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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flipping The Script

During my hiatus, I’ve been reading a few fantasy books that left me crying tears of blood. Why, you ask? Because certain writers don’t know the meaning of continuity or they simply have short-term memory. I would never call any writer lazy. There’s nothing lazy about capturing an idea and transferring the intangible to text. With that said, it takes more than just a good idea on paper to build a sound canon. As professional liars, we have to back up our story with convincing evidence and anticipate any holes that might appear in the fabrication.

This issue is a particular fly in my ointment. When certain concepts are established in a story, it is unwise, not to mention half-assed, to contradict it later on. Many will argue this point, saying that the story is fantasy/ fiction and shouldn’t be taken seriously. Regardless, a story must keep the original foundation it was built on, or else it will collapse and lose its integrity.
Think of it like this. You’ve created a new game. Now, that alone should tell anyone not to take it seriously, but there are SET RULES that come with the game: the levels, the point system, the tools, the characters, etc. Every player MUST follow these rules once it’s been established. If a player reaches the middle of the game and a different set of rules appear out of nowhere, then the game is a FAIL. If certain players gain privileges that they didn’t earn, then the game is a FAIL.

Again, this is where that trusty beta comes in. During the initial read, they should be able to point out the inconsistencies within the plot and with the characters actions. The rhetorical battle-axes that say, “Hold up! You said in the first chapter that these creatures can’t get wet or eat after midnight. Then why is Gizmo taking a shower and eating a ham sandwich at 2 AM, with no consequence? I call bullshit!”

No matter what genre of fiction an author writes, they have to follow the rules they set for their world. They can’t just turn mid stream and make up a lame excuse as to why. Just like game design, every story requires a plan and legitimate solution for every conflict, every situation. If not, somewhere down the line, the author will write themselves into a corner, and the story becomes … say it with me folks … A FAIL!

2 comments:

  1. Good post! I agree, inconsistent world-building is a no-no. There also has to be a good balance between action and exposition. I just read a weighty but intriguing sci-fi called www.watch by Robert Sawyer, the guy who wrote the novel that Flashforward was based on. Lots of fascinating ideas in there. The main character, a 16 year-old blind girl, is contacted by an animate being that was spontaneously birthed on the Internet. Sounds weird, I know, you've just got to read it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! I have a few great betas that call bullshit on me all the time and I'm slapping my forehead and saying, oops. And, I agree, it's not laziness. I actually hate when people say that. Writing a novel and revising it can not be lazy. Being possibly inept at revising and world building - maybe, but not lazy. Now, you know I want to know what books they are, cuz I'm nosy.:)

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