Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Right and Wrong

Baby Food: wrong angle.

So cast your mind back now, to those days as a fledgling writer, to all those discussions you had with other fledgling writers as you hammered out those fundamental techniques and principles which would underpin and inform every nuance of your art; cast your mind back to those 'how to' books you read and re-read until every word of advice became second nature and each time you went back to those books, they would make more sense, and finally everything made sense and you could turn the pages of any novel and see Neo-like through to the fabric of the plot and the gluons of the characters. Think back to that moment you discovered that you had learned enough to make your reader smile, then laugh, then cringe in terror, then shed a tear, then weep like a girl... and think back to the moment you discovered that these fundamental techniques could be blended in countless ways to elicit unfamiliar emotions - complex and sophisticated emotions - a dynamic library of emotions, at once humble, at twice intense. Think back to that moment you realised that you were, in actual fact, only at the very beginning of an epic journey and no amount of lifetimes would be adequate to the task of thorough exploration.

Now package that stuff away, tie a ribbon round it, and stuff it into the cupboard under the stairs - at least for a little while.
There's another place. It's an important place and, once you've visited, you'll come out another rung up the ladder of evolution. There are times when you must wilfully go against all the good stuff you have learned; there are times when you need to go wrong - wrong, but for the right reasons.

I don't much like that place, and I remain unconvinced by it. But that's just my heart. My head thinks differently.
Take chapters. Those things called 'chapters' in iHOGs really aren't any such things right? Anyone disagree? They have none, or scant few, of the characteristics of what you and I would recognise as a chapter.
So I decided on a scaffold of five acts - that's to say, four major turning points - reversals with a polar flip on the state - and a powerful denouement. My acts behave just as acts should. (That's not to say they're very good acts, just that I'm trying to do things right, and I'm trying to do things right because these right things consistently and irrefutably perform the task of moving the reader/player and providing a memorable experience. If done well, they're a safe bet.)

Here's the gist of what happened with M3:
Forumite 1: Just trialled M3.
Forumite 2: Is it good value for money, because that's possibly the first thing that concerns me! How long was it?
Forumite 1: Well, everyone plays at different speeds... but the strategy guide says it has five chapters.
(My head: They're acts you lovely fool!)
Forumite 2: Five? Man, I just played Dark Castle Mystery Asylum: The Mysterious Curse of the Spirit Hospital. That game has fifteen chapters! It must therefore be three times better value for money.
Forumite 1: Your logic is impeccable. I'm going to buy DCMA:TMCOTSH instead.
(My head: Apples and pears! You're comparing apples to pears! When is a heap not a heap? Stop breaking stuff!)

Okay, I'm being melodramatic :o) But you see my point. I can catch these people - I can snare them without releasing the other folks - more wood for the beach hut.

I'm poised... I'm coiled like a contraceptive, ready to tie a high tensile invisible thread to my towel, throw it into the ring, and then snatch it back when nobody's looking.
If I break each act down into, say, themed tasks, and then if I call these themed tasks 'chapters', I'll probably find I have something like twenty plus 'chapters' - maybe thirty. Heck, I could probably forge a mockery of a 'chapter' out of every minute quest.
Chapter one: Using the screwdriver.
Chapter two: Moving a bit to the left.
Chapter three: The return of the screwdriver.

And then we come to that word. You know the one I mean. We dare not speak its, er, name.
Forumite 1: Did you hear how Edwina says' inventory'? Nobody says it like that.
Forumite 2: Yeah. Those devs are thick.
(My head: Shut up! Everyone I know says it like that [pretty much :o]. It's not 'wrong'. That's prejudice that is!)
The evidence is conclusive. Be still my quivering heart. I'm going to have to ask Julie Anne to say 'IN- ventory'. She'll probably roll her eyes and think 'another one falls upon the blade of conformity'.

There's something I'm constantly aware of. It's a good thing to be constantly aware of.
I've been right many times before. Sometimes when I'm right, I get the effect I'm after - or, from time to time, something more than I expected.
Other times when I'm right, I don't get the effect I'm after.
I've been stubborn; I am stubborn. It's a prerequisite I'm afraid.
But I've learned - I'm learning - that sometimes it's better to be wrong. Ends and means and justification and all.

1 comment:

webdesign said...

what's wrong and right..
non voice projects