Monday, July 18, 2011

Creativity vs. Continuity

So I've been working on a writing assignment for five of the last seven days. Even at a very modest five hundred words a day that means I should have 2500 words in the can. Right?

Zero words later I have run smack dab into the steel cage death match of creativity vs. continuity.

As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons that I love writing is the ability to make stuff up. Being able to create a character, a plot, a new technology, even an entire universe , words can't describe. And getting to read your words in print is both humbling and completely ego satisfying.

Now if I were writing a short story, in a made up universe, that bore no connection to modern reality at all, I could do whatever I wanted to do with that creativity. Need a wormhole from Houston 1945 to Alpha Centauri 5012? No problem, just insert an interphasal flux wave form engine and I'm done.

Only when you start playing in a sandbox that is connected to something bigger, then you start to have issues. If I'm going to use a flintlock pistol, then I can't kill a person at a 1000 yards with it. Everyone knows what a flintlock is and that it can't do that. When you start playing in an entire universe you really start to run into constraints. Imagine if a writer tried to put transporters into Star Wars? That would go over about as well as symbiotic life forms that channel energy (Okay, so important note. When you invented the universe, you get to change the rules.) If you want to write in the Star Wars universe, you have to play by the Star Wars rules. Jedi don't use red light sabers, Wookies don't speak English and no one says "Beam me up."

So five days into my writing assignment and I'm at zero word count. Welcome to research and note taking. I've not written a single usable word, but I've researched the technology I'll be using, the backgrounds and names of the characters and the time period for the project. I have to admit, some of it has been a royal pain in the seated portion of my anatomy. It would be so easy to use no-name references, run of the mill technology and a time period with no relation to any major event in the universe. I could do that, but I also know the readers of BattleTech love the intricate details and when something new slides into the existing history like a hand into a glove, we have happy fans.

So for this project continuity wins over creativity. If you want to play in someone else's universe, you gotta play by the rules.

I do have this great idea for a completely unconventional knight in shining armor in a no name fantasy universe. Maybe next week.

Until next time,
Writer, Explorer, Learner

Caveat Emptor- These blogs are written without the protection of an editor. I do proofread them, but I know I'm far from perfect. The ideas are sound and I'm still learning the foundational techniques. Thank you.

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