So there will be snark and worldbuilding and lots of spoilers and the process of rebuilding a novel from the bones of its former corpse.
50,000+ words (eventually) of Fun!
Daily Wordcount: 2432
Total Wordcount: 7388
“You really aren’t good at this whole ‘write everyday’ thing are you,” Jon looked up from the TV as his Writer came in and collapsed in her comfy chair with an irritated noise.
“I don’t think I like this story,” the Writer glared at her notes. “I want to like this story, I really do, but I can’t decide what it is supposed to be. On the one hand, snarky banter is the best thing ever and on the other– this would make a pretty cool horror novel.”
“Ah, so that’s why the random lunchbreak words killed things. I was wondering why you hit 500 words and then stopped for two days.”
“I don’t do horror!” The Writer glared at her notes.
“Says the person who invented a world build on blood magic where everyone was pretty much a sociopathic serial killer.”
“So go back to the world where the dogs don’t talk, I have no idea what’s going on, and giant ghostly things are actively trying to kill people.” Jon looked out at the swirling nothingness. “Get rid of the Huntsmen organization, get rid of the Dead Man Mafia– stop with all these giant organizations and just go for the small groups of really desperate people trying to stay alive.”
“You also just write a smaller story,” Winjya materialized from the darkness, solidifying from a pair of eyes and a ghostly outline into a solid-looking pharaoh hound as she trotted over to hop on the sofa. “Treat this like patchwork stories you are used to writing. Stop forcing it to be a novel.”
“But what would the plot be? Jon gets press-ganged into service by ghost dogs and… ” the Writer waved a hand at her story notes. “This is all high-level stuff, it’s bigger than a short story or a pilot episode or whatever it is we’re working on now.”
“Pilot episode sounds about right,” said Jon, “I like the idea of having my own serial.” He skritched Winjya’s head absently as he kept focused on the nothing that surrounded them. “Would be nice to have something other than a few haphazard drabbles at least.”
“So what goes in a pilot episode?” The hound rolled and wiggled until she was in her happy upside-down twist. Which also meant bellyrubs. Which was totally not the point because she was a Dignified Hound and not at all fond of awesome bellyrubs.
“Introduction of the world, main characters, normally a confrontation with the Big Bad or a Little Bad. Something that sets the general feel of episodes to come, but with a bit more backstory.” The Writer fiddled with her pen. “Pilots are also pretty bad because the writers don’t really have their rhythm yet. Most shows don’t get good until the second season.”
“So we write a season’s worth of shows, then go back and edit.” Jon shrugged, “Seems to be the easy answer anyway.”
“Wait, I just went from writing a Novel to writing a series of short stories? Weren’t we not doing the novel because it was too big?” The Writer was two seconds from just tossing everything out and starting over again with a completely unrelated project. Her fictives were obviously insane.
“We weren’t doing the novel because it was too big a project,” sniffed Winjya, “These are little projects. We can even do flash fiction and drabbles if you want. But we need a Novel’s worth of content to get to where you can write us.”
“Then go back and fix the content so it all agrees,” added Jon. “There’s nothing wrong with a little retcon now and then. Or AUs. Well, not High School AUs, living through high school once was plenty, thanks.” There was a pause. “Werewolf AUs I could be talked into…”
“I have enough werewolves, thanks.” The Writer sighed and looked down at her notes. “Okay, let’s see if we can get a pilot out of this mess. Somehow.”
Once upon a time there was a Jon. Who was stalked and bloodbound by ghost dogs. And then someone/something tried to kill him and he got away somehow. And then lo, he ran into Hunter and her ghost dog who provided much needed Exposition. And then together they killed the person/thing that was trying to kill them. But there were more bad guys out there who would eventually find them and try to kill them. Again.
“So this is basically Buffy.” The Writer stared at her notes.
“To be fair, it’s basically every fantasy or scifi show ever. Something goes wrong or tries to kill them and they fix or kill it. Lather, rinse, repeat.” Jon waved a hand at his TV that was still muttering on happily in the background. “So we need 50,000 words, which is six short stories more or less. Not quite a full season, but a good start.”
“Six things that can go wrong, plus a pilot,” huffed Winjya. “The pilot is mostly written already, she doesn’t get to count that.”
“Okay, okay, six things…”
Pilot – someone attacks, lots of exposition
Episode 1 – trying to hide the ghost dogs, someone finds out, bribing secrecy
Episode 2 – something goes wrong and they all assume it’s ghosts, but it’s not
Episode 3 – it really is ghosts this time! Innocent bystanders are now sidekicks
Episode 4 – recovering from all the ghosts and people finding out and the new normal
Episode 5 – ghosts again, and now the choice must be made to leave normal behind
Episode 6 – on the road, in search of Yoda
“So that’s three ghost attacks and four things without Little Bads,” Jon eyed the outline. “Not the worst set of ideas. So I’m guessing we’re going to start in the middle and hop around like lunatics?” He paused, “You know, to be honest, I don’t even remember who my friends were at this point, other than they were helping my research the dogs.”
“Maybe you should start by finishing the rough of the pilot,” said Winjya reluctantly. “Although that means stopping and rereading things. Which is moving backwards, not forwards.”
“It’ll just take a moment,” said the Writer… and vanished.
“You’d think she’d at least pretend to leave like a normal person,” Jon grumped switching his attention back to the TV. “Not that I ever leave.”
Winjya stretched and almost ended up falling off the sofa headfirst. There was flailing of non-corporeal legs as she levered herself back onto the couch, without hitting Jon in the process. Once she was more organized she looked over at Jon. “You should leave then.”
“And go where?” Jon waved his empty beer at the nothingness surrounding them, depressed and frustrated with the lack of actual story.
“This is the Veil,” said Winjya with a laugh, “you can go anywhere if you know how.”
“If,” said Jon.
“Well, that’s the reason you have me, isn’t it?” She slid down off the couch with something akin to grace and stretched. “Who says we can’t have an adventure while we’re waiting for the proper one to start?”
“Eh, sure, why not.” Jon stood and let the empty beer can dissolve back into the nothingness from whence it came. “Lead on MacGruff!”
“That joke will never be good,” Winjya sniffed, but lead him off into the darkness.
The void was empty when the Writer returned, neither Jon nor the Winnie were anywhere in sight. Even the sofa and her own comfy chair were gone, leaving only the churning mists of proto-story. There was constant movement and a constant subtle background noise that wasn’t quite static.
It was really, really creepy and the Writer was seriously thinking about not writing anymore today, because maybe there really was something worse than a blank page.
And somewhere in the depths of the nothing, something stirred.
“BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” the Writer took off for the hills leaving the emptiness to churn on its own.
There was a pause.
“Well that was unexpected.” The faint outlines of a giant stag shimmered into view as it stepped out of the darkness. Its eyes were a piercing blue and were the only thing that looked solid about the creature.
“Really?” The Hind’s partner in crime stumbled out of the darkness behind him, waving his arms trying to get the proto-story mists out of his way. “This isn’t really a horror novel, that was sort of evil.”
“I am a Veil creature, I am incapable of Evil,” sniffed the stag.
“For the hundredth time, that is the stupidest logic I have ever heard,” the teenager rolled his eyes. “You’re no more non-Evil than the rest of us, anchor-realms don’t determine your alignment. Now how on earth do we get her to come back?” He looked out in the direction that the Writer had flailed off to. “I’d like to officially exist and that’s a little hard to do on our own.”
The stag flicked an ear back in annoyance, then reared up on his hind legs and brought his forelegs crashing back to the ground in an explosion of almost-lightning.
The Writer appeared before them in the flash of light, took one look at the giant glowing stag towering over her and fled. Again. (Although slightly more loudly and flail-y than the first time.)
The teenager watched her vanish into the mists for a second time with a frustrated sigh. “I don’t suppose you have a non-terrifying way of bringing her back?”
There was a pause. “No.”
“Okay, take two.”
It actually took roughly seven tries before they managed to summon the Writer and then tackle her before she could flee again.
“Stop, oh my god, seriously!” the teenager was holding on for dear life as the Writer attempted escape number nine. “We just want to talk!”
“Stop or I will injure you!” bellowed the stag and suddenly the very quiet Writer was looking up at a face-full of brightly glowing antlers.
“Right, yes, doing that, the stopping thing,” she squeaked. “I’m sure there’s a nice rational conversation we can be having about not killing me and stopping with the lightning and–”
“Look,” said the teenager, finally getting a chance to stop and catch his breath, “we’re here for the pilot. I’m the kid you killed at the warehouse, remember?”
“I didn’t kill anyone!” objected the Writer.
“You dumped a giant pile of crates on me and squished me.” The teenager said in annoyance. “Accidents are ‘acts of God’ and you’re the current God for this universe, so…”
“It was a dumb idea,” admitted the Writer after a moment.
“It was a very dumb idea.” Now that the Writer had calmed down, the teenager stopped sitting on her legs and they both stood up, brushing off imaginary dust.
“It’s NaNo,” she objected, “it was the month for stupid ideas!” There was a pause. “Still is actually.”
“Well then pick a better one,” said the Hind, antlers still at the ready.
“I need a Little Bad to kill off,” she pointed out. “There has to be actual scary peril or the whole ‘this seems to be a horror universe’ thing isn’t going to work.”
“I’m not that evil now,” objected the teenager.
“You need to be,” the Writer crossed her arms and glared back at the Hind. “I need you to be Evil and I need you to die because having a Death-side character I can pull back is useful.”
“Fine, you’re the Writer. Who am I and why am I Evil?” demanded the teenager.
“You are Owen and you are Evil because, um, you fell in with the wrong crowd and people have been trying to kill you for the last three years and that sort of messes with people’s heads.” The Writer squinted. “So less Evil and more inclined to shoot first and ask questions later.”
“So why would I be trying to kill Jon?’ Owen asked skeptically. “Because from that it would make more sense if I tried to run away from him.”
“You could be out avenging a murder?” The Writer asked hopefully.
“How about hunting down a lost relative?”
“Trying to bring someone back from the dead? Chasing some MacGuffin? Maybe you are just tired of running away and want to defend the territory so you can stay?”
“He was an orphan runaway that accidentally got bound to a Hind because he stumbled into a fight where my bloodbound was dying and he was trying to help.” Interjected the Hind, “Because of the ridiculous persecution we’ve been on the run ever since. He might be a bit jaded and antisocial at this point, but he’d still be primarily motivated by helping other people. He’d be more inclined to be rescuing someone from Jon and the Dogs.”
“Oh,” said the Writer.
“Yeah, so let’s not just drop a bunch of crates on me this time.” Owen said bitterly.
“So let’s end this with something along the lines of ‘this time I’ll let you live’ and you can be the good guy and not kill Jon when you have the chance,” offer the Writer, eying the scraps of plot leftover from the retcon. “But what is Jon trying to stop you from doing.”
“Rescuing someone, or trying to. First I fail then I succeed. But that means someone needs to be trapped. Not by the Dogs, they can’t do anything yet.”
“But they need a Hunstman, so maybe their Huntsman died fighting you, which would have left whoever they captured still locked up, but there’s nothing the Dogs can do about it now since they can’t interface with Life when they are unbound.”
“Much shorter timespan with them bonding to Jon then,” said Owen, “they can’t afford to let whoever it is starve to death before they can get back and do– whatever with them. Wait, why would the Hounds want a Hindsman or someone tied to them?”
“Erik, captured Hindsman, knows something about the Big Bad of the season,” the Writer said, frowning thoughtfully. “He’s one of the folks who’s involved in bringing people back from Death, let’s not get into the Veil rebirths yet.”
“The what?” said Owen, alarmed.
The Writer blinked, “Err, yeah, long story. That’s a much later plot point, we’re going with the ‘we can pull people out of Death and into newborns’ for now. Then we’ll work up to the coma patients and the Veil creatures.”
“Yeah, this is a horror universe.” Owen said after a long pause.
“But it’s a horror universe with a plot!” The Writer summoned her comfy chair from the depths of the nothing and got back to work.