk, has something of a noodle incident. A literal noodle incident with literal noodles. It's brought up more than once, and elaborated on a bit, but I think each new piece of information only raises more questions.

It begins just after the mac and cheese scene I mentioned last week.

“Where did you learn to make this?”

“A man has to have a few secrets. Maybe I studied for six months with Tibetan monks.”

This then leads into a discussion about Buddhism, and seems to be something that Martin made up. After all, who would learn to make mac and cheese from Tibetan monks? This occurs on page 10, and is not mentioned again until the very end of the story, on page 23. Here, we find Martin making mac and cheese again, and see the return of the noodle incident.

“I’m shit at following orders. Just ask the Tibetan monks. ‘Use yak cheese,’ they said, and I was like, ‘No, man, that’s weird. Where am I going to find yak cheese in Lancashire?’ And they kicked me out. Of the monastery. And Tibet. Just, like, out of the whole country. So then I thought I’d climb Everest, since I was, you know, in the area. But then I stood at the bottom and was like, ‘Fuck that.’ So I went home, and it turns out you can buy yak cheese there, so what the fuck do I know.”

Personally, I think that paragraph is a better story than the 24-page tale that surrounds it. I kind of want to just write a story that is this guy's adventures in Tibet, learning to make mac and cheese from some monks. But that would take the mystery out of it, and it would cease to be a noodle incident.

I have zero idea what my next project is going to be. I have a lot of rough drafts that need to be revised, but I don't know. I still have figured out how to pave over some of those plot holes yet. I'll see you all Tuesday, in any case.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mad Cooper: An Origin Story

Camp NaNo is over, and so now I'm going to take the opportunity to take you back in time. Way back. I recently found a story, or part of a story, written about twenty years ago. I couldn't tell you exactly how old I was, but I was young enough to have disappointing spelling skills. There are two other stories, written by my sister, about the same characters, which both have the same bizarre misspelling of "Jolene."

I'm going to give you this story exactly as it's written, spelling errors and all.

The Musterius House Guests

Written and illustraated by: [me]

Chapter 1 The Interductshun

There once was three kids, named, Joelne age eight, Jake age seven and Jason age six. Jason is the smartest and the youngest. They lived across the street from a old house that everybody thought was huntend.

Chapter 2 The robbers

"Look!" yelled Jake as they saw two robbers run into the house across the street.

The robbers are very dumb. One robber is very tall and skinny and the other is short and fat. The tall one was leading. "What are they doing in there," Joelne asked. "I don't know" Jason said. "We gotta solve this mystery," Jake said. Joelne started scaching her head.

Chapter 3 The Mystery begins

"Let's go over and check out the inside of that old house," Joelne said.

"Let's do what?!" Jake asked.

That's as far as the story goes, so I'm going to assume it didn't end well for them over there. As it stands, I have several questions.

  1. Why can I spell "mystery" but not "mysterious"?
  2. How did the kids know they were robbers just by looking at them?
  3. Why are these chapters so short? (There's basically a new chapter every handwritten page)

Having read the story again, I'm going to assume that I was between the ages of six and eight, since it's kind of an automatic thing to make characters your own age. That's the age you can relate to. I still tend to do that. It's a hard habit to break.

I can also guarantee you that I was making up this story as I went. I had no idea where I was going with it. Actually planning things out and having an ending in mind is something I learned much later. I was all about the journey, never mind the destination.

So, readers, should I find any more baby Mad stories, would you like to read them as well? I find it much easier to share things that I wrote when I was much younger, because I can admit that they are bad, and I can blame it on my youth. I think I have the beginning of a story about an island populated by mammoths around here somewhere, if anyone is interested.

Oh, also, when I found this story, I also found a little book of hand-drawn characters with punny and ridiculous names. We had a bunch of these books. This one was Volume Four. The idea was that they were all students in a school. The points is, on the front is a picture of a school district sign. Under it is a sign that says:

No Snods

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean, but I've been thinking about it for the past week and it keeps making me laugh.

Until Friday, readers, when, I don't know, something happens.