Saturday, May 15, 2010

Step... 0?

Just thought this would be interesting - I found my first attempt at doing Step 1 (which was back in... April some time? So not months and months ago, but maybe as far back as March.)

"Two University students gain strange, seemingly supernatural powers, and struggle to continue life as per usual."

Changed juuust a tad from then.

General Notes

Okay, so I've finished the story from the PoV of all three major characters, and there're some notes that are, at the moment, only in existence on some looseleaf sheets of paper. So here they are! These are not, as of yet, canon, but I figured I may as well share them here. These might - and, in some cases, WILL - colour your perceptions of characters, and might/will change as the story unfolds a bit more.

Character List
Gary - Protagonist; electric super powers. Becomes terrorist.
Jesse - more major as story progresses, main character once Gary dies.
Reeves - more major as story progresses, always behind Jesse though. Government representative, incl. authority.

Anderson - pretty much only exists to die
Lucas - posts the video to YouTube, is comfort for Jesse. Maybe breakup partway as Jesse becomes more involved and more distant? Dunno.
Mindy - Gary's girlfriend. She pops up from time to time, still in love with Gary. Might actually be killed near the end, as Gary comes closer and closer to snapping? Dunno. Have largely ignored crossed out with COMPLETELY IGNORED written, but I like comic relief + death near the end better.

- Gary & Jesse live alone - their parents are gone in some way involving gov't?
Okay, so to clarify, Mr. and Mrs. Gray were both soldiers, and they were involved in something before Gary was born, possibly while she was preggo but before they knew; it's the basis for the entire section of the military that Gen Reeves heads, and it's based in the middle east somewhere. They're kept in a very large base, and occasionally let out as assassins. If they rebel, they're killed, outright. This is going to be the basis for the sequel. Shhhhh.

And, some quotes from the original 'Stories' that I decided to take out for whatever reason:

From Jesse's Story:
It was a beautiful knife. Knives in general are a wonderful combination of beauty and death, spun with simplicity. I loved it.

From Reeves' Story: This is just before his account of talking with Gary.
I had to be thankful - very thankful - that the parents were out of the picture, due to a deployment gone awry when Gary was 16, just barely old enough to take care of himself and Jesse; of course, the monthly stipend helped them keep the house and survive while Gary finished high school.

Okay, that's it. It's in smallfont in case you don't want the amazing spoilers.

- Drew

Friday, May 14, 2010

Step 5.3 - Reeve's Story

As usual, go to Step 5.1 for more information.

Reeves' Story

I moved up fairly quickly through the ranks of the Army - I had a good head on my shoulders, a knack for leadership without undermining the authority of whoever actually was in charge, and most importantly, I was ambitious. I knew what I wanted, and I knew the perfect combination of kissing and kicking ass to get it.
And so it was my desk that the assignment of Gary Gray was thrown on. It was a bit of a bizarre assignment from the get-go; we'd heard reports of strange abilities in civilians before, and checked each one out - rules each one out as a hoax - as a matter of course, but I didn't know of any reports interesting enough to start out this high up the food chain.
What was more, it had a police report of a bus's gas tank exploding - twelve casualties, another two dozen injured, hardly a disaster worthy of the Army - and two sheets of paper, hardly the dozen-or-two page report that was normally handed to me.
One page was a seemingly fifth-hand account of some kid's insistence the bus explosion was his brother's fault; the other was blank save for a YouTube URL and a post-it - 'look into it'. The YouTube clip was impressive graphically, but it was odd for me to be given this chore.
After reading the kid's testimony to try and figure out what had prompted the strange assignation, I begrudgingly assigned some agents to watch this kid, Gary Gray, and report back any unusual behavior, instead of them being the ones doing the assignment of duties.
Now, one fifth-hand account from some kid barely old enough to vote, I can, have, and will ignore; four trusted men describing the powerful arcs of lightning were harder to ignore. The five of us talked it - him - over, and I discussed our decision - to recruit Gray as a 'supersoldier' - with my superiors, who agreed that a power level that high was a threat - either to us, or to anyone against us.
I took one of the men, Mjr Gen Anderson, with me to the Gray residence, and set up detailed surveillance - video and audio - of the more common areas of the Gray house. We talked very frankly to Gary, telling him that we knew what he'd done, why he did it, that he didn't mean it, and other mostly psycho-babble bullshit that neither of us really expected to calm him much; thankfully, it did, and he visibly relaxed; he was even crying a bit when he asked what we were going to do with him.
Telling him our 'job offer' didn't seem to have quite the calming effect we had hoped for and anticipated - quite the opposite, in fact; he became visibly unnerved and angry, lifted an arm - and though he would later say he did it without thinking, he had a very determined expression on his face when he attacked and killed Mjr Gen Anderson.
I decided to take that as a sign that our informal meeting, such as it was, was over; not wanting to anger him further - the he seemed in shock, seeing what he'd done - I picked up Anderson's still-smoking corpse for a later autopsy without a word; the only noise I made as I exited the household was to warn his younger brother - who had been eavesdropping - to be careful around him.
I returned the next day, wearing a rubber wetsuit under my uniform, for a slight bit of protection - the kid was powerful, there was no doubt of that - and passed on the ultimatum given him by my superiors: Gary Gray had one week to accept the job offer - now with the added bonus of a murder charge being erased. I saluted him, knowing that he would ultimately decide to take the hard way out but hoping that he would show the remarkable intelligence that his file indicated he possessed.
Two or three days passed, and I was able to catch the younger brother while he was running an errand for Gary. I asked him aside, noting the materials he had been sent to fetch, and was pleasantly surprised when he was remarkably easily brought to our side in the matter; he guessed - easily and accurately - what it was we would want, and I decided to recruit him, though I didn't tell him then - a black belt with a head on his shoulders would be a perfect addition to our team when all of this was over.
"All this" ended remarkably quickly; I was waiting for it so that I could back up the younger brother, if necessary; it wasn't, thank God, but had it been, I don't think that I would have been there in time; I don't like to ponder that possible outcome.
My main assignment, the recruitment and/or containment of extraordinary individuals, while legally created for one specific group of soldiers - the 'supersoldiers' to which I had offered Gary entrance - seemed, after this incident, perhaps not entirely so isolated, and our ranks were thin; I am quite thankful that the younger brother - that Jesse, Agent Gray - accepted the position.

Okay, again - who's the good guy, who's the bad guy, after reading all three major characters' points of view?

Step 5.2 - Jesse's Story

See Step 5.1 for an explanation! And I'd love any and all comments you guys would leave - especially thoughts on who's the good guy, who's the bad guy. I'm kind of hoping it changes as it progresses, since that's the effect I'm going for.

Jesse's Story
I guess I've always kind of lived in my brother's shadow - he was always smarter, he's the more interesting one, he got all the girls - and he liked girls. I'm actually a little glad, to be honest, that I never had to tell Mom and Dad that I'm gay - though being out in the Police Force won't be much easier, once I'm done high school. Pretty much the only thing that I could beat Gary at was anything physical - the dude's a twig, and I'm a black belt. Kind of glad we always got along.
And we did - I adored my big bro, and I know he loved me back. So when he was released from the burn ward - I gotta admit, seeing what fire could do kind of fascinated me, though I was glad it was just superficial damage, of course - and he told me about his powers... well, okay, I didn't believe him immediately, but who would? But I was the only person he trusted enough to actually show off to, so I suggested that he train this ability, since obviously at the onset he was bad at controlling it, but beyond some simple meditation exercises, he seemed like he just wanted to ignore that it existed. I guess it kind of scared him.
Well, then the bus exploded, and I think I was the first person to know what happened - it was when I saw the news coverage, him being pulled from the carnage, unscathed but just seeming very confused... I'm amazed more people didn't understand that he had something to do with it, at least.
I couldn't help it; I was over at Lucas's place - he's my secret boyfriend, since we're both jocks and we'd both be laughed off the football team if they knew we'd rather be playing tonsil hockey - and I just let it pour out. I told him about the powers - and, of course, he didn't believe me until I showed him, a couple weeks later, the video.
Oh, right, I'm getting ahead of myself - after the bus thing, Gary started Training - when he said it, you could almost hear the capital T. Everything from shooting arcs of lightning to charging dead batteries to making nuts and bolts magnetized or red-hot... and then I told him that his form was all wrong when "arcing", as we called it. I made up some reason why a proper palm thrust would make the jolt more powerful, and taped his progress over the course of a couple days. I sent one of the videos to Lucas, trying to convince him that a] this was really happening, and b] something like the bus wouldn't be happening again. Well, not only did he end up posting it to Youtube for God-knows-what reason - he refused to tell me why, but he made it sound like nothing more than good CG. But then he talked to the police about it.
Word filtered up, and my story got to the Department of Defense. Next thing I know, two guys are knocking on our door, and Gary banishes me to my room, which of course means I hide behind the door, listening in. I can't hear everything - they're talking way too quietly for that - but I hear Gary doing his normal training routine, then voices raised in anger - something about a "super soldier", which I thought was pretty kick-ass, but, well, apparently Gary didn't; he fried one of the guys. The other guy said one thing quietly, as he passed by me, dead guy slumped over his shoulder and still smoking - still staring blankly - "Be careful." I wasn't sure at the time if he was speaking to himself, or to me.
The next day, he was back; he asked for Gary, who was scared out of his mind, though he'd never admit it. He talked briefly, saluted him - this time my vantage point was the bay window, so I could only see Army Dude looking stern, and couldn't hear a thing - and walked away.
The next week was hell, seemingly for the both of us. Gary knew something was coming soon, and he worked like never before - everything from his arcing to less showy powers to physical training - lemme tell you, I was as exhausted as he was.
But there was something taking a mental toll on us both - he'd started sending me out on 'errands' for the materials for a very jury-rigged bomb, minus the firing-pin; I wasn't as smart as he was, but I'm not an idiot; his plan was no surprise when he finally revealed it.
What was - a surprise, I mean - was Gen Reeves - the Army Dude Who Lived - stopping me on an errand and talking me into spying on Gary for the US Government. By that point, I could easily see both sides - I agreed that something was just wrong with their ultimatum (though it was the willingness to trade murder for murder that irked me) - but I knew that Gary's grasp on reality was slipping, and this plan to blow something up, whatever it was, couldn't be the best answer.
So I signed on with the government. I was promised a very ample payment for my betrayal - for serving my country, when the day came, and Gary told me of the ultimatum - or his take on it, slightly warped to make the government seem worse, of course - I passed it on, and was told that they'd expected it - and he handed me a rubber-handled hunting knife. He made sure I realized where, exactly, the heart was, seen from the back - I would only have the one chance, he guessed, and it needed to take Gary down as quickly as possible, for everyone's safety. And, to be honest, knowing that he would die quickly - and that I would be saving hundreds of mostly-innocents, along with preventing anarchy...
The day came, and Gary dyed his bushy head of blond hair a very nondescript brown, wore very crisp dress clothes, and I convinced him to take me along - with a similar "disguise", though my black hair was already fairly nondescript - for "security". The fact that he agreed to that was the cincher for my doubt - he didn't seem to care that I'd be there when he went off.
The actual "situation" happened much quicker than I'd expected - the first guard recognized him - or me, whichever - and tried to shoot Gary! He was expecting it, of course, and he'd gotten used to protecting himself against metal objects, so he wasn't in any real danger. He lifted his arm to send out another arc to take out the guard, just as we'd practiced so often - and I plunged the knife into his back, jamming it as hard as I could to get through the bones. I heard a crackle and smelled something like bacon; Gary gasped, went limp, and turned as he fell, an accusatory look in his eyes. I was crying silently as he fell' yeah, he'd become a "threat" to national security" and everything, but... that didn't change who he was.
Afterwards, in the mayhem surrounding the medical and media cover-up, Gen Reeves came over and offered me a job underneath him. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant, but I was too tired to care - it gave me something to do, what could I say but yes?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Step 5.1 - Gary's Story

Okay, so Step Five is to "Take a day or two and write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters. These "character synopses" should tell the story from the point of view of each character." I've basically taken this as a way of saying "write the story from the character's PoV in about a page". Honestly, I think this has been some of the most fun I've ever had writing.

Gary's Story
Except that I was an orphan who looked after my younger brother from when my parents died - army mission gone bad, y'know? - I had always been a pretty normal kid, I guess, except for around electronics - they'd always acted a bit weirdly, turning off, changing songs and channels, and so on. But then one day, a transformer fully fucking exploded above my head - a shower of sparks, and suddenly I'm screaming in pain and trying to put my clothes out while Mindy calls nine-one-one. And as if that wasn't crazy enough? When I get out of the hospital, I start having these almost super-powers - like I can control electricity or something. I think Jesse's the only one who believed me, so I just kind of ignored at first, but... well, then the Bus Incident happened.
Okay, so I'm on the bus to go see Mindy at work one day, and this baby just won't shut the fuck up. And I'm pissed, too, but this one dude pulls a fucking gun on the kid, stops the bus, and starts pacing up and down the aisle, screaming and ranting and raving about nothing really in particular, so I decide to use my powers for good, y'know? With great power comes great responsibility and all that. I grab the guy's gun arm and point it down, and try to give him a tiny jolt - but then the fucker shoots me in the leg! I don't know if he convulsed and pulled the trigger or what, but I scream, and next thing I know, dude's dead - heart attack, apparently - the gas tank at the back of the bus goes boom, and no-one but me knows what the fuck just went down.
So then I guess I knew what I needed to do; I told Jesse about everything, and got him to help me train. I started shooting pop cans off the fence, charging dead batteries, making things go snap-crackle-pop!, that sort of shit. But then Jesse decides that I should work on my form - that's what he calls it, fucking Karate Kid over here - and tapes me one day. But somehow it got on YouTube, and the whole fucking world thinks I'm a marvel with CG, which isn't so bad considering the reality, y'know?
But then the Government comes, two dudes in suits, and says that they've seen the video, they know what happened on the bus, know I didn't mean to, all sorts of shit like that. I show off a bit for them - shoot a couple bolts, make some nuts and bolts crackle and pop in my hand - and then comes the kicker - the bastards tell me that they want me to be a "super soldier", "just like my Mom and Dad" - the just want me under their thumb, killing me for them! I got so flustered - so angry - that I raised my hand, and out came a bolt of lightning... he was dead within seconds, from what I was told, whatever his name was.
The General - the one 'in charge of me', whatever that meant - left without saying a single word once that happened, carrying the other dude's still-smoking body slung over his shoulder as if he was just sleeping. The next day, the same guy - Reeves, I think his name is, and I'm pretty sure he was wearing a fucking rubber wetsuit! - and gave me an ultimatum - if I wanted the murder charge off my chest, I would accept their job offer within a week; otherwise, I would be jailed - "or worse". His words, not mind. I knew right away that any government who would let a bully get away with what he wanted - and that's what they'd reduced me to in their minds, y'know? - could only really be told where, exactly, they could shove the pointy end of their "job offer", but I told him that I'd think about it.
For the next six days, I worked myself - and Jesse - harder than ever before; I barely slept, and I don't think he did, really, either; he began to seem distant, and I'd catch him looking at me like he barely even knew me before he shook his head and was back to being good ol' Jesse.
On Day Seven - the day I knew General Man would be returning - I told Jesse my plan.
I was going out with a bang; they had all of a week before I would blast my way into their evil lair - or the Pentagon, whatever the fuck you wanted to call it - and explode. I knew I could do it - I'm a human-fucking-firing pin, for Chrissake! It was a matter of gathering materials and then bam. Ground-Fucking-Zero. They would deserve it. Jesse helped me gather the materials, usually volunteering to go out for me so that I could stay inside, where it was less likely the Government would be able to find me - I guess I was just lucky that our basement had a fairly comfortable crawlspace that was well-hidden, eh? - and on the day I knew that they would be in session - probably complaining about not being able to find me, the idiots - I dyed my hair, put on glasses, and went with Jesse to the Pentagon.
As the first Security Guard realized who I was, and pulled out his gun and shot me - I have to give him credit, it would have hit me if I hadn't zapped it in mid-air - I felt a cold sensation in my back, and then could feel the electricity moving from my arm and into my heart, the place I'd always guarded from it... but now it had a metal spike guiding it, not my powers.
Jesse. The fucker was crying as I fell, trying to ask him what he was doing. They'd gotten to him, and turned him against me. I died, at the age of twenty, trying to improve my country and expose the corruption in our government.
Go fucking figure.

Okay, so that was a lot of fun to write - but I want to ask a couple questions, if you've read everything up to this point.

Firstly, who's the bad guy? Who's the good guy? I'm curious if anyone has any strong views on this - I've been trying to make everyone as neutral as possible, which is why I wanted to name this either Morally Gray or Shades of Gray.

Secondly, do you think I did a good job of showing his deteriorating sense of reality and growing sense of paranoia, as Gary's Story went on?

Step 4

Okay, so I'm going to keep working on Step One, since... well, I'm not happy with the current one. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, though to be honest I'm not all too worried - it's... really not the end of the world if I can't boil a complex story down to one sentence. A paragraph is enough, methinks.

Anyway, here is Step Four - "So now just keep growing the story. Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends."

I don't know if I added a sentence or he subtracted one (looking back, he subtracted one) - That really should read that all but the first and last paragraphs should end in a disaster. It's five paragraphs long, not four. Just for the record!

Anyway, this was mostly written on the bus. I love the bus system, seriously. So good for writing - except that I'm having trouble reading my own handwriting. *sighs*

Here's the one-page summary, which most accurately (so far) lays out the story.

Gary Gray was a fairly normal first-year music major, at least as far as "normal" ever applies to a creative-arts major. He really only had one exceptional quirk; electronics had always acted strangely around him - everything from an iPod to a streetlight might turn off when he drew near. But when a transformer exploded as he walked underneath it, his powers seemed to grow - instead of accidentally turning off electronics when he walked too close to them, he could actually physically see the electricity in his grasp; it was the control that he couldn't seem to manage.
This fact makes itself all too clear when Gary, who had until this point mostly been trying to ignore his abilities, tries to be a "superhero" and save the terrified occupants of a city bus, trapped by a gunman yelling at a baby to shut up. Gary gets up and knocks the gunman's arm downwards, then - praying that, for once, his powers will work the way he wants them to - attempts to "taze" him; instead, he manages to shoot himself in the foot, and the pain causes him to unleash his power full-force and uncontrolled, igniting the gas tank at the back of the bus, killing about a dozen terrified people. He begins "training" in earnest with his adoring little brother Jesse, who eventually realizes what happened on the bus, and is torn about how to feel.
Jesse decides that the only way for Gary to properly see his improvement is to tape him demonstrating; when he later accidentally uploads it to YouTube, it goes viral; this video, combined with a third-hand account of Jesse's testimony about the bus incident is more than enough to interest the government; Gen Jared Reeves and Mjr Gen James Anderson are sent to the Gray residence to attempt to recruit Gary as a governmental assassin; unfortunately, Gary's anger and fear get the better of him, and he kills Mjr Gen Anderson.
When Gen Reeves reports this to his superiors, he is handed an ultimatum to pass on to Gary: someone of his power is 'one of us, or one of them' - Gary Gray must either join them, or be eliminated or contained, as the case may be. Gary is given a week - under as heavy governmental scrutiny as is possible for someone who can disable electronic devices with merely a thought; for the week, Gary continues to train with Jesse, only revealing the ultimatum - and his plan - as the time expires.
Gary tells Jesse that he has decided on an 'Option Three' - a government so willing to covertly execute one of its citizens due to his morality is clearly corrupt and evil, and since he'd always said that he would 'go out with a bang', he has decided to make his way to the Capitol and detonate himself, cutting the head off of the government, so to speak. Jesse relates this to Gen Reeves when he is approached the next day, and Gen Reeves decides that Jesse is the only person who Gary would be likely to trust enough to get close enough to kill him, and so he recruits Jesse, who is very willingly convinced that his brother has 'gone off the deep end'. The day of Gary's "demonstration", Jesse tags along for "added security" - and, before Gary is able to do any harm, Jesse plants a knife in his back, killing him due to a combination of rerouting the electricity and blood loss, and effectively 'containing the threat'.

I'm also thinking of calling this either Morally Gray or Shades of Gray. Thoughts?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Step 3.4

Mkay, so pretty much this is just a repost of Steps 1+2, updated to reflect the changes made through realizing I needed more than one major character.

...Also, I think Jesse is my favourite character now, though he's still not going to be the main character, per se. Looking like he will be finishing off the story, though.

Step 1, v2:

A young man's newfound abilities force him, his younger brother, and the Department of Defense into a tense display of power. AUGH THIS STILL SUCKS. Going to re-re-re-re-re-re-rewrite this. Summarizing is hard. D:

Step 2, v2:
Gary Gray was fairly unremarkable, until the day a transformer exploded above his head, seeming to grant him supernatural power over electricity - powers that were largely our of his control. When this 'gift' acts of its own accord and ignites a city bus's gas tank to get him out of a stressful and dangerous situation, though, he begins training in earnest with his younger brother, Jesse, to better control himself. A video of this training, posted to YouTube, is viewed by millions - and when Jesse talks to his boyfriend about it, it filters its way up to the government; when they come to the Gray residence in an effort to recruit Gary as a "supersoldier", he balks - and, without thinking, kills one of the government agents. At that, he is given an ultimatum from the government, seeking to contain him: work for them, or be jailed or killed. Gary, instead, chooses to "go out with a bang" and attack the government directly, an institution he now views as corrupt and evil - and they recruit none other than Jesse to take him down.