Walküre: Playing with Medium

I’ve been working on Walküre in one form or another for about 3 years. For most of that time its been a Novel, a collection of letters and journal entries written from the perspective of 5 characters. The Novel itself is only at 25k words, and barely a quarter done, so I decided to play a little bit with the medium that I wrote it in.

My initial goal was to turn it into a Pilot. Historical Fiction with a bit of American Gods thrown in. I wanted to put together a live-action TV-hour. The problem is that I got to 30 pages and it was already done. In the middle of trying to figure out how to put more meat into it, I figured out that if I shifted a few things around it would be a pretty good Pilot to a Serial Animated series.

The problem is, there is no way I could ever sell an Adult American Anime about the early 1900s. So I’m going to post the pilot here and ask for any feedback you may have to give. Does it work? Doesn’t it? Why and why not?

Walkure, Animated Pilot

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Mapping Interactive Narrative

A few months ago I started working on the Narrative Design for a game called Eons Lost, currently in development by 3 Halves Games. Though Narrative Design was not initially an area of writing I gave much consideration, it ended up taking over my brain, and I want to share with you my methodology in approaching it.


Interactive Narrative is a consistent pattern of Objective and Reward.

The following diagrams are the first element in the methodology I am using to design the narrative of Eons Lost. I started with the basics: How do you organize Interactive Narrative?

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Walküre Excerpt #4

1918, Fall, Belgium Front, Edie

The little one insisted on giving us nicknames, but I told him that if he insisted on calling me Nan one more time I’d punch his stomach right through his anus. Then the Priest came out with an eyebrow gushing like a mountain spring for getting in a bar fight with a gunner from the next outpost over. I told him a Chaplain shouldn’t fight, and he told me to go fuck myself. The big one spent this time saying nothing, looking out into the darkness with his Springfield’s scope for a German light to shoot. My husband would have loved these people, which is the only thing that kept me from hating them.

War is boring and tiring. Two months to this foxhole and Seven days in it so far. The big one has fired 23 shots so far and is unsure if any have hit. The little one cheers him on, “24 Germans!” to which the big one says, “Why 24? I’ve only fired 23 shots” and the little one says, “Yeah, but one of them got two.” “How do you know that?” “Math”.

They carry on like that while the priest drinks from a flask and I write.

I don’t know much about them yet and haven’t bothered to remember their names. I know when they look at me all they see is a small woman with a Machete on her back and a trench knife in her boot. None of them have made a move on me, but I suspect the priest will break first.


Walküre, Excerpt #3

An excerpt from the journal of Ezekial

Summer, 1934, North Carolina. 

“Well fuck a sheep thats a nice bit of stonework there.” She wiped her forehead with a  gloved hand leaving a granite streak a mile wide, admiring her work. “You got a little something there on your forehead miss” I was trying to be helpful, something I should probably stop doing.

“You call me miss again and I’ll tear you a new anus with a steam-powered masonry drill- And what’s this I conveniently have at my side? What could that possibly be-“

“It’s a masonry drill, no need to belabor the point there.” She put her gloved hands on overalled hips and held her pointed chin high. Ah hell, its been too long and it looks like I’ve gotten rusty. “Sorry miss, I’ll leave you be-“

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A Story That Needs to be Told, Part 1

I’ve struggled with this.

I have Stories I want to tell, Stories I am able to tell, and Stories I want to tell, but can’t. This one falls into the third category.

But to set the stage, you need to watch this…

Legend has it that John Wayne himself had to be physically restrained from dragging her off the stage

In 1973, at the 45th Academy Awards, Marlon Brando won best performance. Instead of accepting the award, he sent up Sacheen Littlefeather to deny his Oscar. This was far from the beginning, and far from the end. But if I am going to start in the middle, it might as well be from here.

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Why I Stopped Watching “Red Band Society”

I have never found a more perfect example of how misplaced direction and intent can ruin a show.

For those who don’t follow Network Television, Red Band Society premiered this fall with a promising pilot that centered around the inhabitants of a children’s hospital.

I find a small amount of Irony in the fact that these kids with Cancer, Anorexia, Congenital Heart Defects, and Cystic Fibrosis will have a happier ending than their show will. But don’t get me wrong, I’d be very happy with a happy ending. But when you place characters in a position of adversity, especially one as adverse as being a mostly parentless dual-citizen minor without health insurance, then you expect them to be dealing with something more serious than the Love Triangle they found themselves in.

This was the root of the problem. Out of all of the stories that could be told about the state of medicine in the US, or dealing with your own mortality before society legally considers you an adult, they instead chose to have the cheerleader fall for the tooth-pick chewing bad-boy.

It was as if the reality of their situation was superseded by what someone thought kids would find important. You could have taken these same exact plots and moved them to any other location and all you would have had to change  “Cancer” to “I didn’t get the iPhone I wanted for christmas”.

But this is a common theme in most of these “Youth Dramedy” shows, isn’t it? The inability to let children have Adult problems? And when they do, A La ‘Secret Life of the American Teenager’, there is the assumption that someone who is 16 (Who can be tried as an adult in most states), can’t face their own problems.

What is absolutely (and very hyperbolically) killing me about “Red Band Society”, is that every single production element is spot on. The show looks gorgeous, every single one of the actors is great, and the writing, when it is allowed to be, is fun and inventive. This show failed on only one front: It didn’t challenge anyone.

These are children who are fighting for their lives in a healthcare system that is likely bankrupting their parents. An Underweight young woman who is fighting her own Mental Illness surrounded by people fighting very physical illnesses; A Cheerleader with a cocaine addiction; a young man whose cancer has been neglected in favor of folk medicine. You can’t tell me that the show they wrote was the only one they could have written.

We deserve better.


What God, Chapter 6

After a brief employment-inspired pause, Here is Chapter 6! Here is Chapter 5 for those who want it

What I had to do before anything else was to figure out Kraden’s timeline for the night, something to do before the blood-work was in. After that I had to find out who the “She” was and what she had to do with Kraden’s old job as the CEO of Æthenmus.

Walking into Adam Kraden’s campaign headquarters made me wonder if they even knew he was dead. I expected to see at least an intern composing themselves, mopping tears with a tie or tissue. Paid or unpaid, it looked like everyone still had a job to do. 

So I walked up to the nearest secretary, “I’m Detective Grant, here to investigate the murder of Adam Kraden”

He didn’t bat an eye, just stared at me for a second and, “Take a seat we’ll be right with you.”

Nothing makes a man feel more unimportant than the bureaucratic power of the waiting room.

I sat and waited for 10 minutes while catching snippets of the office buzz. It sounded mostly like volunteers assuring constituents; saying that his campaign was being taken over by his campaign manager, yes she is a good person, yes she has the same platform, sadly campaign donations are not refundable, the money has already been used.

Then I heard her. “Sir, you are welcome to withdraw your continued funding… yes I understand… But if you don’t feel I can do as good a job as…” She faltered, seemingly unable to say his name, “Yes, sorry… Yes I’ll be fine. Thank you sir. I’ll be fine.” She was a tall woman coming through the cubicles. When she ended the phone call her eyes hardened and her voice was immediately steady as she talked to the aides around her. “Gretchen Thomas, Detective Grant. Its good to meet you.” She didn’t seem to care that I knew the phone call was a performance.

“I hear you’re running for the seat?” She paused for a second, maybe betraying her humanity, maybe evaluating what I knew. I didn’t trust her.

“There is a lot of money in this campaign. It goes to waste or I run for the seat” The aides around her studied their phones. “My office?”

I followed. She led me to a small room off the side of the large office. Probably Kraden’s. “Haven’t moved yet?”

“I’m going to turn it into a lounge. Something for the volunteers” She sat down and straightened her desk, not looking at me. Everyone is guilty of something and I wasn’t here to be her friend.

“I need to know what Kraden was doing last night.”

“I have his schedule right here-“

“No, I need to know what he was doing last night”

A look of understanding dawned on her, “I don’t understand.”

“His schedule tells me what his schedule was last night, I want to know what he was doing.” Her face was tight. “I’m not press, this is a closed investigation. You can tell me right here or I can drive you to the precinct and do it there.” It was an old trick. But the old tricks worked.

After chewing the inside of her lip for a few seconds, “He had an interview at 7 for a late-night show. After that he came back and was signing letters until he left.” She was lying. She knew I knew she was lying. I’ll still have to do this the hard way.

“Has he been acting weird the last few days? Anything out of place? any calls or mail?”

“Not that I remember.”

“Where do you keep your death threats?”

This made her sputter, “They weren’t serious, there were only a few- we never bothered to report them. How did you know?”

“A leap of faith.” A progressive reform campaign mounted by an ex-CEO? Of course there were death threats. “I’d like to see them.”

She walked into Kraden’s office. It was neat and well organized. On her way in Gretchen passed the desk and straightened out one of the pencil holders offhandedly, like it was second nature. “He kept them in his desk. He liked to flip through them to remind him that he was doing the right thing”

It would have been funny. “Was he ever threatened in person?”

“No.” She was holding onto the death threats. I held out my hand and she reluctantly passed them to me. “There were always protestors, but-“

“What time did he leave last night?”

Her face fell a bit. Not an act like the phone call, but something like guilt or empathy. “I don’t remember”

“Call me if you do. We’ll be in touch Ms. Thomas.”

She showed me out of Kraden’s office and went back to hers. I walked out to the main floor of the office and everyone there was working furiously. They had been listening. I smiled and turned to the room.

“Hello everyone!” I wasn’t shouting, but I didn’t need to. They all stopped, “Hello! My name is Michael Grant, I’m a detective. We need to construct a timeline for Mr. Kraden’s last few days.”  I reached into my coat and pulled out a silver case, I pulled a small stack of business cards out of them, “If any of you have seen anything out of place or weird or even worth knowing, please contact us.” I held the cards up high and walked over to the large chrome coffee maker. I made myself up a cup and put the business cards on top.

As I left a few people in the office decided it was time that their mugs needed refilling. This might have been worth the drive.