Tag Archives: scary

Deconstructing the Stories, Part 3

BRIAN SAYS:

Holy wow! It’s been less than a year between postings! Tell your friends! Tell your neighbors! Tell your Priest! We’re heading to Crazytown and I think I’m the Mayor! Okay, I might have oversold it a bit. Sorry. It’s just another post pulling back the curtain that separates Chris and me from the rest of the world.

So, the last time we deconstructed some stories from our short story collection, The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness (available here and here), Chris and I looked at a couple of our favorites. This time, we’ll take a look at a couple that really stood out for us. Or me, I’d have to say it’s the last story in the book, “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. The Devil,” for many reasons.

As we were writing the book, we went along our merry way doing some goofy things that led to unanswered questions. Beer Pants. Talking to animals. Dying more than the average human being. Why there’s a goat in a few of the stories. As we were finishing up the rest of the stories, we were running out of opportunities to explain ourselves. It finally dawned us to do one final story where we match wits with the devil. Better yet, we force Jeff to match his wits with the devil. And it worked.

Within the stories, we go up against scary creatures and other dastardly villains. The creatures were all fun, but the villains of the human variety lacked a certain level of relatability. After we finished about half of the stories and started talking about sequels to the book itself, we realized that it would be super fun to have Jeff as the antagonist, trying to kill us. “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. The Devil” sets that up very nicely, as if the motivation to kill us isn’t obvious enough.

One interesting piece of trivia is this story parallels the first story I ever had printed in a magazine titled, “Why I am no longer a lawyer.” In that story, a young man makes a deal with the devil. Regretting what he did, he went to consult a lawyer. The parallel between that story and “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. The Devil” is part of the reason why the characters of Brian and Chris get what they want and still escape with their souls is because of paperwork. The idea stemmed from soooooooo many “make a wish” stories where the wish maker gets screwed over by the wish giver because of poorly worded wishes. If I ever have a chance at receiving a wish or two from a near-omnipotent being, you better believe that I’m going to dot my “t”s and cross my “i”s before I utter any part of that wish, and all kinds of eyes will be crossed by the time I’m done!

Even though this story is the last one in the book, it’s the one that ties most of the other stories together. With a dash of meta-humor, the reader now gets a better understanding of the universe were working in and the characters running around in it. The goat? What about the goat? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out….

 

CHRIS SAYS:

Howdy, fellow reader! I see Brian is trying to set up here. Like anyone could choose one favorite from amongst their thousands of stories (or, in this case, half a dozen)! It’s a daunting task, I say! But I can do this….

When we had gotten to the point of falling off the barstools while discussing The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys project two things were evident: I had to do a zombie story (because Brian hates them!) and it had to be ridiculous. So when next we met, I was about 1000 words into the story and I told Brian that Drunken Comic Book Monkey Brian was turning out to be a legendary cusser. He thought for a second and said “Dude, it has to be PG13.” Well, dang. So I went home and pulled up the story. I laid on the delete key like a Rhode Island driver punishing the car horn in light-to-moderate traffic. I now had a story that was 273 words long and I was less than pleased about it. So I wondered, “What would Brian do?” Well, that’s easy! He’d do something that I hate. Hmmmmm….

We’ve already established that Brian isn’t overly fond of zombie stuff, so I needed to dig a little but deeper. Speech tags! Brian hates it when there are no speech tags! Brilliant! I’ll write a story without any speech tags. After a few hundred more words, I remembered an old college writing challenge where we were forbidden to use narrative exposition….All dialogue sans speech tags! That’s it! I’ll write the whole dang thing in dialogue! Words flew on to paper and I was loving how quickly I could type if I didn’t have to consider verbiage on the speech tags.

Suddenly I’m a few thousand words into the story and I can’t shake the nagging feeling that I don’t know how to end this thing, so I get the idea “what if I don’t?” If I blame the whole thing on the dastardly Potato People, then I can keep the pure dialogue gag going for another whole story and I have a reason for the zombie appearances. So I rolled with it. When I was about halfway through the Potato People story I realized that I didn’t know how to end that one either, so I figured “if it works once, then why not try it again?” Of course, as soon as Brian found out my little scheme, he forbid me from using dialogue in the Cthulhu story, which was fine by me and I like to think that it rankled him that the story got finished….Well, Brian is due back any minute now and I just swiped his last beer, so I’ll be seeing you!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Deconstructing the Stories, Part 2

BRIAN SAYS:

Look at us posting another entry within a year from our last one! It’s like we’re trying to keep some form of schedule. Crazy! Anyway….

If you recall from a loooooong time ago (last year), we started a blog segment called “Deconstructing the Stories” wherein we wanted to take you behind the scenes for our short story collection, The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in: Scary Tales of Scariness. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this work – it’s a collection of short stories by Chris and me featuring ourselves as characters of horror stories. If you’d like to familiarize yourselves with this book before we continue, you can order a hardcopy here or here (Amazon) and you can order an eVersion here. Okay, so now that you’ve read the book from cover to cover, the first question you might have is how we came up with the idea in the first place. Well, we went over that in “Deconstructing the Stories, Part 1.” The second question you might ask is how we’re allowed to mingle with regular society. We don’t know either. The third question might be which stories in the book are our favorites. Okay, we know the answer to that question!

For me, I would have to say it’s “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. La Chupacabra.” First, it was the first story first written, firstly, and you always remember your firsts first. First is a funny word if you say it too many times. Anyway, it became the first story we wrote because when we made the list of creatures we wanted to tussle with, the top three monsters were obvious (vampires, zombies, werewolves), and even some other monsters made the list with very little thought (blob, ghosts, the devil, a slasher), but the ones that quickly intrigued us were the little known ones, such as the chupacabra. How were we going to write a story about a topic with only a handful of resource materials and even fewer recognizable tropes? For this whole book to be successful, this was one of the first questions we needed to answer.

Chris and I started off waking up in a Tijuana jail cell. One of the potential pitfalls of writing a piece where you’re the main character is that there is a chance that you’ll include an inside joke or a reference that only you know. Chris and I constantly joked about waking up in a Tijuana jail cell. So, we had to gut-check most of our jokes – are they too much of an inside joke for the readers? With that question in mind, we moved forward with the story and jokes, trying our hand at different types of comedy ranging from the subtle (arguing with a goat) to the absurd (a French speaking Mexican character).

With this story, we also inadvertently came up with two important items in the “Drunken Comic Book Monkey” lore – the beer pants and the goat. The beer pants are pretty self-explanatory. Whenever we (the characters) needed a cold beer, we’d procure one by reaching into our pants’ pocket. At the time, we (the writers) didn’t know how the beer pants worked. For those of you who haven’t made it to the end of the book yet – yes, we do explain how the beer pants work. Then, there’s the goat. The goat who can outdrink us. Throughout the Drunken Comic Book Monkey series, we pride ourselves in our drinking abilities. Sadly, that pride resonates in both of us as characters and writers. We added the goat with supernatural alcohol stamina as a joke. It’s a goat! Who can outdrink us! That’s funny! At the time, we didn’t realize that the goat was going to be a fan-favorite character. I mean, we should have guessed that was going to happen since the goat is a recurring character not named Brian or Chris.

After finishing “DCM vs La Chupacabra”, we set the tone and answered a few questions we had about the project. We also realized that we could dip back into the pool of characters that we create along the way, such as the goat and El Tigre Grande. Plus, it’s just a fun story! So, that is why this is my favorite story of the book.

CHRIS SAYS:

It’s completely cliché to say that choosing your favorite story is akin to picking your favorite child. So I’ll forgo that approach and say, instead, that the line is thoroughly untrue. It’s nothing like trying to pick your favorite child. The difficulty is that it’s easy to like stories for such vastly different reasons that it’s often difficult to choose – unless you have a sound process to determine what matters most to you. It just so happens that I do….

Oh those many years ago, Brian and I found ourselves perched atop barstools (where else would you find the two of us?), laughing like asylum escapees over this whole Scary Tales of Scariness idea. We were taking turns playing “Oh, yeah? Well, then I’m gonna…,” concocting a potential story idea giving the other person more agita than the previous story idea that caused eczema for the soul. It was hysterical! Well, it was hysterical for the two of us. Looking back I realize that no one else in the Hooter’s restaurant shared in our enthusiasm. In fact, I remember thinking at the time that our neighbor consumed his wings at an impossible pace. I may have thought then that he was practicing for a wing eating contest, but, alas….

When I first blurted out that I wanted to do a story where we face zombies, because Brian hates zombies, I quickly coupled it with the idea that there would be no speech tags. Sure, they can be used to convey a character’s frame of mind, but I often view them as the speed bumps of the written word, merely serving to slow down both the reader and the writer. Robert Heinlein often had two characters engage in pages of back-and-forth dialogue that was thoroughly successful without speech tags, so why the heck not give it a shot? In fact, I even went so far as to challenge myself to do the entire story as dialogue, not a single word of narrative to grace the pages! I appreciate effort and authenticity as a reader, which I knew going into things would be a fair challenge with the recent popularity of zombie stories.

The story came out so quickly that I actually found it difficult to be an amanuensis for my muse. But she, my shrill harpy of a muse, continued to harangue me, reminding me that deadlines were created specifically with procrastinators like me in mind, so I did my best to avoid in the moment editing on the first draft. As I typed I was fully aware that I’d never thought up the ending to the story. At this point, it was the first story I’d written for Scary Tales of Scariness, so there was no other material available for me, no previous story to use as a tie-in… and then it hit me that I could make this piece the tie-in story. Brian hates open-ended stories and if I went to him with my very first piece and told him there’s no real ending, he’d blow a head gasket. How perfect was that? I could do what I do best: be a further annoyance! And as I worked towards the pseudo-ending I matched up the ridiculous notion of “The Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. The Potato People” as the successor story and how that could ultimately lead into the “Drunken Comic Book Monkeys vs. Cthulhu” story, which Brian had already challenged me to write sans any dialogue. Thus a trifecta of stories was planned out amidst the clacking of the keyboard keys.

It’s been mentioned to me in the past that I’m a pretty simple guy (usually as a somewhat less than obscure comment on my mental faculties, much like an amoeba being a simple organism). If my ultimate criterion for determining my favorite anything is the annoyance of my Fortress Publishing, Inc co-owner, then I guess I’d have a difficult time trying to argue to the contrary any point concerning my simplicity as a human being. Or an amoeba. But I think I’m perfectly okay with that….

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing