Author of Worm, here.
I majored in English with a minor in Linguistics for a few years, with things I loved & loathed about each, until I stumbled on an Applied Languages class on witing and writing theory. I changed my major to Applied Languages, and though I've taken a break from University, I do intended to return at some point to wrap up that degree (with possibly a minor in English).
Applied Languages is not about individual languages (like English, French, etc), but about the who, what, where, when, & why of language. Why do we use it? What works and what doesn't? How do we learn effective language? How do we teach it? Can we use it to get the responses we want from others? What defines a particular medium? It's something of a middle ground between English (studying prose) and Linguistics (the science of language).
Some of the stuff I read in the course of studying this stuff (Peter Elbow on the process of writing springs to mind) really got me into an analytical frame of mind for looking at my own writing in a way that the English classes didn't.
I've strived to turn this education towards the writing of Worm. I've been a writer since I was in seventh grade, when a teacher liked a short story I wrote & had me read it in front of the class. In truth, I hated the story (and still do - it's terrible), but that did open my eyes to the idea of using writing to vent my frustrations. I was always a spaz, a daydreamer, with an overactive imagination that kind of made life more difficult than it had to be, but being able to put ideas to a page really helped with that. Since then I've written constantly. I have shelves in my bedroom filled with notebooks of story ideas, and hundreds of word documents in various folders for various genres.
Starting & Writing Worm
I had two primary goals driving the idea of writing a superhero web serial. The first was that I'd read a few superhero stories and comics and I was hungry to try my own. I always felt like there was either something missing in terms of worldbuilding or perspective or there was too much worldbuilding & perspectives to keep up with.
The second goal was that, as mentioned above, I'd written a great amount, but over time what I was putting together was getting shorter and shorter. I'd have a character or story idea and it would die before I got to page five. Or I'd get so caught up in trying to get the first part perfect that I'd lose momentum and get frustrated, put it down to take a break and never pick it up again. The actual format of a web serial was kind of a way to force myself to keep moving forward, because I didn't want to miss an update (and possibly lose readers) and I wouldn't let myself focus too much on the early stuff when I could move forward instead. It worked. Really well.
I went through a lot of drafts when I was tinkering with the idea of the web serial. The very first draft involved Runechild (who doesn't appear in Worm, though one of her powers is shared by Rune), with subsequent weeks, months & other drafts telling the story of Glory Girl and Panacea. I moved on to write stories from Faultline's perspective, showcasing the formation of her team, her psychology, and the larger setting. An online friend read one of the stories about Faultline and told me I was too focused on people attempting to overcome weaker powers (which both Faultline and Skitter are), which inspired The Travelers. After writing their story (which may show up as an interlude arc after arc 13 or 14) I tried writing a larger story that shifted from perspective to perspective (including all of the aforementioned characters), covering everything from the origin of powers to the end of the world; which was also one attempt to try and forestall the aforementioned issue with my getting distracted/bogged down & not finishing a story). This was the point where the world really started coming together - the Endbringers showed up here - as well as the elimination of side stories/elements that didn't work, like magic or characters/enemies that didn't fit the cohesive world.
I started exploring other characters, writing arcs from the perspective of Legend, Grue, Aegis and others, and detoured into some non-superhero fiction, ranging from horror to modern supernatural. When writing Circus's story, I had her meet with other villains in the course of a crisis. There, she teamed up with Parian, and ran into a handful of other characters, including Bitch (who had the same powers but was otherwise very different) and Skitter.
Skitter appealed to me on a level (I really do like the schtick with crappy powers that can be good with out of the box thinking) & I spent a month writing stories from her perspective, dating to the moment she got her powers (which was different, then) to a version that started with the fight against Leviathan. Over a dozen drafts, her story crystallized into something similar to what you see in Worm.
Though all of these stories got scrapped for one reason or another, I took away elements and ideas that I've used to make Worm what it is.
Above all my goal has been to write the kind of thing I'd want to read.
I consider myself a nerd of all stripes. I rather like books, video games, comics, manga, anime, cartoons, live action TV and movies, and just about the only thing I don't like is retreaded ideas. If there's something I can remember about a given work a year later, then I consider it a worthwhile watch, even if it was otherwise terrible. I don't tend to watch romance or comedies, though usually when I am made to watch a comedy by a family member or friend, I like it alright.
There's few things more tragic, in my opinion, than someone who dismisses a genre (anime, western cartoons, sci fi, whatever) because of some preconcieved notion about what it's all about. Whatever the genre, there's some mindblowing, amazing stuff out there.
So, as a conversation opener (I could go on for a long time about what I like about this stuff) and/or just to serve as examples (with the disclaimer that yeah, not everything's going to appeal to you) about what I think some of the really amazing stuff is... Stuff I like includes:
- Books: Game of Thrones, Lies of Locke Lamora, Snow Crash, Diamond Age, The Mysterious Art of Erasing All Signs of Death, Lolita, Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders/Dragon Keepers series.
- Video Games: Final Fantasy Tactics, Spelunky, Cave Story, Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac.
- Comics: Runaways (up until Joss Whedon's stops writing it), Lucifer, The Hiketeia, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, We3, The Killing Joke, GCPD
- Manga: Blame, Franken Fran, Liar Game, Saikano, Yotsuba&!
- Anime: Spice & Wolf, Mushishi, Azumanga Daioh, Now & Then Here & There, Kamichu, Haibane Renmei, Black Lagoon, Kino's Travels, Noir
- Wham Anime: Puella Magi Madoka Magicka (however you spell it), Narutaru, Bokurano (These series tend to subvert old standbys, like sailor moon-esque magical girls or pokemon-esque 'kid with a monster friend' with lots of major 'woah' moments, and some brilliant stuff, but be warned that the endings tend to suck)
- Cartoons: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: Legend of Korra, Oban Star Racers, Batman TAS
Feel free to comment below for more details/opinions/suggestions re: the list.