Thursday, August 15, 2013

LOTS of X-Future Writings and Starting Two X-Future Stories

Wow. Another 2.5 week hiatus. What is wrong with me this summer!?

Sorry, guys. I really am. I'm hoping to whip myself in to writing this blog regularly again. This is pathetic.

At least I was productive in my time away. And the best part? You'll be able to actually see the results this time! So let's go back in time to see more-or-less what my blog posts would have been...

August 4th
I spent the week of July 28th through August 4th frantically working on the prologue, and then hoped to make it to at least the Student Mixer recap. The prologue ended up taking FOREVER to finish. In the end, it was 12+pages/7500+words long! This thing is a BEAST! A hopefully entertaining beast.

Instead of updating my blog, I finished off the prologue, read it off to my Hubby, posted it on, posted on Writers’ Huddle that I completed Week 2's goal, posted the prologue on, and then went through the minor chaos of posting the prologue over on the forum. Over 12pgs and 7500 words is WAY too large to have as just one post, so I had to find a way to break it down for the forum. Plus - and this may be a bit selfish and presumptuous of me - I wanted to be the only one capable of writing up these recaps for everyone. So I had to work with Hubby to figure out how to set up a thread for me to post these recaps to, and have the other players able to read without being able to post or comment themselves.

The prologue thread ended up having fifteen posts in order to tell the full story. I broke them down based on the mini-story arcs involved. I then titled the story arcs and posted roughly the "years" the events took place. I'm debating going back to my FF and DA posts and breaking them down the same way. It reads less like a story that way, but it may ease confusion. I'll have to think about that.

Anyway, the fifteen different mini-arcs include:
  • First three years after X-Men: Evolution ended.
  • Phoenix Saga
  • The Reaping
  • Disappearance of Storm and The Kinneys Go on the Lam
  • Toad's Unrequited Love: Scarlet Witch Becomes an Avenger
  • The White Queen Joins the Team and a New School is Built
  • Two Weddings and a Hook-up
  • Quick Blip About Angel
  • An Acolyte and Lieutenant Leave The Brotherhood: Four More Boys Born
  • Illyana's Epic: Magik Rules Limbo
  • Quick Catch-up with Psylocke and Spike
  • The Kinney Saga Continues
  • Discovery of Fireworks and Playing with Shadows
  • The Disappearance of Magma
  • The Future is About to Begin
I received great reviews over on the forum about the prologue, so I'm glad my hard work paid off. I then quickly crashed before I could get to writing the blog post. Whoops.

Another thing I worked on this week was the mini-challenge Ali presented for the Huddle's summer challenge. Originally - and for everyone else participating - the challenge was simply to write at a different time of day than normal. If you normally write at the end of your day, try writing first thing in the morning. If you only write on the weekends, try writing during the work week. If you only write when your kids are down for a nap, trying writing when they're in bed for the night. You get the gist.

Well, I don't ever have set times. I write whenever I'm free and I'm inspired. I naturally write at all hours of the day. I asked Ali what I should do with the challenge.
Ali: You know, you could've just kept quiet and had an easy pass…
Here's LycoRogue's challenge (and anyone else in a similar situation, feel free to do this one instead):
Use one (or more) of these objects in your scene/chapter/whatever, in an unconventional way:

  • A large hardback book
  • An empty Starbucks cup
  • A laptop power cable
(By "unconventional" I mean your character can't be sitting in Starbucks with their laptop, reading a book and considering getting another coffee because theirs is empty… but anything non-obvious goes!)
If this really isn't going to work with what you're writing, then you can do a 10 minute timed write incorporating at least two of those objects instead.
As soon as I saw "unconventional" I instantly had a fight scene going through my head. Screw Driver was going to make another appearance as he attacks Willow and Chayse. The thing though, is when I start a scene I don't like stopping until it concludes. So this "ten minute timed write" turned in to "Lyco writes for three hours and fills four pages with a little over 2500 words".

I discovered that I still can't write fight scenes. I suck so much at them. But I guess the only way to improve is to practice, right?

August 4 - 11
I had every intention of writing the blog post on my day off on the fifth, but instead I attempted to work on the Student Mixer recap, spend the day with my husband after his morning shift, and cleaning the house. I was too zoned out on Tuesday after my long shift, so no writing then. Instead of catching up with my blog post, I attempted the Student Mixer recap on Wednesday.
It was both a fantastic use and waste of my time.

I got about 2pgs and a little over 1200 words in to my "recap" before I realized that I wasn't even an 1/8th of the way through the role play event. I looked what I had written back over and discovered why this "recap" was taking so long. I wasn't recapping jack! I was straight up converting the script-like writing of the game in to prose. I wasn't summarizing anything, just organizing it in to a different format.


Good old ChibiSunnie sort of laughed about it when I complained on my Facebook page about what I did. She then stated:
Chibi: "That just shows how much of a novelist you are if you can't avoid writing out the whole story."

The next day I attempted the recap again. Although I was able to summarize instead of writing a straight adaptation, it was still 5pgs and over 3400 words! I just wasn't sure what to cut! Since it was introducing the characters to everyone I wanted to include more of their interactions with each other so people to get a feel for the personalities and the dynamics of the group. Also, I wanted to make sure to include the characters that were eventually going to be killed off due to the players not participating anymore; simply so that when they died the players/readers wouldn't just see a name listed and go "Oh, okay, and who was that?" I was also fearful of the current players maybe complaining that their character wasn't in the recap.

The issue being that, due to how active they are on the board, the only characters that really had any significant impact on the story - and therefore the only ones the players/readers needed to know about in order for the next portion of the story/game to make sense - were Nix, Chayse, Lia, Devon, and Annika.

Those five aren't meant to be the main characters of the game, they just sort of BECAME the main characters simply due to how active the characters are in-game. I just hope none of the other players feel scorned about this....

So, Chibi - after again laughing at me complaining a second time about my failure to be succinct - offered to read over the Student Mixer recap and help me out. My goal was to write them like those recap montages in the beginning of episodes, letting viewers know the key points from previous episodes so that events in the current one make sense. She struggled a little bit to try to help me out, but in the end I think she helped me cut it down to exactly what I was aiming for.
So super-duper big help to Chibi and her assistance! Hopefully I can do it on my own this week, but we'll see.

Thursday, August 8th, also had my attempt at the Week 3 mini-challenge for the Writers' Huddle Summer Writing Challenge. The challenge was to use the provided picture as a writing prompt.
You can use the image however you want,
as long as the writing was somehow inspired by the image.
Be as creative or as straight forward as you'd like. Does the layout of the board inspire you to write about a maze? The layout reminded one of the Huddlers of the robots she used to build with Lego's as a kid. Ali even suggested maybe using not the Scrabble board, but the person holding the cup in the upper left corner. Maybe you would like to just select some of the words that were played. Maybe you're inspired to write about characters playing Scrabble or some other game.

That's what Hubby and I decided on. While at the laundromat we were talking about the challenge and he suggested I have two of the characters playing Scrabble. He then joked that it should be Deadpool and Trish while she's being interrogated in her cell. Taking my notepad, he wrote out the words the two of them would play. Trish would begrudgingly play by only spelling out curse words. Deadpool would then retaliate by using all of his words spell out a sentence that would piss Trish off. It was just too good to not actually write this scene out.

It was fun!

In fact, the scene was so much fun, and both Hubby and I loved it so much, that we went ahead and made it canon by having me role play it out on the 10th. 
Ronoxym, as Devon, absolutely LOVED reading the scene. Actually, he's greatly enjoying the entirety of Deadpool messing with Trish while she's incarcerated.
August 11
That's when Sunday came around. I again had every intention of writing a blog post. I'd start off for apologizing for missing my update the week before, and then talk about all the writing I had done the past two weeks.

However, since I had missed a blog post I wanted to give you guys SOMETHING to make up for it. I know it must be annoying to read about all the writing I've been doing, but not being able to see any of the fruits of my labor.

So that's when I decided to screw the shortened recap of the Student Mixer. First off, Chibi hadn't had time to look over it yet. Secondly, the almost bullet-points/news report/short-hand of the event is beneficial for the X-Future players, but for those who aren't involved in the game it would be sort of boring. So, much like with the prologue, I decided to go ahead and just post the 5pg storyesque recap of the mixer. Hopefully it will be more entertaining that way.

So, I had updated the X-Future story I had up on Fanfiction; having both the prologue and the Student Mixer. I then did the same over on DeviantArt. The only issue I really had was that while on FF it was easy to know the two "chapters" went together because it was on the same file. You just click "next chapter" and you go from the prologue to the mixer. DeviantArt doesn't do the same thing. These are two completely different files and unless I leave a link in the description, or if I had a Premium membership and created a subfolder specifically for this story, there's no way of knowing they connect. I then decided to do the same thing I did for my Hey Arnold chapter story over on DA. I was going to create a cover-art picture. This way people know it's part of the same "story" based on the same cover-art.

I had NO clue what to do for this art. I thought about a sort of collage of the X-Future characters, but I'm not a good enough artist to draw them all. I also don't have the pixel-dolls made up for even half of them; so that idea was out. The only place where we have all the characters made up is on the Xbox360 game WWE '13, and I couldn't get screen-captures of the game to use.

So there goes my idea to make a cover-art using the characters. I then thought about the picture I used for What Is Truly Meant To Be. I had grabbed the blue starburst background from the Hey Arnold end credits and wrote the title on that background using the Hey Arnold font. It was simple, but it worked. I could do the same thing with the X-Future story.

I did a Google search for the X-Men: Evolution logo since X-Future is a continuation of that. I figured I could doctor the logo so it would say X-Future; that way it still had the game's title, but it had a similar feel as Evolution. I messed around in Photoshop for about an hour before realizing that I really couldn't fix the X in X-Men: Evolution because "Men" was written across it. I hit Google Images again to try to find just the X from Evolution's logo so I could try to replace it that way.

Instead I made a FANTASTIC discovery. At this year's Comic Con Bryan Singer, the director and writer for the Days of Future Past X-men movie coming up next year, released the movie's logo:
I was amazed to discover that the only word that actually overlaid the X was "Future"! It was perfect! I spent another hour or so in Photoshop deleting the "Days of Past" from the logo without losing the textured black background. Only for me to keep messing with it - I'll explain that in a moment - and having to start all over again.
So, I had the image for X-Future all set up:

Looking at the image that I was using for the DeviantArt cover-art, I realized it would also make an awesome banner for the X-Future forum. I then messed around with the format and theme of the boards, much like how I did to customize the look of this blog. It was a bit tricky since Zetaboards isn't as user-friendly when it comes to customizing in comparison with Blogger.

In the process of trying to figure out how to put on a customized banner I discovered what's called the FaveIcon. You know how you go on to Facebook, or even here on Blogger, and you see the f inside the blue box or the b inside the orange box when looking at the page name along the tab? Well, those tiny icons are FaveIcons, and I could make a custom one for the board! The genius that I am, I was so excited that I started tweaking with the above image, and then the X-Men portion of the Evolution logo until I finally had an icon small enough to use as a FaveIcon. I was so proud when I completed my icon! Then I went back to undo everything I did to get back to the X-Future image above. That's when I realized that I had done too much to backtrack enough to get to the image. I also forgot to save the image.
So, that's why I had to start from scratch to recreate the image. Awesome. Once I was done - for a second time - I made sure to save! I then posted the image on DA as the cover-art of my story. I also wanted to try to use the cover-art option over on FanFiction as well. That's when I realized that the dimensions of the image were WAY off for the FF cover-art. Another 1/2 hr or so in Photoshop and I had the cover-art photo for FF.
Since I had spent so much time working on all of that I decided to go ahead and go one step farther for both X-Future images. As I had mentioned in a few past posts, I wanted to post up an anthology of scenes I write as writing exercises. Up to this point I had avoided doing so for a few reasons.
  1. Readers could be confused because they don't know these characters, their powers, and how they related to each other. I wasn't sure how to explain all of that before each scene without the Author's Notes being as long if not longer than the scenes themselves.
  2. Most of the scenes aren't canon and I didn't want to confuse anyone.
  3. Just about all of the scenes had some sort of spoiler in them depending on how much of the X-Future storyline you knew.
On Sunday I figured that I didn't really care about any of those concerns anymore. Plus, with the actual progress in the X-Future main storyline tale - which, as you can see in the above photo, I named "The Second Generation Begins" - readers would get to learn about the characters and their powers, as well as read through enough of the tale that the spoilers would be revealed anyway. Add in a warning about the scenes not being canon and all three issues will eventually be sorted out.

So now, along with the two chapters for "The Second Generation Begins" up on both FF and DA, I also have my scene anthology:

Now you guys have about six things to read! You can finally see some of the story and characterization that's been taking up my life for the past year! You can finally get in to X-Future along with me! Whoot!

You can find the two chapters of TSGB on FF here.

Chapter one of TSGB - the proglogue - can be found here.
Chapter two of TSGB - the Back-to-School Mixer - is here.

X-Future Snippets over on FF can all be found here, as well as an explanation of the anthology. Be wary. Due to the nature of some of the characters, there will be some T-rated chapters due to language, violence, and sexual content. There will also be a few M-rated chapters due to violence, sexual content, and Trish using her favorite curse word.
The first X-Future Snippet - "Flashes of Trish" - can be found here... and without her trademark cursing!
The second X-Future Snippet - "Ripley Vs. Lincoln" - can be found on DA here.
The third X-Future Snippet - "Scrabble with Deadpool" - is here on DA. This one is rated M for Trish's mouth... :-P This was what I wrote for Week 3's challenge
The last X-Future Snippet that I have - "[Screw Driver] Attacks" - is up on DA here. For this one I purposely changed the actual title here because Screw Driver's identity is a pseudo-major spoiler. This whole scene is filled with spoilers, so read at your own risk.
This is what I wrote for Week 2's challenge, but it chronologically takes place after the Deadpool scene, which is why it's the last one I posted.

All the design work in Photoshop, plus the editing and posting of all of those writings up on FF and DA kept me from 1am until 1pm. At that point I was done looking at my computer, which is why I didn't do the blog update last Sunday.

So, there you have it. A HUGE blog post, plus six "chapters" to read! Hopefully this will help appease you, my faithful readers, after the mini-hiatus.

Any thoughts on the X-Future tales? Drop me your thoughts below in the comments.

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