Saturday, October 20, 2012

Megalo and Maniacal

Remember those old comic books that featured some megalomaniacal, god-wannabe, mad scientist creating his own kingdom of new life-forms? It was like a world in a bottle, except that the bottle was the size of a city. Invariably this guy, whose name was always something equally delusional, like “Giganto the Awesome”, would locate his creation in some godforsaken outpost like Antarctica or the Sahara desert. He would do that because, you know, there’s SO much infrastructure already there to support his massive project, not to mention lots of flights coming into the local airport to bring him all those high-tech components.
You remember those guys, right? My favorite was the dipshit who built his kingdom on the side of a mountain cliff. It was a wicked visual, to be sure. So wicked, in fact, that it wasn’t until many years later that the light bulb went on. A mountain cliff? Really?
Readers of my blog remember I was complaining last week about my problems with plot generation. If you consider that a plot is just a linear slice of the larger world in which it takes place, you may think that I’m also in the business of world generation. In that case, I would invite you to bow down and address me as Giganto. Then again, maybe not. I’m not going to create a whole new world for two reasons: one, I’m not George R.R. Martin, and two, see above.
Instead, I thought that I would turn the linear-slice concept on its head. Rather than string together a sequence of events, I would generate the plot with random access. In other words, I would go back to the index card method. It worked for Machines of Kali, and it’ll work for Currencies of Loki. After all, making each scene the atomic unit of the story (versus characters or events) is not that far-fetched.
Some of my favorite writer/bloggers will post pictures of their offices, in which an entire wall will be covered with pinned-up cards and post-it notes. I’m not into the whole bulletin board thing myself, but I am a big believer in the sort of flexible development that allows you to drill down to a single space. When you’ve crafted a scene that exists on its own, you can focus on just that space. There’s something oddly exhilarating about the prospect of sitting down to spew out the most extreme, lurid, and potentially devastating piece of narrative possible. A scene-centric focus liberates you to do that.

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