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by Seuzz
Rated: 18+ · Book · Other · #2156493
A hub for the "Book of Masks" universe.
The Interactives
"The Book of Masks: A high school student discovers a grimoire that can make magical disguises.
"The Wandering Stars: Sequel to "The Book of Masks."
"Student Bodies: A high school student is turned into a blue goo that can possess people.

For non-WdC Members
"The Book of Masks: Archives: Dodges the "Servers Busy" barrier!
"The Book of Masks (Abridged): Introductory storylines for new readers.

"BoM/TWS Message Forum: Community for readers of the interactives.
"BoM/TWS/SB Wiki: Notes and documentation for authors. Spoilers!

Current Polls
"BoM Poll: The Doppelganger Conspiracy

The Latest
10/1: Interactive: "Ballsy and Ballsier
10/1: Public: "Ballsy and Ballsier
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September 30, 2022 at 12:12pm
September 30, 2022 at 12:12pm
It's time for another shout-out to the people who sent me GPs. Most of them came from Easy, so I offer a big, public "Thanks!" to him. But also to Wordsmitty and AstralBot3D, who said kind things about some of last month's chapters when they sent in GPs.

Also, my regular big THANK YOU to the anonymous person who keeps renewing my expensive WdC membership. I shout it out here because I don't know how to express in private how much it means to me (and, I hope, by extension) the other readers who get the benefits of letting me post more items and more complex pathways than I otherwise could.
September 29, 2022 at 11:50am
September 29, 2022 at 11:50am
Today brings the end of the branch I've been working on:

* Interactive: "The Next Phase
* Public: "The Next Phase

As you can see, it brings things to a turning point. The first set of doppelgangers are in place; now Will is considering who to partner with in order to expand his conspiracy. The choice, though, is not about who to partner with, but who Will should pretend to be when approaching the first partner. He doesn't want to reveal his own identity, and he deems that Kim Walsh would not be plausible as a puppet-master queen, so that means he'll have to pretend to be one of the other people he has duplicated.

There's a poll to go with it: "BoM Poll: The Doppelganger Conspiracy And though I won't promise that it's a binding poll, I am relatively indifferent between the choices—any of them, I think, would be fun to write—so I'm likely to let the readers be the tie-breakers. Because it will be weeks at least, and maybe months, before I return to this branch, I'm going to make it an open-ended poll, running until I return to writing this branch.

* * *

Meanwhile, what does tomorrow bring? An alternate sequel to "Cheerleaders and Charity.

It's early days, and Will is looking for someone to experiment his newly made mask on. In searching the school he has gotten caught up in helping Yumi Saito with a charity drive.

This is a choice that got picked in a poll. It got continued in "A Charity Drive to Drive You Mad, but I also promised to write a sequel to the alternative, and this is it. It actually starts with a chapter by rugal, "Assertiveness that I will be continuing with a new chapter tomorrow.

This is going to be a very short run, only four chapters. I just kind of ran out of interest in it.
September 20, 2022 at 1:44pm
September 20, 2022 at 1:44pm
"S02E17 "If This Be My Destiny"

As I explained a few commentaries ago, I wrote Part One of this four-part adaptation a long time ago, filed it away, and forgot about it so completely that it was entirely new when I rediscovered it. I wrote Part Two and most of Part Three back in January of 2022, but it kicked my ass so hard that I not only gave up on writing this project, I took a multi-month vacation from all writing. This September, though, I decided to finally get through Part Four. And here it is.

And this is another one where a famous Spider-Man bit gets repurposed. This idea came to me as I was writing the script, but maybe it had been percolating in the back of my mind. I knew that the rest of the season would show Gwen and Otto/Peter growing close, and the plan was for this multi-parter to bring them to a point where you could see them starting to develop a serious relationship. The scene I repurposed instantly seemed like just the kind of moment to put them onto such a path.

Otherwise, the writing of this script was another exercise in feeling my way along some dark corridors. I had to get from the initial situation to the final one; had to put in regularly punctuated crises and ramped-up stakes that were logical; and had to bring it all home by page 30. I think that's more or less what I managed. Whether it is successful is for others to say.

BTW, I have no idea if, in the animated continuity, Anya Corazon can drive, or if she is the only one old enough to drive. But it was convenient to bring her in as such.

* * *

And where do things go from here for this project? I'm not sure. The big lesson I learned is that I just don't have fun writing scripts. It took me four ugly, ugly days (including one day off in the middle to rest and recuperate) to get "If This Be My Destiny" written, and it was about the same kind of thing with the other scripts. I'm tempted to write one short treatment detailing the other nine (!) episodes I have crudely plotted out. But I'm also tempted not to, in case I get the urge to write them out in script form.

Suffice it to say this for now: The idea in those outlines (spread over nine episodes) is to try to hit the high points of the comic book "Superior Spider-Man" storyline, including the roll-out of an extreme surveillance network; tussles with the Avengers and J. Jonah Jameson; and a final battle with the Green Goblin (making his first appearance in this "alternate continuity") and ending with Otto and Peter switching back in order to beat the Goblin. But whether that plan could survive contact with the enemy (my stomach for scriptwriting) is another question.
September 17, 2022 at 1:42pm
September 17, 2022 at 1:42pm
I was busy yesterday when publication time came around, so I just lost a day. Anyway, the next chapter is now up:

Interactive: "Three-Point Shot
Public: "Three-Point Shot

There's a commentary to go with it: "Re: Commentary: "Three-Point Shot""  
September 15, 2022 at 12:18pm
September 15, 2022 at 12:18pm
I'm afraid that today's chapters are short and repetitive, and the Archives readers only get one of them:

* Interactive: "Thanks Aloft + "Student Teachers + "Money to Make Your World Go Around
* Public: "Thanks Aloft

It's "Thanks Aloft" that starts the branch I'll be going down, so I don't see any point in putting the other chapters into the Archives. But I wanted to post those alternates into the BoM interactive so that the general choices would turn into specific ones. In particular, I wanted to get some of the suggested doppelgangers (like Gary Chen and Charles Hartlein) down as possibilities. I also wanted to introduce some new possibilities among the faculty members so that it wouldn't be the same old suspects always.

As I develop this branch, I'll be adding my discussion of the choices to the forum thread on Doppelgangers. Today's post is here: "Re: Commentary: "Thanks Aloft""  

EDIT: The runaway winner in the poll was to replace a faculty member, so I went ahead and took it down. I'm not going to put up a poll about today's chapter choices, because there's only two and I don't foresee much excitement there. When things evolve to make another choice, then I'll put up another poll.
September 14, 2022 at 11:57am
September 14, 2022 at 11:57am
As promised, today brings a return to "Corporate Strategies, and Will's plot to dominate the school by duplicating and replacing key people.

* Interactive: "A Battle Plan Begins
* Public: "A Battle Plan Begins

I planned this branch out before asking for ideas in the forum—"Doppelganger: The War Game"  —and I certainly don't say it's the best or smartest path. It's just the one I wrote.

Still, I'm all up for second-guessing. So in addition to that forum post, I've put up a poll to see what choices others would make:

[Poll completed and deleted]

That is NOT a poll asking which path you want me to take; the path I'm taking is already written. I'm just giving readers who did not make a post in the forums a chance to register their thoughts, given the choices presented. There's no set time limit on that poll, but it will probably be open for two days. Don't send GPs voting for a choice: As I say, it's just to get the readers' thoughts on what they would do in Will's place.
September 13, 2022 at 2:17pm
September 13, 2022 at 2:17pm
Today brings the last chapter in the Round Robin.

* Interactive: "Wrapping the Present
* Public: "Wrapping the Present

I really liked this branch, and IMO at least, I think we brought out the best in each other. At least, I think Nostrum and rugal brought out the best in me. I wasn't even that enthusiastic about continuing this branch, and was bowled over by the invention and ingenuity the other two brought to it, and from which I derived all the inspiration I ultimately had for it.

Tomorrow, for my part, I will be returning to the branch that I had been working on before we did the Round Robin, the one that ends with "Corporate Strategies.

That is the branch where Will conceives a scheme for manipulating the school body by replacing certain key people with doppelgangers under his control, and it inspired two threads in the forums: "Doppelganger: The War Game"   and "Corporate Partnerships in Magic"  . I had already war-gamed out my own answers to the first question before I even posted those threads, and the branch will show the plan I came up with, but I paid close attention to the answers given by other people, and tried to build in choices that would let those alternate ideas develop. So although this branch is not going to be poll-driven, it does rely on public feedback.
September 13, 2022 at 10:53am
September 13, 2022 at 10:53am
"S02E16 "The Hero or the Menace"

This is part three of a four-part story arc, one that basically does the same job as the three-issue "Dying Wish" story arc in "The Amazing Spider-Man": swapping Otto Octavius and Peter Parker, and explaining how Otto comes to adopt something like the ideals and personality of the original Parker. But when you get to the end of this one, long-time Spider-Man fans will recognize that I cribbed most of the story from a different place in the issue run.

Okay, spoiler warning. Go read the script if you don't want things spoiled any more for you.

Are you back? Okay.

This was actually one of the first ideas I had when I sat down to outline this multi-parter. Issues 32 - 33 of "The Amazing Spider-Man" are one of the most famous in the continuity -- lots of comic creators have said it was the storyline that got them firmly hooked on the title when they were kids -- and I saw a way of taking it and turning it to my advantage in my adaptation.

Because the fact is that I don't feel like "Dying Wish" does a good job of motivating Doc Ock to pick up Spider-Man's mantle. Sure, the story says that he's influenced by the residual memories and personality he inherited with Peter Parker's body, but anyone can invent any "reason" for a personality change. The really believable personality change has to come from external and internal pressures that explain why a personality can change and adapt.

By repurposing a famous story -- one that puts Aunt May in danger while Spider-Man and Doc Ock battle -- I thought I could show Otto expressing legit concern for his new relatives, and that would show that he could and would try to fulfill Spider-Man's responsibilities instead of giving them up.

And, yes, there would be an extra twist of irony that in this adaptation the roles of Spidey and Doc Ock are swapped from what they were in the original story.
September 12, 2022 at 1:32pm
September 12, 2022 at 1:32pm
In the last poll, "Ignore Scott" was so far in the lead that I went ahead and wrote the chapter for that choice. It is now posted:

* Interactive: "Masks in the Night
* Public: "Masks in the Night

It seems to end on an unpromising note. It will be a long time if I return to this branch (if I do), but I have an idea for making it a more interesting continuation that it might appear. But for now this seems the best place to end it.

And here's the penultimate chapter in the Round Robin:

* Interactive: "Taking the Right Path
* Public: "Taking the Right Path

It's a pretty definitive end to the story, as we all recognized when Nostrum wrote it, though we had some arguments behind the scenes about the denouement. Rugal wound up taking up the challenge of writing a wrap-up chapter to follow, and that will be published tomorrow.
September 10, 2022 at 12:26pm
September 10, 2022 at 12:26pm
"S02E15 "Outside the Box"

When I started writing my adaptation of The Superior Spider-Man storyline for the animated continuity, I began by outlining the entire season, then turned to outlining each episode. The plan was to have treatments for each episode in place before I began the scripting process. That way, everything would be down on paper, and I'd just have to turn the ideas into words on a page.

But no plan survives contact with the enemy. In this case, the enemy was me.

For a start, as I explained in the previous commentary, I am not the kind of writer who can work from treatments and outlines. I went awry in other places as well. For instance, after writing the treatment for {item:} I discovered I had already written a script for it -- something I had completely forgotten about. And that script looked nothing like the treatment I had just written. It felt better to me, and was a lot simpler in its content.

I muttered a lot of bad words to myself and did some thinking. And what I came up with was: Screw the treatments.

They were going to be too packed with incident, I felt. Also, they were an immense pain to write. So I decided to go straight to the scripts. My overall outline for the 13-episode arc had told me what notes I wanted to hit, and what I wanted each episode to accomplish and where I wanted each one to end. So my new plan became to rely on that crude outline and wing it as I wrote each script.

It was hard and it was slow, like feeling my way in bare feet across a dark room, but that's how I wrote this episode. The very first scene is taken from one of the Superior Spider-Man books, but the rest of it is mine. I got stuck for a couple of days in the middle, because I wasn't sure the scenes were coming in the right order, but I finally just bulldozed through.

One thing I discovered: I really don't like writing action scenes. Inventing stuff for the characters to do -- That feels like something that an animation director should come up with, and then I should fill in some dialogue.

Which, IIRC, is kind of how Jack Kirby and Stan Lee did it in the comics, right?
September 10, 2022 at 11:58am
September 10, 2022 at 11:58am
Another day with a lot of chapters getting published.

In the Round Robin, each alternative gets a chapter, just to nail down what's been going on out of sight:

* Interactive: "Safety First + "Safety Last
* Public: "Safety First + "Safety Last

In the poll-driven branch there's a new chapter continuing things:

* Interactive: "More Equals Merrier?
* Public: "More Equals Merrier?

And there's a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted.]

Whichever choice wins, that's going to be the last chapter in this branch. We're almost done with the Round Robin, and I want to end this branch simultaneously with that.
September 9, 2022 at 12:23pm
September 9, 2022 at 12:23pm
"S02E14 "A New Life for an Old"

So here it is, finally. The first script of my fanfic-adaptation of the "Superior Spider-Man" storyline into the Marvel's Spider-Man animated series.

To recap:

So, like, a couple of years ago (ugh!) I stumbled upon that animated series just before it was to start airing its own adaptation of the "Superior Spider-Man" storyline. That gave me the idea to write my own adaptation, and compare it to the work of the professionals. To see how well I did, and to see what I could learn.

I haven't watched the IRL adaptation yet—and won't until I'm done with my adaptation— so I have learned only one thing so far, and that is that I am not the kind of writer who can work through outlines and treatments. I'm the kind of writer whose creativity is stimulated by actually writing, not by planning. That's why this project has dragged out so long that it is now just humiliating—I've had to outline and plan, and it's been like walking on my bare knees across broken glass.

As for how well I did ... Well, that's for readers to judge.

Now, for episode-specific commentary:

I actually don't have anything to say about this script, because it was written a very long time ago and filed away. I do remember improvising the first act as one of the very first things I did on this project, but as for the second two acts ... Well, I wrote them, but I don't remember when, and I remember nothing of the process, and the content was completely new to me when I rediscovered it.

So I hope it doesn't sound egotistical when I say that ... I liked it. The story pulled me along, and I was constantly wondering what would happen next. I also liked some of Otto's lines, particularly when he started to channel Peter's fighting persona against the security 'bots.
September 9, 2022 at 12:14pm
September 9, 2022 at 12:14pm
The last poll is now closed. In the Free Poll, the choice "Stay with Joshua" beat "Go with Eileen" by two to one. It was much closer behind the scenes, though, with a large GP vote bringing "Eileen" almost to parity with "Joshua."

Almost, but not quite: one more vote for "Eileen" would have tied it, but "Joshua" took it by hair at the end.

I'll have a chapter written and posted tomorrow.

EDIT: Also, new chapters in the Round Robin:

* Interactive: "The Warlock and the Maiden
* Public: "The Warlock and the Maiden
September 8, 2022 at 12:08pm
September 8, 2022 at 12:08pm
I have working on a long-suspended novel—"WIP: [Untitled YA Novel]—for the last few days. I don't know that anybody has noticed or has been paying attention to it. I don't know that anybody thinks it's very interesting. It's about a high school football player (not even the quarterback, just the back-up quarterback) who is trying not to notice that he has been dating the wrong girl.

He's a very different sort of character than Will Prescott, and it's been a challenge (a fun one for me, at least) to capture the inner states (through first-person narration) of someone who isn't very introspective, and who persistently shies away from facing his own thoughts and feelings even while being badly buffeted by them.

Anyway, there's been something else going on in the background while Charlie has been focusing (to the extent he can focus) on other things. But today's chapter—"Chapter Eleven—more or less brings it out in the open. Nothing gets explained, only acknowledged, but this chapter should make clear that this is not a realistic, slice-of-life YA novel.

But further chapters are going to have to wait. I've decided to make a side-step into another long-delayed project. I have a few scripts for my "Superior Spider-Man" storyline that I promised to write but never did, and I've decided to get them cleared away before returning to the above project.

EDIT: Also, today's Round Robin chapters:

* Interactive: "The Gentleman and the Warlock
* Public: "The Gentleman and the Warlock
September 7, 2022 at 11:49am
September 7, 2022 at 11:49am
There's now updates to the two active branches. In the Round Robin:

* Interactive: "Stuck on Each Other
* Public: "Stuck on Each Other

And in the poll-driven branch:

* Interactive: "A Girl Who Never Was
* Public: "A Girl Who Never Was

There's also a poll with the latter: [Poll completed and deleted.]

EDIT: Also, my non-BoM project is up to ten chapters: "WIP: [Untitled YA Novel] The last chapter has some kissing in it, if that makes a difference.
September 6, 2022 at 12:05pm
September 6, 2022 at 12:05pm
The last poll has now closed. It was a seesaw battle, both in the Free Poll and in the GP poll. But at the very end, "Add Eileen's image to the mask" came out ahead by a whisker. The adjusted tally was 5000 - 4900 - 900 - 600 votes for "Eileen", "Seal the mask", "Josh" and "Yourself," respectively. Because the fight was so close, I didn't have a chapter prepared for today; it will be posted tomorrow, along with a new poll.

EDIT: Also, new Round Robin chapter:

* Interactive: "Naturally Natalie
* Public: "Naturally Natalie
September 4, 2022 at 12:31pm
September 4, 2022 at 12:31pm
Lots of chapters posted today!

First, there's the continuation of the Round Robin. You get two chapters there, one from me and an alternate from Nostrum. That was a point where we got a little tangled up, a little unsure how we wanted to continue, so we wound up writing both choices.

* Interactive: "A Sketchy, Revealing Proposal + "Bands of Silver
* Public: "A Sketchy, Revealing Proposal + "Bands of Silver

Second is the sequel to "Backyard Magic. It's a two-parter (one regular, one short) because I couldn't squeeze it into one part.

* Interactive: "Let Mikey Try It --> "Face Time
* Public: "Let Mikey Try It --> "Face Time

And there's a poll to go with it: [Poll completed and deleted]

Last is the non-BoM project I've decided to work on: "WIP: [Untitled YA Novel] That's a YA book (as that oh-so-descriptive title reveals) that I started working on ... much longer ago than I'd like to recall ... and have decided to continue. There's now a seventh chapter up. I've got a pretty good idea of what the book is about, but I'm not going to say anything. But I will reveal a hope of mine: that if you read it, you will realize that there is more going on than what the narrator has noticed.
September 3, 2022 at 12:12pm
September 3, 2022 at 12:12pm
The last poll had a pretty tight three-way race, so I don't have a chapter written for you today continuing it. That will come tomorrow.

Oh, and who was the winner?

Well, "Take the mask and find a test subject" had the most free votes, but someone waded in with Gift Points, so the actual winner is "Let Joshua and Eileen find a test subject."

EDIT: And today's chapters in the Round Robin:

* Interactive: "An Outing of Fakes
* Public: "An Outing of Fakes
September 1, 2022 at 12:05pm
September 1, 2022 at 12:05pm
"Show the book to Joshua and Eileen" was so far ahead in the poll that I started writing the sequel before the poll closed. So here it is:

* Interactive: "Backyard Magic
* Public: "Backyard Magic

Poll for the next choice: [Poll completed and deleted]

* * * * *

I took a long hiatus from this place early in the year, and have only been back for a month and half, but I'm going to take another sabbatical, starting today. But the difference between now and then is that (a) I am announcing my hiatus instead of just disappearing, and (b) it is only a BoM writing hiatus, not a publishing hiatus. I am not going anywhere. I will still be checking in here every day; I'll be posting a new chapter every day; and I will still be running the polls and continuing the storyline above (my one break from the hiatus).

See, in the seven or so weeks since I've been back, the words have just come boiling out of me, pretty much like never before. So not only have I been publishing a chapter a day, I've been refilling the backlog. Including rugal's and Nostrum's chapters for the Round Robin, that backlog now stands at one hundred and eleven.

That's what I said. I've got 111 chapters on the runway waiting to be published. That's about the length of The Fellowship of the Ring.

So that's the reason I'm taking this writing hiatus. I've got enough chapters to carry this place forward almost until Christmas, and while I've still got all this creative ferment bubbling away, I want to get some of it down into non-BoM stuff.

So if you come here for a daily fix, don't worry about it going away soon, and don't worry about bothering me. I'll still be here, happily posting and reading and replying to emails. It's just that the time that would have been going to writing BoM will (knock wood) be going into writing something else.

Now I've just got to figure out what that something else will be ...
August 30, 2022 at 2:12pm
August 30, 2022 at 2:12pm
You guys voted last time for Will to take the magic supplies with him instead of giving them to Scott. I guess you don't trust Scott and Brendan with the book. Or you're hoping for romantic entanglements with a spacey red-head who goes to Eastman?

Anyway, your choice was visible 24 hours before the poll was set to close, so I got ahead on the writing, so it didn't take long to finish. Here it is:

* Interactive: "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!
* Public: "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!

Next poll is here: [Poll completed and deleted]. It closes on Thursday, September 1, at 12:00 ET.

* * *

And here is the next chapter in the Round Robin storyline:

* Interactive: "Lost and Loster
* Public: "Lost and Loster

Nostrum dared me to write the third choice ("Call the police"), and who am I to shrink from a challenge?

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