Every once in a while, I like looking backward and seeing what I’ve learned. I did it with my first serial I posted here, Philia. Doc Passion and the Floating City is my most recent stab at a serial. I had very definite goals going in, and some I achieved. Some… are probably dead and mutilated. So, shall we retrospect?
I had a few concepts I wanted to play with.
- I love a good chunk of Grant Morrison’s work. He’s always crazy, throwing out random concepts just long enough to make you go, “Wha-huh?” and then he’s off and trying something new. Sometimes his works collapse under their bizarre weight, but when they work, they shine. He’s mostly a comic book guy, so if you’re not into comics, don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of him. I loved his JLA, All-Star Superman, and New X-Men runs, while his Batman run left me cold four issues in. I know he’s done lots of other stuff, too, but those are the runs I’m most familiar with. Basically, what I’m getting at, is that I wanted Doc Passion to be full of crazy off-the-wall stuff.
- I wanted to do something fun. I like light-hearted, flippant dialogue. Think Joss Whedon.
- I had made a comment to my wife one day, a comment I suspect most parents make at some point: “I wish we could bottle our kids’ energy.” You know, the concept of harnessing the power of children and letting that run the house? Yeah. That’d be awesome.
- I wanted to have a concept and no plan. Just write and see what happens.
- I wanted it to be done quickly – five or six parts.
Now, those were the goals. That’s what I wanted on the way in to Doc Passion. Did I succeed?
- I think I got a good amount of crazy into the story. From the alternate-universe wombs to the idea behind how artificial gravity works, I think I channeled at least a little.
By the by, I’m really proud of how artificial gravity works: each “grid” is actually a portal to an alternate universe where gravity is X strong, and the grid lets that gravity “leak” into our reality. Something pretty out there!
- I think I captured fun especially well in part 1 where Doc and Brunt get that dialogue going. It returns on occasion throughout the serial, but it does get lost, especially toward the end. I have no idea why I killed off Doc. It just seems rather random to me now.
- The plot point of “harnessing kids for energy” got kind of swallowed up and simply became the villainous act of the week. I think I’ll have to explore this in a real way someday, perhaps in a more Star Trek-type scenario. It just wasn’t the centerpiece I’d originally intended.
- Yep. No plan. And I think it showed. I painted myself into a corner. Kill the two main characters! That’s just grand. Sometimes free-form storytelling works. I think it led to more creativity in the short run, but for the conclusion it simply led to blah.
I mean, I didn’t want Doc to stay dead (and thus keep at least some fun) which led to a rather bogus resurrection. At this point I know what happened, but I also recognized that it’s part of a rather larger storyline that didn’t belong in the Floating City. (By the by, it’s hooked in with Brunt’s true purpose of assisting Doc, though Brunt himself doesn’t realize it!)
It also led to some dead ends. For instance, Deborah Harkness was going to be a plot point… and then she wasn’t. So I swept her under the rug and forgot about her. Until I needed a resurrection.
The major drawback here was that I hadn’t seeded enough characters to use for later parts. If I had done more with the residents of Elysia, I could have done so much more at the conclusion with other people reacting to Elysia’s death. As it was, the last part just sort of happened. A lot of the possible energy and emotion simply wasn’t there.
- Done quickly? Five or six parts? Yeah, that failed! The story kept on stretching. First it was, “Discover the dark secret.” And then it was “quest to destroy these five parts of the city. Then save the children. Then escape.” Honestly, the last part could have easily stretched another two or three parts. Not cool.
So, what did I learn?
- I can do crazy. I’ll be tapping into this for the next serial (hopefully launching in late January on Serial Saturdays). I’m hoping I can harness the crazy a little better; the serial I’m planning really needs to feature it even more. You’ll understand when you read it.
- I am able to do fun, but I tend to slide into dark. I think this is the order of things in our culture; exhibit A: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If I want to stay fun, I need to stay focused.
- I already mentioned that the harnessing kids for power will return, and when it does, it’ll be the centerpiece of that particular story. No plans to write that any time soon, though. I’ll let that lay for a while.
- Plan! I need to outline when I’m doing something longer. The next serial does have such an outline right now, so I’m using what I’ve learned!
- I need to not limit myself… yet also practice brevity.
The next serial I tackle will not by Doc Passion, but I am planning to revisit his universe. I haven’t decided if Brunt will remain a monokey… I kinda like that, I kinda don’t. I don’t want him to be the silly ape sidekick, but the form fits his personality just right, you know? We do have to explore more of who Brunt really is – or rather, what his purpose really is.
I also haven’t decided if I’m keeping Regan around. She became a character I liked quite a bit, by the end. I wish she’d started that way. (Ah, I need to plan!) Will she return as a foil for Terra, or will she simply vanish like a James Bond girl?
Well, that’s it for this time around. Obviously I’ll still be blogging here (and expect some done-in-one fictions), but a serial shall return from me later, hopefully in late January! Hurrah!