Epiphanies Grand and Quasi

During the course of the writing process (including the Blogging Era) pondering and plotting has led to epiphanies of varying degrees. Some were interesting notions that led to plot twists, while others were of such epic quality that its very existence changed the foundation of the narrative arc. A smattering of the former appeared, disappeared and reappeared (albeit with minor differences) over the years, while the presence of the latter was rare yet monumental. Each successive Grand Epiphany adds to the overall status of the various works in progress, most of which have been for the MASC Chronicles (one expanded the series from a Simple three book trilogy to an Epic three part series saga), though some of the epiphanies have led to the creation of (or at least the possibility for) another story series, the most recent being Tales from the Land of Exposition, the quasi-meta series which may or may not include snippets from this blog; though from a certain point of view, these blog entries could possibly turn into a collection of essays written in real time – a kind of live journal, though I never actually used LiveJournal itself; I don’t think I was that tech savvy back in those days…

But I digress.

Ideas come in many shapes and sizes, and the inspiration from which they arrive range from the commonplace to the unexpected. For a lot of writers, brilliant story and or character ideas are dreamt up (in and out of one’s philosophy) in quasi-inconvenient places (in the shower, on a crowded subway, or in those fleeting moments before REM sleep kicks in) where they live in the limbo of the mind before they are written (either by pen or via computer) for limited posterity, filed away to be expanded upon or referenced at a future date. Inspiration can also derive from external sources – friends, entertainment media, or real world events; insertions of such ideas can potentially change the narrative arc or character traits, opening the door to infinite possibilities (hopefully ones that have not already been done).

Plotting, pondering and planning for such circumstances, and incorporating them (wherever plausible) is a feat worth undertaking – though there does come that time where the plotting, pondering and planning gives way to actual!writing.

That time will come.

But not quite yet.

Character and world building (along with its history and consequences) takes precedence, though a multitude of scenes and conversations among the (ever expanding) cast of characters have been mind-written, from almost every perspective and with various sequences of events, all with the objective (if that’s the right word) of figuring out the narrative structure that makes the most semblance of sense (so that the plot twists are unexpected and mind imploding).

There’s work to be done, and magic to do (just for you) though no actual magic will be included…

So far.

Time will tell.

It always does.

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Re-Examining Relationships

Relationships are still important.

The complexities of those relationships, regardless of how they are formed – through family, friends, co-workers, lovers, and even enemies (real or perceived) are the basis of how one behaves and how one perceives the life, universe, everything (to gently paraphrasing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). In conjunction with creating characters and their backstory, the relationships the characters have with other characters, and its impact on their perspective of their situation. It can also place a filter through which they justify their actions for the duration of the narrative.

After all, the villain is the hero of their own story.

(I have no idea who first wrote or said this, or if it’s just one of those concepts that has just existed since the Dawn of Time).

It’s a matter of perspective.

Anyway.

In plotting and pondering the epic series saga that is the MASC Chronicles and the characters within, the need to re-examine, refine and rearrange the relationships quasi-established in earlier drafts was evident. Some characters were shuffled about between the three series that (still) comprise the series saga, which created shifts in the narrative arc and the relationships within. As the characters are fully developed, using a character profile checklist detailing physical and personality traits, the relationships they have change (whether it’s for better or worse remains to be seen). Thus far, the pieces are moving at a glacial pace, as the resurgence of the (almost) infinite possibilities down which the narrative arc can travel brings forth multiple (plausible) options.

The tricky part is choosing which path is the “right” one – the One True Path, the Path to Rule Them All… (paraphrasing Lord of the Rings). Events and circumstances a character endures could have a significant impact (positive, negative or indifferent) on their lives, effecting everything after that point.

Of course, any path could be the “right” path, with the other options could be alternate / parallel universes from which billions (slight exaggeration) of fan fiction stories are born.

Clearly I spend far too much time pondering the possibilities of the sequence of events, but that’s most of the fun of creating stories and such. As I re-read the ponders that have been pondered and the plots that have been plotted, the overall framework of the series saga remains intact, though some characters have been shuffled about, and their (apparent) motives have shifted one way or the other.

The perpetual (dry ice) fog surrounding the MASC Chronicles remains and will do so for a while longer. Hopefully, when certain aspects are (proverbially) nailed down (or at least duct taped together) actual!details will emerge, though it’s subject to change as time goes by. Spending time in the Land of Exposition has been illuminating, especially accessing the Vault of Nearly Forgotten and Discarded Ideas.

Back to the Plotting and Pondering.

Details to follow (when that will happen remains to be seen).

Rebuilding Characters

With the sudden (and hopefully sustainable) resurgence of serious plotting and pondering for the MASC Chronicles, the urge to seriously review, reflect and rebuild upon the shifting quicksand that was / is / has been the foundation upon which the series saga rested. Perhaps it’s because of the changing seasons (though technically speaking, it’s still summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the weather remains hot and humid) the plot bunnies and Muses have recovered their wits (and gained interesting tan lines) to focus their attentions back to character building and plot… plotting.  Though things are not quite back to normal after the Game of Genres and the usual shenanigans from the Real Life Brigade, as the leaves begin to fall and their color turn to amber, the Land of Exposition is slowly (and surely) returning to its quasi-original state, and resumed its primary objective:

To serve as a retreat from which stories are born and where characters are nurtured to become well rounded individuals (with some archetypal aspects so readers will be able to empathize and relate to them and the situations in which they find themselves).

The momentum began during the summer months and continued, despite the surprisingly brief (though probably unfinished) skirmish that was the Game of Genres and the perpetual land minds planted by the Real Life Brigade, which caused minor chaos for the FanGirl Meter (patent pending). The aforementioned distractions gave all involved and affected (namely the plot bunnies and Muses) a chance to regroup and reassess their very existence and purpose.

So here we are, back (almost) to the beginning…

Or maybe it’s somewhere in the middle…

I know it’s not quite the end (yet)…

Anyway.

Four names were revealed recently from the MASC Chronicles (the details of which will remain in that hazy, dry-ice fog for now), and the (re)building of those characters and those with whom they interact is the new / old launch pad to restart / resume the art (and craft) of storytelling. As discussed (at varying lengths) throughout this blog’s journey over the years, the role of themes, archetypes and Easter Egg tributes play a critical role in my plotting, pondering and writing process. Though really, planning out the plots and charting out (sometimes literally) the path down which the narrative arc and the characters travel takes up the bulk of time allotted to the Journey.

While this might come across as excessive procrastination (and admittedly that’s true some of the time), the internal thought process never stops; while many of the ponders and plots that have been plotted and pondered never quite reach their final destination (i.e. outside the realm of the mind), their potential remains potent. The eternal quest for an idea to live on paper, online and/or on screen is a promising prospect to ponder.

(Alliteration returns again!)

There are probably billions of blog posts, articles, and such about how characters are created, how they grow (or not) and why they are the way they are. For some writers, the characters are (seemingly) autonomous, sentient entities who “dictate” to their creators what they’re all about – there are plenty of memes out there about how writer’s block happens because the story’s characters aren’t talking to them (the writer). While most take heed in this, I don’t think there’s any stock to this; characters are created from the writer’s mind, and are at the mercy (for lack of a better word) of their creator, kinda like the protagonist in the movie Stranger Than Fiction, a movie I thoroughly enjoyed.

Nevertheless, the characters I’ve created (thus far) are statistics of physical attributes and paragraphs of general exposition; many have names with impressive lineage, some may or may not be aliases, and others are just archetypes upon which a character is fashioned.

Their fate is not quite certain.

Their place in the MASC Chronicles is unknown.

Their potential is infinite.

Let the (re)building commence.

The Origin of Names

Last week’s entry concluded with the first (almost set in quasi-damp concrete) revelation from the MASC Chronicles, the oft-referred yet rarely-elaborated upon epic series saga around which most the pondering and plotting has revolved. The reasons for the lack of detail about the series saga is the inherent fluidity and fluctuation of the narrative structure, and the sudden Game of Genres, which stemmed from the overzealous nature of the Plot Bunnies (no doubt influenced by the sneaky land minds hidden in the Land of Exposition).

[For those new to this blog, or who didn’t read or don’t recall the goings on in the Land of Exposition, the quasi-Meta drama destined to be a stand alone series of its own, you might want to skim through the entries earlier this year, most notably, Updates from the Land of Exposition and its companion pieces, most of which were streams of utter silliness borne out of an overindulgence of caffeine in its various forms. Whether or not it makes any sense is questionable, and hopefully they’re mildly entertaining – I had fun creating them].

Anyway.

The previous entry left off with my (quasi) inability to remember from where the four names derived, akin to where some of the initial ideas for my stories (and its plotted out and proposed prequels, sequels, and side stories). Though I cited in a very early entry of the inspirations behind those ideas, the source almost always changes, as the things I’m into (books, musicals, TV shows, etc.) enter (and re-enter) my brain space, causing the Muses and plot bunnies to analyze, process and incorporate (sometimes) into the nebulous fabric of the narrative structure and character arc.

Oftentimes the names (of people and places) are thematic and inside references (Easter Eggs, if you will) revolving the various things of which I am a fan. The degrees of fandom range from mild interest to rabid obsession, with occasional segues into cathartic criticism. Sometimes the names are simply made up and “sound” cool and /or interesting; then there are times names are “donated” by friends, meaning that I ask friends for suggestions for names – male or female – and they offer some up to be used at some point in the saga. I keep a list (on a post-it note) of those names and strive to find a place for them; the characteristics assigned to those names are random and would not have any relation to the person from which the name derived.

Then there are times I shamelessly “borrow” names from existing works of literature (or other media) and mix and match them (so I don’t get into any legal trouble), or assign names using real people’s initials (again, there’s some significance behind the use of the initials or certain names, but that’s for me to know and you to figure out (though for those who know me in real life can pretty much figure out the rationale behind it).

Brief Update from the Land of Exposition:

The ninja plot bunny that is the Rule of Four vs. the Power of Three continues to develop, finding a warm spot in a cushioned nook within the Character Development Inn. The other plot bunnies are skeptical about this new arrival, though the Muses are appropriately amused by the audacity and alacrity of its stealthy invasion into one of the coveted spots within the Inn.

As summer winds down, and the scent of change (and all things pumpkin reclaim their relevance and popularity among the populous) is in the air. Gone (hopefully) are the heat and humidity, replaced by cooler breezes (and the inevitable impact of tropical storms and such).

Actual!writing might happen, along with the usual plotting and pondering.

TTFN!