Some of the funniest things on the internet are unintentionally goofed messages.  It doesn’t always take something like my previously posted dolphin BBQ ad either.  Sometimes just the way a web page dissects a line can be funny.  Case and point; my email home page gave me a good laugh today with this partial preview:

WP Ooops

From WordPress no less.  Apparently they like my kink, lol.

Kidding aside, if the email preview remained intact, it would have read “brand” not bra.  Sometimes life just decides you need a laugh though.

Retroactive Continuity Fun & Games

I’ve mentioned the concept of Retroactive Continuity a few times in the past.  It’s when something gets changed in a story’s or character’s past.  The usual idea is to make the past fit better with a turn the story has has taken.  It could be as simple as the writer came up with what they think is a better idea also.  Since you can’t go back and change the whole story, particularly if it’s part of a published prequel, you have to get creative.

“RetCons” as they’re called for short, are very common in soap operas and comic books.  Fiction writers of all types can benefit from learning to work with them though.  A RetCon can be as simple as a flashback that includes new information that changes the dynamic of a character’s past, or relationship with another character.  Suddenly, there’s a bit more origin for that heinous antagonist, and they used to be a trusted ally.  That one’s been done so much it’s cliche to be honest.  Easy example though.

Shondra Rhimes uses this gimmick so often in “How to Get Away With Murder” that the show is impossible to watch in my opinion.  If she didn’t have a few previous hit shows, I doubt she would have gotten a pilot episode for this one.  The lesson here is use RetCons and flashbacks sparingly and with forethought.  If you’re constantly changing the story, readers or viewers will just think you don’t know how to plot a story properly.

Then there’s the world’s most famous RetCon; The “Dallas” plot twist to bring Bobby Ewing back from the dead after being gone a season.  It was all just a dream.  The show and network caught a good deal of flack for that one back in the day.  Primarily because it erased an entire season of the show’s continuity, and that just felt too unbelievable there.  “It was just a dream” can work for smaller events though.  Heck, I’ve even used it very tongue in cheek to undo years of a character’s game history in City of Heroes and reduced it to dreams while in a coma for five months.

Nancy’s Trip to Dallas

Just keep in mind, it has to be a bit campy or very clever if you’re doing a Dallas level wipe of events.

On the soap opera side of things, there’s the evil twin, or the spy with plastic surgery to look like a character while said character is otherwise occupied (lost, imprisoned, etc…).

RetCons can be as simple as a character misspoke or outright lied (maybe they were forced to), all the way up to something as fantastic as DC Comics’ “Flashpoint” reset that unleashed the New 52 (titles) continuity on us.  That one has become as infamous as the Dallas event, and even used on CW’s Flash show.  There’s all kinds of possibilities in between also, such as incorrect or altered scientific test or lab results.

Here’s one example I’ve done very recently; readers will recall the drama my Champions character ‘Liberty Gold’ had with her old guild.  I gave the character a fresh start by bringing in a clone of her that’s still at her younger 17 year old age.  That trick works in comic books, sci-fi, and to a lesser extent fantasy if there are powerful enough mages in the world.

My personal rules for RetCons is keep them as plausible as your story’s reality allows, use them sparingly, and think about the long term implications for your story’s character and world.  My biggest gripe with Marvel and DC is that they never think about the long term consequences of their stories anymore.  Thus they paint themselves into a corner of never ending reboots.  More on that and other things we can learn from comics tomorrow.

I’ve made a game out of watching TV and movies, and reading books, and trying to decide how I would have told the story.  I figure out what I would have RetConned to get there also.  So, I’m going to put out a little challenge here.  Fun for me and maybe it’ll help inspire some creativity in readers as well.  Toss me a scenario and what you’d want it changed to, and I’ll see if I can come up with a RetCon path to get you there.  Doesn’t matter the genre, even erotica.

Unplanned Break Over

Back among  the living yet again. 🙂   MOST of my absence was just that my schedule got crazy all of the sudden.

I did find myself having to work through a few old issues from popping back into Champions Online.  I’ve talked a little bit about my past gaming experiences.  Long story short when you play online games in-character with others, it’s alot like collaborating on writing a book with several other people, or having a whole improv troop on stage all trying to do their own thing at the same time.  At best, it can get dramatic.

The trouble is, MMO games tend to attract people with low self esteem and other psychological issues.  LONG LONG story, they can get hurtful and manipulative when they don’t get their way (putting it kindly).  Last time I was playing, I got caught in a shitstorm of that drama also.  The thing is, decent people tend to wonder what they could have done different & how they added to a problem.

So, I did reach out and try to talk to a couple of former acquaintances there.  It went about as well as expected, LOL.  It was good though, because it helped weep away any doubt in my mind that these people are indeed toxic.  I got some closure.


So, I’m back.  I still have a bit of a crazy schedule for the immediate future, so I’m not sure how much I’ll have to post each day, but I’ll do my best.  As for all the notifications I’ve gotten the last few days.  Well 354 in the last two days is just too much to deal with.  I had to just delete them.  I’ll keep up with new ones as best I can.

Character Inspiration

I decided to show once again that you can find inspiration for characters (or stories) almost anywhere.  I constantly run through things I’ve read and watched for ideas…  How can I put a unique twist on something and change it enough to make it original?

Often times, it just ends up being the general idea.  My most well received City of Heroes story was based on a cartoon where one character went undercover in the villain organization but only one other person knew and they got put into a coma by an attack from the villains.

One of my most quirky characters was actually a near complete borrowing of a cartoon character.  She was a video game character in Champions Online.  Meet C.S.I. Gadget:

Penny Flying

For those who didn’t guess…  She’s a tribute character based on Inspector Gadget’s niece Penny.  I made her origin vague enough so that neither I nor the game got in trouble for copyright violation.  The origin being that she was the neice of the city’s now retired most famous cyborg detective.  A natural genius, she covertly helped her uncle, and when she graduated school a few years early, she went on to college and got dual degrees in engineering and criminology, then became a CSI for the Department.  She carries several devices and a portable crime lab, and has a small army of robotic pets that help her fight crime.  And yes, as the picture indicates, she rides around on a small circular flying platform.

I got several compliments on her look, with people saying the look was perfect for an adult Penny.  Here’s her street clothes “costume”.  The shirt is supposed to be a Millennium City PD T-Shirt.  Being an older game, Champions Online didn’t allow for a super high level of detail.

Penny Off Duty

So, I hope that help you writers see that an open eye and a little imagination can find creative inspiration anywhere.

She had a virtual army of pets in the game and it was a joke among my friends that turning her loose, the bad guy would scream in terror as a sea of pets washed over them, LOL.  That was before the game nerfed the pet summoning powers though.  *grumble*

End of Year Update

I’ve been fairly occupied over the holidays, and have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.  The sentiment of the holiday is wonderful but I kill myself all through December trying to pull off an amazing celebration.  Hence I’m happy it’s over with.

Needless to say, I’m behind on my writing also.  I missed a Witchfire update last Thursday.  I’m going to be working like mad to get one done on time this week also.  It’s looking a bit iffy right now.

I did come to a few realizations about my writing however.  Partially due to some quality feedback from readers.  In my Conan story for example, Tyche had no character development at the beginning or during the story.  People didn’t feel connected to her or have a reason to care about her beyond being an enemy of Set.  A problem similar to my not explaining costumes and such for the DangerBabeCentral characters I’ve been borrowing.  I hope at least I’ve developed some personalities for them all that readers can connect with.

I also keep telling people on Twitter that I want to write professionally, yet I keep getting involved deeper and deeper with my Witchfire story.  It’s a wtory I genuinely want to tell through to the conclusion, but I feel I need to be better balanced there.  I’ve written 84,081 words for it’s 8 chapters.  That’s enough for a short novel, and I’ve barely advanced the plot.  I need to be better organized, map things out better and make my chapters shorter and more concise.

I think I’ve learned more about editing the last week than actually writing, depending upon how you want to take those two examples.

On a related note, I picked up a new book called “How to Write a Novel” by Nathan Bransford.  First I have to say it’s probably one of the most helpful books on the subject I’ve found.  I’ve gone through MANY books too.  It has 47 rules on the subject.

Rule #2 is Think of an Idea (subject or genre) you love enough to neglect everything else you enjoy in life.

Essentially you have to be passionate and knowledgeable on what you’re writing.  That’s helping me focus on goals and planning better.  It means even my professional work will have some superhero stuff, and that not all of it will be smut either.  I love sex too much to turn my back on smut though, LOL.

I also downloaded Scrivener; the word processor geared towards book writers.  I’ve barely had time to play with it, but it does seem nice thus far. Some things could be done in MS Word also, but not as easily or cleanly.  It’s too early to deliver an accurate or detailed review yet, but thus far I’m liking it.  More to come as I have a chance to work with it further.

All that said, I hope everybody has a safe and amazing New Year’s Eve and an even better New Year!