Well… I don’t want to jinx it… but this might be the time I break my Camp failure curse! At any rate, I’ve already written more by this point in July than I have in any of my other attempts in their entirety.
It’s not a guarantee, of course, and this is all in the middle of starting a crazy new schedule at work, but I’m feeling excited! It definitely helps that my sister has been choosing some awesome prompts, too.
They’re not in anything like a presentable state yet, of course, but I’m really happy with the bones of all of them so far. And if all goes as planned, you’ll be seeing some of the finished products in the next few months.
What about you guys? Anyone else participating in this Camp NaNo? How’s it going for you?
As most of you have probably noticed, I enjoy a good sci-fi show, which has led, most recently, to a rewatch of the Fringe series. Which, by the way, if you haven’t had a chance to watch it, you absolutely should. The thing is cleverly written with fantastic characters and ridiculously convoluted plots and brilliant relationship dynamics, and the thing happily bears multiple re-watches. Granted, I may be biased, as it’s one of my favorite shows ever, but what can I say? There’s a reason for that.
It’s also, as anyone who’s watched it can tell you, a spiritual descendant of the X-Files. I mean, heck, just look at the opening sequences of both shows. And, you know, the premises in general: FBI agents, weird events, extensive lore…
But the different lore of the different shows is also one of the things that separates the two, and part of why I actually prefer Fringe to the X-Files (sorry, not sorry!). Most people who are familiar with the X-Files will admit, grudgingly or otherwise, that the show’s lore episodes are some of the weakest. They tended to be overly complicated, and over the course of the entire show, rather short on answers and fulfilling story arcs. Don’t get me wrong! The X-Files is still great! The characters, Mulder and Scully’s interactions, the interesting ideas played with in several of the episodes; I remember one in particular that had me in hysterics the entire time because seeing the same story (with vampires, no less) told from both Mulder and Scully’s perspectives and with all the over-the-top caricatures that came with was brilliant, and no one will ever convince me otherwise.
But while I can’t immediately think of any singular Fringe episodes that stand out in the same way, the overarching lore is so much stronger. Maybe it’s just for the simple fact that the series does actually answer the questions that it raises. In fact, the writers did a fantastic job of going back to the beginning of the show and tying in all sorts of things that would have been plenty easy to just forget. Plus, it has one of my favorite love stories ever, and that never hurts. (Peter and Olivia forever!)
I think, simply put, the thing that I like best about the lore from Fringe is that it’s all part of a bigger story that the writers want to and do tell. And then, when those stories are finished, they move on to new ones. For the X-Files, it always felt more like the writers chose to add more twists and to dive deeper down the rabbit hole instead of developing a true conclusion, which unfortunately resulted in the show feeling like it was avoiding finishing the story.
As a writer, I think that’s something important to keep in mind. Stories end. They have a shape to them, a rhythm. And a good writer knows that. In fact, if I wanted to be melodramatic about it, I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a promise that each author makes their audience: I’m going to tell you a story, and I’m going to get it to the end. And I’m going to give it closure.
Sometimes, I’ve noticed that certain stories demand a particular point of view in their telling. I can try to write them from a different viewpoint, but it doesn’t do any good; the words just won’t come. And it’s not just a matter of my being more comfortable with one over another, because despite the fact that I naturally tend to gravitate towards first-person-snarky, I’ve had an easy enough time writing stories in either first or third person. Some stories just need one or the other.
The example that most readily comes to mind is my modern urban (rural?) werewolf story that I’ve being toying around with to various degrees for years. I managed about 10,000 words on it, all in first person, but ended up getting stuck due to a lack of planning. So, I made it my NaNo project a few years back, but made the mistake of trying to switch it to third person. What followed was one of the most difficult NaNos of my life. The thing just would. not. write. To the point where I ended up burning out on the project, more or less.* Similarly, my rough draft fantasy novel from a few years ago, with its ensemble cast and epic stakes, was a better fit for a third person telling.
Now! Before someone goes for the torches and the pitchforks, let me state for the record that my saying that I can’t write a certain story from a certain point of view doesn’t mean that I think that it can’t be done. I have no doubt that someone can write a compelling epic fantasy from the first person (like The Black Company, for instance), I’m just not there myself. And besides, my epic fantasy is its own story, not the same one as The Black Company, so naturally, what works for one might not work for the other anyways. But that’s a subject for a different post.
It’s also interesting to note that, like its setting, a story’s point of view has a profound effect on the final story. Which explains why the wrong voice makes it so hard to write the story at all. The voice provides the overall atmosphere to the story, and if the atmosphere doesn’t match the content, the whole story is going to feel off. It’s like that scary recut of the Mary Poppins trailer (click here to see it); great for a one-off joke bit, but not an effective way to tell the original story.
Anyway! All that to say that I’ve found certain stories that I can’t tell with one point-of-view or another, and that it’s amazing how much easier it gets to write when you find the right voice for the tale. Which is why it’s so nice to write the Tanner and Miranda stories, because I know the voice that works for them, and I find it a fun one to use.
Speaking of, keep your eyes open for a new story (a Tanner and Miranda adventure!) going up tomorrow! Also, since I, heh, missed posting not one but two stories last month, you’ll get a couple of extras this month to make up for it. Until then, drop a comment below to share your own voice/writing related curiosities! **Edit: I lied! Not tomorrow– but check back on Saturday, March 7!
* Granted, there were other problems, too. Like the fact that I didn’t have a clear idea of the story I wanted to tell. You know, minor things.