The Student Reel

17 06 2009

Documenting the creative process and getting feedback has been incredibly fulfilling for me, and no doubt for those of you eagerly waiting for years for me to write a damn story. (I have mixed feelings on that; I like to go to whatever medium my muse takes me and people who demand I backtrack to something I’m done with for now make me go eeeh, but… honestly, I do appreciate all fans of all stripes, so it’s all good.)

The vingette I posted has fulfilled its purpose — to be a VERY rough draft of a ‘typical’ story within the anachronauts concept. What I had in mind when I wrote it was the precursors to the Powerpuff Girls… the shorts that Gennedy did for Cartoon Network to sell them on the idea, incredibly rough and tumble animations with clearly unfinished concepts. And heck, even before those scratchy first shots at the idea, there was the “Whoopass Stew!” version of PPG. Or if you want another metaphor, my vignette :: what anachronauts will be as The Spirit of Christmas :: South Park.

That and the world document have given me a starting point. From here, I tweak, I tune, I explore, I try to make it all click before I dive into chapter 1. I want to make sure I have the gears lined up so the whole mechanism turns. It may eventually turn from a cuckoo clock into a grandfather clock or even an eggbeater by the time I’m done — Unreal Estate certainly didn’t end up in the shape I was thinking it would — but that exploration process inevitably leads where it needs to go.

Today, my primary concerns were the characters, and their motivations.

Originally, Scout was going to be a complete lone wolf hunter, caring only for stalking the enemy and making the kill. This has two core problems. One, he has to kill people. He still may in the story, but I can’t see the Witch or Jetpack wanting to associate with a cold blooded murderer. Two, he wouldn’t bother helping the girls out on their quest, because there’s nothing in it for him. I’m still debating what to do about his sneaky-neck-break Solid Snake routine — Witch could probably handle it, but Scout would be too white knight to deal — but the ‘Why should he follow them?’ I think I can resolve with a deus ex machina that is actually not crappy at all and leads to a character arc resolution by the end.

Witch I had originally figured to be a book hunter; someone constantly seeking powerful magical tomes. Problem is, that’s not really what the group is going to be doing, and you can’t claim you’re a Tomb Raider if you never actually raid any damn tombs. Plus, I’d rather not deal with an ever-expanding roster of spells when most quality wizard type characters in fiction stick to a limited set which then gets applied repeatedly in new and creative ways. (Hence, chainsaw swarm.) I’m still debating what to do here. If I go with “I must save the world from bad things” it infringes on Jetpack too much. If I stick with “I wanna find neat magic” she’s too self centered.

Jetpack’s a simpler beast. She’s the paladin, the dashing adventurer, eager to help out this world and save it from the legacy of her own people’s technology gone amok. I do need to tune her cultural awareness, especially now that I’ve decided the Suborbitals and Orbitals need differently skewed mentalities, but that can be done easily. At worst, I may need to change her outfit; the Ulala/Jetsons esque silver dress thing would look super awesome on posters, but would stand out badly in practice. Her cloak might be enough for that, though.

More to come, as always. Ideas welcome.

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13 responses

18 06 2009
raigne

I followed from NWN, and understood pretty early on that you were a writer first and a game-maker second at that point. Despite SL not grabbing me, I’ve still enjoyed hearing about all the cool stuff you work on, and I have to admit a bit of glee when someone I know says they play SL and I get to go, “Have you heard of…” More advertising for you when they haven’t, and something else I have in common with them when they have.

18 06 2009
storytellersjk

You could have Witch be fascinated with technology and trying to get it to work with her magic (and mostly failing humorously so as to keep her abilities limited). Its a little cliche I know (and may not fit with what you intend) but written right could work.
An enjoyable bit of fanfiction I read a few years back comes to mind that cast Ray and Egon from Ghostbusters (Now why would they be on my mind? ;) as escapee’s from the Harry Potter World of magic who became so fascinated with technology they made the proton packs by combining magic and science (the packs do have wands after all) A magic based character with a peronality along those line lines could possibly work. *shrugs* Hopefully this helps a little even if its just inspiration on what not to do. :)

18 06 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

The problem with blurring the lines like that is each of the three characters are meant to be iconic of their genre. I’m already pushing it a little by giving Scout some supernatural ability, making him half Modern, half Fantasy. I might be dialing that back (although his usefulness in a fight against Magic and Scifi would be very limited without some paranormal defense).
It might be enough to have Witch play Reluctant Hero. Someone who, in the end, will do the right thing even if she grumbles and protests the whole way through, even if she CLAIMS that she doesn’t care and goes her own way. That alone may be enough of a contrast to Scout’s “I have my reasons, which are not your business” and Jetpack’s “I want to defend this world and stop evil”. (Although Scout is eventually going to have to throw his towel in officially on the side of heroism, so maybe it DOES intrude on the gimmick. Dunno. Is a sliding scale enough differential?)

18 06 2009
raigne

There is a difference between doing the right thing because you want to, even though it’s inconvenient, and doing the right thing because it benefits you to do so more than it benefits you to do the wrong thing. The first one is the reluctant hero and the second is an anti-hero. I don’t know how they would work out in the same story. They probably sort of fulfill the same roll in the plot, despite being different, but if you can figure out Witch’s motivation, you could make it work and it’d be an interesting experiment.
Do they have a specific role within the group yet? Like something that they are capable of doing that no one else can, or will Scout constantly be the one to save the day, making everyone wonder why the first two are even there?

18 06 2009
raigne

curses, I shouldn’t post when I’ve just woken up. “sort of fulfill the same roll in the plot.” I blame the fact that I am going to be starting a batch of hamburger rolls in about a half an hour. At least I used the right one the second time.

18 06 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I spent some time working out the Witch’s motivation. Here’s my thinking.
SCOUT: Conscripted into apathetically saving the world, will likely eventually realize he wants to.
WITCH: Tried to save the world at an early age, ran into obstacle after obstacle, has become quite bitter and jaded. Will help out but doesn’t believe it’ll do any good.
JETPACK: Eager to get out there and save the world, considerably naive about what that’ll require of her (beyond what she’s seen in movies).
I think that divides them up quite nicely. You’ve got realist, pessimist, and optimist.
In terms of their roles vis a vis abilities, each has different focus areas. I tried to make them like COH roles… Scout = Scrapper (Gunfu Melee/Dodge), Jetpack = Defender (Shields/Blasters), Witch = Controller (Animate Objects/Support Spells). While Scout may get the killing shot on an enemy, he can’t do it alone, especially not if the enemy has a ton of backup.

18 06 2009
cmdr_zoom

Shiny jetpack fewcha.

18 06 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I need a better name for her than Jetpack. …I need a better name for ALL of them. I’m pretty sure Scout is just Scout, but.

18 06 2009
cmdr_zoom

I suppose “Wilma Deering” is out.

18 06 2009
raigne

I think those motivations mesh rather well. Witch and scout are still very alike, but they’re situations are sort of the reverse of each other.
I’d be careful with Jetpack, since it’s easy to make that kind of character two one dimensional… but I have no idea why I’m mentioning it, since you already know that, and in fact are often obsessively aware of it.

18 06 2009
raigne

Their situations. It’d be worth the premium account to be able to edit the damn posts…

19 06 2009
lirazel

As long as she doesn’t rant about “For great justice!” I guess we can take it.

19 06 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’d liken it to how I treated Gourry back when I was writing Slayers fanfic. Sure, he was dense as a rock, but he had the occasional flash of insight, and understood people’s hearts more than you’d think he did. I won’t use the same traits on Jetpack, I just mean that you can put a few layers in beyond the surface ones and make them rise subtly.

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