Flaws and Weaknesses

A couple of days ago, I got my first critique of New L.A. There were positives such as “I think you have a real talent and a fascinating imagination” and “This is a really interesting storyline with fascinating plot twists.” That said, it also pointed out flaws and weaknesses as well. And that got me started thinking about flaws and weaknesses. Today’s world seems to look down at flaws, and as a result, we all try to hide them and accentuate our positives. I’m doing it right now in this blog post, quoting some of the positives while not mentioning the negatives. But, we are all human, and we all have flaws that we would rather not show the world. And if the world sees our flaws, we tend to be attacked for it, and we get defensive. But no matter who you are, we all have flaws. I know I have mine.
That was something I wanted in my book. Every character in New L.A. has flaws and weaknesses. Some, the flaws are on full display, but others keep them hidden real well. But they are there. And these characters will make mistakes. The story changed direction at one point because of a mistake a character made when I wrote a conversation. I realized I like the direction it went. In fact, one of my hopes is that I would eventually have discussions with my readers about characters motivations, where they are going and what made them who they are. It’s a conversation I still hope happens someday, because I think the readers’ insights can influence the story. I think it might be nice to not be writing in a vacuum anymore (and I may look back at this post years from now and say, “What was I thinking!”).
But I also think we should strive to overcome our weaknesses. Writing this book was a step for me in that respect; putting myself out there is not something I do. Reading that critique, for me, was not easy initially for that very reason. But as I have had time to reflect and discuss, it has given me things to think about and address in future books. Thus, I can learn and grow and become better at this craft I have chosen to pursue. And in the end, that is what we should all do. Use our weaknesses to learn and grow and become better people.

Origins of a World

Back in the late 90s, I was a student at San Francisco State University. I had started out as a film student and switch over to the theatre program about 2 years in. The 90s is the time I came up with the original concept for many of the characters and organizations that make up the world New L.A. inhabits. And it was in the late 90s a short conversation came to my head that provided the seed for this world.
Hero (typical comic booky overdramatic): I’m here to stop your nefarious plot to take over the world!
Villian (staring blankly at Hero): Why would I want to take over the world? I already control it.
It was from this conversation that I started creating what I have named “PCU World”. I originally envisioned it as a campaign setting for the Champions Role-Playing Game that I hope to one day run my friends do. On a side note: I did eventually run a one-shot adventure in this world, and have made a minor reference to that one-shot in the book. I envisioned a world where my players would be constantly on the run, fleeing an organization that controlled the world behind the scenes, while trying to come up with ways to thwart that organization. That organization became the PCU.
I spent the next couple of years creating characters (or adapting old characters) for this world. As I created characters, ideas would come to me as to how they were connected. And I would come up with questions that needed to be answered. How did the PCU control everything? How was the PCU organized? How did Paranormals come about? And as these questions were answered, character backstories came to mind. Who are these individuals and why are they doing what they are doing?
In the spring of 2000, the world was fairly fleshed out and I was between jobs. So, I started writing the first story that took place in this world. I have never finished that story, though I still have what I did write and I knew what was going to happen. I knew Los Angeles was going to be destroyed.
Fast forward to 2015. Over the years, I have tried to revisit that world, but I was always going back to that moment in time in the late 90s to 2000. So, how about advancing the timeline to now. What happened? And that was the genesis for New L.A. Now, I see a lot of possibilities of where to go from here and developing and building upon the ideas I had some 15-20 years ago. I hope you will join me for the journey. In the meantime, I will leave you with my terrible drawing abilities (some of the forms may be traced in some drawings), and show some early character drawings of some characters in the book.

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PCU glower in gear.
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PCU agent in combat gear.

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

As I write this, my first book, New L.A., is out there ready to be bought.  And one journey ends.  This journey started almost a year ago.  I finally had come to the realization that my career in professional theatre was over (a topic for another time).  I was searching at the time, trying to figure out what I will do next.  It was around this time I started watching a show called Critical Role on Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel.  It is a show that is a group of voice actors playing Dungeons & Dragons.  And it reminded me of my own tabletop gaming past.

Back when I was younger, I played many RPG’s, including Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and Champions.  Occasionally, I wrote stories based on my Star Wars campaign that filled in and expanded the original stories my players had played.  So, maybe I could give writing a try, but in my own world.  And I recalled the Champions setting I created back in the late 90s, a setting that I had once attempted to write a story in (which I may go back and finish someday).  And, what if I took that setting, and using the events I was planning on happening as a base, what if I advance that world 15 years.  And the ideas started to flow from there.

I was originally planning on just doing a series of short stories, but towards the end of Part II: Exile, the characters took me in a different direction and the idea of making this a novel was born.  I started cranking out the rough draft at a faster pace and taking the project more seriously.  I also started looking at how I was going to distribute this book.  Then, the editing process started, and that was another area that grew in an effort to make the best novel I could.  It has been a long process that has involved a lot of learning.

And now it’s out there and I hope people read it and enjoy it.  Now, a new journey begins.  I’ve already started writing the sequel and continue the story.  I’ve got an overall story arc roughly laid out in my head and hopefully, I will be able to write it.  I plan to.

As for this blog, I plan to give the behind-the-scenes look at my book and my world.  How did the original idea for this world came to be?  The evolution of the characters and how they came to be.  Side note: one character in the book has been living in my head for close to a quarter century.  Others have been around in some form or another for almost as long.  And maybe, just maybe, I will subject you to my horrible drawing skills and show drawing I did of some of these characters long ago.  I hope you will join me on that journey as well as the journey of New Los Angeles.