A Suitable Tale of Woe

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.

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6 Responses to A Suitable Tale of Woe

  1. Markus says:

    I don’t understand why you think stories based on video games is a such a low form of writing. You take your inspiration wherever you get it. You find a subject you are passionate about, string words together in an elegant order and weave an interesting tale. You like it, your readers like it. What can be better than that? Whether it’s fanfiction or torrid romance novels (and trust me, ANYTHING you write is better than phrases such as “bold blade of passion” or “short-fused bombs” lol), if the subject is something you enjoy writing about and people want to read it, it sounds more like a higher form of writing than anything. Keep up the good work!

  2. SpiritusRex says:

    Alright, man, here it is in all of it’s unvarnished glory…


    “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.”

    And, exactly, why not? Do you not have those aspirations? Or, do you think yourself unworthy? Whereas, in one case, it is a matter of choice – do I want to dedicate myself to the honing of a skill? On the other hand, it is a lack of confidence and conviction – am I good enough? Now, I can see how the dedication part can be a little overwhelming and challenging and can understand some reticence. With regard to the confidence? Fuck that. Confidence comes from within, my friend. You have to believe in what you are writing and feel comfortable telling your own version of a story. And, when it comes to fiction (or non-fictional interpretations) who is to say your story is any better or worse than another’s? Further, for that matter, why do you give a great flying fuck what somebody else thinks about something you enjoy doing? As for me? I enjoy reading about the world you create with your words. Simple. As. That.

    Oh, and about this bullshit of fan-fiction being the lowest form of writing? Puh-lease.
    Imagination and creativity is what helps separate humans from the “lower” life forms (well, the opposable thumb doesn’t hurt us in that regard, too, but I digress). Fantasy fiction based upon video games, multiple or other, is only an extension of the digital age in which we live. Just because you chose to write stories based upon another’s story, adding your own interpretation and viewpoints, does not make a person’s writing any lesser quality or less deserving of contemplation. For crying out loud, do you know how many interpretations of The Bible and The Koran (or any other religious text) exists? I mean, each of those texts have been interpreted differently by FOLLOWERS of the text for THOUSANDS OF YEARS! And, regardless of whether or not you believe in the power of the divine (and discounting a person’s level of faith and belief), at some level, arguably, a certain notion of fantasy exists in each of those texts.

    Anyways, rant off. Keep doing what your doing if that’s what brings you pleasure – uhm, well, not that kind of pleasure, that’s kind of disgusting to be witness to, but you know what I mean. Oh, also, remember that if you are feeling your writing is being constrained by the parameters of another’s world, there’s no rule that says you can’t create your own world where the characters within it do, say and act precisely as you want them to. Lastly, it was really nice to see you peak out again from behind the curtain, seems like it’s been awhile – maybe since back in the days when you were over writing at the bakery – since you came out and said Hi in your own words.

    • Euripedes says:

      Holy crap. Less than three.

      Pick-me-up of the year. Slash blush.

      I tend to be an extremely negative person, though I don't really mean to be. My driver's license, for instance, I tried very hard to have a perfectly normal face, and it looks like I have nothing but contempt for everything around me.
      I don't mean to sound so negative, truly!

      I just mean, I'm not going to make millions, or have my works reach the same level as popularity of, say, Harry Potter or even Firefly. And that's perfectly okay, I don't really want fame of that sort anyways.
      It just struck me as odd that, with my only real aspiration being to create something entertaining to read, I would subject such a simple goal to such rigorous testing and editing.

  3. Gnomeaggedon says:

    I’m with SpiritusRex, everyone knows my writing is the lowest form of writing and I refuse to be usurped from that position.

    You know man, do what you do.

    Those that love will, the others will ready Twilight novels.

    Those with no taste at all will read my blog.

  4. Gnomeaggedon says:

    PS: You realise of course when I mentioned you had a “A Suitable Tale of Woe”, you didn’t have post titled as such… so you just did my head in (again.. it’s OK, getting used to that.. nice to have the brain challenged)

  5. Nigel says:

    It’s an awesome paragraph for aⅼl the web userѕ;
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