The Return to the Land of Exposition

Onward once more into the depths of the Land of Exposition, where things have returned to quasi-normal – well, quasi-normal for me, at least.

Winter is slowly (but surely) fading away and Spring is looming over the horizon, and with the change in season comes a return of plotting, pondering and plot bunnies. Well, plot bunnies are almost always multiplying with numbing regularity, and coupled with the inadvertent discovery of an errant land minds, things are about to get interesting fast.

The lingering aroma of maple syrup, bacon and a hint of vanilla permeates the air as the weary travelers stroll about, admiring the landscape and avoid the aforementioned land minds. The Muses are well rested, debating about the “real” sequence of events, and who should be the “real” hero of the story. The Real Life Brigade go about their business in their designated area, analyzing spreadsheets and processing data.

Musings about the MASC Chronicles re-emerge, with the unexpected inspiration from Fire Emblem Fates – thoughts of narrative perspectives and “solving” (maybe) the self-inflicted challenge of writing (eventually) 36 stories for the aforementioned series saga loom large. Thoughts stray to the stand alone (quasi-related) stories as well – the notion of perspective and character development (and the plausibility of tying them to the MASC Chronicles).

The journey back to the Land of Exposition has been long, with a plethora of distractions (ironically from playing the Fire Emblem Fates:  Birthright and Conquest) and brief skirmishes with the Real Life Brigade. Nevertheless, returning to the Character Development Inn has been enlightening, and the upgrades to the FanGirl Meter (patent pending) have been amusing to say the least. A flood of ideas threaten to drown the efforts at actual!writing – too many possibilities from which to choose, too many perspectives from which to tell the tale, and too many potential plot twists to use.

I’m well aware that I’ve written at length about the idea of actually!writing, the plotting and pondering process, yet hardly ever actually described anything in any detail (which again, is intentional, as the details themselves change at a dizzying rate). Then again, the purpose of this blog is to chronicle the journey, even if there is not much forward momentum. The Writing Prompt Project I started this year hasn’t been forgotten either – I hope to return to that as well – as soon as I wrangle the errant ideas and quiet all the noise in my head.

That being said, the writer’s alcove within the Character Development Inn is calling, and a fresh pot of coffee is brewing.

The attempt to plot, ponder and write begins again.

Hopefully.

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Another Question of Perspective

Way, way back many entries ago, not long after the blog began, I wrote about the importance of perspective – how certain details within a narrative can be “true” or “false”, “fact or fiction”. Then again, (technically speaking) all the “facts” in a fictional story are “fiction”, though (almost) everything is “true” within the realm of that fictional world – though sometimes plot twists may occur that throw doubt upon what is “true” and what is “false”.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.

Anyway.

The focus of that blog dealt with the external, technical query of perspective – whether the story is told from a first person perspective or from a third person perspective (limited or omniscient). The reliability of the narration, whether from an internal or external source, may or may not be questionable, given the “facts” presented within the narrative. It does seem to me that there are actually three sides to every story – “your” side, “their” side and the “truth” (or, black, white, and grey – though I really hesitate using the word “grey” in relation to storytelling, as it seems to be associated to the book trilogy that shall not be named).

The inspiration for revisiting (sorta) this topic came from the newly released Nintendo 3DS game Fire Emblem Fates: one game with three (different) versions: Birthright, Conquest and Revelations (the first two games have been released, and the third due to be released a few weeks later). For the uninitiated (or those not into gaming), Fire Emblem Fates (the latest in a series) is a turn-based, role playing game (RPG) wherein the player can choose between different classes – knight, archer, mage, etc. – often fighting to save the world from certain destruction. The “twist” (for lack of a better word) with Fates is that the main character (the one you play as) has a choice to make early on in the game to choose a side – “good” (Birthright) or “evil” (Conquest), with the third game (Revelations) choosing neither side, and (presumably) discovering the “truth”.

It’s an interesting (albeit expensive and time consuming) concept for a video game, and highlights the importance of perspective when relating a story. [Expensive because you’d need to buy each game separately to get the “whole” story, and time consuming because you’d presumably need to play the game three times to find out everything]. I’ve just started playing the game (I initially bought Conquest, mainly because the game cover was in shades of purple, and strategy was a key element in this version – I got Birthright at a discounted price via a promotion when I bought the game(s) at Game Stop. Alas, I was not able to pre-order the “Special Edition” which bundled all three games into one game cartridge.)

But I digress.

I’ve often toyed with the notion of writing different versions of the goings-on in the MASC Chronicles, from the different perspectives – the “good”, the “evil” and the “truth” – which will expand the series saga exponentially. Or I might keep the number of books in the series saga as is – the total still stands at 36 (though whether I actually write all 36 is still questionable) – and have the perspectives (either told in first or third person) switch between the three.

Wait a minute.

That’s actually a good idea, and one I can potentially use.

Though which side is “good” and “evil” will be the ultimate question (which will depend on the reader’s point of view). The “truth” will undoubtedly be evident.

Back to the Land of Exposition and onward to the Character Development Inn!

(Oh, and for those interested, all is mostly well there – balance has maintained itself and spring is coming. The Muses are delightfully amusing. The smell of maple syrup is still prevalent, and waging a merry war with the aroma of bacon. The bananas and mangoes are making attempts to keep the peace.)

TTFN!

Beginnings and Endings

Quasi-philosophical questions of the night:

When / where does a story begin?

When / where does a story end?

Does the story ever end?

Or does it go on and on, my friends?

[Apologies for the inadvertent ear worm.For those who don’t know the reference, search for “The Song That Never Ends” on YouTube.]

To paraphrase from the aforementioned song, some people starting writing stories, not knowing what it would become, and they’ll continue writing them because…

Well, you know.

Anyway.

As I attempt to extract the ear worm from my brain space, my thoughts wander quasi-aimlessly back to when and where (how and with whom) the narrative arc should / could start and end.  Since the MASC Chronicles, often mentioned yet never in much detail, spans across time (and possibly) space, the task of finding its start and its conclusion is a never-ending quest – a task that will most likely be a story in and of itself, which will be written (or at least outlined) sometime in the near(ish) future. In finding where the “true” beginning of a story, mapping out the history (real, imagined and exaggerated) looms large, leading to the environs of the Land of Exposition and all the paths down which the narrative can travel.

Sometimes it’s easier to start at the “end” and work backwards, or somewhere in the middle and go back and forth with numbing regularity. Determining that point is probably the hardest part, though I have a distinct feeling I am (and have been) overthinking it. Not to mention I’ve probably expounded this notion before (and most likely will do so until the End of Time).

The characters for Series One of the MASC Chronicles (still set in the late Victorian Era, though whether it’ll be historically accurate or a quasi-alternate version of that era remains to be seen – toying with a variant of Steampunk is temping) are pretty much set, though their motivations are a bit murky. The plot for (almost) each book is (fairly, albeit generally) set, with only the details missing.

Series Two may or may not continue in the same exact universe as Series One, and Series Three might be different from both (or not). While much of the structure of Series Two and Three are sketched out, it’s not exactly set in stone (the fact that I’ve plotted that far into the future – in terms of the idea of actually!writing them and in terms of where the characters’ descendants end up  – is a milestone in and of itself, even if it’s not been planned out in full detail).

Which brings things (almost) back to full circle – where / when to start and how much explanation is needed.

Minor updates of the goings-on in the Land of Exposition:

  • There’s a chill in the air (wind’s in the east, and a mist is coming in, though upon closer examination, it’s just some mischievous plot bunnies playing with a fog machine)
  • Winter remains in full effect, despite promises of an early spring, and the smell of bacon accompanies the lingering aroma of maple syrup
  • The Real Life Brigade is busy inquiring about metrics for the costs and consequences of the minor skirmishes, analyzing how the imploding conflict could have been avoided and what improvements can be made in the future to guarantee stability and overall cooperation.

As it is really a chilly weekend (quasi-ironic for Single Awareness Weekend), I might end up hibernating (with copious amounts of coffee an chocolate) and attempt to figure out (once and for all) where/when/how/with whom to start the MASC Chronicles.

Then again, when I first pondered my first pondering about what became the MASC Chronicles, Series Two was the “start” with Series One as the (unwritten) exposition to explain Series Two, and Series Three was the consequence of the goings on in Series Two. At this rate, there might be a pre-Series One series to explain the goings on in Series One, and a post-Series Three to show the consequences of Series Three.

Maybe.

It will continue forever just because…

The Value of Humor

It’s a well known fact that comedy is hard. For the most part, it’s subjective, dependent upon the cultural, ethnic, political and/or religious context from which the joke originates. It’s also constantly evolving, as perspectives / attitudes on race, ethnicity and religion changes – certain words and jokes considered funny decades/centuries ago are now deemed offensive. It’s a fine, fine line between hilarity and heresy, and finding that balance is key in any medium.

The Meta entries were a quasi-attempt to write something comedic or at least something not overly (melo)dramatic, though the context in which my quirky (geeky) brand of humor might be lost for those who don’t understand the references. [For those interested, or haven’t noticed, I tend to sprinkle references to musical theatre, Star Wars, and Doctor Who (among others) throughout these blog entries, because I’m that much of a dork). Then again, most of the blog entries are quasi-humorous, or at least mildly entertaining, all without intending to be – sometimes I feel I’m attempting to write in the wrong genre…

Anyway.

The inspiration for this entry (a quasi-return to essay topic writing) came from my recent theatre excursion (as often happens as the “other” side of my writing life slowly emerges) seeing the off-Broadway production of Old Hats (I’ll be working on that entry for my other blog after I finish this one). The show is essentially comprised of comedic skits (mostly in mime) with musical interludes in between skit – the humor within the show transcends time and is relevant for all ages.

Then again, humor on stage (and screen) is different than humor in stories, as the visual and audio component is removed, and left dependent upon the reader’s sensibilities and experiences. I’m a fan of the Bryant and May novel series by Christopher Fowler as well as the Thursday Next novel series by Jasper Fforde, both of which infuse humor amid the mystery – sprinkling touches of absurdity and running gags throughout the series arc. I aspire to write the kinds of stories they write, with some of the other literary elements thrown in for good measure.

Quasi-update on the State of things in the Land of Exposition:

  • The snow has melted away and left muddy puddles everywhere – the Dance of the Snowflakes has been prohibited under pain of being bopped by the Mallet of Doom.
  • Most of the Land Minds have been found, and defused. It’s still a mystery why they all smell like maple syrup.
  • The uneasy truce between the Real Life Brigade and the Literary Muses remains intact, though pockets of panic appear every now and then – wherein they often turn their bright eyes around.

That’s about all that needs to be said about that.

Onward and something.

I don’t even know if any of this makes any sense.

Oh well.

Back to the writing board.

Again.