I've started watching a TV show. It's not a new show by any means, but I have only just started watching, I'm about halfway through season one, thanks to Netflix. No commercials, no waiting, just watch and enjoy. The stories in the show aren't new, stories far older then me in fact. The twist though, the twist they put on the stories, makes them so much more attainable in our modern world.
Now they have tried for years to put modern twists on old stories, that's nothing new. The theaters are full of remakes of old stories, and TV is constantly rehashing and beating dead horse after dead horse. It's enough to drive a viewer mad. Books do it as well, the names may change, but in the end most boil down to basics that can be found time and time again. ( I admit that last one kind of sheepishly as one who is writing a book.)
Rewrites, new spins, prequels, sequels and spin offs. If they are done right no one minds, but if there is a chink in the armor, a plot hole, a character that doesn't fit, all of it can fall apart. The world you have struggled so hard to build, to breath life into...it becomes a flat landscape, a monochromatic world that seems frozen. I sat watching an episode of one of my new favorite shows last night and realized the key. The key I had been missing, the story is old, but because of the world, the characters, the new story works. Each player has a role, a life outside the others. Even if they aren't on the screen they are acting and changing the world around them. Only if you let them have this freedom can you create something real and lasting.
I have been working on a novel since November, and I keep feeling like I'm letting it down. I know it has the potential to be a great story, if I let it. However I have been trying to force the word count higher and higher, not for story reasons, but to feel like I am accomplishing something. Word count doesn't matter anymore. It's great for getting started, and getting the basics out, but then you have to step aside from the number of words and focus on the world. Figure out who all the people are, what they love, why they are important. If they are blank slates how can anyone connect to them? Each player should be able to reach out and touch the heart of a reader or viewer, and if they can't they don't belong in the story.
Where is this going, well it was going into a rambling post about writing and how to make them as approachable as possible. Then I remembered that wasn't the point of this. Honestly not sure what the point was, getting my brain going I guess. Also to remind everyone, including myself, that rewrites are okay, retelling are okay, as long as they are your own. I have been struggling with my writing for a bit and pushing myself to the editing stage just to say yep it's done and it's just editing now.
The real work is only just beginning now though. The framework is there but the world needs life, it needs color. I know why the war started, I know the main characters, but what about the people around them, the people who made them what they are now. Now it's time to take an age old story and give it my own spin. I'd love to say it is as easy as good vs evil, but in reality very few ever think they are evil so when both sides think they are doing the right thing, how do you make both sides accessible and not crush the audience when one side inevitably falls?
Time to get back to work, time to find the secret to giving an imaginary world a life of it's own.