Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On Dream Fights and Writing

On Dream #2. Only bits and pieces today. I remember vividly sitting in an elementary school classroom talking to my friend... about his GUN. Except when he shows it to me, it's not a standard handgun. It's gigantic, like some sort of Fisherprice "My first gun." I open the barrel and out pops a round. The round is shaped like a bullet, but it's hollow and fragile, like an empty soup can. The end is frayed open, like an explosion popped out of it.

Somehow that leads to me in a subway with a group of people I don't know. I'm some sort of camp leader, and I know that we're involved in some sort of game. Except I'm not sure what that game is, but I know it's something sinister. We walk down the subway platform, which is inexplicably filled with shipping containers. On the far side another gang appears, men much bigger than me and mine. They come straight at us, evidently ready to fight. Looking into the cracks of one of the shipping containers, I pull out a foldup table and smack their leader in the face. He goes down and his gang runs. Meanwhile we get on the train, confident we're safe now.

Then I wake up.

On Writing. A question I get asked surprisingly often is, when I write fiction, do I already have everything planned out, or do I make it up as I go along? The answer really depends on whether you're talking about the overall plot, or a specific scene in the plot. I'll answer this in a two-parter (one today, one tomorrow).

On Writing Plots. Everything I write is always based on some sort of concept I'd want to see explored. This is hardly different, I suspect, from most writers. Almost 99% of the time I'll apply that concept to the real world, thinking "what if I could do this?" For example, the book I'm working on was based on the thought I had of "what if chaos followed me everywhere I went?" And the followup question "Could I still be some kind of hero even then?" I'm really drawn to hero pieces. I like to daydream about having some fantastic power and then becoming some kind of superhero. I used to daydream in high school about saving girls I liked from some terrible monsters. @_@

Anyway, nowadays I find I have an intense interest in meta-science. That is, science that doesn't really exist. For example, in the anime Full Metal Alchemist, Alchemy is a meta-science. It has rules (you can't get anything more out of an alchemic reaction than you put into it) and a society that applies those rules. Almost universally in all my stories, there will be some kind of world meta-science that different characters then learn how to use in unique ways. I find it's a fantastic way of tying everyone together, creating interest and suspense, and the key foundation to some satisfying conflict resolutions. No one likes the deus-ex-machina approach.

So then, as an overall concept, I tend to first think of a concept, put myself in a heroic role in it, and then build a foundation of meta-science around it.

Oh right, and then I change the main character's name... because let's face it, Matt Chan is just not a good hero name.

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