Monday, July 26, 2010

Writing to reach you

While scouring some old hard drives for blackmail fodder (i.e. drunken photos) I happened across the below. I remember writing it and being quite amused by my own cleverness at the time, although I don't know whether I'd have been sober or not. I've been a struggling writer for years, and by struggling I actually mean someone-who's-made-very-little-effort-to-do-anything: writing is something I've wanted to do since I was a small child and I've put down some words on occasion, but I've always wanted to go long form.

My problem has always been twofold - "Where the fuck do you start?" and "What if I'm shit?". The second one has been the hardest hurdle as I'm a creature of confidence, someone who'll gladly do absolutely anything until someone tells me I'm shite. It's probably says something about my own maturity levels that I still crave the pats on the back I used to get at school for being a very clever boy. It'd be nice to have someone read along as I write and tell me how well I'm doing, but my ultimate fear is that sycophancy - or worse, indifference - leads to me being found out.

Ho hum. Dry your eyes, as the song goes.

Anyway, this was written at some point in 2007. I think, but I'm not sure, I'd already read the first of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch's brilliant novels, all of which, as everyone is aware, are far more than Tolkien with swearing.

Let's create a world.

The world must have, in the first instance, Good and Evil. These are the basic cornerstones of the Fantasy World. Everything is in black and white, East and West a la Tolkien. This is primarily because in a finite world there is always something to fight for, something definite. Hence, the Oppressed and the Oppressor, the Hero and the Villain.

In a Sci-Fi world, this isn't necessarily the case. There are more grey areas in Sci-Fi, thanks to the pure black of space. The vacuum sucks up everything, morality, reason, sanity. Nothing is for certain because infinity has no absolutes. Sci-Fi, Lucas aside, is the home of the grey area.

These are the basics.

Standard pulp fantasy to this day is the home of the linear plotline (well, duh, it's a book) and the po-faced, dull arse hero. There are twists, but they're all retelling Tolkien with various levels of swearing and shagging. Fantasy Hero embarks on a journey for (insert reason here), has a bit of a shit time in book two, then overcomes everything to save the day in book three. Wahey.

So we have, from a programming point of view, the following variables:

define Hero as Cliche(Background, CharacterTraits, Destiny)
define HeroEntourage as GroupCliche(ComedyName, Background, GrudgeAgainstHero, PercentageOfBeingAnnoying); HeroEntourage.LoveInterest; HeroEntourage.BigMusclyThickDude; HeroEntourage.StealthDude; HeroEntourage.SlightlyDodgyGuyWhoIsEitherBadGuyOrRedHerringDude; HeroEntourage.WiseOldSmartArseMentorDude
define UltimateEvil as OhNoNotAnotherOne(ReasonForBeingEvil, StupidLevel)
define UltimateEvilHenchmen as NotWorthNamingJustGiveThemARedShirt(CoolSwordThough)

etc etc.

Standard Trilogy Trajectory

being BookOne

define Hero.Background
define Hero.CharacterTraits
define HeroEntourage.WiseOldSmartArseMentorDude
define Hero.Destiny

begin Journey

define HeroEntourage

for HalfContractedBookLength

if WaffleFactorGetsTooHigh then HaveRandomFight

then TalkAbout Hero.Destiny

define UltimateEvil.ReasonForBeingEvil
define UltimateEvilHenchmen.RedShirt1
kill Hero.RandomFamilyMember
includeviolationof HeroEntourage.LoveInterest(StopStrugglingYoullEnjoyIt)

for TwelvePages
give HeroAKicking
then HeroEntourage.LoveInterest GetsRevenge

kill UltimateEviHenchmen.RedShirt1

end Journey

define Prophecty as OoohExciting
define Hero.Destiny(Again)

begin JourneyPartTwo
end BookOne

begin BookTwo

begin TheFunBit

for HalfContractedBookLength
then kill Hero.Entourage(SomePoorBastard)

end TheFunBit

begin ThePain
begin TheSuffering

define HeroEntourage.WiseOldSmartArseMentorDude as ReallyFuckingHigh

for FourChapters
then kill Hero(DidntSeeThatComing)

end TheSuffering
end ThePain

begin TheAfterlife

define God
define Pantheon
define Angels

define God.BoredomLevel
define God.CrueltyFactor
define God.MysteriousWaysQuotient
define God.PoMoFourthWallBreakage

define Prophecy as LoadOfShite
define Hero.Destiny(BitDifferentNow)

define Hero as UltimateEvil(YesReally)
define Time as Malleable

define God as ViciousBastard

end TheAfterLife
end BookTwo

begin BookThreeButReallyBookOneAgain(FromAnotherPointOfView)

define UltimateEvil as NotThatBadReally
define Hero.TrueDestiny
define Prophecy as HowTheFuckDoIWorkThisOneOut

begin JourneyTowardsEndOfBookTwo
includeviolentmurdersby HeroEntourage.SlightlyDodgyGuyWhoIsEitherBadGuyOrRedHerringDude(ReallyUltimateEviHenchmen.RedShirt1)
includeviolationof HeroEntourage.LoveInterest(StopStrugglingYoullEnjoyIt)
kill UltimateEviHenchmen.RedShirt1(buhbye!)
end JourneyTowardsEndOfBookTWo

begin EndOfBookThreeAndThereforeTrilogy

define UltimateEvil as HeroAgain
define HeroAgain as GrimAndGritty(UnshavenAndWearingATrenchcoat)

define Prophecy as OooohThatsClever

define Hero.Destiny as HopeItWasWorthIt

kill everyone

end EndOfBookThreeAndThereforeTrilogy

begin HopeForTheBest

I probably thought I was being very clever.