Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Deep Thunder Update 2

I originally started the Deep Thunder blog as an experiment.

What I intended:
I wanted to see if I could tell a story in a bloggy first person format. I wanted to see if people would respond to it. I wanted to know if something like Deep Thunder could be shaped into an actual book. And - I thought it would be easy, something I could hack out without much effort while working on my real book. If Deep Thunder flew, well then it would be that first 'throwaway' novel to get my name out there.

What I've learned so far:
It appears on the face of things that I can, indeed, tell a story in this format. People do seem to be interested - I'm seeing roughly 400 to 500 hundred unique hits a week there and growing. I receive emails from a number of folks outside of my usual readership expressing interest. I believe it can be adapted, with additional material, into an actual print book.

It is not easy. Not at all.

It is a unique medium. I'm not sure anybody has done anything like this before. The potential is far greater than I first realized, and I'd be stupid not to take advantage of it. My former profession was in the field of Information Warfare, and my formal education is in Information Technologies, and as such I'm beginning to see the shadowy outline of something uniquely different in novel writing. For example: in one respect, this is much like the creation of a MMRPG where I create the story and the general 'verse, set the tone and direction, establish the rules and take all the credit, and others can create their own unique position in my world and play along. In another respect, it's almost like having people looking over your shoulder, writing fanfic before I've even decided to where I'm going. And in yet another respect it's a bit like publishing a serial comic strip. It's very strange, and complicated, and interesting (at least to me), and evolving. I can't wait to see where it goes.

Additional things I've learned or am in the process of learning:
- Deep Thunder requires an extensive outline. The characters require thought and background in order to make them real. I had not planned on this, intending at first to just 'wing it.'
- Comments are taking me in directions I had not anticipated, this is cool, but it often forces me to go back and think about things. I'm beginning to see that Van must respond just as a normal blogger would. The hateful comments from Anon Y Mous hit me almost personally at first, until I realized that they were directed at Van, not me. Van is emphatically not me, and I have to figure out how he will respond in the future. When the comment from John first appeared, I was pissed that anybody would be so crass as to take on one of my principles as their own. John is based on a real person and I intended very specific things for him. Then I reread the comment and realized that it was exactly what John would have said - in his very own voice. And this was too much of a coincidence to be coincidental, if you get my drift. It wasn't, the person John is based on is the commenter. This tickles me greatly and I have taken him on as a collaborator. So far John is the only commenter whom I know the identity of in real life - and I prefer to keep it that way for now.
- Because this is a blog format, much is left unsaid. Van must assume that the reader knows as much about the situation as he does, if not more. His perspective is limited and unless I make contrived entries, readers will be forced to fill in details on their own. This may lead to confusion on some people's part. This may lead a loss of interest on some reader's part. This may lead to weird and interesting comments. This is acceptable, but it requires a rigid set of rules on my part and careful thought. In order to make this a real book later, there will have to be extensive third-person material in between the first-person blog entries. There will also have to be additional 'blog' entries that do not appear online, along with some sock puppet comments from characters I've created (I am not making sock puppet comments as of yet, if I do, I will let you know before hand). This is also acceptable - because it means that you readers can participate interactively in the story online, or just read along, but later when this does become a full blown novel, you will get new material and background should you choose to purchase the book. You will also get the satisfaction of seeing your character suggestions appear in print (and yes, if it comes to that, I will be including a thank you page and a list of all those who participated and are willing to have their real names included).
- Due to it's nature, Thunder cannot be an action-novel as I had originally sort of intended. Not to say that there won't be action, but by it's very nature the story takes place inside Van's head and therefore it has grown legs, reared up, and changed direction on me. What it is, or will be, is a story of the human condition, or at least one human's condition and his perspective of those around him.
- Deep Thunder is work, something I had not anticipated. It is also fun, which is what I was hoping for. However, I now feel responsible. I feel like I'm letting the readers down when I don't post every day, or I post short entries, and it gnaws at me.

Where I going with this, as far as I can tell:
Introductions are done. Here's the summary: It has been implied that the world, the US in particular, is not a very nice place - a straight forward extrapolation of current events should the Conservatives win the next election and the war fail to end. You have the basic gist of what's going on, to wit: Signs in the Heavens, Angels of more than one stripe have appeared on Earth, they appear to be dead ringers for the creatures of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish text. Their nature has not been explained, they may be divine creatures, or they may be aliens of unimaginable sophistication. If they command technology, then that technology is firmly in the realm of Clarke's Law. If the government or the scientific establishment know the Angel's true nature, they haven't told Van. It has been implied that the Angels command fiercesome power, so far that power has been limited to transportation and manifestation and astrophysical events of a nature incomprehensible to most humans. Consider that setting the stage, obviously in book format there will be much more material - but for now we're going to jump forward a month and get into the story I really want to tell. Invasion and occupation.

What I think you can expect:
- Somewhat obvious parallels to the invasion and occupation of Iraq (something I know a bit about).
- I will do my very best to post every day. Now that I know where I going, that should be easier, unless you throw me a curveball in the comments section.

New entries will be up today as soon as I'm done proof reading and take care of a couple of things. Couple hours at least.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed interest and played along. I'm hoping that the rest of this story will be worth your time.


  1. Your experience is very much like what happens when someone first discovers online roleplaying. At first they figure it'll just be throwaway fun, then they try to run a game, and then they suddenly notice that, if they want to maintain high quality, it's a huge timesink that takes up 10 times more time than simply playing. All because the internal consistency issues get larger and more complex the farther in you go. It's good to have basic plot premises and setting somewhat mapped up at the outset for that reason, so you have some guidelines.

    Or there are the players who think it'll be easy to not create any kind of backstory for their character at all, and then when it comes time to actually interact with other characters, it takes far longer to figure out what they would say/do than if they'd put in the work at the beginning. Sometimes the end result is a very inconsistent character that pulls down the quality of the game as a whole.

    These sorts of things are what eventually separate the good roleplayers from the bad ones. The good ones pay close attention to all the details and are very thorough. It sounds like you're headed in the direction of being one of the good ones. ;)

    I haven't had time yet to wander over and look at Deep Thunder, but I'll get there soon. I'm pretty full up on my own games at the moment, and most of them have been waiting over a month for me to update...

  2. I love Deep Thunder, and I'm not just saying that because I'm your bug-eating bitch-girl.

    The story is interesting and close to home, and the opportunity for the reader to participate (via comments) is unique and gives the story more suspense than it would otherwise generate.

    Even though it's work, I'm voting that you keep at it.

    Yes, yes, I know bug-eating bitch-girls don't get a vote, I'm just expressing a preference.

  3. MWT, I believe you've put your finger right on it.

    On the other hand, don't take what I said as a complaint - I'm learning something new, at my age, that's pretty cool.

  4. Thanks Janiece. I appreciate it. And I have no intention of dropping the project. I just have rearrange my work day to increase the amount of time I'm spending on it. I hadn't planned on spending a great deal time there - and so like MWT said, suddenly I've got to go back and do the work I should have done to begin with. Which is why I've been light on the posting over there this last week. However, I think I've got that fixed. Again, thanks.

  5. I've been enjoying it, and I am just really fricking happy that you're enjoying it, even if it is work.

    Keep up the good writing.

  6. Oh, I didn't read it as a complaint. I think it's cool too. :)

    My first successful game was a Stargate game that lasted about a year. At its peak it was taking me 20 hours a week to run it and felt a lot like a (very very fun) second job. That was daily posts for about ten players. It eventually slowed down and died, mainly due to stupid arguments and melodrama between players and between them and me, which I don't know how much you'll run into in a blog format, but if you weather it you'll be in great shape. :) The important thing to remember is that it's not JUST a game, or JUST fiction. You have to take it seriously and care if you want to do it at all well.

  7. MWT, I'm finding your advice extremely useful, by all means feel free to keep on giving it as I go along. Like I said in the post the closest analogy I can find is MMRPG, so your insight is valuable to me. Thanks.

    Like I said, I have to establish personal rules and stick to them. You've put your finger on one of the things I've built a rule for: to wit, comments are useful to a point as long as they stay on track with the story I'm telling. Should they become a distraction or evolve into to something that threatens to pull the story off-track, I will either a) ignore them, or b) delete them from the blog. So far, I haven't seen anything I take exception too. But it's early in the game, we'll see how it goes. If necessary I'll break into the Blog and establish rules for commenters, but for now I'd like to let it play as it lies. Thanks again, I appreciate it.

  8. Glad to be helpful. It's not often that online roleplay knowledge is very helpful to anyone outside of that hobby. :)

    I'm in full agreement that MMORPG "roleplay" is not really that close. If you're interested in continuing the search for closer analogies, I recommend having a look around RPoL. It's pseudo-forum based rather than blog based (there is also wiki-based roleplay elsewhere), and the forum code is tailor-written specifically for roleplaying. My current game is here if you'd like a quick example.

    Also, if anyone is interested in reading my Stargate game, the archive is here. I'm kind of proud of it. ;)

  9. Just wondering if you are continuing on with this, or is it on the back shelf? i was late in coming to the party so-to-speak and have just now read up to your last entry.

    I can see it in my head as i am reading it...i have visualizations of characters and places....would love to read more..if indeed you are still writing it.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.