World Building Options

While last week’s entry focused on the quasi-meta update of the Land of Exposition, (which has developed into an inadvertent and mostly improvised meta series separate from the main works in progress) the updates on the state of the primary work in progress (namely the MASC Chronicles) have been scarce.

Or nearly almost nonexistent (though quasi-cryptic musings have surfaced every now and then).

Some actual!writing commenced for a short span of time, plots were plotted, and extensive character development… developed. All that remains is the construction of the world in which the stories reside – while the general framework has been established, the exact details have yet to be determined. World building is an elaborate process, with infinite possibilities and complex aspects that shape the characters and influence the narrative arc.

Perhaps the “easiest” option is to simply set the story in the Real World – the structure is already established into which fictional characters can be inserted, and the reader will (hopefully) be familiar with the setting and can relate to the characters and their journey through the narrative.

The more complex (and complicated) option would be to build a Created World into which anything goes and anything (within reason) can happen. This Created World can be a place / time that is completely fictional, where the social, cultural, and political structure can be whatever the writer dreams up (wizards, elves, vampires, etc.).

Another option would be to meld the aforementioned two options to create an alternate / parallel world where anything could still happen, but there could also be a semblance of familiarity for the reader (and the writer).

The time in which any of the options could be in the past, present or (near or distant) future, In the case of the MASC Chronicles, it would be all three, though not concurrently (at least not at this juncture – time travel is still a quasi-option, and Doctor Who will be starting its new series soon…)

Anyway.

There are positives and negatives to any of these options, and choosing which path to take (and sticking to that decision) is daunting in that it will determine how the story unfolds and how the characters will develop and interact.

Thus far, the MASC Chronicles will travel down the third option – the melding of the Real World and the Created World over the course of three centuries. That being said / written, the point at which the Real World diverges into the Created World remains to be seen – depending on when the road diverges, a whole lot of (alternate) history would need to be created. I have a pretty good idea where / when the timeline will diverge, but pondering which divergent path to take is the real challenge.

Of course then there are the two other Series to contemplate – will the divergent timeline continue or will the Universe reset itself? Or, with a new divergent timeline emerge as a result of the goings on in Divergent Timeline #1?

There is quite a lot to plot and ponder about with regards to the foundation upon which the story is set, aside from the Game of Genres. It’s concurrently fun and frustrating yet in the end (if there’ll ever be an end) it’ll be worth the journey.

I hope.

Advertisements

The State of the Land of Exposition

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

Celestial Time Stamp: Later Than Anticipated

Weather: Suspiciously mild, with bouts of random musings

So it’s been a while since the last update, but the state of things in the Land of Exposition are fairly stable, though rumblings from the Real Life Brigade could possibly be of some concern in the near future. Perhaps the most significant change within (or rather without) the Land of Exposition was the fundraising and subsequent construction of a massive, environmentally friendly dome encompassing the Land of Exposition. With all the adverse shenanigans from the Real Life Brigade and the state of things beyond the borders of the Land of Exposition posing a potential threat to the very existence of the services offered within its borders, proactive action was essential. Questions of validity and dubious comments about the future state have pushed for the need to act to preserve the quasi-status quo. A clinical evaluation of the environs of within the Land of Exposition resulted in an inventory of sustainable resources and a separate list of export goods necessary for the well-being of the citizens of the Land.

Travel between the Land of Exposition and the Outside World has been frantic yet organized. Those seeking asylum within the Land (and residence at the Character Development Inn) underwent precise screening, and with few exceptions, were granted entry. A treaty (of sorts) with the denizens from the Real Life Brigade materialized faster than expected, with minimal concessions, though autonomy within a defined area within the Land was granted begrudgingly.

Harmony is a fragile thing to broker (especially with those who are tone deaf).

The air quality within the Land has improved, though faint aromas of vanilla, caramel and butterscotch linger every now and then. The Character Development Inn introduced an eclectic menu of fusion cuisine, with its aroma permeating the dining area and kitchen. With the growing population within the land, the Character Development expanded height and width wise, with each added wing designed to economically (and comfortably) house as many as possible, at little to no cost to the established residents.

Inspirational ideas continue to pour in, as more different perspectives and genres collaborate and debate over narrative arcs, character development and such. The FanGirl Meter (patent pending) still has occasional glitches (and habitual giggle fits) yet still provides (somewhat) an objective counterpoint to the more absurd flights of fancy and/or delusions of grandeur, though heightened melodrama keeps the Meter on its toes (so to speak). The Library of Inspiration grows at an exponential rate, with much cross-genre plots plotted and pondered. The Vault of Archives has moved to the Cloud, and the WiFi signal secured with the best security software firmly in place.

The quasi-rambling musings continue as plots are pondered and ponders are plotted. Characters remain in quasi-hibernation, their true form still under review, and their motivations lurk in that murky fog of uncertainty.

Time will prove to be the deciding factor upon which everything rests.

Illusions and Delusions

The notion of perspective and its involvement in shaping (just about) everything in the story remains at the forefront of the plotting and pondering process. Toying with the idea of multiple narrators (first or third) is an option to consider, as it’s an effective, if complex method of telling the full story. Then again, having too many narrators and multiple perspectives has the potential to be too complicated, with too many tangents for the reader in which to invest their time and emotions. The A Song of Ice and Fire book saga series falls into this category, though the television adaptation has streamlined / combined / removed some of the narrative threads, for better or for worse.  While the MASC Chronicles won’t be falling into the multiple narrator rabbit hole, the expository exercise of (mentally) writing the other narrative perspectives and its place in the sequence of events will be plotted and pondered.

The illusions (or delusions, depending on the perspective) of the characters and their place in the narrative feeds into the overall shaping of the plot and the potential twists. It colors the storytelling and the validity of the narrative, leading (manipulating?) the reader toward certain biases in relation to the character’s actions in the story. Shifting the narrative from the protagonist to the antagonist (or vice versa) could potentially change the outcome of the plot (launching a flurry of speculative fan fiction). There are (almost always) reasons why good and / or bad things happen to characters. Sometimes it’s based on their actions / reactions; sometimes it’s a matter of circumstance, being at the right / wrong place and the wrong / right time. So the notion of “good” and “evil” is subjective… to a point – there are actions / traits that are exclusively good and evil by any definition (though some could argue that there is room for interpretation).

This entry is partly inspired by my current theatrical fixation of the moment (and for the next few months) – Sunset Boulevard, which I saw (again). The illusions (or delusions, depending on the perspective) the characters hold about themselves and their (perceived) place in society is colored from the perspective from which the story is told. It throws a spotlight (figuratively and literally) on how the events of the plot come to be, and what happens when those illusions / delusions are shattered.

Things in the Land of Exposition have been slow, as a frosty blanket of snow and ice fell unexpectedly (though given winter will be hanging about for the next few weeks, it should not have been a surprise) and the Real Life Brigade launching a few zingers that could / would / most likely change things (whether or not it will be for the better remains questionable). Nevertheless, lots of plotting and pondering and pondering about plotting remains the objective, with the everlasting hope of actual!writing actually!happening.

Hopefully, the illusions (delusions?) of that happening in the near future will remain intact, and I could (potentially) return to that 85K90 project thingy.

But then again writing on a strict schedule has never been my strong point, aside from my quasi-random musings for this blog. If only I could have the pantsing blog pixie motivate the planning story gnome…

Ooh, more characters for the meta series

Maybe.

I have to plot and ponder (more) about that.

Shifting Perspectives

A month into 2017 and I’ve just about quasi abandoned the 85K90 challenge. Well, not so much abandoned, but perhaps put the task on hiatus as the plotting and pondering of the overarching narrative structure and mixing and matching the character (and their exposition baggage)  relationships has taken over (again). The sequence of events in the Grand Scheme of things is the difficult / fun part – as the MASC Chronicles is essentially an epic saga spanning several generations of several (sometimes intertwining) families. Not quite sure at what point in the writing process that decision was made, but for now that’s the way it’s going to be. Keeping track of the families (which not need to be related by blood) and the broad spectrum of their relationships with one another (and within the family unit itself) will require loads of attention and meticulous org charts (or Excel spreadsheets – haven’t used Excel to keep track of things, aside from the running word count of this blog series, which stands at 115, 739 – excluding this entry, obviously). The average word count thus far is 585, which seems a respectable number, as writing blog entries go, especially one where the bulk of its content is quasi-random musings inspired by equally quasi-random events (or Actual Real World Events).

Anyway.

The not-so-quasi-random inspiration behind this week’s entry stems from a recent theater excursion, namely seeing the revival production of Sunset Blvd. music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. It’s one of my favorite musicals, based on the 1950 film of the same name. The story revolves around a faded movie star Norma Desmond) and a jaded writer (Joe Gillis) and the events that happen when they meet; it also comments on the Hollywood system and illusions / delusions of fame and fortune. The production I saw this week was the third production of the musical – the original production and a touring production were the other two. The overall design for each production (sets, lighting and costumes) were different and unique, and in a curious way kind of mirrors (in reverse) the plotting and pondering process for the MASC Chronicles. The first production was opulent and had moments of heightened drama; the second production was haphazard and borderline cheesy, and the current production is stripped down and functional in its overall look.

The narrative perspective in the current production shifts from Norma’s quest to return to “all those people in the dark” to Joe’s journey of self-discovery (though that might be a stretch in generalizing the plot of the film/musical).  Within Sunset are elements of writing and pitching stories to the Studio executives (which is a parallel to authors pitching their stories to publishers).

Wait.

The purpose behind inspiration to write this entry seems to have dissipated as the entry went on. I suppose my quasi-obsessive love for Sunset has distracted me from the point I was attempting to make about the writing process…

Oh wait, there it is (the title of this entry)

Shifting the perspective of the narrative from the main protagonist’s life and relationships to the narrator’s complex exposition has changed elements of the narrative arc. While the protagonist’s exposition is critical to the overall narrative (which is usually the case for most book series), the narrator’s function is mostly to relate to the reader the actions of those around the narrator and not necessarily delve into the narrator’s life (unless the narrator and protagonist are one in the same).

But I digress (slightly).

So that’s the update (of sorts) thus far – the Land of Exposition remains in winter, and the Real Life Brigade remains in devising shenanigans.

Hopefully actual progress will resurface in the coming weeks.

TTFN!