It seems silly to have a blog and then not blog, so I’m going to try and actually blog about things now and then rather than just posting stories with no commentary.
I do not fancy myself a writer. I am (term shamelessly cribbed from Big Bear) a writing enthusiast. I’m not the next Tolkien, nor can I aspire to the heights reached by Alan Dean Foster or Ben Bova or Christie Golden or Greg Bear or any of those guys whose books I consume with glee.
Let’s face it, I write fanfiction based on a videogame. Okay, to be fair, multiple videogames, but still. Can there be a lower form of writing? I suppose it’s odd that I still hold myself to a reasonably high standard. Or is that just my own arrogance speaking?
Basically, I consider a story ready to post when I reread the thing and enjoy the reading. This has always been my goal. I want to read things. I want to enjoy what I read. Sometimes it is difficult to find an enjoyable thing to read. Solution? Write the enjoyable thing to read.
I also make sure to sit on any written story for at least several days, without looking at it, so I can come back to it fresh and see if I still liked reading it. If it passes, it gets posted; if not, then the eternal flames of the recycle bin claim another wall of text.
Updates are slow because of this. Though I, at least, am pleased with the results.
The story so far…
Is in a weird place. All this “prologue” stuff is, essentially, world building through the eyes of the characters involved. It’s actually been really fun, to take this big, established world, and then define little snippets of it through the lenses of these random people. Much more entertaining than a fantasy wiki page.
The downside is that it isn’t a fantasy wiki page. Things get omitted because they simply don’t fit in a narrative focused on characters. Take Stumps, the lovable pointy dwarf. Dwarves have an immense amount of history. They had a massive civil war, multiple distinct cultures, their own customs and ways of thinking entirely separate from that of humans. There simply is no way to stuff all that into a story.
Well, I technically could, but does anyone other than Russians actually tolerate several pages ruminating on history in the middle of a narrative? I’ve been heavily considering doing up a series of codex entries, along the lines of what Bioware does with their games. An enormous amount of information and back story, all relevant and interesting, but stored separate from the primary narrative. Read it if you want, or not, it won’t impact you too much either way.
There’s also the issue of unreliable narrator cropping up. With character driven narratives, the details are subject to the bias and thoughts of the character. This means some information can get a little bit… twisted. For example, Stumps again.
Stumps claims he wasn’t a very good shaman because he was “clumsy”. This doesn’t make any logical sense, as shamans don’t command the elements the same way a mage does. Shamans ask the elements, the skill of an individual shaman is irrelevant, what matters is their faith. They are, thematically, almost identical to paladins in that regard.
The real problem for Stumps is that he kept projecting his own morality onto the elements he called, fundamentally misunderstanding them, and thus misusing them. The four elements do not understand right and wrong the same way us puny mortals do. None of the elements would actually care if he took his vengeance out on that orc. They just don’t work that way.
To illustrate what I mean, take water. A massive wave smashes into a small camp of serial rapists and murderers, drowning a dozen of them. This is morally right, as far as water is concerned. A massive wave smashes into a huge kitten orphanage, drowning thousands of tiny helpless kittens and untold hundreds of orphans. This, too, is morally right as far as water is concerned.
The element sees no difference between the two scenarios, both are morally the same. If anything, water might actually approve of the wanton slaughter of cats and children more than that of the murderers, as there would be more cats and children in terms of sheer body mass, thus providing more food for the life water supports.
At least, this is how the elements work in my version of Warcraft. They somewhat work like this in the real Warcraft. Consider Therazane:
A bunch of helpful shamans arrive, willing to help us any way they can, even sacrificing their own lives to save us? INTRUDERS, SLAY THEM ALL!
A bunch of bizarre fungal creatures arrive, struggling desperately to preserve their own existence, wanting nothing more than to eke out a place to live posing no real threat to us whatsoever? INTRUDERS, SLAY THEM ALL!
A large cult of death followers arrive, fully intending to annihilate our realm and kill every last one of us as brutally as possible? INTRUDERS, SLAY THEM ALL!
Completely different situations, yet the same reaction in all cases, because, to the element of earth, all of them are, morally, exactly the same thing.
Stumps was just a bad shaman because he could not understand that. Fortunately, that makes him a great paladin. Funny how destiny works out sometimes.