Friday, October 23, 2009

... architectural revisions

Word from my editor indicates that a third pass is well in progress, and things have gotten far tougher. By that I mean she's gotten far tougher on me, and is giving the story a good smack-around to whip it into shape. Oddly enough, two sections were so badly written that she wrote paragraphs explaining the problems, and both had to do with architecture. Simply put, the descriptions of both Nightfall's tower and The Lady's villa are confusing, and the content of the story inconsistent with what's described. To my defense, all of this was written before architecture school, and based heavily on the original story. Of course none of that is an excuse, and I look forward to extensive revisions of both problems once the manuscript is back in my hands.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

... reverse derivation

While writing COT-R I adopted a theory which I dubbed reverse derivation. This will be drawn upon much more for the writing of COT2, since I will be exploring into unknown territory, and dealing with the most pivotal events of the entire Thief trilogy, such as the transformation of The City which took place between the Dark Project and the Metal Age.

Fanfictions are derivations of derivations. Works of fiction are derived from the real world, and then the fan derives farther still. This copy-of-a-copy approach (though now that the VHS days are behind us that concept will probably die soon) is a component in the fanfictions infamy. Different works have different levels of derivation from the real world. Books, oddly enough, seem to be derived the least from the real world. (This is ironic to me because books are the farthest from the real world, being just strings of symbols...) Movies go in the middle, and games are derived the farthest. I find this ironic again, since games are supposed to be interactive simulations so they should be the closest of all to real life, right? In reality I think all gamers agree that the abstractions in games really does push it the farthest away.

So the conundrum of the game fanfic is to be the type of work that should be the closest derivation of the real world, and yet it's derived from the thing that is the farthest derivation of the real world.

So, that's where the reverse derivation comes in. I am attempting to place my writing on the derivation chain where literature should go, rather than at a distant point beyond games. Of course, even though the Thief universe is derived from the "real world" it's a different world from our own. So what I've done is looked at patterns in games that are derived from the real world, such as historical shooters and so forth, and reversed their conventions along the same lines to arrive at what real world elements the game-world elements in Thief could be derived from. In many cases it's trivial. Games have health packs or first aid kits which deliver instant recovery from fatal wounds the same way that Thief's healing potions do. Thus, in the literary version of the Thief universe, health potions are no different from common medicine. The various fantastic arrows that the player is given is more difficult to reverse-derive since they're unique in all of gaming, but they've driven me to the conclusion that elemental crystals are real, and it would be possible to tie one to an arrow, but noone goes around with a quiver full of water arrows, and they would probably be very difficult to shoot.

Health potions and water arrows are trivial in the grand scheme of things. The real topics that interest me are the historic ones, the ones that deal with the culture of the Thief world and how the society operates. Those will be the topics I will tackle with great interest while writing COT2, and it's very likely that the broad strokes will not agree with what is presented in the games. I very much doubt that the Call of Duty games paint an accurate picture of World War II.

Monday, October 12, 2009

... backtracking

After talking it over with some concerned people and thinking about it over the weekend, I'm backtracking from my previous post. If COT2 is going to be COT2 then it should stick with the same form throughout. So at this point (who knows how things will change) I shall continue to plan out the entire work as a series of self continued but networked short stories.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

... a mixed plan

My current plan is to do COT2 in three sections.

The first section will comprise three books, and will consist of 12 to 14 short stories. I say 12 to 14 because I have 14 ideas for stories, but at least two of them are so distinctly independent from the grand plot arc of COT2, they could easily be omitted. Five of the stories happen before COT-R, and the other nine after. Of the nine after, four of them build upon events of the previous ten stories. Does my math make sense?

The second section will be a stand-alone novella featuring Ghost and Lytha in an adventure that, while being a naturally progression of their story, is not intrinsically linked to the grand plot arc of COT2. I decided to do it this way because I wanted to continue their story, but I felt that trying to integrate it with the main one would be a disservice to both. I am not sure if I want to tell it in the COT-R standard four-chapter format, or go for something different, but it will be a stand alone story about as long as one of the COT-R books.

The third section will take the plotlines introduced in the first 14 (or 12) short stories and weave them together into a two-part novella (Books 5 and 6) in order to bring COT2 to a conclusion. It will strongly resemble COT-R (and COT for that matter) in that it will be telling multiple stories simultaneously, forgoing the short-story format used in the first three books.

I feel that doing it this way allows me to focus on the small issues for the first three books, in a series of stand alone stories any of which could exist separate from COT2 (or even Thief canon). Then, I switch from crawling to walking with a much larger-scale stand alone story, and finally wrap it all up with a tale that readers of COT-R would be accustomed to that can launch directly into the meat of the plot without having to spend several chapters setting the stage. All of this also assumes that COT2 will be about the same length as COT-R, but it's flexible enough to allow anything to happen.

In a nutshell, COT-R was one book in six volumes. COT2 will actually be six books. The first three will be short story collections, followed by a novel, followed by a two-part novel. That sounds doable, and fun.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

... three books, nailed down

I sat down last night and this morning to nail down the content of COT2 Book 1 (the first four stories) and ended up doing the same for 2 and 3 as well, though in much less detail. In the end I went with a more chronological arrangement (though not a strict one) where the first four stories concern events that actually happen before COT, dealing with new characters, with some cameos. They'll all be very different, some very dark, some more lighthearted, some very independent, some very fanficcy, some taking place over the course of months, some hours. The second book will be a direct continuation from the end of COT, and in the third book the various short stories will start to come together into a larger plot, with the characters and events from the first book tying in with the second.

It's possible that for books 4, 5, and 6, I may switch back to more chapter-like stories, with a continuous flow. It depends on how things go! I suspect it may be wise to wait until these twelve stories are written before planning out the next twelve. I will say one thing is certain - going with a short-story format has made things much easier to manage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

... rummage sale

Went digging through the old COT2 today, looking for more good things to salvage for the new version. I didn't find much. Really, I barely found anything.

What I have for COT2 is in a bit of a pile. It's about 200,000 words long, with no chapter structure or any sort of clear narrative. There's a couple of story arcs going on, which fade in and out as the story progresses (told strictly chronologically) over the course of several months. It generally results in a convoluted mess that has no clear purpose or direction.

I'm going to start laying down the blueprints for at least a half-dozen of the stories which will form the starting point for COT2, but now it seems I'll be doing it without the aid of the existing text.