FIRST IMPRESSIONS - THE "HOOK"
One thing I notice right away, is that CCS has a very strong hook, upon which it hangs everything right away: the mythos of the Clow Cards, and the release of same. In the first episode, we are introduced to Sakura, the girl who for various reasons must be the Cardcaptor, even though she has no idea what it's all about, and we are introduced to Kero and the Clow Cards right out of the gate.
Do I have a good "hook" for a story? Do I have a not-so-good "hook" that could be buffed up some?
Well, nothing presents itself. Lemme try something else.
Almost every major event in the first half of the series is heralded by an appearance of the "Tokyo Radio Tower Dream" -- which is itself simply a flash-forward to the climactic sequence of the first season (which takes place at the Tokyo Radio Tower). Every time Sakura has the dream, another detail becomes visible, usually a character involved in the climactic sequence. Before Li shows up, he appears in the dream; before Miss Mizuki shows up, she becomes visible in the dream. By the end of the first half of the series, practically half of the climactic sequence has already been shown -- in such small bits and pieces that watching the last episode becomes something like putting together a puzzle.
This is a very cool technique. Each little reveal makes you wonder: What's next? How does it connect to what came before? Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? It keeps you constantly speculating, and looking forward to the final answer, like a series of ongoing mini-cliffhangers as the series progresses.
Well merf. That's not something that can be done from front to back; it has to be done back to front! What else is there?
The creators have built a large, detailed, and intricately-crafted mythos, with a lot of stuff to know!
Well yeah, that's very cool and I want to use it ... but I can't just write a travelogue of Ethangea. There needs to be a problem, and somebody needs to fix it!
Clow Reed! This enigmatic figure, a sorcerer from the past now long gone, influences just about everything that happens throughout the course of the story. Everywhere Sakura goes, she bumps into some ripple in history caused by Clow Reed's wake. The Cards themselves, obviously ... Kero and Yue, both of whom knew Clow Reed personally and were very deeply affected by his presence in their, um, lives ... Li Shaoron and Mielin are his descendants, and theoretical heirs to his legacy (the Clow Cards), and are thus somewhat put out when the Cards (and Kero) choose Sakura as the Cardcaptor instead ... and of course, random "Clow Reed was here" moments, such as the ghost-sorceress who kidnaps Sakura thinking that she must be Clow Reed in the first CCS movie. We are never given more than tantalizing glimpses and very rough sketches in the first half of the series, and even when a reincarnation of Clow Reed becomes an actual character in the second half, he is not the actual Clow Reed, so much as an echo.
Hmmmm ... there's a thought. One of the cool things about Icewind Dale is the way there's this adventure tale built up about the barbarian warlord (whose name escapes me off the top of my head), the war he fought, and how it ended ... and that wraps up with, "But that was not the end of the tale ... that was only the beginning..."
I wonder if I can come up with some interesting Mover and Shaker sort of personage, and then write tales of things that happen in his or her wake? Hmm...
That will take some brainstorming.
Got a plan now! Good, good. Off I go. :)