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Friday, January 30, 2009

White Mage Story Update & "You Got Your Reality in my Fantasy!"

I have two questions for the audience today.

I find myself in conflict with White Mage Story. The first is the ending - I'm finding it difficult to reconcile the message that I wanted to send, with the message that everyone received. It's like playing telephone. I was trying to say something about "it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do it to the best of your ability". Instead, people got "learn the value of what you do, rather than trying to change it". I think a lot of people misinterpreted White Mage Story, which is my own fault. The trick now is whether to go with the flow, or correct stuff. I'm going to try to correct stuff. I think it comes from not illustrating certain points. I think people thought the main character was a jock stuck in art class. I need to make him more of a guy with aspirations of being a noble knight than a guy who just wants to hurt people. Fortunately, I see the signs that made people think that. I just have to amend them.

The second question is of the fantasy environment. There's a lot of people who are complaining about the "real world" references in what is considered an "alternate earth" fantasy. This means that there's no "real world" like in Harry Potter where there's this sub-culture of magic. However, people are balking at some of my lax language. Apparently, in an alternate earth, you can't have things like pizza and God (as in "God, where did I put my khukuri?"). This apparently takes the reader out of the world.

My question is, what's wrong with this? Is there a reason an alternative earth can't have pizza? Doesn't it take you out of the world when your character says "Oh, Fistandatilus, not another pop quiz!". It's not like I'm creating an anthropoligic environment here. To me, an elaborate fantasy world seems a little ridiculous, better suited to epic stories, and, more to the point, does not fit this story. I don't want a fantasy world where everyone goes around saying "forsooth" and "zounds" and "get your hand off my codpiece!"

Think about Final Fantasy (which my story bears no relation to. Nope, no sireee), FF7 and FF8 have magic and dragons and computers and CDs. It's not the greatest parallel and there are lots of things that remain unexplained in these worlds (there are spaceships and satellites but we still worry about fish monsters?). But that's not terribly different from other fantasy stories (the dragon can just pluck out half his heart?).

I think people can get anal about their swords and sorcery. They cry "hey, you got your reality in my fantasy". The lines start crossing - is this steampunk? Alternate history? Urban fantasy? High fantasy? But when you've got a good story, do you really care? That might be egotistical to say, but I'm not worried about whether Tigerheart or The Golden Compass is steampunk because it has airships or heroic fantasy because its got a central hero on a quest or comic fantasy because it has talking bears.

When I wrote The Heretic, I realized how many things wouldn't exist in an alternate reality - from big things like golf and soccer, to little things like expressions and names for things. It was difficult to eliminate it all, come up with alternatives. Here. I'm not doing that because I think it gives my story flavor. And it's not like these things affect the plot. There's no reason to think that a fantasy story has to eliminate all real-world references. I say, give my knights pizza.
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