In Memory of Lost Ideas

As it is the day before Easter, thoughts wander (perhaps not so quasi-aimlessly) to the dearly departed. While I’m not that well versed in the religious customs surrounding this holiday season (if it can be called that – I wasn’t raised in any type of organized religion, so apologies if any of this is offensive to anyone), I was brought up to observe the (Chinese) cultural custom of gathering with extended family to visit the graves of our deceased relatives.

In correlation with this theme of remembrance and reflection, I find myself reflecting on the plot lines and characters that once held a place in the Epic Saga (and other stand-alone stories). Some were quite convoluted and complicated, to the point of absurdity, while others were near carbon copies of existing works, tweaked “just enough” so they weren’t blatantly obvious (though those who know me can ascertain from where I drew my inspiration).

As I ponder about the reverse order of my narrative mapping, the specter of those lost ideas looms in the distance – shadowy and elusive. Starting from the present/future and working backwards to figure out (and perhaps finalize) the exposition has been an interesting journey through the weather beaten paths within the Land of Exposition. The Vault of Discarded Narrative and Characters has the look of neglect, with overgrown foliage and rusty locks; the spare key buried somewhere amid the moss and twigs. Whether or not the ideas hidden within are worth the effort to extract from its lair remains to be seen.

Spring has finally arrived in the Land of Exposition, with the Real Life Brigade engaging in a round of early spring cleaning. The plot bunnies are still hopping about, avoiding the land minds and reveling in the (new) aroma of caramelized honey lingering in the air, coupled with the existing scent of bacon and maple syrup.

Remembering the past is a vital component in the narrative structure of the MASC Chronicles, though the reliability of memory is a recurring theme. Maybe. The question of perspective plays a role – the notion of telling the main story from different points of view is enticing, though potentially complicated. I’m still going through playing the different versions of Fire Emblem Fates (Birthright, Conquest, Revelations) attempting to keep track of the sequence of events between the three games – it’s interesting to see how one choice can alter the narrative, and the consequences that arise from that choice.

I may (or may not) incorporate this plot twist to the epic saga (I’m not sure if it’s been done before in any book series) and the telling and retelling of a single (or handful?) of stories will hopefully make my objective of the MASC Chronicles being comprised of 36 books (a collection of short stories, novellas and full length novels) a reality. Maybe the ideas I stored in the Vault will find its way back out, and other ideas stored for safe keeping.

Once the momentum of actually!writing the stories within the MASC Chronicles universe is underway, other not-so-related stories will have its day in the sun (so to speak). There are (still) far too many ideas I want to write as prose (to later adapt for the stage) – I have a somewhat clearer idea of where/when to start, though I’m loathe to share any of it, as it’s still (!) in that nebulous state of flux and always subject to change.

That’s about all I have to say/write about the state of things.

Onward back to the Character Development Inn – another Meta entry may or may not appear in the near future, and might (depending on how they are received) become a quasi-regular feature.

Comments are welcome.


Working Backwards to Go Forward

Continuing with the quasi-theme of perspective and figuring out sequence of events in the oft mentioned /referenced (yet never fully described) MASC Chronicles, I’ve come to the conclusion to reverse engineer the narrative arc and attempt to write the series saga backwards, with the hopes that writing the end will help write the beginning.

Playing with the space/time continuum has always been a possibility (especially as I delved further into the Doctor Who fandom) and it’s a well known (?) fact / theory that starting at the end clarifies how the story unfolds. The MASC Chronicles was originally conceived as a sprawling epic tale spanning over several centuries following generations of several families and their interactions with one another, so plotting out how things turn out and having the characters themselves explain what happened before takes (most of) the guesswork out of the equation.

Another (quasi-recent) source of inspiration for the Epic Saga has been Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? – genealogy programs that focus on uncovering the (usually) untold stories of a person’s ancestors and how their lives were influenced or influenced world history. I’ve always loved history and its impact on current events – I almost regret not pursuing an early ambition to become a historian / scholar, learning about the past, its impact on the present and how its lessons can prepare for the future.

The overall structure of the MASC Chronicles is set in wet concrete, with general plot lines outlined and character names / exposition written in bullet points – the details are (still) cloaked in a haze of dry ice, rolling across the stage page with great alacrity, though it’s slowly starting to make some semblance of sense.

The Tales of the Land of Exposition, quasi-absurd as it has become, is another series for which the Muses and Plot Bunnies need to focus (though the Real Life Brigade will no doubt put up a resistance and demand that their side of the story be told as well). The other stand-alone projects (which may or may not have ties to the Overall Epic Saga) will have their time in the sun (and now with Daylight Savings Time in effect, there are more daylight hours when it’s not overcast). Plotting and pondering will remain as a constant element in this journey, and bouts of actual!writing, albeit still within the head not so much (yet) on the page will commence.

Things are looking clearer, as many of the TV series I usually watch have ended (Downton Abbey), are on an extended hiatus (Doctor Who, Sherlock), have not aired in the US yet (Endeavour, Lewisor have not started yet (Game of Thrones) so the “usual” distractions are not around (though I’m still occasionally playing through the three Fire Emblem Fates games).

Update on the State of the Land of Exposition:

  • Things are quasi-normal, with its fragrant breakfast aroma and plot bunnies bouncing here and there and everywhere.
  • The FanGirl Meter (patent pending) is buzzing with anticipation of the influx of ideas
  • The Real Life Brigade has remained in its annexed area, analyzing and reviewing spreadsheets and reassessing its objectives.

Hopefully I’ll have a more concrete (and coherent) update on the State of the MASC Chronicles / Tales of the Land of Exposition sometime in the near future.


Different Paths, Different Outcomes

Whilst wandering about in the Land of Exposition, head full of narrative arcs and characters, the single path upon which the journey has taken splinters off in three directions:

There’s the path to the left – sunny and clear, with flowery meadows and a flock of ducks meandering about in a quasi-random manner.

There’s the path to the right – dark and foreboding, with skeletal trees and a colony of bats circling about in a haphazard manner.

There’s the path in the middle – foggy and temperate, with trimmed hedges and a nest of rabbits bouncing about in no particular order.

At some (undisclosed) point in time, the choice down which path to take will be determined, and the experiences henceforth will shape how the rest of the journey will unfold. While each path leads to a single destination, side paths will inevitably appear, leading to somewhere else – they might lead to the other paths not taken, or they might just be digressions leading back to the chosen path.

I’m fairly sure I’ve blathered about this in previous entries, but the impetus of the return to this topic (in this day and age, recycling is a good thing) is the recent release of the DLC of the third installment of the Fire Emblem Fates game, of which I’ve been quasi-fixated in playing (when I most likely should be plotting, pondering and actually!writing). As mentioned a few entries back, the latest installment in the Fire Emblem game series consists of three separate (yet related) games: Birthright, Conquest and RevelationsThe protagonist (the player) is the catalyst in a war between two rival families, and in the first two games, the protagonist has to choose on which side to align. The story unfolds accordingly depending upon which path is chosen, and as I have yet to complete the game, I don’t know how it will all end. Nevertheless, I recently started to play Revelations in anticipation of seeing how the alternate (?) narrative will play out.

Of course, I should be focused on the MASC Chronicles and the other works in progress clogging up a specific portion of my brain space – the plots and characters (established and otherwise) have lingered about the confines of the Land of Exposition, pondering over their own paths down which to travel, wondering what lies ahead. The organization of who goes where and why and how and when is still an ongoing process. The Real Life Brigade have commandeered the spotlight (once again) with its insistence of wanting attention and demanding things to go their way.

Gaining clarity and a sense of celerity are still (always) high on the list, with distractions, digressions and difficulties (oh my!) prevalent upon the horizon. The solution (to which the aforementioned game contributed) has led to jumbled thoughts on who to (re)structure the epic saga into a manageable endeavor.

Mapping it all out so that it makes some sort of sense is half the fun – I think I’ll need a flow chart to keep track of the different paths available for my (merry) band of characters.

I just hope they like where they end up.

If they don’t, there’s always fan fiction.

More Updates From the Land of Exposition

Extract from The Tales from the Land of Exposition – Journal of Plot Monitor #9

Celestial Time Stamp: Earlier than Expected

Weather: Congested, with bouts of intermittent nonsense

Things in the Land of Exposition are (almost) back to status quo, though random flare-ups from the Real Life Brigade pop up every now and then. The changes in the weather patterns have cause mild chaos and the aroma of caramel lingers in the air – a welcome addition, given the perpetual scent of bacon and maple syrup, a clear indication that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, along with the omnipresent aroma of coffee, which fuels the muses and plot bunnies within the Land of Exposition via osmosis. No one knows who (or how) perfected the art (craft?) of infusing the atmosphere with pure caffeine. It just happened.

Ideas float about the air like the morning mist, swirling about the foliage – a rolling fog of possibilities attempting to find the “right” path to actuality. Characters within the MASC Chronicles, both quasi-established and quasi-stuck in limbo pace the length of the hallowed halls of the Character Development Inn, wondering when they’ll be able to do the things they’re supposed to do, and where their narrative arc will lead. Plot points appear and vanish with numbing regularity – most get logged in and brought to the Vault, with the hopes of being used in the distant future.

Organization is a key component, though never quite executed properly – names change, personalities switch, and narrative arcs move from one time frame to the other (and back). The FanGirl Meter (patent pending) makes valiant attempts to find the logic in the mess, applying its semi-awesome powers to outside projects -freelance editing is a relatively new venture in honing its core functions while fine-tuning the (new) sarcasm feature.

Inspiration flurries in from unexpected places, causing the aforementioned ideas to shift accordingly in an effort to re-examine perspective and purpose. Reality and fantasy collide, with a dash of the absurd – logic seldom finds its voice amid the chatter. Dragons, wizards and vampires battle each other (and among themselves) to be heard – the Plot Bunnies have created a side business in betting on these skirmishes, which in and of itself is an amusing distraction from the actual!writing that should be happening but isn’t.

Despite the distractions and digressions, or perhaps because of them, hope lingers about – the hope that somehow, someday, something will be written down, either via keyboard or via pen and paper, and that something will be worth all the procrastination and false starts.

Time continues to march on, albeit in a perpetual wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey manner. Efforts to hone enough concentration to get to the end of that (very long) rainbow are optimistic.

At least for the time being – things have a strange way of changing (for better or for worse), which is part of the adventure/mystery that is the World of the Writer.