Notes on ACT 2.1, followed by ACT 2.2

So, upon being out of from updating ENGINES OF VICTORY for a couple weeks, I realized that often enough why I get stalled on a creative project is that the quiet, subtle, decision-making part of my brain that runs on intuition is quietly signaling to me that there needs to be an adjustment. So, until my actual conscious mind wraps itself around what that adjustment is going to have to be, I end up treading water in the pool of my imagination, kind of dog paddling around a little, picking things up and putting them back down, until something unclogs.
First, I realized that there wasn’t enough inherent tension. Frankie is likeable, and the story has momentum, but there isn’t the back of the neck fear for the characters or investment in their efforts yet. So, as is often the case, I need to frontload some conflict. As I’ve determined that the big reveal narrative is going to be that Frankie’s family is actually the “Blank Tribe”, or rather, they are an agency hired by his mother to get him out of the game and into his “real life”, then I need to establish that element in the first five pages in a way that will both thread through the rest of the plot, and payout in the end.
This will also allow me to frontload the other thing I’m missing: which is an antagonist in the first half of the film. I have this antagonist, Queenie (aka Witch Doctor Babe), but she’s coming in late, and therefore lacking sufficient punch and anxiety. Something that I learned from a very smart professor of mine, actually second hand through I want say my tall Midwestern friend Brad, was that when you don’t have enough conflict in a story, you can go out of your way to pile in all these awful things that happen to him/her, but that’s a waste of time. The only efficient thing to do is to make your protagonist particularly vulnerable to whatever calamities he’s going to face. You have a sheriff of an island town that’s going to have to go onto the ocean and battle a ginormous shark? Make him afraid of the water.
I think what I need to do is make Frankie babe-aphobic. It’s the one thing that fits into the plot in all the important areas (and who doesn’t want something that fits all those important areas, am I right?) It will be his weakness in real life with Kathryn, in the game with the AI girl aaaand against Queenie. My only anxiety is now we’re getting into some really boilerplate Freudian territory about fear of the vagina and whatnot. Do you think Judd Apatow has anxious notes about Freud? More likely Freud had lascivious notes about Judd Apatow. Anyway, this will pull the story tight on itself, as long as I can avoid making a stoner version of Raj from Big Bang Theory. Or maybe I SHOULD make him that.
OH! Holy Relevant life events, Batman! I was totally going to forget to mention, this past week I saw JUDAS PRIEST on their final tour forever, final, ever, for realsies, no joke, pinkie swear. I had way back seats, and it was way the hell out in San Bernadino, and pretty much fucking rocked everything. I’ve seen lots of live recordings from Priest shows, and Rob seemed to be putting in significantly more effort on this tour than in recent years, probably because he knows he’s not going to have to/get to do it anymore, wheeling the huge chrome Harley onto stage, donning a different shimmery/spikey jacket for every song, and cracking out those high notes like he was forty-five again.
Even though I’ve made this observation before, I have to say on here how so incredibly Latino the metal scene is now. I was talking about this with Lauren as we were leaving, which really means me pontificating about the cultural significance of things, bla bla bla. Essentially, like I’ve said here, metal is a working class genre. If you’re sixteen and you have an ipad and a Jetta you don’t need to listen to ICED EARTH or HOLY GRAIL or EMPEROR. Metal is about rage and testosterone, even if those elements are honed and refined into more subtle elements like triumph or nobility or whatever, they’re still originating in your hormones, articulating themselves out of your fingers, and finally exiting the bloody tip of your gleaming broadsword. It all comes down to balls. Metal is still a rebellious music, and music for the young, angry and disheveled. Rich suburban white kids just don’t get the same thing out of it as working class kids, and who are the working class kids in the cities now? Well in California they’re fucking latino kids, I’ll tell you that. They don’t shop at American Apparel, they don’t wear Uggs, and they’re not getting Volkswagens for their sweet sixteen. They’re sneaking cases of Tecate by the apartment complex pool at 2 am, and throwing empty bottles of Boons at the trailer park dumpster. They’re riding 10-inch Huffy’s while listening to SLAYER on their PSPs because there’s nothing fucking else to do.
Ok, so I’ve already written over a page of shit and haven’t even started to get back into outlining Act II. So, for process sake, I’m going to push through the rest of the act rather that go back into Act I and do chop-shop work to integrate today’s notes. Everybody’s different, but my process relies on steam, and I gotta use it when I have it. Tinkering I can do at various times, and tinkering has it’s own mood, and I’m not in that mood. I can edit another day. I’m just flagging the thoughts I already had, and press on accordingly.
Frankie escapes the first barrage of strikes from the stoney warrior, but the jig is up. The other golems begin demolishing the entire forest floor, and Frankie barely leaps away with his head intact, his armor disintegrating from a glancing blow. The golems chase Frankie all T-1000 style through a field, where he’s suddenly rescued by Turner and two of his other ONLINE COMRADES.
\\IRL, Frankie comes to in his basement, when, in crisis mode, decides it’s time to call an emergency video tribe powwow of the Ravenclaws. So, he dials up all his annoyed tribe members, and is trying to explain all of this when –Joker style—Queenie the Witch Doctor Babe cuts into their EoV powwow to give a game-wide magical announcement, that there is a vast reward for the alive capture of Kilrann Coldiron (Frankie). This announcement plays like a giant, mystical billboard throughout all the EoV world, kind of Times Square meets mirror mirror on the wall.
Cut to Flintlock consulting with the scrappy, nebbish goblin Generals of his tribe when the announcement begins.
Frankie and the group react to this, and someone suggests they meet IRL—absolutely not.
Frankie is drawn back online by a distress message from the girl of Pure AI, when she reveals that she truly is completely computer generated, a ghost in the Engines of Victory Machine, but that the blankside attacks on the game are endangering her life.
This encounter leads Frankie and the AI Girl to be captured by Queenie and brought to the Blank side camp, where the sacrificial stripping of Frankie’s Avatar is begun (a la the soul sucking thing vs. the podlings in Dark Crystal).
Gordon and Turner wake Frankie out of his stone-coma, thus saving his avatar, Gordon finally having uncovered that this all is really real.
On a raged out, masculine tear, Frankie rides to the mystical video store, where he gets an arcane rebuff, then marches over to the karaoke bar where he unloads all of his romantic anxiety and stuff all over Karaoke Girl, but in an awesome way, and ends up coming across way better than he expected. He should also champion over the Douche-bag guy, maybe even in a physical way.
While following Frankie on this chore, Gordon should start to put together clues as to the real life conspiracy against Frankie and his clan, but not have it all figured out yet.
The AI Girl contexts Frankie from EoV, and he rushes to get online and save her, but is pulled into a TRAP by the Blanksiders.
Moreover, now not only is Frankie trapped, so is the rest of his clan—leaving no one to save the, except Gordon, who monitors Frankie from the real world in the basement. Suddenly, Gordon will understand the whole conspiracy, and pull their other metal friends out of whatever hilarious shenanigans they’re partaking in to get help from cousin Enoch to enforce some shit on the old craggy video Video Store Owner, and get the skinny from him, and then, in turn, find out how they can restore Frankie’s Power (and use of Angus, the ax forged out of awesome).
Finally, Frankie and the other Ravenclaws are trapped in front of Queenie, who has taken over Lavarian’s castle, and it appears that she will reform Engines of Victory, and wipe it clean of all the characters and empires, etc. They have the AI Girl hostage, and Frankie is sapped of his power. He’s not even strong enough of a character to lift his ax, although it lays at his feet.
Gordon brings the Metal Boys and picks up Karaoke Girl on the way back to Frankie’s basement, determined to save him.


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