The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on December 23, 2009

Let’s talk Christmas.

In the last few years, I’ve enjoyed giving just as much as I’ve enjoyed receiving. It’s fun to think of something that my family would really like, and seeing their reactions. Especially when I do it on my own, and don’t just get them what they tell me to get them. I’d like to think I’d know what kinds of things they’d like whether or not they give me any direct ideas.

I also enjoy real surprises more. I can barely think of things to ask for anymore. I used to ask for a lot of games, but I’ve just been buying them on my own the last little while (not to mention that my taste has narrowed so significantly, there are usually less than a dozen games I’m actually interested in each year). Most of the stuff I’ve asked for are either practical (this year, I want new winter gloves) or stuff that I pretend is practical (various office supplies). This year, I tried to make the gift ideas better (they complained that I was hard to buy for last year) by including several things that I think are nice, but I would probably never buy for myself. Apparently, that didn’t fix things. Oh well.

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And now, some things in fiction that I like for some reason:

Fantasy meets Sci-Fi
I just find it awesome when wizards and dragons suddenly come face to face with robots and lasers. I think this can extend to many other things as well (cartoony meeting non-cartoony, for example) that feel like something really special, because they shouldn’t happen. Throwing together incongruous elements is a bad idea…unless you can think of a way to make them work. I try to do that (most of the time), and throwing together incongruous elements is pretty common in my ideas.

Good Guy Monsters
Because there’s nothing in any rule book for ideas that says weird looking things can’t be one of the ‘good guys’. Monster protagonists can often be more compelling, because unlike the standard human figure, you don’t automatically understand their situation. Yes, even humans on other planets or in some bizarre other-realm are still easier to relate to because they still look like you, sort of. I was reading an article about Avatar, and it asked whether the human protagonist was even necessary. The reasoning for him, it seems, was to act as the ‘audience relation character’, because people watching just can’t connect with tall blue cat people. Aside from the more troubling aspects of this concept (most ‘audience relation characters’ are white males), it also shows how a legitimate way of looking at fiction (studying the audience) could be turned into a marketing function.

But yeah, good guy monsters. Love ’em.

Separate or Conflicting Antagonists
Sure, the odd team-up could happen, but for whatever reason, if the thing has more than one villain, having them at odds rather than working with eachother is sort of interesting. It makes the world seem bigger, because it houses all these different personalities who don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other hanging around. And of course, different motivations leads to conflict, so it’s fun to compare and contrast how your antagonists think.

If you noticed, most of these ideas apply mainly to a very specific kind of genre and atmosphere, which I here dub ‘Nerd Fiction’. A lot only really applies in something long-form, episodic, and…well, Saturday morning. It is entirely possibly to fit some this stuff into something actually substantial, but mostly it’s fluff for a very juvenile kind of fiction. While I hope to have a wide variety of things to write about, I must admit that I’m still drawn the juvenile stuff. I’ll try to bring some intelligence to it, though! I promise!

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