The Adventures of Captain Blazer: An Experiment in Creative Writing

This post is about the creative process that went into creating my Facebook series The Adventures of Captain Blazer.

A long time ago I created a blog called the “Footsteps Unaware – A Day in the Life of the Invisible Man”. By a long time ago I’m talking 7 years ago when I was just a teenager. I wrote it on a free blogger site and it was a really fun and fascinating idea. I wrote a deep back story to this teen who by a freak accident became invisible. I deeply explored what it would be like to be invisible both the shortcomings and humor in it.  Oddly, writing this I decided to take a look around and see if I still had it. ‘lo and behold it was still saved on blogger: http://footstepsunaware.blogspot.com/

My friends at the time received it with great praise, but I never did much with it. Why? In all honesty, I have a hard enough time motivating myself to update my Facebook status let alone write full-length blog posts. It becomes even more challenging when said blog posts are a fictional world that require a cohesive plot and story to keep the attention of an audience.

As life became increasingly more difficult and involved as I grew up I very rapidly abandoned my project. It was, however, one of the most entertaining and thought provoking writing exercises I had ever undertaken. As an avid writer, it was something I would not forget. In the back of my mind I kept entertaining the idea of resurrecting it, but as I kept pushing it off so did my recollection of whether or not it still existed in any form. I just didn’t have the mental power to rewrite or start writing it again.

About a year ago I started really getting into social networking. Things like Twitter, Facebook, and my own personal blog using WordPress (i.e., this site). Around this time I also started a project called CorpseCamp.Us which was suppose to be the MLIA (MyLifeIsAverage) of MMO players but it just never caught on. Whether that was due to a lack of interest or insufficient advertising, I do not know. I let the domain name lapse a few days ago which is sad because I was really proud of the work I put into that site.

Getting back on track, I had a really strong desire to do something like Footsteps Unaware but not the desire to devote so much time to writing the necessary size updates needed to keep a blog feeling as if its worth reading. That is when a few months ago I started seriously contemplating a return. Using what I had learned over the last seven years about plots, plot development, character development, along with all of the ways social networking can be used to share things on the Internet. The idea started with realizing I’d need a Facebook page and Twitter account to help advertise it. Then it hit me: Small posts are perfect on Facebook.

It was at that point I realized I could save myself a whole lot of trouble. If I hosted it on Facebook I’d have direct access to a huge audience, I wouldn’t have to maintain a website, and I could get away with short, small posts. The next step in the process was narrowing down setting. I considered the invisible man idea again, but I felt that deserved far more attention than little Facebook status updates. I also didn’t think it would be entertaining enough. A science fiction idea slipped into my mind. It would allow for a compact “home” setting. A spaceship would create a nice frame around the story and I wouldn’t be too likely to wander off.

Browsing Flickr for Creative Commons licensed graphics of spaceships I stumbled upon this picture of a nifty rocket statue from San Francisco. I fell in love with the rocket. It was also at this point I realized I was going to set Captain Blazer in a sort of retro-50s/60s science fiction setting. You know, the cheesy old days of Science Fiction before they knew much about space and all the rockets had flares. The era of Captain Kirk and space invasions and the All-American Hero.

Cheesy was very important to me. Being able to put more emphasis on exaggeration and less on scientific detail meant I could be far more creative and my audience would suspend their disbelief because everyone knows that this era was like that. It also opened the way for me to exercise my unique humor. Since the rocket appeared small I decided it would indeed be small. I struggled with a crew size. For now I’m keeping it at one human being. This will allow me to focus on him. With the medium of Facebook it might be awkward if I constantly jumped around between characters. Also, using Facebook I decided it would be fun to give the illusion that space captain from the future was indeed giving us status updates of his daily life in space. Obviously, he would practice basic Internet safety and not share his account with others.

This one man crew quickly presented some limitations. Who would he be interacting with? What would drive the plot? How could I make downtime interesting? This is where I pulled a plot element from Footsteps Unaware. In Footsteps Unaware the protagonist (the invisible guy) had a cat named Sperk which provided comedic relief. To be honest, I love cats. Anyone who has owned a cat for any period of time has been left asking the question “Is this cat smarter than its letting on?” Its from this concept I created the character Nova, Captain Blazer’s moody feline companion.

I really think she was a brilliant idea and I have many plans to develop her as time goes on. She’s more than a tiny plot element. She is Captain Blazer’s main companion as he travels the cosmos (which should give you insight into Blazer’s sanity). I won’t give away any details. I want it to be a surprise. But I really plan on going all out with her and at times it may leave you wondering who is this story really about? But isn’t that what cats do to us in real life? We’re always left asking ourselves “Who is really in charge? Me or my cat?” I think this a fun element to play with.

I think the most challenging aspect of writing The Adventures of Captain Blazer thus far has been not progressing certain elements too quickly. I have this terrible urge to get all of my fantastic ideas out there, but then where would be the fun in that? In a way I think that has lead to a few stall outs. I have a tendency to focus so much on the bigger picture and the destination that I tend to forget the little things in-between. This has lead to more than a few writing blocks. This is when I start asking my readers for advice.

Just before I created Captain Blazer’s page Facebook introduced a nifty new feature: polls. I’ve tried to take advantage of this feature as much as I can without being obnoxious. This adds a very cool element to Captain Blazer. It allows my readers to join in on the creative process. I intently take into consideration comments and feedback on the polls and try to write the most creative and popular ideas into the plot line. This approach to the experiment I think will really shine once I can find more readers. The more people contributing ideas the more exciting the process.

If you haven’t already, please make sure to stop by The Adventures of Captain Blazer on Facebook. Like it, share it with your friends. Comment. Give your feedback.

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