Writing A Light Comedy For My Old Friends Randy and David

6 07 2016

I got back in touch with two brothers I knew in high school, Randy and David. They’ve been living rich, full lives with careers and families and I’ve been Chasing My Muse Lar De Dar.
Back in high school, my nickname was “Exidore” after the character from “Mork and Mindy”. The nickname was quite apt. I was a very wacky kid. I constantly spouted Monty Python, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, George Carlin, Mel Brooks, and all the other comedians from this time the late ‘70s, which was the friggin’ heyday of comedy. I also rattled off character voices, riffed on anything mentioned, and had quite the fast wit. That was the guy they remembered.
So here they were looking up what I had been writing, and I sent them the link to “The Flesh Sutra” which is a study of a dysfunctional relationship in psycho-sexual body horror. To be frank, High-School-Me would have had a morbid fascination with the novel. But I was not one for being into gruesome stuff and had never talked about sex at all.
“Maybe you could write some comedy” messaged Randy, seconded by David.
“You know,” I thought, “I ought to. I should try to get back in touch with that part of myself.” I missed that zany guy I was. That guy was way funny. Surely I can write something in that voice.
I’d burned out my Brit-wit nerve some years ago, no Pratchett or Douglas Adams for me anymore, but I had lots of old Dungeon and Dragons ideas still to work with. So I started writing.
I’d had an idea that the next time I ran in a D&D game I’d try to feed poison to some evil characters and have a dragon eat them. Pretty urgh thing to do, granted, but antiheroes flourish in comedy as long as the people dying are bigger bastards, it would work.
Hmmm. Good antiheroes. Ah! Harry Flashman of the Flashman series! He did some dastardly things and still amused. He’s self-centered and cowardly. Maybe the poisoning is accidental? Nope. Poisoning the adventurers by accident to accidentally poison the dragon is too convenient.
And Kugel from Jack Vance’s “Dying Earth”! Bastardly guy would probably…team up with the dragon. Say, that’s good!
How could he gain the trust of others? Flashman was a sporty and hale looking guy, okay use that. Maybe he’s real young and everyone underestimates him too. He’s an apprentice to a wizard. Not a wizard he kills, that would take away the suspense of being caught by an authority.
The dragon would have to be young, too. Otherwise someone would have killed it already. Okay.
So young wizard makes what…potions? Young potioner, then, and like Blackadder he hates his job and his boss because he’s smarter and more ambitious. So he’s a teen?
Like Beavis from “Beavis and Butthead”? How would he smart enough to make potions? Clueless cruelty like O’Reilly in “A Confederacy of Dunces”? The dragon uses the dope to lure adventurers? Why would the dope keep feeding the adventurers bad potions of fire resistance or whatever. Can’t see that working. The kid and the dragon have to become conspirators.
So he’s callow enough to be maybe sociopathic. By accident, because accidental criminal plots are funny.
OK. The dragon has to be found by accident the first time, otherwise, again, the dragon would have gotten killed way before the story starts. So who’d be dumb enough to wander into a old mine looking for things?
A bunch of aspiring kid adventurers. Why are these kids aspiring adventurers? Because all of society admires adventuring. These kids are the garage band in a culture that reveres adventurers like media stars. The potioner kid wants to be an adventurer too.
The culture is contemporary-ish and the kid is obnoxious. The kid’s name is now “Dagnoxy”.
After the first adventurers are killed, Dagnoxy has to want to kill the dragon. Raise Stakes Number One.
Comes back and feeds group number two the wrong potions. Dragon confronts Dagnoxy. Raise Stakes Number Two.
Negotiates with dragon to bring in groups and split the spoils. Why would the dragon do this?
Because the dragon ate guys who drank a love potion. The dragon is now in love with Dagnoxy.
And so on…
By the end of the draft, Dagnoxy’s killed off maybe a few dozen callow and rude adventurers. Gotten into a tumultuous relationship with the dragon Jilliatrax (I like that name) which yes, had off-screen sex. She is slain by Dagnoxy’s heroes, who turn out to be friends of his neglectful mentor. Facing an odd emptiness from losing the one being who gave a damn about him (and turned out THE LOVE POTION HAD LONG WORN OFF), he sabotages her corpse so her mentor couldn’t sell it for spell components.
By using Vampire Blood. Which turns Jilliatrax into a vampire dragon. She resurrects, promising to reunite later with her lover at an undetermined date.
Mentor is happy to have Dagnox away (lost the “y” to clarify the character is male) and Dagnox pines for the return of his FWB. END.
My writers’ groups beta read and comment. “Is he a bastard or stupid?” “Needs more magic.” My publisher Barbara noted “Show us the pony scene you referenced – I didn’t see it when I read the story.” She is not talking about horses.
I started out wanting to write Blackadder or Ignatius O’Reilly in under a marketable 4K words. I ended up with a 8500 word story about The Talented Mister Ripley murdering a few dozen people and yearning to bump uglies with a new god of darkness.
The market for this story is quite limited. It’s too daffy for the grimdarks, too dragon for the lit-crowd, too murdery for the dragon crowd at “Shimmer” magazine, and not innovative enough for “F&SF” or even “Drabblecast”.
So David and Randy and the kid I once was, have I failed? Dunno. I like the story and frankly have long given up worrying about the state of my muse.
This stuff just happens, man.


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