Friday, October 28, 2016

My Writing Journey and NaNoWriMo 2016

Picture by Mark Hess on Pinterest

Since I started this blog a year and a half ago, it has been a journey for me and my writing. I upgraded from Microsoft Word to Scrivener. I wrote a comprehensive outline for the first book of Moebius, for which I have unsuccessfully tried to write a draft for over a decade. I finished my first and second draft of my fanfiction novella, and published it on an online forum. Now, I am ready to break into a draft of an original science fiction story.

I have wanted to write a book since long before the seed of Moebius was sown in Zeldean soil. It started before I can remember, with the playful fantasies of a young child. The first storytelling memories I have are of stick figure comic adventures. My brothers and I built up a mythos of heroes, villains, young kids who love to go on adventures, and the goofy people they meet on the way. My first attempt at a book was around 10 years old, when I wrote a 100-word first chapter about a boy who woke up, went outside, bent down to pick up a stainless steel fork in the road, and then was abducted by a flying saucer. The mind of a child is a truly strange, often wonderful thing.

In my young teen years, I went through a phase of video game concept design. My brothers and I would draw platformer levels and imagine them coming to life. A couple of friends joined with us to plan out a Legend of Zelda game, which we turned into The Chronicles of MoebiusQuest to avoid copyright issues. I look back with fondness to when we drew scenery in notebooks and crafted character models out of pipe cleaners.

MoebiusQuest turned from a video game into a book series, which my friends and I began to co-author. One of us would write a chapter, then send it via e-mail to the others, who would mark it up in colored text and send it back. The first person would then respond to each comment in another color, and so on. Sometimes our conversations would go so long and so off topic that they would exhaust all the colors in the interface, and we would have to either repeat them or change the background color.

I started six separate drafts of Moebius, scrapping each version as I learned more about writing, and starting over again. During this time, I came up with idea after idea for books to write. Some were trash, born of a child’s mind, but some I still keep on the table today. Out of this, Raiders of the Forsaken Archives was born, and the seed for The Void Stared Back was planted.

The next significant event happened when I started this blog, sparking a major increase in the time and effort I gave to writing. From this, I finished a comprehensive, solid outline for the first book of Moebius, which has evolved into a giant sci-fi/fantasy universe in the years since its conception as MoebiusQuest. I completely finished Raiders, and now I sit on an outline for a new book to start power-writing in only a few days.

November is just around the corner, which means it is almost National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, as it is called, is an event where eager authors from all over sit down and crank out 50,000 words, encouraging each other along the way. I have wanted to participate in the past, and this year, I am ready. As you may imagine, the fraction of those who make it through NaNoWriMo is low—between 10% and 20%. Nevertheless, I have been preparing and outlining for months, and I promise here and now that I can and will have a finished draft of The Void Stared Back by November 30. It may not have 50,000 words, but it will have a beginning, a progression, and an ending. I have proved to myself with Raiders that I can do it, and finishing a first draft in a month is just one more step forward.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Creating Rivalries — Captain America: Civil War

There is no question that the Marvel Cinematic Universe rules the film industry these days, with two blockbusters released every year. I love everything about them; the quality, the characters and acting, the directing, the way they build up scale and magnitude. The MCU is to my early adulthood what Stargate was to my childhood. In addition to being great all-around, the films have lately had intriguing themes, including Avengers: Age of Ultron. Today I will talk about how Captain America: Civil War split its viewers into factions of Team Cap and Team Iron Man.

Civil War opens with the Avengers fighting a dangerous criminal. Things go sour, and a floor of the nearby skyscraper is destroyed. This leads to the proposal of a governmental act that would require “enhanced” individuals to register with and work for the US government, or to retire. The writers did a great job of giving both sides good arguments from lots of different perspectives, and putting loved and respected characters on both sides. In effect, this divided the fans fairly evenly over which side to root for, and, when the movie ended without resolving the issue, sparked discussion and debate in families, friends, and all over the internet.

Captain America: Civil War is certainly not the first story to divide its fans into factions. Twilight, for example, sent mobs of teenage girls fighting over whether the main character should get it on with a vampire or a werewolf. But Civil War did something more: it got people thinking about and discussing ideas that always have been and will be relevant in society. This is a prime example of why I love fiction, especially in the present era. I love this movie so much, I wish I had more to say about it. I could talk about its fantastic special effects, its compelling characters, and how it pushed the larger story forward in a way that feels natural, but these would be out of place in this discussion. At its core, Captain America: Civil War is a story about two companions torn apart and brought to blows over a compelling question that has no easy answer.