Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Surprisingly Successful, Non-Writing Script Frenzy

Well, this year's Script Frenzy ended up being equal parts successful and complete fail. I know I still have today and tomorrow, but I haven't touched the script in weeks now, so I think we can assume I'm done for the month. Done and with only about 10 pages of script written. The worse that I've ever done with Script Frenzy.

To be fair, I did try a format I've never attempted before. A format I was never taught how to write in. Thank God for Celtx having a sample comic book in its archives so I had a base to go off of. It definitely helped, and so I feel accomplished in that regard.

Actually, even though this month was sort of fail, I don't feel like a failure at all; especially compared to past years. I am taking a lot of pride in the fact that I pushed myself to try comic book writing. Pride in the fact that I'm teaching myself how to write in that format. Pride in the fact that I was able to get ten pages done in one month. Granted, I could have done a lot more if I had all my ducks in a row first, but it's still something.

Also, I can take pride in the fact that I was working on the story - in some shape or form - nearly every day. Well, if I'm being honest, I didn't really work on the comic this past week, but I'll get to that in a bit. Point is, I pushed myself this month, and I call that a great success.

Script Frenzy isn't an official program any longer. Sure, I could participate in a Script-Frenzy-Like writing experience in November instead of writing a novel during NaNo, but still doing so in April is big. I don't have the support group of other Frenziers. I don't have the website keeping track of my progress: the countdown to the end of the month and the progress bar as I crept towards 100 pgs. While I petitioned members of both my own writing group and Writers’ Huddle, I think only one person said he'd participate with me. And we didn't get a chance to really talk this month in order to encourage each other and push each other to continue.

So I didn't really have a support group writing along side me and pushing me forward - not to say I didn't have supporters throughout the month, but it's different when they're going through the experience with you.

As I already emphasized, I also pushed myself by writing a comic book instead of a stage or screen play like I normally would; like I was taught how. Writing something I didn't know how to and with no one guiding me. That's big for me.

I also pushed myself to finally write my X-Future reboot. It was a project I've been working on for a year now, but I never really put anything official down on paper. Yeah, it's because I was world building, but I could have had a lot more figured out by now. Just about everything I stalled on during this month could have been decided back around Thanksgiving. I had been slacking. I kept telling myself "I'll get to it when I'm inspired to" or "It will be written eventually, there's no real rush". Well, now there was a rush. I couldn't procrastinate any longer. I needed to finish world building and I needed to have it done NOW.

Plus, when I hit my first brick wall I could have just stopped completely. Granted, I DID stop completely; I haven't really written anything else since I hit that wall, but it's different. Different because last year I probably would have focused on anything else. I would grumble at the blank pages and whine about how I wasn't making progress. I would get down on myself for being so far behind on my goal. I would have failed in my resolve to keep writing, and then I would doubt that I actually was a writer.


This year I pushed through. I used the fact that I was stonewalled by my lack of world building as the drive to keep world building. I pushed myself to get things sorted out so I could continue writing. I mean, it didn't work that way. I never did go back to writing, but that doesn't matter.

I have a lot of new stuff figured out now. Stuff I probably would still be stalling on figuring out if I hadn't attempted Script Frenzy this year. Between that and the fact that I WAS working on this story - in some shape or form - for the vast majority of the month... I consider that a success!

Now, back to that earlier disclaimer about not working on the X-Future reboot this past week. I was stuck. Plus, I needed something to keep me entertained while I waited for Hubby to get out of work on Sunday. See, more often than not our work keeps him past his scheduled time in order to finish the job he does on the overnights. I go to pick him up when he's scheduled to be done, and sometimes I'm waiting around for two hours. Well, I don't have Celtx on my smartphone, but I DO have Google Docs. So, Sundays - while waiting for Hubby - is usually my days to work on Please, Let Me Explain.

I don't know if it's because I got in to a groove, or if it was sparked by finally talking to the elusive Ronoxym again, but I just couldn't let go of this story. I couldn't wait until Sunday to continue working on it.

Starting at the very first word once more, I read through the whole story up until the POV switch. See, most of the story is in Devon's POV, but right around the section that Ron stopped writing it switches over to Willow's. I stopped my edits at the POV switch. Once I have the latest chapter up I'll work on that next bit.

Anyway, the point is that I tore the story apart. I took notes - literal notes, on a legal pad and everything - of what Devon and Willow said to each other. This way I don't lose track of what was said, and I could keep reminding myself what was going on in each of their heads.
Man, my handwriting sucks...
I'm equal parts super glad and kinda bummed that I decided to critically analyze the story like this.

On the one hand, I found a few typos and sentences I needed to rework. So that's great; except some of them are in the earlier sections that I already published. Whoops. I'm also glad because the story got so long, and with so many different times that Devon and Willow talked, that we actually DID lose track of what was already said. Once or twice Devon repeated himself while explaining his side of the story. Once or twice Willow did the same while yelling at Devon. It's fine to repeat one's self; it's not alright to do so while making it seem like it was the first time it was said. I'm sure my readers would have picked up on that a lot faster than we did.... Whoops again.

I'm also glad I was so meticulous this go because I found a semi-major plot hole in our story while going back through the dialogue. So, yay that I caught it before publishing that part! Also, boooo, because now we have to figure out how to rework a huge chunk of the story. It would be the second half of the latest chapter, so pretty much the entire third-quarter of the story Ron wrote so far. Super duper whoops.

See, I never noticed before that Willow changes her tune in that third-quarter of the story. It only JUST occurred to me that everything that happened in that part of the story more-or-less ignored the huge scene of Willow talking to Devon in his cell. Aside from being caught up in the current dialogue, I'm not entirely sure how we missed this opinion switch before. I've also noticed that she was acting a bit more "Lia-like" in this part of the story as well. So, now I have even MORE work to do. *sigh*

I've also become acutely aware of the fact that I was head-hopping. Not sure what head-hopping is? Check out this article Ali Luke wrote about it:
Do You Head-Hop? Getting Third Person Point of View Right

I want to stress that I am the one with the head-hopping problem. Mainly because I'm used to writing Third Person Omniscient. Those who have read my "Hey, Arnold!" fanfiction know I love delving deep in to the thoughts of my characters. Especially during arguments, so that the reader knows where everyone is coming from. It helps keep everyone relatable and sympathetic. So - if it were up to me - I probably would have stayed Omniscient in PLME.

Thing is, the story was Ron's baby. He was writing the story through Devon's POV; obviously, since Devon is his character. I interjected Willow in to the story. Because of that collaborating set-up, the story was mostly writen in Devon's POV. Which means the times that I imputted Willow's would be considered head-hopping. It's not an even split.

I was able to go through and weed out most of the Willow head hops. However, there are a LOT of sentences still where I have no clue. Am I head hopping in to Willow? Is Devon just observant enough that he can tell? How do I know for sure? How do I fix it without messing with the intensity of the moment?

I submitted these questions - in a manner of speaking - to the fine folks over at Writers' Huddle. It kept a few days, but two Huddlers responded to me on Monday. I have some work to do, but at least I now know where I went wrong, and I have a direction on how to fix it.

So, I'm going to be busy. Between fixing my head hops and then figuring out how to rewrite the plot-hole-oops problem.... Yup. Busy. On the plus side, I think I have a good start on the later.

This story will truly be the death of me, but I love it all the same. It's really driving me, and it's a great learning experience. I'm figuring out how to work with a collaborator. I'm doing some major editing. Probably the most hard-core, tear-it-to-shreds, complete-rework editing I have ever done in my life. It's a practice I really needed to work on. I'm also learning to rein in my adverb usage and honing in on my Third Person Limited skills; e.g. preventing myself from head hopping.

So, I'm super glad Ron let me in on his project last year. I'm just sorry if in hijacking it I ended up killing his motivation. He was so excited about it and had it more-or-less finished in his head. Then I derailed him.... I should have let him finish the story first, I think.


OH! Before I forget, I said in my blog last week that I'd let you know what the organization name was that Phfylburt came up with. So, after we had a conversation about the whole thing, we agreed that GPS is the perfect accronym. First of all, it's sorta-techy, which really works in a cyberpunk story setting. Second, they are in charge of locating Glitches. Third, I could have fun using GPS brands as street nicknames for them. For instance, instead of Popo, they would be called TomToms. It's corny, but I like it.

We struggled a little trying to figure out exactly what the P and the S stood for; it was a given G was for Glitch. Eventually Phfyl landed on Glitch Placement Services. It's a non-threatening government-agency-sounding name. It explains what they do: round up Glitches and move them in to ghettos to control and "protect" them. I like it.

Alright, well, I have a bit more free time this week, so I guess I have some writing to do. Farewell, Script Frenzy. We didn't go as far as I would have liked - I never even finished the pages I plotted out - but you still helped me accomplish much this month. Here's to high productivity continuing on throughout the year!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I'm So Good At This Naming Thing, Guys!

To start, I want to remind everyone that today is Earth Day. If you haven't done so already, please take a moment to reflect on your lifestyle, and try to find places to improve so that the world is a cleaner and healthier place.
  • Do you conserve as much energy as you can?
  • Do you recycle whenever possible? 
  • Do you use reusable bags when shopping? If not, do you reuse or recycle the grocery bags?
  • Do you carpool or leave the car in the driveway every once in a while? Especially when you're staying local?
  • Is there a place for you to start/maintain a garden or a new tree? Is there a community garden you can help maintain?
There's tons of other options for you to make minimal changes to your own life and make a still-powerful impact on the environment. Plus, things like gardening and commuting on foot/bike/skates/skateboard/etc really help improve your mood and health. Conserving energy - as well as leaving the car behind - helps you save money. Even using reusable grocery bags can benefit you right along with the environment: you don't have plastic bags cluttering your house/trash, you don't have the headache of the bags ripping open on you, you can usually fit more in the reusable ones, and so you have fewer bags to carry in to the house, and some stores even give you credit for using your own bags when shopping.

Anyway, enough with the PSA. Let's get to why you're here: to see how my writing has been coming along.


I hit that dreaded wall. A full week and not a new word on paper. Not to say I had all Zero Days. I've done a lot of work this week, just none in advancing that doomed script.

Mostly, I've been trying to figure out my original rewrite of Wolverine. Since so much of the next portion of the comic deals with the creation of the orphanage and the arcade - both still need actual names, by the way - I really need to figure out at the very least the NAMES of my versions of Shadowcat and Wolverine.

I mentioned last post that Shadowcat doesn't have a new codename yet, but her first name is now Margaret. I still need to come up with a new last name and decide if she's still Jewish. The religious/ethnicity factor isn't all that important right now, though. I just know she has to be Caucasian still - as is Neo Gambit - in order for Chayse to remain as such. Although... changing her ethnicity slightly and giving Chayse more tan/olive complexion wouldn't be so bad...

As for Wolverine? Well, over the last week I decided to change the famous Canadian mutant in to one of the minorities I wish to bring in to the comic; to introduce diversity. Keep in mind, most of the people who play(ed) X-Future are White, and so it's only natural that most of us envisioned a White character. While I'm stubborn when it comes to changing the ethnicity of the original characters I'm transferring over, I figured I could add in the diversity though the Marvel characters since I have to completely rewrite them anyway.

At first I landed upon an African American Wolverine for a little bit. However, one of the characters - Roscoe - is... well... it's a bit complicated. See, Roscoe's mom Psylocke was born a Caucasian Brit, but at some point in time her body became manipulated/replaced with the Asian body most people think of when picturing her. So, technically Roscoe is part Black and part Asian?

Point is, we already have one Black character. Although, I'm not sure if we're keeping Roscoe. I'm sort of merging him with Liam in the rewrite since the two were BFFs in the game, and Roscoe's player was rarely on; meaning he didn't have much character growth. So, when I create the Roscoe/Liam Mash-up, do I make him White British - Liam - or do I make him Black/Asian British - Roscoe?

Either way, there is a more prominent character - Lucas Kinney - who is also half-Black. He's definitely a character being used in the comics, and he's almost definitely being altered so he's fully African-American.

Sure, I could make Wolverine Black as well. Why should I restrict this race to just one or two characters when there are going to be about a dozen White characters? Wolverine also takes on Lucas as a ward; very Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Perhaps having both characters be of African decent will help them bond and seem more like a family. At the same time, it seems too easy. "Of course the Black man has a heart of stone except for when he sees a Black kid..."

The more I thought of Wolverine, the more I pictured my remake of him as Latino. That way his love for Lucas goes beyond sharing a race. It also adds more diversity. Plus, now that Amara is Native Hawaiian instead of Brazilian, I lost some of that Latin culture; although, technically Brazilians descended from Portugal, and so I don't know if they count in the "Hispanic" culture...

Whatever, it doesn't mean I won't be adding more Blacks in to the comics at some point as I rework everyone. I'm just saying that as of right now Wolverine's character rewrite feels more Latino. I'm still deciding on the origins though. Not many American works of fiction tend to focus on Central or South America when writing Hispanic characters, so there's that. However, I feel like it might be because most Latin immigrants are from Cuba, Puerto Rico, or Mexico - and then from Spain itself. So those are the top four contenders, especially with President Obama starting to negotiate an end to the Cuba Embargo. Which means the near-future setting of the comic might be in a world where Cubans have just as pseudo-easy a flow to and fro as Puerto Ricans or Mexicans.

Honestly, I think I'm leaning on Cuban the most, but the true origins of Wolverine's heritage is of little consequence as of right now. I have time to figure it out.

What I'm really struggling on is his new name. I had a handful that I liked - as I mentioned last post when I first brought up the idea of a Latino Wolverine - and I added in some more that I found off of Spanish and Mexican "Top Ten Names" lists. My current list for Wolverine is 14 names long! My top 5 picks?
  • Rafael
  • Raul
  • Diego
  • Mateo
  • Javier
No clue on a last name. I'm going to have to randomly generate last names or something. I know I should put in as much effort as I do with the first names because last names hold power and meaning as well, but for me - especially since the first names and codenames will be used 90% of the time - last names are sort of inconsequential.

Not to say I won't double check the last names that are randomized to see if I like them enough to keep.

Gambit, Pyro, and Xavier are the next ones I need to figure out new names for...

Characters aren't the only things I need to name, though. As I mentioned, I still need to figure out a name for the orphanage Margaret opens up and the arcade Neo Wolverine builds. Out of the two, I feel like the orphanage should have "Sanctuary" somewhere in the name, but I can't get it quite right.

Of course, there's my street-gang-turned-terrorists version of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants that I need a name for. As well as my Purifiers-equivalent group of Anti-Mutant terrorists. But there's someone in between these two extreme terrorist groups, and to be frank, the Brotherhood only switched from gang to terrorists in order to hunt down the Purifiers. This third main faction I need to name is the equivalent to the Mutant Response Division. They are a special police/military force in charge of mutants; controlling them, protecting normal humans from them, and protecting mutants from both other mutants and human hate crimes alike.

Granted, the MRD were ACTUALLY formed as a legal way to exterminate mutants under the guise of protecting the rest of the world populous. This is where I'm going with my organization, but with a bit more of a Secret Federal Agency flair. On the surface, this group is in charge of corralling Glitches in to ghettos under the facade of protecting both the Glitches and humans easier. Now, before I continue, I feel I should clarify. These ghettos aren't EXACTLY like the ones we picture today. They're more like the ones formed at the turn of the 20th century when immigrants were grouped together based on perceived ethnicity. Places like Little Italy, Little China, Little Hong Kong, Little... Anything, really... they're all ethnic ghettos built up in to cultural mini-cities within major urban areas. This is closer to what the Glitches are forced in to; not terrible slums - although they were originally those bad living conditions - but they are restricting and overcrowded. Plus, Glitches don't have the right to live wherever they want like normal humans can.

Anyway, back to my version of the MRD. See, by keeping Glitches in ghettos they can keep humans out of that area in order to prevent hate crimes, and they can keep better watch of the Glitches to make sure they aren't terrorizing normal humans with their powers. This creates a public mask of a specialized law enforcement agency in charge of keeping peace and protecting the whole population against the hateful strain between normal humans and Glitches. In truth, there are probably only bottom-rung members who actually believe they are peacekeepers.

Sort of like beat cops in a corrupted precinct, these poor schmucks don't realize that the true task of this organization is to clean the streets of abandoned Glitches - ones no one will notice missing - in order to experiment on them. Well, to be fair, if they can get away with it, the organization will kidnap any Glitch in order to experiment on/exterminate them. They just focus on the homeless under the sadly true assumption that no one will pay any mind to them disappearing.

Lucas was one of these unfortunate victims - but he was later saved by Wolverine, who may or may not have gone through the same trials; I'm not sure yet. Part of me does want him to have been experimented on as a driving force for him wanting to shut down the secret facility Lucas was being held in. At the same time, though, the actual Marvel Wolverine is renowned for being violently experimented on before finally having his skeleton fused with the fictitious metal alloy adamantium. I feel like perhaps I should purposely AVOID experimentation on my version specifically for that reason. Maybe Wolverine just wanted other Glitches to be safe, and that's enough motivation. Maybe he was mistreated by authority due to being a Glitch, and that's his driving force. Maybe he was in an internment camp similar to the ones the Japanese-Americans were forced in to during WWII. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

But back to the organization. When it comes to the name of it I wanted to try to stick with the cyberpunk feel and have it sort of tech-related, at least the acronym. But what government agency would really play in to that? For instance, while mutants are Glitches, those trying to isolate and eliminate glitches could be called "Programmers" or "Anti-Virus" or something stupid like that. Now, I could see people possibly nicknaming the group those things - like how police are "Copper" or "Pig" or "Popo" - but what self-respecting agency would purposely name themselves that?

The way I'm trying to come up with the name of the agency is sort of three-fold. First, I went through a bunch of acronymed agency names that Marvel came up with: SHIELD, ARMOR, HAMMER, SWORD, MRD, O*N*E, etc. I really take in the way these organization names are formed. Then I came up with a list of key words that I think of when picturing the organization, or at least how they present themselves to the public. Here's my list so far:
  • Glitch(es)
  • Apprehension
  • Monitor(ing)
  • Patrol
  • Squad
  • Division
  • Agency
  • Preemptive
  • Protect(ion)
  • Peacekeeper/Peacekeeping
The last part is the hardest; I go through the list and piece some words together to make a cohesive name that also has a decent acronym. Part of me thinks that the above list is a good start for the last phase of this naming thing, but another part feels I'm missing some major word or words that will really make or break the agency name. Especially because the list of names I came up with so far is pathetic:
  • Preemptive Apprehension of Glitches (PAG)
  • Glitch Apprehension Patrol (GAP)
  • Glitch Apprehension Division (GAD)
  • Glitch Patrol Squad/Glitch Protection Squad (GPS)
    • I actually like this one a little bit because of the GPS acronym. It's semi-techie, plus the organization is trying to locate Glitches, so the acronym sort of works. I can even joke with it a little by having the officers' street names - like Popo or Pig - be GPS brands: Navigon, Garmin, Magellan, TomTom, etc.
I just need to think of a better "S" than squad, I think... Either that, or start branching out to more than 3-word names.

Anyway, this past Sunday poor Phfylburt had the above Wall O' Text sent to him for some feedback. The guy is still wading through everything to try to figure out what advice he can send back. Maybe I should send the guy a fruit basket or something to thank him for all the countless hours he spends trying to sort out MY stories while he's also trying to figure out his own.

In the meantime, I think I'm just going to jump ahead a few pages and get back to some action. Maybe working with Chayse, Devon, Willow, and Lia again will spark something with the world build. At the very least it will add a few pages to the script.

I've also gone back recently and slowly started rereading what I've edited so far in Please, Let Me Explain. It's a good thing, too, because I'm still finding things that I missed originally: typos, poorly worded sentences, unneeded adverbs, etc. I know I wanted to post a new chapter every month, and I'll now be two behind, but at least it gives Ronoxym a bit more time to get back to the story. The guy has gone radio silent the past few months. I've seen neither hide nor hair of the guy since his wedding; not in real life or online. I've seen his wife Cyhyr both IRL and online, though, so....

Eh, doesn't really matter. I have my own things to sort through still. Plus, I have another chapter's worth of the story to still edit. I trust he'll get back to the story... EVENTUALLY.


Well, I don't really have the time to go back and rewrite the end of this post, so I'll just sort of do a P.S. down here.

Coincidentally, right after I finished writing this post and scheduled it for the noon publication I received 2 IMs. One from Phfyl getting back to me about my Wall O' Text. We narrowed down the Wolverine name possibilities, and decided he'd be half Latino and half African. That way there's SOME ethnic connection between him and Lucas. Mainly because Phfyl doesn't think the Lucas he created would follow discipline well from Wolverine unless they had SOME connection. In X-Future that connection was that Lucas' mom was cloned from Wolverine, making the Canadian a sort of uncle/grandfather figure. I think Phfyl also nailed the name of the police force organization. I'm gonna play around with the name for a little to make sure I really do love it as much as I think I do. I'll officially announce it next week if all goes to plan.

So, thanks, Phfyl for yet again helping me out of a jam!

The real big shocker was the 2nd IM: Ronoxym!

Yeah, just out of the blue. He's been writing lately - a show pilot, no less! Happy Script Frenzy! - and that made him think of me. D'aw. So he just wanted to say hey and prove he was still alive. It's been great catching up with him - and Cyhyr, who popped in briefly too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Categorizing My Glitches

Well, here we are at the half-way point of this year's Script Frenzy. I am both happy and not with my progress. On the one hand, I'm back to writing relatively regularly, and I've been really forcing myself to work through some major world building in order to write this script. On the other hand, this figuring out, researching, and comic scripting learning curve has almost halted my actual writing. Here it is, day 15, a week after my last update, and I'm only up to nine pages.


For those not keeping track, I was up to six last week. In one week I've only added three pages. Go. Me.

It's been tricky, especially when trying to figure out quick visuals to explain a relatively broad and intangible concept. For me it would have been easier with actual video to capture more essence while a voice over was talking. As opposed to one snapshot of the visual I want with a toneless caption attached.

This is one of the reasons I gave up my idea of becoming a director. I'm much better as an editor. If you give me a variety of shots I can easily pick out which one is the best option. I can watch movies and comment on the angles and camera position and how the shot is either perfect, or how I'd be able to change it to something more impactful. Yet, I can't come up with the visual on my own off the top of my head. To me, without any outside help, everything in my head more-or-less plays out like a stage play with a few reaction shots thrown in. It's all sort of one-note. So, it's hard for me to work on this comic.

On the one hand, I am very particular and protective of my mental imaging of what's going on. I need to be meticulous with how the environment is laid out, the costuming of the characters, and exactly what the characters look like - right down to the exact placement of each hair. But angles? Where the mental cameras are set up in comparison to the scene? From what direction and how close the audience is while they are looking in? I'm terrible at figuring that out.

Probably why I'm better at prose. I can just dump the scene on the reader's lap and THEY can mentally picture all the intricate angles that would make up the movie adaptation.

So, you can sort of see my dilemma when it comes to storyboarding a comic book. I want to micromanage how everything works; resulting in the poor illustrator being no more than my extended hand since my own isn't talented enough to execute the visualization I want. At the same time, I have no clue what I'm doing when it comes to dramatic angles and the like, and I would want to give the illustrator all the creative freedom he or she desired in order to figure that stuff out without me.

An annoying paradox, and one I'm glad I don't have to deal with quite yet. I mean, I don't even have the first book written yet, and I'm no where near finding an illustrator. Heck, I'm no where near inquiring for an illustrator. So I guess I can iron out those details some time in the future.

How about the parts that I did manage to iron out already?

Do you recall once upon a time when I showed you fine folks this gloriously jumbled mind map?
Mutant Mind Map

Well, one of the main things I did this week was go through and reorganize this mental ramblings in to a bulleted list. AH! The glorious bulleted list to help categorizing my Glitches all the easier.

Originally, the point of organizing the above mess was so I could easily create a simple chart while continuing to explain what Glitches are to the reader. With more thought, I think it should be presented more as a lesson to one of the new Glitch recruits who has no clue what he is. Similar to the categorizing presented in the movie "Push" - which is where the category concept first came from anyway.

In "Push" the character Chris Evans plays knows he's "different" with his telekinetic abilities, but it's Dakota Fanning's character who informs him of the multiple different categories of superhumans; categorized by the villainous Division organization. Generic clairvoyants are "Watchers". Psychometrics - people who can gather the history of an object via touch - are "Sniffs" since they can "sniff" out a person they're looking for. "Shadows" are people that can block clairvoyancy - such as Watchers and Sniffs - by "hiding" the presence of themself or those they are protecting. Telekinetics are "Movers". Psychic healers - capable of completely healing any injury with only their hands - are "Stitches". A person who can cause amnesia - either erasing just a small memory or someone's entire life - is a "Wiper". "Bleeders" emit high-frequency sonic blasts that can rupture blood vessels; hence the category name. The name of the movie comes from the most powerful category of superhumans: Pushers. They are powerful telepaths that can implant false memories/feelings/loyalties in to someone's brain and force them to bend to the Pusher's will; even go so far as to kill a loved one or commit suicide.

There's one last category of superhuman from Push, and one Hubby and I enjoyed so much we gave the power to Willow's father Jacob: Shifter. A Shifter is more of a minor telepathic ability. They can take an object and make it temporarily appear to be something completely different as long as the basic structure is the same; essentially tricking the eyes as long as the other senses - mainly touch - don't interfere. For instance, the Shifter in the movie took Monopoly money and made a waitress believe it was actual currency. He couldn't, on the other hand, make her believe it was a diamond necklace because the weight and shape wouldn't match the illusion.

Funny side story, this is how Willow's and Chayse's fathers - Jacob and Gambit - met each other. They tried to swindle each other, but found each other out and became fast friends instead. I'm still not entirely sure what Gambit did to try to manipulate Jacob with his hypnotic charm speak, but I know that Jacob tried to con Gambit with a Shifting illusion.

Kind of makes me wonder about Shawn though. If Jacob can create illusions on a small scale, and Willow can make them on a grand scale - obviously inheriting her father's powers - than how did Shawn's mutation manifest  as electricity? Maybe Jacob's wife Meryl has a secret of her own?

Sorry, I went WAY off track there....

Point is, Hubby and I loved the idea of classifications of superhumans - who are basically mutants, let's face it - that he helped me categorize my Glitches too, but I only have five categories as of right now.

I have them called "Species" of Glitch. Then each species has the differing types of powers within it categorized further in to "Classes". Yes, in true Scientific Classification the terms are reversed and have Order, Family, and Genus in between. I debated using the true Scientific Classification method; categorizing all Glitches in to one Family - and possibly find the word Glitch derived from for the family classification - and then break the main power sets in to Genus, and then break the powers down further in to species.

Perhaps I'll have a few scientist characters argue that point. However, the classification is both militaristic and media-based, and so it needs to fit more with what SOUNDS better. It's easier and rolls off the tongue better to ask what species and class someone is, instead of which genus and species.

Another reason for the smallest category being "class" instead of "species" probably has something to do with me being a D&D nerd. I have a lot of characters whose powers are all subsets of one main category. Willow, for instance, can create illusions - which is one subset - and she has telepathy - which is another subset - and she is telekinetic - a third subset. There are Glitches that can only fit in to one of those categories; having one doesn't automatically mean you can do the other two. Because of this, Willow "cross-classes" in her powers. Like I said, I'm a D&D nerd.

Then you have someone like Chayse whose main power is his ability to manipulate kinetic energy - which is a power within one main category - but he also has the physical mutation in regards to his eye color - which technically puts him in to another main category as well. Since he's a mix of two different species of Glitch, he's considered a Hybrid. Now, I COULD switch Species and Class around to the more Scientific Classification formula, but I like the idea of multiple Glitches being able to Cross-Class - otherwise known as "Multi" - but only a few are actual Hybrids. If I were to switch the categories the percentages go the other way.

Speaking of titles for people within categories, let's lay out on the table what I figured out. Keep in mind, long-time readers probably already know this since I came up with these titles over a year ago when I created the above mind-map. I haven't really altered much of anything since then.

Okay, so there are five main Species of Glitch:
  1. Beasts are those with physical mutations. Those that can still pass as human are "Norms", whereas those that are more animalistic or otherwise can't hide their mutation are "True Beasts" or "Were-Creatures"; depending on the severity of the mutation and how cruel the person is who's throwing around the term. Chayse's eyes make him a "Norm Beast".
  2. Minds are the other main category that sprang up at first. They are the psychics; mostly telepaths or telekinetics. Illusions also fall under this category, and so Willow and her father Jacob are Minds.
  3. Evokers can manipulate the four elements as well as light, darkness, and energy itself. Shawn's ability to use electricity, Chayse's kinetic manipulation, Penumbra's shadow fighting, Trish and Devon's pyromancy, and Ripley's water-crafting are all Evoker powers. In fact, as you can see, the majority of the X-Future casting are Evokers; which is one of the reasons I briefly toyed with the idea of converting the story in to High Fantasy and have them all elemental-specific mages. Lia is one of the most powerful Evokers by being a cross-classed Multi with both fire and earth to create her lava powers.
  4. Tweakers manipulate DNA. This has a WIDE array of applications and has probably the largest listing of classes; although Evokers are close given the multitude of elements they manipulate. Lia is a Tweak Evoker Hybrid due to her ability to convert her blood and organs in to lava, and the rest of her body in to obsidian. Her father Jamie is also a Tweaker - which is why Lia's a hybrid - due to his ability to create clones of himself. Devon's shapeshifting also makes him a Tweak Evoker Hybrid.
  5. Finally, there are the Mages. They manipulate physics and the fabric of space/time itself. They are probably the most powerful Glitches, although most of their abilities are only basic in nature. Teleportation, clairvoyance, and probability alteration - based on the Marvel canon characters Nightcrawler, Destiny, and Domino, respectively - are all Mage abilities since they alter reality itself. Someone like Scarlet Witch, Pixie, Magik, and the X-Future character Lincoln are all a special class of Mages known as Sorcerers since they can effectively force themselves to both cross-class AND cross-species by saying spells to focus their Mage abilities.
Like I said, someone who has multiple power sets within the same Glitch Species is considered "Cross-class" or a "Multi". Therefore, Lia would be militaristically classified as a Coating Tweak Fire-Earth Multi Evoker Hybrid. Bit of a mouthful, but it sends the basic message of what her abilities are. Lia herself may introduce her powers by stating "I'm a Tweak Evoker hybrid. I'm a coater and fire-earth multi." Others, like Chayse, may focus on the main power of being an Energy Evoker, maybe going so far as stating Kinetic Energy Evoker. He's technically a Beast Evoker Hybrid due to his physical mutation of neon-lime green eyes with black sclera, but he focuses on trying to pass for human. So he'd most likely ignore the Beast classification.

Now, in my reboot, Chayse's ability to phase is similar to DC comic's superhero The Flash - he moves fast enough to pass through the microscopic air pockets in between the cells of a solid object. Chayse does so by manipulating the kinetic energy within his own body until it speeds up enough to phase. I may change this, though, because it seems to be a LOT of effort for something Hubby tends to have Chayse do a lot.... If I do convert it back to Hubby's X-Future version of Chayse, than Phasing is a Tweaker ability. This means Chayse is a Tweak Evoker Beast hybrid - again, because of the eyes. I haven't decided on a term yet, but being a hybrid of 3 or 4 different species feels like it needs its own name since it doesn't happen that frequently. A super powerful mutant in the Marvel world is considered "Omega Class". So, I think a multi-hybrid needs similar treatment.

Right now, though, I only have the terms "Transcendent", "Ultimate", and "Supreme" Glitch. All seem a bit over-the-top in classification. Especially when the person is like Chayse and would be a typical Hybrid if it weren't for that dip in to Beast territory.

Now, there is a "mythical" or "theoretical" classification of Glitch; think of it as Super Sayian or my version of Beyond Omega Level. It is equally idolized and feared by both humanity and Glitches. Basically, it's a person who is born as a hybrid of all five categories. The terms I have so far for this classification are: "Godling", "Demigod", or simply "Demi". This breed of Glitches is feared due to how massively powerful they could become; a possible uncontrollable force that could enslave the rest of the world - human and Glitch alike.

For those who have kept up-to-date with Marvel comics, my 5-species hybrid Godlings would be at about the same power level as Hope Summers; and is equally thought of as either savior or oppressor.

Because of this, Godlings - if ever discovered - would be fought over as the greatest weapon/driving force of any given extremist group.
  • My X-Men equivalent would want the Godling to demonstrate that even the most powerful Glitch could cohabitate peacefully with humanity.
  • Brotherhood equivalent would want the Godling as a way to cement Glitch superiority over humanity; taking on the new term Preternaturals - similar to Magneto's Homo Superior - for the mutants.
  • Hubby's created extremist group Challengers of Heaven would want to use the Godling as a weapon to ethnically cleanse the world of all normal humans so that Glitches/Preternaturals were the only humanoids left on Earth. Much like how Homo Sapiens survived while Neanderthals became extinct.
  • Purifiers equivalent would want to utilize the Godling as proof that Glitches are dangerous, and that the only way for humanity to survive is to exterminate all mutants.
At one point we had a subplot on X-Future - that never really played out - with similar stakes in regards to Crystal's ability to nullify mutant powers.
  • The Brotherhood wanted her as a way to suppress opposition from the X-Men.
  • Military wanted her for the same reason as The Brotherhood, but on a grander scale. They wanted to recreate her powers so that all law enforcement/soldiers could subdue mutants.
  • Shamed mutants wanted to experiment on her in order to find a way to "cure" themselves.
  • Human scientists wanted her for a similar reason, but this "mutant cure" would be a way to eradicate them, even the ones that enjoyed being mutants.
  • The X-Men wanted to squirrel her away; essentially imprison her - in not so many words - in order to keep her safe from the others that wished to weaponize her. At the same time, she felt they were using her as The Brotherhood would; to suppress attacks from other mutants. The justification being that she was keeping the other students safe.
Anyway, I got a little off topic again.

I made a few other decisions in regards to the character rewrites. I don't recall if I said so, but Amara "Magma" Aquilla - whose name I still have to rework - is now a Hawaiian Fire-Earth Multi Evoker. She still has her lava powers - which is where Lia gets hers - but she won't be able to take on lava/fire form like she does in the comics. Instead, she will have heatproof skin - which explains her ability to SWIM in lava without it harming her - as well as specialized lungs that allows her to filter out the damaging poisonous gases and ash that coincide with volcanic eruptions. She'll probably be similar to Storm's canon backstory: a girl capable of manipulating the elements in order to bring safety to her small village, and she's idolized for it. Might not go as primitive as Storm's African tribe that actually worshiped her as a minor goddess, but same basic principal after Amara stops a volcanic eruption from destroying the town.

Basically recreating the one Amara-centric episode of "X-Men: Evolution", but having Amara live on the island instead of just visiting while on a cruise.

I'm sure I've mentioned months ago that Jamie's new name is Cody. Still haven't figured out too much more about him; like a new last name.

As for Chayse's family, Remy "Gambit" LeBeau - still needs a name change - is going to be Australian, and only has his Hypnotic Charmspeak power along with heightened agility. Chayse's kinetic manipulation is now inherited from his mother Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde, whose new name is Margaret [Insert Last Name Here]. It's a start....

Since Gambit is going to be Australian, and I don't want too many foreigners from the same place - plus, I wanted to switch it out for the rewrite anyway - Pyro will no longer be the resident Aussie. Flame-red hair and a fiery temper? Seems Irish to me! I was hesitant at first since we already have Tyler and Crystal from the Emerald Isle, but seeing as neither of them will probably make the Reboot cut, I figured shifting St. John Allerdyce to the opposite hemisphere would be a good choice. I'm a bit weary of the fact that I'm keeping the character really close to the original, though. Anyway, I still need to give him both a new name - one a bit easier to pronounce if you're not born in Australia and see it all the time - and a new codename. There in lies the biggest problem, one I faced when creating Trish and one I equally faced when I tried to have Willow come up with a good codename for Devon.

THERE ARE SO MANY FIRE USERS IN MARVEL CANON! Just about all the good fire-based codenames are already being used. The three mildly good ones were scooped up by Trish and Devon. Yes, I said THREE. Trish is Lighter. Then Devon has 2 - his Brotherhood and street name was Arson, but his X-Men codename was Scorch. So far all I could think of for Pyro's new name is Dragon, Salamander, and Flame.

James "Logan" Howlett, AKA Wolverine, is still going through a few rewrites as well. I was thinking of making him Native American, but I think I'm now really leaning towards Latino. I have also been fixated on the name Rafael - Spanish for "God has Healed" which is fantastic since he's keeping his rapid healing power. My only concern is the possible mental connection to a certain Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with a similar name. Especially since both wield 3-pronged metal weapons - Wolverine's three adamantium-covered claws and Raph's sai - and have notoriously bad attitudes. It's a work in progress, but maybe the TMNT connection is WHY Rafael feels right for the character.

It's all still just a work in progress. One I really should get back to now that I finally have a day off again, and Hubby and I finished off the Netflix Daredevil series.

Now, if my laptop would just stop MASSIVELY lagging, I would be in business...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Science of Writing a Comic Book

First full week of Script Frenzy done, and I did kind of meh.

To be fair, this opening week was filled with craziness. Namely, Easter. I maxed out on hours the past two weeks and this week is yet another max work schedule. It's nice for the money; not so much for the free writing time. The obvious increase was to prep the store for the Easter rush, and now for the "OMG, it's actually nice outside!" rush.

I just as obviously didn't do any writing on Easter itself. Focused more on the meaning of the day, getting dressed up, eating good food, and spending some time with the in-laws.

Which leads me to yet another reason why this past weekend was crazy:
My niece's 2nd birthday was this weekend; Easter, to be exact. My in-laws wanted to make sure the sacredness of Easter wasn't overshadowed by her birthday, and so they celebrated it the day before. An adorable Hello Kitty-themed party. My sister-in-law even added red food coloring to the boiling water when making pasta salad so the bowtie pasta came out an insanely vibrant pink! So cool.

Best part is, I finished her present in time! Sadly, I missed getting pictures of her and her father playing with the toy - I think her dad had more fun with it - she seemed super excited. I don't know if I ever saw ANYONE as excited to see something I crocheted for them, so that was awesome. A blanket and pillow within her first year - eh, they're not toys and she was young, so I get why she wasn't excited about them. A giant giraffe for Christmas? Well, she was a bit overwhelmed with gifts, but she still didn't seem all that thrilled with it. This time, though, this time she instantly started playing! I think I'm finally figuring out this kid.
The girl LOVES trucks. I blame her dad. ;)
Now to figure out what to make her for Christmas....

All of this craziness doesn't mean I've slacked completely though. I DID write this week. Not nearly as much as I would have hoped and not nearly as much as I needed to be "on track" to hit 100pgs before April 30th, but still.

First of all, writing a script for a comic book - at least the way the Celtx program has it formatted - is a lot trickier business than I originally gave it credit. I can't just create panels and Celtx will automatically spill over pages like it would if I were writing a screenplay or a novel. In other words, I can't just create panels until I run out of juice for the day and then look back and go "Oh cool, five pages today. Sweet."

No, no. I have to calculate EVERYTHING. How many panels do I want on a page? What size/spacing will these panels be? Do any of them overlap? Is there a series of about seven super skinny panels lined up right next to each other in the middle of the page so the action moves quickly? Yup, that means I have to think of the pacing while doing this too.

It's way more involved than a description of the image I want with some dialogue or caption boxes. I have to plot out so much more. It is taking way more time than I originally envisioned. Because of that, I asked for help from the two people I felt knew the most about the subject.

Phfylburt is my walking Marvel/Comic Books Encyclopedia. He loves the medium, and knows so much about both the stories themselves and the structure of them. Imagine you don't really know how to write a good book because you have only read a couple a year. Now imagine one of your friends plows through about three a month and has done so for years. It seems logical to believe that said friend knows the structure of novels inside and out. He's read good ones and bad ones and best knows what formulas are the most successful, which are the most creative/inventive, and which are becoming stale. This is the exact reason why writers should be avid readers as well, so they can pick up on this structural knowledge. Sadly, I don't have the money nor the access to plow through hundreds of comics in order to prepare for this project. Although, in retrospect, I could have done some research for free via webcomics....

Anyway, the other expert I contacted is Chopfe. He's worked as a comic strip artist for newspapers for a little while now. Plus he has a few comics that he posts on his DeviantArt account. He actually DOES this for a living, or at least for some cash on the side. If any of my friends would know how to structure a comic, it would be him.

Well, as it is with most forms of art, the method of getting to the end result is highly individualized depending on the artist. It's also a lot easier to create a comic if you are both the author and the illustrator. Chopfe is one such creator, and so he just needs a rough outline of what he's planning on doing, and then he just goes from there. He doesn't really describe what he's going to draw, nor does he plot out the panelling. He just does it and sees how it ends up. A lot of comic book creators are like that. It's similar to my theory of "Medium" writing. Much like how I only have a vague outline of the story I wish to tell, and then I act like a Medium for my characters. I let them work through me to tell their story. Well, non-script comic book creators do the same thing, except instead of just letting their characters speak through them, they also allow the characters to take over their hands in order to SHOW their story as well.

There's also teams of writers and artists that have complete faith in each other. The author just needs to write a script closer to a screenplay - vague descriptions of environment, action, and character design - and then trust the illustrator's creativity to fill in the blanks and bring the story to life.

Visually speaking - mostly because I SEE my story unfold in my head as I write it - I'm a bit too much of a control freak. I'm a complete "Director" writer when visuals are included; I did the same thing with other scripts. I may let my characters "improv" but when it comes to specific actor looks, set design, and costuming I am a highly involved "director" with my mitts in everything.

On the other hand, I love to purposely NOT give minute details on my character designs when asking friends to draw fanart/commission art renderings because I'm curious how they imagine my characters given the way I describe them in my works. Which is why Willow in particular doesn't quite match my typical image of her in ChibiSunnie's Christmas card for me a few years back.
I love Willow's hair like this, though. <3
Willow Uniform       Cajun
My version of Willow       My version of Chayse

She got surprisingly close to both Chayse's design and Willow's X-Men uniform design...

My point is this. On the first day of attempting to write a comic book I only managed to write ONE page in over an hour of work. And that ONE page had almost 700 words! Most of them describing exactly what Willow, Chayse, Devon, and Lia are all wearing and what they look like - from color and cut of hair to the shade of skin/eyes - as well as some detail of the urban cyberpunk world they are running around in.

On my second go I decided to shift all the character description - minus their age and basic build - to the notes section of Celtx. Once I did that the word count dropped by about 200! Still a BIT wordy for a five-panel first page, but much better to have about 475 words than nearly 700...

I was able to blow through the next couple of pages easily enough, although I DID do a bunch of going back and editing. Unfortunately, much like NaNo, the point of Script Frenzy is to go for speed over quality. To get the story out of your head as fast as possible in order to hit the goal and keep you in the flow of writing. To instill a new habit of daily writing; given that habits take six straight weeks of never faltering in order for them to stick. You're not supposed to edit during that month. Not supposed to delete anything - which is how I somehow managed to rewrite the same three paragraphs right after each other when I did NaNo a few years ago. Editing is for December and beyond. Or - in this case - May and beyond.

So, all of my editing is slowing me down more than the learning curve of writing a comic already did. Still, I strive to get things right the first time. Since Script Frenzy itself doesn't technically exist any longer I'm just using the month as an excuse to write. Screw getting to that 100pg goal before April 30th, as long as I write SOMETHING daily and keep up a moderately steady pace.

Still, I am a bit disappointed that I'm only on about page SIX when I should be around page 26 by the end of the day. TWENTY PAGES BEHIND. Sheesh.

Well, along with the learning curve of "How do I plot every detail out!?" when it comes to creating comic book pages, I'm also doing far more research than I had intended. I knew I was going to need to do some research while I write; I ALWAYS research WHILE writing. I never plot out nearly far enough ahead of time to get all my research done before I start. I really need to work on that.

Anyway, I've been researching things like comic book layouts. Then when I transferred the character descriptions on to the notes section of Celtx I noticed I could also include reference pictures. I got lost for a while because of that. Finding out the difference between combat boots - what Devon wears - and work man boots - what Chayse wears while on missions. I knew that Chayse wore gloves similar to Gambit's - who only has the middle and ring fingers on his gloves - but I needed them to be different and "real world" so the design wouldn't scream "GAMBIT KNOCKOFF" so much. So I spent some time researching 3-fingered gloves; I knew I had seen some in real life SOMEWHERE. I found out that archers wear 3-fingered gloves to protect the drawing hand from cutting on the string. That's cool to know, but the look didn't really match what I had in mind - only the thumb and pinkie bare. I thought "bowling!" but that was back to being too close to Gambit's gloves, and the fabrics didn't seem right. Finally I landed on exactly what I was picturing: billiard gloves! They cover the thumb, index, and middle fingers to protect from friction while using pool sticks. Next up was trying to find ones that matched my mental image of what Chayse wears.

Once I was done wasting about an hour or so researching different actual items that would work as the characters' gear I got stopped by a technical question. Similar to the Fullmetal Alchemist character Roy Mustang, Devon has gloves that create sparks that he could then use to grow in to a legitimate flame he could manipulate. Not wanting to COMPLETELY rip off the manga/anime Fullmetal Alchemist - although Ronoxym swears he didn't even pick up on how much the anime influenced Devon's creation - Ron had Devon's gloves have a bit of flint and steel sewn in to the pads of his fingers. That way when he snapped the flint in the middle fingers would strike the steel on his thumbs and create the spark. While I'm still not 100% convinced this has legitimate real-world applications, considering the X-Future world takes place around 2050 I can pretend technology increases to the point where "fire starter gloves" can be realistic. I mean, there are those gloves specifically designed to work with touch screens, so is it really such a stretch that materials such as striking flint and steel could be incorporated in to gloves over the next 35 years? Eh, it might make more sense to follow a page from FMA and just say the gloves are made from a special fabric.

Either way, my technical issue came up when I had Devon pivot on his hand as he tumbled across asphalt. Granted, without Devon purposely trying to ignite the spark it's not all that harmful to have his gloves spark in such a situation, I still wanted to know IF they would spark. That's when I realized that the whole flint and steel fire starting kit works because the sharp flint chips off a very fine layer of rust off of the steel - so fine the red coloring isn't visible. This chipping off of the protective rust coating exposes the steel - more specifically the iron inside the steel - to the air. Iron can spontaneously combust at temperatures as low as 70-degrees, which is why the newly exposed steel sparks - combusts - as it quickly tries to reform the protective rust covering. It's sort of like our bodies healing our skin.

So, if Devon did scrape the steel thumb of his gloves across something other than the flint on his middle fingers the sparks COULD still fly and allow him to use his powers, but only if the steel was scraped to the point of flaking off the outer protective layer. I'm not sure if a skid across asphalt will do so, but I just opted for "no". Maybe with further research or the encouragement of my future artist - whomever that ends up being - we can have his thumb spark a bit. It would be a could visual, and like I said, the sparks would be harmless without Devon's help to ignite them - or some other pyromancer.

Not quite done with my scientific research for this project - although Devon's fire use ended the opening scene and ended my second day of actual script writing - I had to figure out my next section of the story. Namely, the set up of the world for the reader.

Even more specifically, I was going to give a brief history of evolution and how that "created" the mutants - Glitches in my story - and then the political repercussions that lead to "Kitty" creating the orphanage and "Logan" creating the arcade.

I still need to rename just about ALL of the X-Men canon characters, as well as come up with names for both the orphanage and the arcade. I also need a name for "Logan's" elite group of Glitches that are tasked to protect the orphanage; in other words "the X-Men." Plus, I need to rename "The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants" in to something original and sort of vigilante/street gang sounding.

I have a LOT of naming to do... good thing I'm so good at it...

I'm getting off topic here. Back to the other scientific research. As I mentioned, I wanted to start by giving sort of a refresher course on evolution, which meant I needed one myself. Image wise, I was going to do the generic image the mass populous imagines when thinking of evolution: either the fish that grew legs and became the first amphibian, or monkeys becoming humans. Problem is both images are horribly false in what evolution actually is.

Humans did NOT evolve from monkeys/apes/etc. Which is why the Creationist argument of "If we evolved from apes why are there still apes?" is kind of the equivalent of asking "If you are part of this family tree why do you have cousins?" See, apes and humans evolved separately and equally from a shared ancestor. Somewhere down the line some "missing link" gave birth to two different defects. One grouping of birth defects mated with each other and eventually created a new species. Humans evolved from THEM. The other group of defects mated with each other and created another new species that eventually became apes and monkeys and chimps and the like. The original species we were jointly birthed from eventually died off.

So, it's not a matter of This Fish grew legs and then generations later the tail shrunk and then more generations later lungs grew beside the gills and eventually a primitive frog emerged. So, no, raptors did NOT evolve in to say an ostrich. However, an ostrich became it's own species after a certain birth defect in a past species became prominent in that grouping. Another way to think of it is to think of dogs. Some grey wolves were surprisingly docile compared to the rest of the pack. They were the omegas, the bottom rung and almost the equivalent to slaves or second-class citizens of the pack. Humans took these omegas and kept them as pets. They bred docile wolves together and ended up with more docile cubs in the litter. After generations of breeding docile wolf pups together resulted in more and more docile litters until being playful and friendly became the dominant gene. Same was done with wild cats and foxes. Every pet is just a docile descendant thanks to - in a way - man-made evolution.

Alright, enough with Evolution 101. The point here is showing how evolution works in simple paneled pictures is a lot trickier - and near impossible - than I originally planned. I debated on how scientifically accurate I want my story, especially since Science and History were my two worst subjects in school. They just never clicked with me for some reason. Still, I am an obsessive fan of realism, even in fantasy. If a person can read my High Fantasy or Sci Fi story and go "wow, cool, that could ACTUALLY happen" then I'm good to go. Otherwise I'm too worried that the History and Science buffs will give up on my story due to unrealism. I mean, I'm sort of that way whenever I see video production or writing depicted incorrectly in books, movies, or on TV - although how TV and movies can possibly manage to screw up portraying how a show/movie is made is beyond me....

I'm off topic again, sorry. I know I've been rambling a bit here... It's just been a lot that I had to take in this week, and I guess I just wanted to share all of my hard-earned knowledge with SOMEONE. Back to my point, I swear.

After a day or two of debating and further research I finally gave up on true accuracy. Instead I decided to opt for how evolution was presented by the fathers of the theory: Darwin and Lamarck. Basically, I went the Natural Selection route. The original idea of evolution - the one most people think of and the one that creates the most tension in both the X-Men and X-Future worlds - is that a birth defect turns in to a survival advantage. The ones that survive pass on the gene that allowed them to survive while those who don't have this advantage die off. Thus the advantageous birth defect becomes the species' norm: boom, evolution!

It's best showcased in Lamarck's view on why giraffes have such long necks; an image I decided to use in the comic book. Lamarck envisioned giraffes to originally be built more like horses, but the low grass they would graze on was in too short supply to feed the population. While most starved there were a few that were born with slightly longer necks and were able to use this advantage to reach tree branches; finding a new food source. As the species became flooded with longer-necked offspring - due to Natural Selection - these low-bearing trees became overfed on as well and the same problem as with the grass came about. Thankfully, more longer-than-normal necked giraffes were born and found yet higher branches. This increase in neck due to necessity - needing harder-to-reach food to avoid competing with other animals - continued for generations and centuries - maybe millenia - until the modern-day giraffes came to be. Since nothing else can really reach their main food source there is no real need to evolve any further. So the longer-than-normal necked giraffes don't out-live the shorter-than-normal necked giraffes. The shorter-necked giraffes don't die off and the average neck length stays the same throughout the generations.

There is a very important reason why this particular view - while dated and quite possibly not ENTIRELY true - is best suited for a story about mutants. Mainly because it shows why average humans are terrified of the idea. Not only are they defenseless against the powers of the mutants, but they are essentially Neanderthals to the mutants' Homo Sapiens. Eventually the higher-evolved humans will survive while the lesser will die off - just like the shorter-necked giraffes that starved to extinction. Marvel itself plays off of this by having the character Magneto refer to mutants as Homo Superior; equating them to the next evolution of man that will overtake Homo Sapiens just like Homo Sapiens overtook the Neanderthals.

I lost a bunch of you back there, didn't I? Well, no worries, I'm done with my science lectures. Boy, I should come up with a little Professor LycoRogue icon to warn you guys before I do stuff like that again.

Well, I guess I wasted enough of everyone's time here. I should get back to writing my comic book. I need to finish up the evolution history. I hope to also have some names figured out by my next update. Poor Phfyl is going to have walls of text to wade through in the upcoming week, I just know it....

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Let Script Frenzy Begin!

I debated for maybe half a second to do something wacky today in honor of April Fools. Then I remembered that I'm HORRIBLE with pranks...

Also, I'm so gullible that on April 1st I'm just a walking ball of cynicism. I take EVERYTHING I hear or read today with a grain of salt.

Besides, Fools is not what April is about. It's about script writing!
Yes, unfortunately the Office of Letters and Light had to retire the program due to years of decrease in both funding and participation. But the concept lives on both as NaNo Rebels and in my heart. I didn't really attempt Script Frenzy last year, but I am going to give it another go this year. I may only get a handful of pages - opposed to the goal of 100pgs - but it will help jumpstart my writing and really push me forward with the X-Future reboot idea.

The real trick is that I've never written a script for a webcomic/comic/graphic novel before. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I also now have to think of spacing and how many panels I want per page. So I have to actually write in page breaks. I have to find a happy balance between describing the scene and how the characters work without OVERLY describing it. I imagine it being more detailed than an average script, but only by a little bit.

Thankfully, I have my handy dandy Celtx scripting program to assist. As Open Office is a free open-source writing program comparative to Microsoft Word, Celtx is a free alternative to Final Draft. Well, over the years it seems Celtx has transitioned in to an exclusively online pay-as-you-go program, but there's still sites where you can download the older versions for free and offline use.

Either way, I love this thing. It takes the guess work out of formatting and it has all of these other features that goes beyond simple script writing. I can storyboard, create character profiles - including wardrobe/costume/makeup notes, I can budget my play/film/show/etc, create a shoot schedule, write scenes out of order if I'm more inspired to work on one part over another. I actually did that last part my first year I did Script Frenzy. I downloaded Celtx as per Office of Letters and Light suggestion, and I worked with ChibiSunnie on our version of the never-produced "Hey, Arnold!" second movie.

This is how I actually met Chibi.

Anyway, around the end of Act I, I was getting bored with writing linearly. There was a scene close to the end of Act II that I had brewing, as well as the climactic fight scene with the villain, and another crucial scene towards the very end of the movie. Instead of drudging on through all the scenes in between, I used the "Jump Scenes" feature to write out the scenes I was inspired to, which kept me writing in the first place. We didn't complete our script, but we did get about 70-some pages in. Not too shabby for a first attempt.

Another fun feature of being able to write scenes out of order? If you create your script scene by scene. And then if you decide to switch some later on - or cut one out completely - you can do so easily without searching the whole script and scrolling through to the place you need.

But enough about how much I love Celtx. Let's talk about the project I'm starting today.

It kept me a few months of planning for April to figure out how to start. I really should have done more research - read more comics/webcomics/graphic novels/mangas - in order to get a better feel as to a good starting point for comics. Either way, I'm pretty confident in what I chose.

I'm planning to start mid-action. While Phfylburt, Hubby, and I all agreed upon a main cast of about 10 students, 7 villains, and 9 reworked X-Men canon characters, at the start of the comic the main four is Willow, Lia, Chayse, and Devon. The comic will start with them running from something. Unfortunately - especially since it's the beginning of the story I'm supposed to start today - I still don't quite know who or what they're running from. Whatever danger I create for them, I will still open with the kids being portrayed as average, normal teens. Then one of them will be forced to use his/her power to either protect the other three, or to finally go on the offensive. Again, I haven't figured out which yet. I also haven't decided WHERE I want them to be running. Should they be chased through the woods? A lot of intense scenes seem to have people being chased through the woods. It's familiar, but also cliche. How about through the nearby city in order to help establish the cyberpunk setting as it races by in the background? This idea could work, but the scenario driving them to race through the city will be trickier to figure out. What about an open field? The reader won't know it at first, but the students are running along the orphanage's estate grounds. Either way, watching them scramble will hopefully be enough to hook the reader.

After the "they're mutants" reveal, there will be a page break interrupting the action. The narrator then comes in for the next chapter: one that sets up the world of X-Future. The whole thing will be a brief history of the world; although the history I'm presenting may seem fairly long. Honestly, I'm only aiming for a handful of pages; the broad strokes. It will talk super briefly on the basics of evolution. Then the narrator will discuss how minor bits of evolutionary "DNA defect" - such as two different colored eyes, albinism, midget-/giantism, double jointedness, etc - became more noticeable - such as being born with a legit full-grown tail - and people became more and more mutated as the generations continued.

Scientists/doctors blamed the increasingly polluted environment and processed foods for these "Glitches in our children's DNA". Soon the term became a media buzzword for mutants: Glitches. It will be my world's equivalent to "Mutant", both the typical vernacular as well as a semi-hateful term. In the meantime, much like how Magneto tried to establish the word Homosuperior to replace Mutant, there will be a cry to use the term Preternatural - or some variant of it - instead of Glitch.

Now that the history of the world as a whole is told, it's time to discuss the more relevant history of the orphanage the students stay at. I'll quickly introduce my rebooted versions of Kitty "Shadowcat" Pryde and James "Wolverine" Howlett. Kitty felt bad for all the teenagers being abandoned by their shamed parents once their Glitch - powers/mutation - presented itself at puberty. She creates an orphanage and a school as safe haven for these Glitches. Kitty then strived to prove to humanity that Glitches have the same call for both good and evil as any normal human.

James - on the other hand - had a sterner and more grim approach. The regular humans were trying to exterminate Glitches, so why shouldn't they learn to defend themselves? They need to prepare like soldiers for a war, and then pray the training is never needed; better safe than sorry. He created The Arcade as a secret way to run virtual simulations to train Glitches in teamwork, survival, and power control. James created an elite team tasked to watch over Kitty's school in order to keep the Glitch children safe. Basically, the X-Men.

Once the world's main background is spelled out the book returns to the kids just as the one is using his/her powers. The fight sequence ends and it's revealed that it was just a training exercise. If I go with the scene where they're running across the field it will be revealed that it was a game of mutant tag or touch football. If the scene is them running through the woods it could be a game of mutant Manhunt; a variation of tag. If I go with the scene of them running though the city, the training would have been at The Arcade using The Orbs; a way to introduce the VR training.

Again, it's kinda bad that I'm trying to start this project and yet I'm still halted on how to actually START it. Hopefully I figure it out while I'm at work tonight since I won't be able to start writing until 8-ish.

Anyway, however the training session finishes and is revealed, I plan on having some of the students/faculty talk in order to develop more characterization, and then end book one with a nod towards the villains: the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, or at least my equivalent to them.

Not sure how many out of 100pgs that will kill, but it's a nice start, I think. If only I could figure out where I'm actually going with these scenes... Or if I could come up with some decent titles/names.

Well, I have work soon, so I guess I have to keep pondering while I'm out. In the meantime, drop a comment below if you have any name/title suggestions or if you're participating in Script Frenzy this month too.