Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Slowly Introducing the World to "Glitches"

Sorry about being a day late this week, but Independence Day on Monday sort of threw me off. Plus, unfortunately, a co-worker's house burnt down last week, and so yesterday I took her shift so she could deal with the insurance rep as they do a walkthrough to evaluate the damage. I wasn't home again until after 8pm yesterday. I should have done my blog post Monday to make up for it, but, yeah, holiday.

This just means that I could talk about writing group right after I had it, instead of my usual week late remarks on the subject.

Due to me unexpectedly working yesterday, I was a bit late, and so I missed DFL reading her opening chapter of her first book. I did come in during the discussion of it, though. As per usual, for her, Carson, Red, and Sandy, discussion and insight was fairly extensive after each read their stories. They'd spend between five and ten minutes reading, and then we'd spend another fifteen minutes or so discussing and giving advice and/or encouragement. Even our "new" member from two weeks ago who had the tribal-named characters had a nice in depth discussion of her work when she was done.

Again, as per usual, I snuck in my reading just before the library closed, but there was no real discussion afterwards. True, it was partially my fault because there was only about ten minutes left of our group when I started reading, but I was done with around five minutes to spare. I got a lot of "wow" and "right into the action, huh?" and a playful "I really do love slow-paced stories" but no real direction. With about three minutes before the library closed, and everyone easily evacuating in a little more than one minute, I was hoping for a quick little "how about...?" or something. I guess I'll have to wait until next group, and I'll try to get my story started a bit sooner so I can maybe get some discussion going. The next section is where I'm really looking for advice anyway, but I wanted them to know that the start of the comic isn't as boring at the next part may seem.

For those confused, I decided to read my script of "Glitches" that I started for Script Frenzy a few years back. It's a bit confusing to read a proper comic script aloud, so, as I mentioned last week, I had converted the proper script into more of a weird Script-Prose format for reading purposes. I'll convert it back into a proper format again once the bugs are worked out and it's ready to be taken more seriously; i.e. - I find an artist and buy webspace for it.

The story, as a way to draw in first-time readers from wandering off to a different comic, starts mid-action, otherwise known as In Medias Res. Chayse, Lia, Willow, and Devon are being chased through deserted, rundown, urban streets. The pursuers attack, causing Devon to be the first to demonstrate his powers as he creates a wall of flame to protect himself and the other teens. That's where both the action and my reading yesterday ended. It is a fairly intense scene, especially when people don't realize at first that the kids have mutant powers.

I feel like the next section, while considered a "brief" recap of the evolution of the world to that of the Glitches, might get a bit bogged down and boring. As Keaton put it: info dump. I had offered the group two readings. The first be the actual script that I read, the other was the part that I needed help with: the history of the world to make sure it make sense. Keaton was the only one to offer a vote: no info dump; read the actual story.

I want to have the "how the world of Today turned into the world of Glitches" intro be done sort of similarly to that of the movie "Repo! The Genetic Opera." The movie is rightly included in the "splatterpunk" genre because it's very bloody, but if you can handle blood and guts, it is a GREAT watch with insanely catchy songs.

Anyway, the movie starts with about two minutes of comic-like panels reading off the backstory. It's a bit less complicated for Repo! than it is for Glitches, though. The Repo! backstory is that there's an epidemic of organ failures causing millions to die. The company Gene Co rises as a savior of the people with the artificial organs it produces, coupled with a finance plan so everyone can afford the new organs for survival. Gene Co even creates a new line of painkillers to help with the surgery, but the painkillers become addicting, as does the fact that cosmetic surgery is now effectively affordable and pain-free. Society as a whole treats cosmetic surgery like clothing; easily updated and replaced in order to stay fashionable. That's when Gene Co gets the US congress to legalize organ repossession for anyone who falls behind on their payments. Thus starts the movie with the introduction of the main character: the Repo Man, who is a legal assassin who will repossess Gene Co's organs while you're still alive and using them.

The background to Glitches is a bit more complicated: explanation of evolution and how human evolution jumpstarted again after millennia of more-or-less stagnant growth, how evolution progressed so far as to create "powers" in just 100 years from modern times, the concept of the Glitch categories, the police task force created to hunt down Glitches, why the evolved humans are called Glitches in the first place, why Emily set up the boarding school/orphanage in the first place, why Dom created the arcade training facility; there's so much. I know I should probably trickle this stuff in, but what can be told to the audience through natural discussion, and what needs to be told to the audience in straight up exposition? If the students all grew up in this time they should know about the rash of abandoned teens, what the Glitch categories are, and who the Glitch Protection Squad is. They should know about the government abductions and experimentation of Glitches. How does any of this come up in conversation without it feeling like it's me trying to relay important historical facts over to the reader? Should it all be in an exposition-filled intro like Repo!? Or should I short-hand it more than I currently have, and cut out things like the creations of the GPS or GCS? Just stop at how Glitches got their title.

This is where I need help, so hopefully I can get some insight either from group in a couple weeks, or from Writers’ Huddle in the nearer future.

Speaking of, Sunday was the close of week one of the summer challenge over at the Huddle. My 3 script pages a day challenge is proving to be a bit more ambitious than I originally thought. Last week I got to 3pages total added onto the script. Most of the week was spent typing up the complicated history of the Glitch world-build, so do I get credit for that? I figured, since the part I'm working on now in the script is the exposition of the world history, perhaps I should figure that out first so I can just type. Problem is that a lot of things happened sort of simultaneously, and so I'm having difficulties figuring out which bits to explain first; which way transitions into each other easiest? Still, I have just over 2pgs of world-build history figured out and posted up on the Huddle for critique, and 3pgs of script added to my over-all project. The first five pages or so of the script also seemed intense and enjoyable to my writing group, so there's also that.

Alright, so that's how I'm doing with the writing challenge, but what about my reading one? Well, good and bad here too. I had wanted to read Sandy's book for this month, but the only copy available from the local library is currently on inter-library loan. I have a notification request for when it's in again, but who knows when that will be? So, I don't have a fiction novel to read this month. On the flipside, while I was waiting nearly an hour to use the lone card-catalog computer in the library, I managed to find a shelf filled with writing how-to self-help books. I picked one up and have been more-or-less working on it a chapter a day.

The book is called "The Write Type" by Dr. Karen E. Peterson. She's a psychologist who helps writers - presumably along with other clients; not exclusively writers - overcome their blocks. She then wrote books to help those who aren't her clients as well. While some soul-searching exercises would definitely be easier for me if I were Peterson's patient, because I need as much hand-holding guidance as possible, most of the exercises have surprised me a bit with the results. Her main thing is to ask her readers questions about their writing. The reader is supposed to impulsively respond with their dominant hand first. No thinking, just whatever comes to mind in order to better know what the subconscious wants. Then, to make sure no side of the brain is left out in these decisions, the reader is supposed to switch to their non-dominant hand and answer the same questions. Again, no thinking, just whatever comes to mind first is the subconscious responding instinctively. While a lot of my answers came out exactly how I assumed they would, regardless of which hand I'm using, there have been some that threw me. Amazing how you can trick your mind - or it you - into thinking you KNOW what you truly believe.

I planned on bringing some of the exercises with me to group last night, but between getting there late and barely having time to read my own stuff, I decided to wait until we have an awkwardly slow meeting with time to fill. It may be a while if we keep getting a larger and larger crowd now that it's summer and nice out again.

If Sandy's book isn't in the library by the time I have to return "The Write Type" next Tuesday, I'll have to find some other book to read for July to make sure I hit my quota. In the meantime, I'm back to working on my script, and plowing through more chaptered exercises in "The Write Type." I should also be back to my normal posting schedule next week.

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