Meta For Metaphors

I like metaphors.

It’s fun to create ones for other to decipher, and it’s equally fun to attempt to find them in other people’s works. Though whether or not metaphors are actually present is entertaining, and quite the mental exercise.

Anyway.

This is not too surprising for those who regularly (or even quasi-regularly) follow the (usually random) musings within this blog. I ramble about the goings on of the Muses, the meanderings of the plot bunnies and (fairly recently) the antics of the Real Life Brigade – all of whom (at varying degrees) reside in the Land of Exposition, and are frequent visitors to the Character Development Inn, playing the Game of Genres.

Read into what you will from all that.

I constantly (albeit not that consistently) plot and ponder what types of metaphors to formulate for my characters and the environs in which they find themselves. The potential (inevitable) direction to twist history / reality so that the world in which the aforementioned characters live is different than the one of which we know gives ample opportunity for symbolism and metaphor. It’s similar to television shows such as Twilight ZoneOuter Limits, Quantum Leap, Sliders (to name but a few, and I’m sure by naming those particular examples, I’ve dated myself) where assumptions and preconceived ideas are questioned, reversed or obliterated altogether. It makes one question the status quo and why things happened the way they did / do (justly or otherwise).

The pondering and plotting continues, along with the refining and reorganizing of narrative arcs, character relationships and exposition. The main (epic) work in progress, the quasi-cryptic and nebulous MASC Chronicles is in the process of being reassessed and plot points are being fed into the (in)famous (?) FanGirl Meter (patent pending) to purge the high melodrama and cliches.

Not an easy task, considering there’s about 20 years’ worth of plot points, character development and outlines to sift through. Deciding which to revive, which to revise and which to repel will be revealing.

I also like alliterations.

The foundation is there (somewhere buried deep amid the quagmire of distractions and digressions), and the new / old idea of paying homage to the four names which have miraculously survived (relatively unscathed) through the decades of my writing journey has become an interesting plot twist.

While I’ve written about the Power of Three (and multiples thereof) and its significance, the Rule of Four (not to be confused by the novel of the same name) has emerged as a new(ish) thing. Though I’m not too superstitious about the connotation of the numbers three and four within the Chinese culture (the enunciation of three sounding similar to “birth” and four sounding similar to “death”), it’s there in my subconscious.

Come to think of it, that might be a useful plot twist in and of itself.

… and there goes yet another plot bunny.

As those who regularly follow this blog, it’s written directly into WordPress in real time, with minimal edits along the way, so essentially it’s a weekly snapshot of a long (winded) stream of consciousness.

Updates (of a kind) from the Land of Exposition:

Not too much is going on, at least on a grand scale – plots are being plotted, Muses are musing and the Real Life Brigade is distracted by the multitude of tasks of cleaning house and reorganizing themselves in a coherent manner.

The Tales from the Land of Exposition will be written; exactly when is anyone’s guess.

Then again, this entire blog might very well be part of The Tales from the Land of Exposition.

Hidden in a metaphor.

Oh, and the four names that survived the Journey (and have guaranteed themselves a place in the MASC Chronicles – the exact place and their role within that reality) are (in no particular order) as follows:

Charles Goldman.

Lucinda Huntley.

Alec Hartledge.

Aldrich Manfield.

Remember those names.

Though for most of them, I can’t recall the exact origin behind those names…

 

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The Phases of a Story

It starts out small, a faint outline. Sometimes that outline is obscured, reducing it to a nebulous blob; only time can clear the mist and restore its purpose. Over the course of time, it reveals something spectacular to behold. It remains illuminated for a short span of time, then fades away. Until the cycle restarts anew.

Plotting, (actually) writing and publishing a story is akin to the phases of the moon, played out in varying spans of time – it’s happening everywhere, at all times, though the vantage points and illumination is different for each person. For some, the actual timetable from inception to completion is a long road, rife with distractions, digressions and difficulties (oh my!). The (general) idea is there, (most of) the characters are created, with assigned personality traits and narrative arcs. For others, the River of Narration flows consistently (if not coherently), and full formed stories (of various lengths) is born.

Admittedly, I’m among the former, endlessly plotting and pondering all the angles, exploring all the possibilities and reworking narrative arcs. The Mist of Digressions and the Haze of Distractions leads to prequels and sequels, and opens the Door to Universes Parallel. The Land of Exposition was partly borne from quasi-absurd ideas from meandering Muses from parts unknown. That tiny nugget of an idea expands in ways unforeseen, growing in every direction, with tangents into the realm of “what if?” and “if/then”.

The Invasion of the Real Life Brigade and the Game of Genres that resulted illuminates the dangers of an imagination allowed to run rampant with a (seemingly) endless supply of caffeine, chocolate, and cheese (a tasty combination, in my opinion). Collaboration and compromise are key, and the effort to maintain consistency is critical. Too many wild ideas will slow down progress (and the process), wherein characters and situations remain locked in the Vault of Quasi-Formed Plots.

Every story – regardless of genre, media or length –  has a beginning, middle and end, though the order in which those fall is relatively subjective. The creation of a story (as well as its characters) has a beginning, middle and (eventual) end as well, and that path has infinite branches, with its pitfalls into the Abyss of Lost Ideas. The characters of a story have a journey, at the end of which lies discovery, redemption or revenge (or a combination thereof); the actions taken (or not taken) have consequences (beneficial or adverse) that could affect the overall outcome (or create a tear in the fabric of time and space, destroying the universe as we know it).

The possibilities are endless, and the cycle is never ending.

Like the phases of the Moon.

Moon collage

The Role of Weather

A critical component in building a fictional / alternate / parallel universe is the terrain and atmosphere of the places in which the characters reside. How the characters adapt (or don’t adapt) to the natural surroundings is as important as how they adapt (or not) to the sociopolitical situations in which they find themselves. Sometimes the natural environment has a role in the shaping of the narrative arc, and sometimes the sociopolitical machinations lead to changes in the natural environment.

Weather has been a catalyst point in countless works of literature, film and other media, and (I think) has even been a protagonist / antagonist (usually in the metaphoric sense). As mentioned in last week’s entry, it’s the middle of August in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s been hot and humid the past few days. Uncomfortable as it is right now, it’s supposed to be hazy, hot and humid in August – and it’s throwing off my overall concentration with the actual!writing (though the plotting and pondering seems unaffected by the changing seasons).

As irregular as my actual!writing schedule is, weather does play a significant role in setting the tone of the beginnings of the MASC Chronicles,  and may or may not be (literally) personified in some shape or form.

In the latest incarnation of (actual!writing for) Series One, Book One of the MASC Chronicles begins in a blizzard, so perhaps a stretch of the imagination to  write about snow in the height of summer. Then again, in thinking of wintry scenarios might trick my mind into thinking it’s cooler than it really is (kind of like listening to Christmas music in the summer, triggering memories of winter).

Summer and winter are the major seasons depicted in most literary works as they are extremes and polar opposites of one another; spring and autumn / fall are not mentioned as frequently, and if they are, it’s often to set the tone of the scene. It’s a well-used trope, and one that has potential to be personified – seasons, meteorological phenomenons and everyday weather patterns.

…. and there goes yet another plot bunny.

The Game of Genres might reignite, with the (late) addition of mythological / supernatural subtext – as the cascade of superhero movies (Marvel and DC) abounds, plotting and pondering of inserting superheroes arises, along with the gathering of superheroes (or in the case of Suicide Squad,  super villains) to work together for a common goal.

There seems to be no real new ideas, just variations of major themes, which is not always a bad thing.

And yet another thing to plot and ponder as the fleshing out of the MASC Chronicles continues.

Also, one of these days, I’ll get around to actually detailing what the MASC Chronicles is, if anyone is intrigued.

Comments are always welcome (criticisms will be acknowledged and most likely ignored).

TTFN!

The Casting of Characters

 

There are many (figurative and maybe literal) hats a writer wears – he or she is also a casting director, scenic and costume designer and (depending on the genre) stunt coordinator, as well as the executive producer and publicist (though when the final product is completed, I suppose one can hire someone to do the latter tasks).

The concept of creating a story as if it’s a theatrical production (or a major motion picture) is not a new. Visualizing the story and all the components within is a common approach to the art / craft of creating a story. The mental casting of characters, based on real world people (usually well-known personages), or presumed conceptions of those aforementioned people is inevitable. Character development is an integral part of the plotting, pondering, and writing process – who they are, what they look like, where they came from, when they enter/exit, and why they are the way they are  is a vital component of the narrative. Sometimes it shapes the narrative arc, and other times the story dictates the character’s journey. It helps to have a visual point of reference when creating characters, especially when there’s a possibility (however remote)  for a television, film or stage adaptation of said literary work.

Though this would actually work if the people upon whom the character is based is still among the living.

Anyway.

Creating characters based (loosely or not) upon real world and having (the illusion of) control over their actions is both therapeutic and cathartic. Whatever happens to those characters (good or bad) is up to the writer.

Revenge fantasies (so long as they remain in the realm of fantasy) are permissible and perfectly legal.

All the more reason it’s fun to be writing in the mystery genre – it’s a safe (and legal) way to vent one’s frustrations, and right some of the wrongs in the world (or in the potential case in the MASC Chronicles Universe, “fix” some of history’s blunders).

On the other (positive) hand,  basing characters on real people (or the popular conception of those people) is a kind of homage (and not an obsessive, borderline fangirly fixation on said person).

Of course, as time goes by and perceptions change, so might those characters – their personalities and appearance might change, and subsequently their story arc might change as well. Whether or not it’s for the better is up to the writer.

These types of homages (good or bad) are like Easter Eggs, and those who know me well, and my opinions on certain issues will no doubt have fun searching for these Easter Eggs.

The main locale in the Land of Exposition is called the Character Development Inn for a reason, and it’s chock full of different people – of all races, creeds and genders (fictional, factual and some in between).

Brief update on the goings on within the Land of Exposition:

Not too much going on –  the plot bunnies are hopping about, the Muses are amusing themselves and the Real Life Brigade is surprisingly quiet, which is never a good thing.

The FanGirl Meter (patent pending) is running smoothly for the most part – there’s the odd giggle every now and then, but all in all, everything’s OK.

Depending on how organized the plotting and pondering goes, there may be revelations about what the MASC Chronicles is all about (and how / if they relate to the copious other works-in-progress that are works in progress).

It’s August, the Dog Days of Summer – when it’s (relatively) quiet and (perpetually) hot and humid (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).

Some actual!writing might actually!happen (really).

I hope.