My god, it feels good to write about writing again. It feels good to wake up in the morning and not have to cringe when checking the news. I mean, there’s still a lot to cringe about, don’t get me wrong, but at least Cheetoh-lini has been dethroned and I don’t have to worry the country is going to explode in flames every time he opens his fat, stupid mouth.
For now, I mean. The people who believe his garbage are still out there and there’s still a lot of them.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t allow myself to feel good…
Yep, still working through the trauma from that asshole.
But let’s set that aside for now. I want to talk about writing!
First off, the concluding book of The Adventures of Grant Scotland is coming along, albeit quite slowly. Sorry for that. The writing tasks for the computer game project I’ve been working on have reached a fever pitch and it’s difficult to set aside time for my own projects. I’m having a blast, though, so I hope they announce it soon so maybe I can talk a little more about it. As for Grant… well, I still aim to finish and release his “final” adventure this year, but I’m afraid I can’t quite guarantee it.
I’ll keep you posted. Meantime, please send me positive mental energy, creative writing booster thoughts, well wishes, cat memes, enchantments of eldritch power, etc.
Secondly, and to the purpose, do you recognize the quote above? It’s from Hamlet. It’s when he’s trying to get Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to tell him why they came to Elsinore and they’re being all cagey about it. He badgers them a bit and then commands them to say something and they’re all like “uh… say what?”
And then he lays that line on them. The wording there always confused me a bit. Is he saying “get to the point” or is he saying “just bullshit me, because I know you’re going to anyway”? Knowing Hamlet, it’s probably both. That moody little bitch had a dizzying talent for saying two things at once.
You know what made me think of it? The Marvel franchise, weirdly enough. In addition to watching the wonderful Wandavision (a must see for all Marvel fans but I imagine it’s a little confusing for anyone else), I’ve been re-watching the MCU movies. And I’ve noticed something I didn’t quite catch the first time I saw those films.
I always thought those scripts were so tightly constructed that you had to hold your breath and squint for two hours just to make sure you didn’t miss a single piece of critical information. And that’s mostly true, but there are times when things are mentioned by the characters that are not quite “to the purpose.” And it’s wonderful. I would also argue that it is essential to good fiction writing.
It is not bad to have things happen in your stories that do not tie-in neatly to the overall plot. In Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are essentially a completely expendable side plot. Take them out of the play and the whole thing still hangs together just fine. But keep it in there and you have a more robust world. Who are these guys, really? What are they planning? We never know, not for certain anyway. They could have been merely giving lip service to the King and never seriously meant Hamlet any harm, but Hamlet deals with them before ever letting them affect the larger plot.
But does that make it a distraction for the audience? I don’t think that it does, even though it is entirely extraneous. And here I’m sure there are hordes of Shakespeare scholars who would disagree with me and say that R & G are critical to underlining Hamlet’s mental state and punctuating his destructive potential and blah, blah, blah. Speak not, ye hoary old sages! Back! Back to your dusty tomes! This blog is no place for you!
Anyway, my point is that it’s a bunch of words that technically don’t have to be there in order for the play to work and most writing advice you’ll find says that something like that needs to be ripped out. And my personal preference is to lean in that direction as well, but it is good (nay, critical!) to let your pen stray a bit every now and again and discover or express some things that are not necessary to advance the plot.
In Iron Man 2, for instance, we see Tony repeatedly express his revulsion at being handed things. We didn’t see it in the first Iron Man and we don’t see it in the third one. What is it? Is he a germophobe? Was it some sort of trauma from what happened to him in the first movie? A little poking around the internet reveals there are two theories. One states that it is because he was so traumatized when handed the news about his parents deaths as a kid, that he doesn’t want any strangers handing him anything. This isn’t well supported, but it sort of fits with how his character handles trauma. Another theory suggests it is because he is, in fact, a germophobe and this is well supported by both Stan Lee’s vision for the character and a deleted scene where Pepper follows Tony around with a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Ultimately, it doesn’t mean anything in terms of the plot of the movies or even the overall arc of his character, but it does add a little color and it makes a viewer wonder. It certainly made me wonder about it and made me go search for answers. And in that search, I gained a broader appreciation of the Marvel universe.
So, it worked. It pulled me in deeper, even though it was clearly a few throw-away lines that they just left in there because they didn’t feel like reshooting the scenes to take them out when they decided to abandon the germophobe aspect of his character.
Now, Wandavision almost makes the entire show about things we’re not sure we should care about… and then slowly, delightfully, brings to light the things we maybe should have been paying better attention to all along and shows how most of them knit together to form a story. It’s a wonderful demonstration of story-telling through the lens of a fractured psyche. I won’t go into all of the questions that every little detail from each early episode raises, because that would fill an entire encyclopedia set. But, if you’re watching the show and you’re curious to know more about what’s going on (although that last episode certainly answered a lot of questions) I highly recommend checking out New Rockstar’s episode breakdowns.
Well, that’s it. That’s all I got for February. Just getting this one in right under the wire. Remember to let your characters breathe and let yourself throw some neat junk into your stories from time to time.