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January 7th, 2004

You Are Entering Another Dimension...

Very bizarre experience to hear NPR of all places praising the Bush administration!

Refreshing ... but bizarre. :)

It was a piece about the administration's ongoing role in negotiations to end the civil war in Sudan, for those who are wondering. Coverage of Bush's immigration proposals (re: broadening Green Card eligibility and the "temporary worker program" to create a legitimate avenue for undocumented workers) was fairly positive, too.

Not knowing much about the situation in Sudan, I can't really comment on it. As for immigration, I'm pretty much an "open the floodgates" guy myself. The libertarian credo, "anything that's peaceful," and all that. But I don't expect any administration to adopt my views in my lifetime.

-The Gneech

The Arms Race Is Over, and Reality Won

Given that a cellphone is more amazing than any seeing stone, a single M16 way more devastating than any magic arrow, and the internet more full of forbidden lore than any dusty old tome, the would-be fantasist has to stop and think for a bit about what it is he has to offer that is of value. What is it that fantasy can give the modern reader, that watching the nightly news can't? In real life, we've got robots on Mars, fer cryin' out loud ... why does anybody want to read about boys on broomsticks?

One answer, is abstraction. Writing about "the military/industrial complex," to pick a cliche out of the air, is a tangled and thorny thing. On the other hand, the war machines of Isengard allow you to examine the underlying issues as an end to themselves, rather than any specific person. Circumstances change with every passing moment -- the human condition is more or less a constant. Like Tolkien's discussion of "applicability," when you write a story that is about nobody, it becomes about everybody.

Another is the strange yin/yang combination of complete control, and complete freedom. If I write a story about cellphones, M16s, and robots on Mars, I need to have a pretty firm idea of how those work, and I'm limited, within the range of reasonable dramatic license, by what they can and can't do. Furthermore, Conan would have a hard time carving himself a kingdom today, in our world of wrangling superpowers, power blocs, and U.N. sanctions. Individual heroism on a grand scale in unconvincing in the context of today ... but the fantasist can build a world where it makes sense, if that's where he wants his story to go.

Really, that's fantasy's big strength I think: freedom. In real life, we have to put up with shit. Pointy-haired bosses, avoiding trouble, a world that does what it will regardless of how you feel about it ... this is a fantasist's appointed foe. To take advantage of the medium, he must create larger-than-life heroes who do larger-than-life things. Not just tossing lightning bolts at his foes, but throwing down the pointy-haired boss, wading hip-deep into trouble and kicking its butt, and making the world bend to his will instead of the other way around.

Hmm. :) I'll have to ponder this!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: Writing a novel is like creating a campaign, not running an adventure.
jamesbarrett: Hmmm
the_gneech: Chapters of the novel are the adventures.
jamesbarrett: Uh-huh
jamesbarrett: Perhaps that's what I need. Some chapter ideas for Talesar. Adventures for him to get involved in, all pointing at what I think is my end goal.
the_gneech: That's what I'm thinking myself re: my stories. I tend to have small ideas, but if I tie enough small ideas together, they become a big story.
jamesbarrett: I need some new small ideas. I have a grand scheme for Talesar, but no adventures for him. I know what campaign he wants to be run in, but not what to do with the campaign.
the_gneech: Same with me and Michael Macbeth.
jamesbarrett: And yet, I have this other story idea with a more confindent Talesar returning to Terres' home. That one is all about Terres' backstory. But in order to write that story, I have to assume you already know how Talesar and Terres met, what adventures they've already gone through together, and that you now know about her secret.
the_gneech: Well, why don't you write that one, and maybe pieces of the other one will show themselves to you as you work on it.
jamesbarrett: Hmm, I suppose I could. Still need to develop a lot of it, but at least I know more of what's going to happen with it.
the_gneech: *nods*

That's what I did with MM; writing the end of story showed me a lot of what needs to happen in the middle.
the_gneech: I'll probably end up writing the middle before I write the beginning, too.
jamesbarrett: Okay, time to do errands. See ya later.
the_gneech: CYA

-The Gneech

What a Boring Meeting

Alas, the occupational hazard of a desk job. But at least I made some notes for myself. Specifically...

IN MEDIA RES -- Come up with what's been happening, and toss your hero into it. Running away? On the offensive? "What have I got myself into?"

--Everybody involved in a situation comes from a different angle. At any moment, every person's whole life leads TO that moment.

-The Gneech

That Took a Long Time :)

I've finally seen every episode of Cardcaptor Sakura. All that's left now is the second theatrical release.

It's good. :) More details later.

-The Gneech

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