Random Musings: Summer 2016 Edition

Summer: a time of high temperatures, when the air is thick with humidity, along with the unmistakable and omnipresent aroma of barbecue smoke and suntan lotion. It’s a time when (most) people go on vacation, and (usually) travel to far off locales to unwind, recharge and explore. Thus far, the weather has been fairly normal (though there have been a few instances of flash flooding), so things are (more or less) as they should be, and things within the Land of Exposition are almost as they were, before the Real Life Brigade shenanigans. While the NaNoWriMo experiment has been suspended until further notice, plotting and pondering, has continued, along with the retooling of the inner workings of the FanGirl Meter (patent pending). The Muses and plot bunnies have returned, though most prefer to stay in the perpetually air conditioned Character Development Inn, with all the material comforts of a five-star hotel (without the five star prices).

Thus far, the plan for the MASC Chronicles is to have Series One set in an alternate (historical) universe, and Series Three set in an alternate (future) universe, with Series Two (tentatively) set in the actual (historical) universe. Whether or not the alternate universes will be the same in Series One and Three remain to be seen – all I know is to NEVER cross the (time) streams.

I like to create complex exposition, with layers of subplots and such, but even I have limits.

Most of the time, at least.

Anyway.

Character exposition is still a work in progress, with slight tweaks here and there, and the customary shuffling of character arcs to other characters. The attempt to avoid cliche scenarios, in order to be “different” is challenging and fun and a fun challenge. Then there’s the endless (alternate universe) possibilities and the consequences of changing the past/future due to an action (or inaction) at a critical (quasi non-fixed) point in time.

In these tense and scary times, I remain hopeful that things can get better for all, and that change is possible – even it if takes (a lot of) time for real change to occur in the Real World.

The beauty of writing fiction is that change can be effective immediately and for the better (well, as immediate as it takes to actually!write it).

Distractions and flow charts will pop up intermittently with diversionary tactics and color coded timelines. It’s obvious that I’m much more a plotter than a pantser, so onward (and upward) I go to plot and ponder and ponder the plots.

All the while attempting to stay cool amid the heat and humidity and avoid those pesky land minds while visiting the Land of Exposition (there may be a few left camouflaged in the fields).

TTFN!

Advertisements

Thoughts on the Past, Present and Future

Plotting and pondering continues to chug at a glacial pace (though that glacier is moving slightly faster due to the extreme heat in the past week). Real world events prompting deep thoughts on setting Series Three of the MASC Chronicles in a possible alternate future. Granted, the original (and ongoing) conceit is that reality in which most of the MASC Chronicles exists in an alternate universe, where one historical moment doesn’t happen the way it really happened, causing a ripple effect of a different present / future.

While it’s wishful thinking to (fictionally) change history for a better present / future, there are those (pesky) Fixed Points in Time (thanks, Doctor) where certain events must always happen, regardless of efforts to stop said (usually negative) events from happening. The reason those moments in time are deemed fixed points (though who or what decides which moments are fixed and which are variable is questionable. Is there a committee? Can there be a vote…? Wait, letting the [oftentimes uninformed] populous vote on such important things may not the brightest idea…)

Anyway.

The (quasi-recent) Game of Genres has allowed for sub-genres to co-mingle with the One Genre to Rule Them All (aka Mystery), so Fantasy and Horror (with some input from Steampunk and Cyberpunk) have collaborated to propose the MASC Chronicles be set nine universes away (to the left) from our universe with a (brief) crossover to our universe before plunging back into that 9th universe away. The possibility of visiting another alternate past, present and / or future is tempting, though it comes close to the (main) premise of Sliders, (an American TV series from the 1990s), where the protagonists had the ability to visit (slide) to parallel universes where things were not as they truly are in an effort to return Home… Actually, thinking that over, the premise for Sliders is a kind of variation of Quantum Leap, where that protagonist found himself in alternate universes (I think) attempting to return Home.

So maybe I  can have an alternate universe hopping protagonist / antagonist messing about and/or attempting to fix history as they know it. Or maybe that’s how things got messed up in the first place (second place).

That could actually be a viable concept.

That almost makes sense.

Each of the series has ties to the others, with lineages, legacies and long-standing disputes among and amid the core cast of characters.

I may need to some more research within the Vault in the Land of Exposition, where a heat wave has stuck, leaving the plot bunnies to burrow underground, the Muses to depart for cooler climates and everyone else hunkering down in the perpetually air conditioned, well stocked Character Development Inn. Things are brewing and plots are being pondered and ponders and being plotted.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, regardless of how silly (or far fetched) it may seem.

That’s all for now (there may be actual!writing and / or actual!plot revelations in the near future).

Maybe.

TTFN!

Wait for it…

Plotting and pondering (and the meticulous research and flow charts that inevitably go with it) is a time consuming process that can go on and on and on and on, and frankly has gone on and on, my friends.. Some people started…

Wait.

*Squishes the ear worm*

Ahem.

Anyway.

As I was saying/typing, crafting a story, or in my case, a sprawling, quasi-Game of Thrones like epic saga (albeit light on the sex and violence), is a monumental task. Keeping track of the narrative arcs, character interactions and the possibilities of crossovers is a story in and of itself (and will most likely happen for the MASC Chronicles and the other works in progress.) I may be repeating myself (and odds are, I am) but there does seem to be dips in forward momentum in the summer months, now that the whole Camp NaNoWriMo thing has been abandoned (again, no surprise, writing with specific time constraints outside of writing term papers is a lost art for me).

While not much has happened, a lot (well, some) things have happened, writing-wise; albeit not actual!writing, but some actual!plotting and actual!pondering. Patience is a virtue, so they say, and as the wait for popular TV series (Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Sherlock to name but a few) to continue, the fan theories (and fan fiction) begins. While the main plot line for my epic saga(s) hasn’t been set in stone yet, the urge to speculate on AU (alternate universe) is strong.

As summer returns to the Land of Exposition, and the more troublesome members of the Real Life Brigade have taken a holiday from creating shenanigans within the Land of Exposition to cause shenanigans elsewhere, the general populace (and visitors) have returned to enjoy the spectacular vistas, excellent cuisine, and the sometimes odd conversations and camaraderie from like-minded folks.

Pokemon Go does not exist in the Land of Exposition – there are no Pokemon (rare or otherwise) to be found amid the lush greenery and babbling brooks. There are scores of Muses, plot bunnies (and the occasional plot ninjas) out and about – please do not attempt to “catch” them – they’ll poke your profusely or bop you over on the head.

And that’s not a pretty sight.

But I digress.

Restructuring the quasi-formed structure that is the MASC Chronicles, and adding a hint of fantasy-themes and that extra thick layer of alternate history is underway. While history as we know it will take a left turn at one critical point, there are some events that are fixed points in time (or rather, inevitable events that would occur in any and all timelines and universes). They might happen sooner (or earlier) in the timeline, but they will happen, though maybe not in the manner in which they actually!happened.

Yes, everything is still very vague and will most likely remain as such, until most (or all) of the pieces are quasi-set in stone.

Not quite sure if there are any followers who have kept track of the comings and goings of the plotting and pondering, but it should be worth the wait.

I just hope the TV/film adaptation will be done properly.

Alternate Universes, Alternate History

Among the merits of creating stories is the ability to have the option to create worlds (and words) different from the reality in which one is currently living.  Perhaps a kind of utopia where things can be the way it should/could be, a divergence from real world events, a world where aliens, supernatural beings and/or mythical creatures exist alongside “normal” humans, or a mix of all of the above. It’s a marvelous thing to have the ability to imagine and to create such worlds, characters and situations where anything and everything can happen, regardless of its plausibility.

After all, the reality in which we live in now (for the most part) isn’t all that great, and frankly, it’s quite frightful to contemplate how the present future will unfold given how world events are going.

It’s also quite apparent that no one is learning from the past, as history keeps repeating itself, and it seems no one wants to take that first step to fix the problem (or in some cases acknowledge that there is a problem). The purpose of this entry is not to launch into a sociopolitical rant about the state of things in this world (so many others have already via other social media platforms) but to highlight the possibilities available through storytelling to bring forth some kind of change (or at least a different perspective).

In the midst of reading about world events unfolding in 2016, the notion of creating an alternate universe with its own alternate history for the MASC Chronicles has made a comeback return. The idea of being able to create an alternate world in which to inhabit (at least in a fictional sense) is one way to escape the trials and tribulations of Real Life (and the pesky Real Life Brigade being all passive aggressive in the Land of Exposition – the Muses are not amused, though the plot bunnies are habitually amused, but they amuse easily.)

Anyway.

The plotting and pondering, as well as the potential research into how the Left Turn in real world history could/should/would play out is underway, albeit within the confines of the mind. Steampunk is an option from which to use as a basis for Series One of the MASC Chronicles, but it almost seems as if that’s already been done (and probably done better). Instead, the starting point from which real history will diverge will most likely be earlier and hopefully will be a divergence that hasn’t been done before. Whether or not the alternate history will continue through to Series Two and/or Series Three is questionable yet not improbable.

Then again, the possibility of an alternate universe/history of an alternate universe/history is tempting – and mind boggling to say the least.

And all the more fun to attempt.

 

Structure and Pacing In Storytelling

Spoiler alert for Season Six of Game of Thrones (and the series in general).

 

 

 

Well that was an explosive season finale – literally – and perhaps the most satisfying one to date, wherein main characters die (most of whom deserved the end they got, others victims of circumstance), new alliances are formed (utilizing the logic that the enemy of my enemy is my friend… for now), and the most popular (and obvious) fan theory is confirmed as canon (of course R+L = J, but now what if A+J = T? There are  three dragons, and each should have its own rider…) . Winter has come, and the political landscape has shifted, leading the narrative arc (at least for the TV adaptation) into a world where women are in positions of power, and where anything can happen. While much of the series has focused on the War of the Five Kings (all of whom are now dead), it seems now that the story going forward will become the Battle of the Two Queens (Ceresi and Daenerys) and the War Against the Dead.

As the series has overtaken the narrative from the books, it’ll be interesting to see how the series will play out, and how it could affect the structure of the yet to be published next novel The Winds of Winter (which was also the name of the season six finale episode). Of course, the novels have far more details about some major/minor characters not included in the series due to time constraints, and some plotlines diverge from the TV adaptation – it’s understandable that not every detail from the books can be included in the TV series, though it might raise the question of which version would be/should be deemed the “official” canon.

But I digress.

The overall narrative structure and non-adherence to “traditional” storytelling in the Game of Thrones series, and its source material A Song of Ice and Fire series has certainly inspired the quasi-official restructuring of the MASC Chronicles, and the perspective from which (most of) the tales will be told. Fantasy and mystery (as well as the mystery of fantasy) will be explored, using alternate history as the foundation upon which the MASC Chronicles world will sit. Given the current world events as they are, there will no doubt be metaphors baked into the narrative arc, and pointed commentary on the state of things in the Real World. Multiple story arcs will collide, though there will most likely be only one (maybe two) point of view perspectives for each series within the (epic) saga – the use of multiple third person limited narration in the A Song of Ice and Fire series was dizzy and distracting to remember from which character’s perspective the story was being told, and keeping track of all the goings-on within.

Pacing the action will be a challenge, even though the (original) intent was that the core narrative for each novel would be a contained story, with some plot points interwoven to give each series a narrative flow. The novels were intended to be stand-alone, yet be read in a specific order so certain revelations would not end up as spoilers. Then again, it seems impossible (if not improbable) that a book series can both be one narrative flow and be stand-alone (read in any order).

Perhaps that’s the next (general) challenge / dilemma for the MASC Chronicles: should it be one long story split up into multiple parts (episodes) or multiple stories which make up one long story?

More to ponder (and plot).