Between the lines

One fandom activity I don’t like seeing and don’t enjoy doing is nit-picking plot holes. All fictional works have them, but some people relish the idea of pointing them out and castigating the writers of the fictional work. They relish complaining. Television is especially vulnerable to this because of tight writing schedules and multiple authors.

I hate nit-picking because I don’t like plot holes, they ruin my enjoyment of a book/show/film considerably, and I’d just as soon spackle over them and move on rather than grouse for fun and profit. Back in the hey-day of the ATPo board, we used to spend a portion of our time “spackling” BtVS and AtS plot holes using show canon or well-accepted fanon. We’d pack the hole with speculation, likely or unlikely, and end the post with “spackle, spackle” as a tongue-in-cheek wink to other posters (especially if our hole-filler was a stretch).

I suppose most plothole-filling in fandom occurs in spackle!fic rather than “meta.” And probably more convincingly as well, since fiction is a more visceral medium for making a case.

Regardless of how it’s done, spackling can work surprisingly well for the fan willing to put in the ThinksTooMuch time, because ofttimes the apparently dangling plot point was, in fact, established by the writers, just weakly, or in ways that were obvious to them but not to the viewers.

I am thinking of this today because one of the worst kind of plot holes there is is weakly-developed motivation in a character-driven story.

Regina on OUAT (spoilers to last night’s episode)

NaNoWriMo Day 23

New words: 1,670
Total words: 38,730
Goal: 50,000

38730 / 50000
(77.46%)

As my story fleshes itself out, I see myself taking an approach that I can only call the fantasy equivalent of “hard science fiction.” Hard science fiction attempts to bring scientific accuracy to the speculative elements of a story, either by basing them in actual contemporary scientific fact, or extrapolating from that fact to theoretical ideas that are likely to be confirmed in the near future based on what we know now.

The “fantasy equivalent” of this, for me, is to have the fantasy elements in my story–whether it is strange beings, their powers, or the “magic” humans do to interact with/effect these beings–be, not supernatural, but natural phenomena. I am only straying from the “hard” line by saying these fantastical elements are natural phenomenon that scientists at present just don’t have the theoretical concepts or observational techniques to deal with yet.

I sort of can’t help this naturalistic approach. Although I am perfectly comfortable with the supernatural in fiction, there is something I want to say with this story that makes taking this approach important to me.

But as a result, it is feeling a bit like I’ve sucked all the sense of wonder out of my novel. I did a Harry Potter marathon this past week since I got the final movie on DVD/Blu ray, and the thing that makes HP appeal to so many people, I think, is you can see and do so many fascinating things in his world, whether it is turning a loathed relative into a human balloon, or riding over a lake on the back of a half-bird, half-horse, or visiting someone else’s memories inside a sink full of mist. Magic is afoot in his world, and there is so much more to his world than an ordinary muggle ever suspects.

Similar case with Buffy, or the Dresden Files, or Star Trek, or anything like that. There is an element of each of these story worlds that is beyond escapist and actually transcendent, because, for a short time, these stories allow you feel as if you are touching something beyond the mundane. They do this by starting very much in the mundane, and taking you on a gradual journey to fantastical places where you can do and see these amazing things.

I have to figure out how to do that, to make my world more interesting, without turning it into a cartoon version of itself.

I don’t want to write “just another fantasy novel” with elves and magic and evil sorcerers and whatnot. I need to find a way to take my more “serious/rationalistic” approach and imbue it with a sense of magic.

Bridge over troubled waters

So I finally, finally finished the latest Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story. I think I am the last one on my flist to do so. Some folks gave it enthusiastic reviews, others were less than impressed. I have to admit to slogging through some tedium at times, which is part of the reason I took so long to finish it. The other part is, I only read non-interweb stuff for a short while before bed each night.

But see, there is a reason this book wasn’t the Best!DresdenFilesNovel!Ever! It was a bridge story. And bridge stories are traditionally kind of mediocre. Thar be spoilers beyond here!

Original fiction project – week of 03/20/2011

1829 words this week. And given that I had to work two 12-hour days at work (8 hours the other days), I am trying to figure out how I did that without collapsing. I remind myself I clocked nearly that many words on a daily basis during NaNo, but I’m still kinda impressed with myself. Especially since my story has been less inspiring to me of late.

But see, last weekend, I took some time to try to figure out why.

The problem, I think, is that my story has gotten very prosaic in tone, like it’s hardly a fantasy story anymore and more a scientific take on fantastical concepts, like you might see on Star Trek. So this week, I’ve been brainstorming ways to bring the “sense of magic” back into the story.

It was time well spent, because even though it felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything poking around the internet reminding myself of the stories I found “magical”, or researching legends and fantastical creatures I felt had nothing to do with what I was writing about, voila, a week later, almost 2,000 words.

A lot of that, of course, is me just giving myself writing exercises that may not ever become part of the story, but that forced me to “write outside the box” I’ve shoved my story into.

And it gave me an interesting insight that is relevant to my story.

Much of the “prosaic” feel of it, I think, comes from me being conflicted about what point I’m trying to make in the story, and this goes back to a conflict in me as a person. I am one of those people who wishes every day that magic were real and that I could live a life where magic things happened. But I never see any evidence of the supernatural out in the world, and that frustrates me. I am not the sort of person who takes things on faith; it is in my nature to believe only in what can be proved, and withhold judgement on what can’t.

But more than that, there’s another part of me that doesn’t actually believe in the supernatural at all, and I guess that is the closest I get to an article of faith. I think there are plenty of things out there that cannot be explained by science, but that doesn’t mean they never will be; it just means they have a natural explanation that’s beyond our present level of scientific knowledge.

So on the one hand, I want magic to be real, and on the other hand, there is a real sense in which I don’t believe any magic could be real. And that’s where my story gets muddled. I can’t write about the supernatural and not have this urge to make it just “the natural that’s beyond our present understanding.” And that takes the “magic” out of the magic in my story.

I have no problem enjoying the supernatural in somebody else’s fiction: Buffy, Dresden Files, Harry Potter. But in my own?

I need to figure out a way to encapsulate my own conflict into my main character’s conflict, because I think that’s what I’m struggling to say in this story.

All Things Philosophical on Star Trek

So I have seen the new Trek movie. With my flist abounding with spoilers and rave reviews, and me needing to de-friend that I’ve belonged to since I joined LJ, it seemed a good idea.

Plus, yesterday I managed to fiddle with my computer keyboard until I found the culprit causing the typing problem I was having, so I fixed that (for now), and could cancel my Genius Bar appointment allowing me to go to an early morning matinee.

So, to make a long story less long, I liked it. I am, of course, not without my issues. movie spoilers