Never do anything without a purpose. Chaos is the destroyer of the universe. If you do something and you make a mistake doing that thing, make sure you learn from that mistake to improve yourself for future endeavors. Always move forward, with a purpose, and as perfectly as you can manage.
This is a creed I have adopted for my life and this is a creed I have adopted for my future.
My genesis of the stories that I have told have been through slightly re-imagined versions of things that I have loved. Super heroes that were analogues of firmly established characters. Professional wrestlers that have compelling backstories that were re-skinned to suit my own storytelling ideas. Film action stars that were altered just enough for me to progress forward with my own stories.
I’m speaking of a form of fan fiction.
Great things emerge from fan fiction. Sometimes an epic episode of your favorite TV series has been developed from an idea that is fan fiction. Best selling novels have formed from nothing more than an idea from fan fiction. Fan fiction, for a great many creative people in this century, means that the ideas are worth exploring and developing. They aren’t always the ideas that are worth developing but they often develop into an area that is worth developing.
A single story develops into a series. A series develops into spinoff. A spinoff develops into a series of its own. That series could turn into the original idea that you actually had in the beginning or may have been something you couldn’t foresee when you started your journey.
Something new has come. That something new could be something wonderful or that something new could be just a launching point to what you might eventually reach. In the end, one step leads to another and that step leads to another. Somewhere there is something that truly defines your ability to tell a story and that story needs to be told.
Change is inevitable. Sometimes the change is good and sometimes that change is bad. Always, though, change happens.
Along my own personal path, I took my analogues and developed them from the seed stories. Some of those ideas were developed into different directions, various directions that led away from the original point of inspiration.
Notice I didn’t say “source material.”
George Lucas developed something a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) that everybody loved. Star Wars turned from a single “installment” of a serialized story into a trilogy, the base of most forms of storytelling. Star Wars: A New Hope led to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which eventually led to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. This trilogy suffered, at the time, many criticisms. Some said the Ewoks were too cute for the world Lucas created. Some said the three movies weren’t really the same style. The thing about all those criticisms is that time healed all wounds.
When George Lucas created the three preceding movies to tell the origin of the main villain of the story, the real focus of the original trilogy of movies, they suffered their own criticisms. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith have been said to be inferior to the originals, characters haven’t been as compelling, or the dialog hasn’t been nearly as good as the originals. The defenders of this new trilogy will eventually weather the storm and the new trilogy will be revered by those who enjoyed them for their time.
I am one of those who enjoyed the original trilogy. I am one of those who enjoyed the prequel trilogy. I am one of those who will enjoy the rest of the movies because I enjoy the story for what the story is, not for what I want that story to be… which is what most of the people who criticize are criticizing for: they have their own story that they have started but aren’t will to admit that they do.
I admit that I have stories I want to tell and I am trying to develop those stories so that they are wholly my own. I also enjoy the stories of others, not for what I hope they will be but for what they are: someone else’s stories.
When I started understanding the expansion of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek from “the Original Series” into the Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine, and further, I was developing my analog of Star Trek into something more. After a few short development stories, I created something completely different. The idea wasn’t the greatest but the idea was my own.
I wrote almost 100 stories involving these characters, with details of the characters being important rather than just progressing a story I was fleshing out living, breathing characters. There was much time to establish the concept of multiple story arcs or chaining stories together but there was the building upon a foundation from story to story.
There also came a time when I realized that this series I was writing was still too close to being Star Trek, despite the strides I’d made to distance the idea from where my inspiration came. I’d gone forth and changed things again, making something that didn’t even slightly resemble Star Trek but did resemble what I had just finished with before hand… and that series also was written in several stories to further develop the characters in a world that was not like anything from my inspiration.
Then came the concept of long term arcs and multiple stories feeding directly into one another.
I came across the worlds of Doctor Who when I was flipping around the TV one night. My first Doctor was Peter Davison, my first episode was Kinda. I was intrigued by the seemingly random story and the idea that the special effects weren’t the greatest but this show seemed to want to be bigger than it was… and I was drawn in.
One story turned into many stories. Many stories turned into several series. I learned that there were ways to “pull a Bond,” where you could replace the main character and keep the series going like the movie franchise had done.
There was something more important that I learned about storytelling, however, and that is that single stories can be linked together to tell a much bigger narrative. The stories don’t have to seem to even be related but they can be and that is how I wanted to start writing my own stories.
Coupling the new longer story arcs with my participation in role playing gaming, I was learning how to tell stories that people wanted to enjoy but more importantly, stories that I enjoyed. There turned out to be a link between the two, as well.
The explosion of creativity that accompanied these discoveries astounded me. I was interested in developing the concepts of so many things, from my re-skinned super heroes being turned into fully formed original characters to pushing forward the series that I had been working on that was once inspired by Star Trek. I was also plowing forward with new ideas, new stories, and new directions in which to head.
Then came the reason for my philosophical outlook on life.
I was introduced to a real life source of inspiration, a man whose outlook on life has now come to be my own outlook on life. Do everything with a purpose. Do things to improve yourself. Mistakes should never be made more than once because making the same mistake twice means you haven’t learned anything from the first time.
That man is Richard Marcinko, the creator of SEAL Team Six and currently the co-author of a series of novels based on his line of work. The Rogue Warrior had taken me by storm.
He was the author of many works of fiction but also works of non-fiction, explaining how to be successful in life and business and Richard Marcinko quickly became someone I called “hero.” His philosophical outlook became my philosophical outlook and I started using that to live by and my writing seemed to almost stop.
I was distracted from what I wanted to do: tell stories.
Deciding the time was right, I dove back into creating again… sometimes going back to what I’d created before and sometimes trying out new ideas. There was a big hit to my creativity in this stage, though, as all the stories I’d written and saved from the series before were lost. Damaged beyond repair. My only remnant of them is my memory of them, there is nothing to point at to say “this was what I did.”
I was crushed to lose everything.
Looking back, I should have just moved forward and created at the same pace, with the same vigor, all over again. Alas, this was not how I’d chosen to proceed. I let my interests wander and the drive for storytelling took different routes, routes that involved audiences but very limited audiences in capacity. I’d gone into simulating one of my other passions, at the time, and that would be professional wrestling.
There is an art to the storytelling in professional wrestling that sometimes becomes overlooked because of what the story involves. Outsiders often remark how wrestling is fake and concentrate on the fact that at one time the form of entertainment presented itself as a legitimate sporting contest. Those days are not only long past but they are over 30 years old now and the fact that some still cling to the idea that wrestling was presented as something else is all they can cling to in an argument.
What is important, though, is that professional wrestling is a series of stories linked together to tell a larger narrative. The whole concept is an episodic adventure that has no beginning, no end, and continues on to make sure they are always moving forward with a purpose.
The simulation of that revolves MORE around the story than anything else. Simulating wrestling on the Internet means you don’t get the “action” of the matches, you only really have the story to revolve around and develop. That helped fill the void for a time and made me realize that there were stories in nearly everything in life. This realization brought me back to what I should have been doing the whole time: telling my own stories.
The time had come to go back to writing, creating, and entertaining. The focus, though, shifted from telling stories for others to telling stories for myself. That revealed a revelation that, to this day, I should have known would give me a means to succeed in ways I never could have thought possible.
I started from a place that was familiar, ideas that I’d already developed, and I started to branch out from there. There came the idea that have written, rewritten, and rewritten again because the concept is one I was extremely interested in.
There is a story, which turned into a trilogy, which turned into trilogy of trilogies, which turned into a trilogy of trilogies of trilogies and expanded beyond anything I could have dreamed possible. Rather than extend myself and have partially formed ideas out there being built upon, I went back to the original story and began developing that single story to the point I believed would be solid and worthy of my efforts.
I am still honing that story, though not actively at all times.
My concept of novels was that things had to be perfect. My personal history was one of a “first draft is nearly complete” as far as the work goes. I needed to personally grow to be able to be good at what I wanted to do but I was mentally stalled in achieving that because rewriting multiple times seemed to be holding me up. Things had to be perfect and as a result, I was failing to finish any project.
I had stopped myself from creating.
In essence, I had struck another creative “dark age” without meaning to and without a means of freeing myself from the personal bonds of required perfection. That perfection was unattainable and I couldn’t show myself that when I pointed to actual examples of imperfection in the work of others.
So, once again, I retreated into something that I had a passion for that was not creating stories: chess.
While I had learned the game as a youth, that experience was unlike anything I’ve seen from anyone else who has learned the game. The story there is interesting enough that I tell that story over and over, changing none of the details because everything is interesting as things happened.
Two classmates would often play chess during school downtime and I had decided the game was interesting enough that I wanted to learn, too. There were others that felt the same way and we all began playing each other, with the original two being the strongest due to their experience in the game. As things developed, though, we took a decidedly odd turn.
We combined professional wrestling’s “out of ring” aspects with the game of chess. What we came up with was a league, club, or whatever you’d like to call what we were that had storylines surrounding our rises, falls, games, conquests, and defeats in and amongst each other. We had championships and we had special events, all lending a huge degree of imagination to the simple game of chess.
In this new “dark age” that I was in, I wanted to recreate what had happened so long ago and try to make that experience happen for others in almost the same way. What I discovered, though, is that the prejudice against professional wrestling was so inset that anyone who disliked the form of entertainment, or professed to dislike it, would rebel against the very idea of a hybrid.
Then came professional Texas Hold ‘Em poker on TV.
Texas Hold ‘Em is a form of poker that actually lends itself to drama on the screen. When edited correctly, the whole poker event emphasized the characters playing the game while concentrating on the actual game play to develop a further story.
I had a comparison to make to what I wanted to see with chess.
There were two main attempts to tell the dramatic stories, surrounding championships, games, feuds, and so on with the simple game of chess. Both were in an online capacity and both had failed miserably. I even utilized my experience with simulating professional wrestling online to elicit a more exciting response.
Rather than continue to beat my head against a wall and fight against what people perceived was the only way to do something, I moved back to what I shouldn’t have left in the first place… telling stories.
The whole chess experience, after all, was just a means of telling more stories, in the end.
As well as being a writer I am somewhat of an artist. My skills at drawing the action and adventure of a comic book story are far lesser than what I would want them to be in order to draw a book myself, so I knew that writing was probably going to be the way I’d develop the most as an entertainer. The reason for mentioning the art is that I was once again looking at creating, but this time comic books.
I had started collecting comics at the end of the 1980s, mostly of the Marvel variety and as many as I could connected to the core of what was going on in the Marvel universe. I had made some homemade comics, as many do in their youths, and wanted to see my own characters developed and built into something wonderful.
Digging up the old concepts, the thinly veiled rip offs of the Marvel and DC characters I’d created long ago, I figured out how to make them unique, original, and completely my own. I took roughly 100 characters and ended up with less than 50, but those few would be completely my own and something I could use to build my own opportunities.
The only thing stopping me now was how to write for comics.
There are two predominant means of creating a script for comics: the Marvel way and the scripted format. The Marvel way, despite my love for the company, was not the way I wanted to use… because writing a general summary for the issue and hoping the artist figures out what I’m after is not the means I saw as being the way to write anything.
That leaves the scripted format.
Building the story ideas has been the biggest conflict that has arisen for me, but I persevere in developing an actual comic script for characters that I created. I wish to see my own ideas come to life and the means of achieving that will be writing the scripts to build my comics one script at a time.
Through this perseverance I’ve discovered the second hero, Brian Michael Bendis. He’s created some of the best points of inspiration in comics for me and loves a lot of the same characters that I love. He has also said the one thing that has pushed me to tell my stories now: just do it.
Write. Write often. Keep writing.
That is a new motto to follow as I prepare to create my own stories in comic format. However, something new has reared up to present a new challenge to go along with my already put into place plan.
Top Cow Productions has had a annual talent hunt for several years now and they are giving four people a shot at joining them in telling published comic stories. Their talent hunt requires those of us that write to write within their tightly developed universe and that means I need to learn as much as I can about that universe. I am joining this talent hunt, if for nothing else, a chance to write several comic script drafts to start accomplishing something rather than starting and never finishing.
The plan that I referred to early is part of what you’re reading here… developing EmeraldSpecter.com into something more than just a place to waste time, entertain with side projects, and make look pretty month after month. The plan is to move forward and start posting my stories, those that I’m actively developing the backstory to create a serial formatted fiction (or a series, if you will). That means I have to be writing forward, like I was before I moved across the country. I need a routine again.
Focus is split but there is a clear goal in mind.
As you read these words, which as you can see are far from over, you’ll realize that my primary focus will be to finish my Top Cow research and write a comic script to be accepted into an industry to which I’ve always wanted to belong. Before I knew writing was my key I was hoping to be an artist in the industry. Now I have a chance to join an established property writing stories with established characters. Though they aren’t mine, that time will eventually come.
Beginning immediately after this talent hunt will be the creation of the first serial fiction for EmeraldSpecter.com, my own property rolled out a little bit at a time. That will be the first thing to grace the new website as I develop some other non-time robbing distractions to keep content flowing.
There is a plan.
There is so much that will be coming. The current era of my creative life is about to bring something to bear for the first time. I am moving forward. I am writing. I am going to be telling my stories and they will be available for you to read, listen to, and watch.
My long term web show, the Greatest Show, will continue to run. The audio show, the Specter Show, will be coming to you as regularly, or most likely more regularly, than the Greatest Show. There will be simulated sports and a means for me to stretch my graphically creative juices, too.
The future is bright. Welcome to my world.