Friday, October 14, 2016

Let's Build a Story Together!

Hello again!

I had the fun experience of running a panel at SNAFU Con about creating a story with the attendees. My previous post detailed the decision we all made about the contents of the story I have started writing.

I also gave the ones who participated in the panel a chance to email me any other ideas they might have had.  To that end, the fact that we didn't get a chance to discuss the antagonists was brought to my attention. (There are so many decisions to be made as a writer!)

I had a message detailing one participants thoughts on those very bad guys. As promised, I am taking the input to heart.  He didn't provide names for the group that will be giving Richard and company so much trouble, but he did provide a concept:

The idea for how they are introduced is that after Richard and his/her group leave on their quest to find a cure for the condition, mysterious attackers invade the research facility, apparently after whatever the magi-scientists had been working on, before the accident. Whatever it is they are looking for, seems to be tied in with hero/heroine's condition, but as the attackers cannot figure out where exactly Richard has gone.

There would be five antagonists total; four of which are based off of the suits of playing cards (I do not have names for them yet, because this is just an idea.).

SPADE: The apparent leader of the four. A dark knight-type warrior, who uses his sword to cast spells. He is strong, and enigmatic, but has a deep sense of personal honor, and is protective of the other three in his group.

CLUB: A muscle-bound martial artist warrior, who envelops his fists & feet with elemental magic, and always seeks out strong opponents. He seeks out strong opponents though, because he does not want to hurt weak people.

DIAMOND: A sneaky nerdish guy, who summons monsters, but is too weak to fight anything on his own. He is aware of his own weaknesses, and has self-esteem issues because of this.

HEART: The token female of the antagonists, and the one most encountered personally. She uses powerful spells that are based on her current mood (i.e. Anger = Fire, Sadness = Water, Fear = Lightning, etc.), making her dangerous, but somewhat unfocused. The FIFTH antagonist is a shadow-boss based off of the motif of the ?Wild Card?, and commands the other four antagonists from the shadows.

WILD CARD: He is in fact a spirit trapped inside a magic crystal, and formerly one of the magic users from the ancient magic-using civilization that now lays in ruins. In discovering the origin of magical energy at the time, he attempted to achieve immortality through it, but ended up destroying the entire civilization himself. Although he is ?alive? and unageing inside of his crystal prison, he has no physical body, and requires the special magic energies inside of the hero/heroine in order to gain a physical form once again.

The Wild Card convinced the other four antagonists that they are decedents of the lost ancient magic civilization, but in actuality they are merely his pawns, and they also possess magic that the Wild Card will need in order to regain his body.


Now, as anyone who was in the Lets Build a Story Together panel can attest, this story grew to become much bigger than anyone originally intended. I do not think it will reach novel length, but this is going to be a pretty epic tale.

So, what I will be posting here is the rough draft of the opening scene.  Since it is an action story, I decided to drop the reader right in the middle of everything.  There is still a lot to reveal (pretty much everything about Richard hasn't even been mentioned yet) but I hope you enjoy what you see so far.  More will be coming...


(Working Title, not final)
By Spencer Stoner
(based on input from the Lets Build a Story Together panel at SNAFU Con 2016)

The figure dressed head to toe in white stepped around the rubble. His pale pant legs peeked out from his long colorless coat with each step, only to disappear again as he maneuvered deeper into the room.

Stray sparks of electricity popped to life from the ends of newly exposed wiring that used to be encased in the now nonexistent wall. The building was trying to keep the power on but the damage inside was too severe. It was like trying to save a man by transfusing his life’s blood from one artery to another again and again only to find the adjacent vein severed every time.

The mask over the individual’s nose and mouth pressed tightly against his face as he inhaled, the smell of ozone strong in the destroyed lab. The fabric stretched, as much as it could, when he exhaled with a heavy sigh.

“Sam, do not tell me that Hearthstone killed everyone,” he idly kicked at the limp hand of the deceased scientist at his feet, “again.”

A woman stepped out from the adjacent room at the sound of her name. Each piece of clothing she wore was some shade of red, although the palest hue (belonging to the silk scarf around her neck) was flirting with pink. Unlike the loose, almost floating scarf, the rest of Sam's wardrobe bordered on skintight.

Except for her boots, they had large, clunky soles. They didn't even fit her red color scheme. They were black, although that could have been from the burning debris the man was being so careful to avoid. Thankfully, the potential fashion faux pas was alleviated by Sam's equally dark hair that just brushed over her shoulders.

If the man had been mortal, he would have likely described the woman as “beautiful”. Mathematically, Sam's facial features were infinitesimally close to the being perfectly symmetrical. But she wasn't standing around to let him inspect her closely, in fact the woman immediately turned in his direction as she entered the room.

While Sam was walking toward the man in white, the woman in red was not looking at him. Her attention was focused on the mere human wrapped under her arm.

“Not from lack of trying, Queensknee.” Sam responded. “But it seems he missed one this time.”

“My soul is absolutely aflutter with the joyous news.” Queensknee adjusted the brim of the pale fedora on his head to be almost as flat as the tone of his voice.

Sam tightened the grip of her thin arm around the almost as thin neck of her prisoner to force her prisoner to look in the man in white’s direction. The human was asymmetrical, although she could have been described as attractive in a nonlinear fashion, he supposed.

Her glasses, with one lens cracked in a pattern that resembled that of a crumbling planetoid, magnified her blue eyes. Queensknee figured that enlargement was the source of whatever attraction this woman was able to project.

Because, otherwise, she had nothing that any artisan would want to immortalize in marble or watercolor. He could only hope that her mind held her true appeal. That being the information that he wanted now, of course.

Queensknee bent slightly at the knee and waist to lower his masked face to the level of the woman in the headlock. “I trust that you realize that resisting us is a truly poor idea?”

“Y-yes.” She squeaked her answer.

The man smiled behind his mask, not that she could tell. Good. The woman had a basic survival instinct, at least. Now to see if she had good sense.

“Then you will tell us the location of the Kwisatz Haderach.”

Despite the obvious pain in the prisoner’s neck, she stared back at Queensknee blankly.

He let out a displeased sigh. “The glass box that glowed on one side?”

“Oh.” The woman frowned back. “Richard has it.”

“And who, pray tell,” Queensknee pressed a gloved finger under the prisoner’s chin, pulling her face towards his to ensure that he had her full attention. “is Richard?”


That is the opening gambit for our tale.  Everyone in the panel can tell that we have a LONG way to go!

You know what? Another participant said that she wanted to write her own version of this story based on the decisions we all made. I hope she sees this and decides to share with the rest of us!

You want to create your own? All the notes are in the previous post. I would love to see what you come up with!

And keep an eye out! You can find out what happens next in my version this coming Friday (October 21)!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Taste of Things to Come

I have just returned from a great time at SNAFU Con. I ran a panel there called "Lets Build a Story Together".

Now, the plan was that the participants would decide every, and I do mean every, element of a story that I would write for them.  A first draft for, at least, the elements that we were able to get to will be here on Friday. (I gave the participants a chance to e-mail any last minute ideas they wanted to add.)

Here are the elements for our story that were all decided upon:

First, it will be written in third person. I told you that EVERY element would be decided on.

It will be an action-filled sci-fi story with fantasy elements (and some dark humor, if I can do it right). The depiction will be of a roughly PG-13 level, so no graphic details of the damage caused by, shall we say, visceral violence or, um, hentai level lovin'.

The main character's name is Richard. He is an intern who is an introvert and, physically, about as average one could be. Through the events of the story, Richard will become more assertive and principled.

Physically, he has brown hair and eyes and an average build. In fact, the only distinctive feature Richard has is a birthmark on the back of his left hand.

Richard is on a quest to restore himself back to his original state. You see, he was the victim of an unfortunate side effect from a scientific experiment on magic that changed him from a male to a woman. This quest will, perhaps, lead to the discovery of why magic exists in their world.

He won't be alone in his quest to "restore his pee pee". Richard will have a team of five scientists with him. In fact, one of them will be in love with him. Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to decide on her name.

The setting for this tale is a modern city with some ancient, magical ruins outside of the town. The city is a colony on a planet long removed from Earth.

As I mentioned before, the participants had a chance to e-mail any additional elements they wanted. Those won't be listed here but I will note them on the post of the rough draft.

This is going to be interesting...