Books

Time to expand the Potterverse

Yesterday, I tweeted a link to a damn sweet collection of photo manips done by this talented Tumblrino. It reminded me once more how bad J.K. Rowling is at marketing the Potter franchise. Well, “bad” is a strong word. Let’s replace it with “extremely careful”. Though the typical merchandise and multimedia products are available, the Potterverse has never been the backdrop for something like a spin-off Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series or something else that expands on the world presented in the books. While that is a good way for Rowling to protect her intellectual property from the mad ideas of other authors and marketeers, it is also a missed chance for a setting so rich like that of the Potter books.

Let’s just take a look at, for example, Star Wars. Over the years, the so-called “Expanded Universe” has deepened and enriched the franchise through comic books, novels and an animated TV show. “Enriched” is both negative and positive in this case: for every great character added to the pantheon of space heroes, a dozen plot holes popped up due to sloppy writing or contradictions with other storylines. This, of course, is the danger of such an expanded setting: once you give the reins to other authors, you don’t know what they will do to your creation. That must be a scary feeling, but one should also not forget that new people bring in new ideas.

I’m not saying the Potter franchise will die anytime soon, but I feel like the world of Hogwarts could use some fresh ideas. I mean, there’s a lot to work with, it just needs some fleshing out! How about a somewhat darker series of stories about Snape’s youth, where we see his lonely moments in Hogwarts, his initiation into the Death-Eaters and his torn psyche? Heck, we already know a lot about Snape, so why not pick something up that has only been mentioned passingly. Murf mentioned over on Twitter how a story about dragon-wrangling in Romania would be damn sweet. What’s a job like that like? How do you hide dragon hunts from mortal eyes? Who would take up such a job? It would be like Deadliest Catch, broadcasted in a pub in Diagon Alley!

As said, I can understand Rowling’s caution with handing over control of her universe to other writers, but I really feel she’s missing chances here. If a set of photo manips by a talented git from the Internet can get fans hyped about the possibilities of an alternate timeline, imagine what would happen when Rowling announces a mini-series about such a “what if”- scenario?

Trust me, even a Silencing Charm couldn’t calm the fandom then.

Immersion – how to make me drown in a fictional world

Jewel over at Healing the Masses posted a great article about immersion in MMO’s, and that post alone is to blame for my sudden need to share my opinion on the topic of immersion. Immersion…the word alone sounds like it is a science in itself. Quite frankly, that is the case. Being capable of having someone utterly consumed by a world that is not real (at least not in most definitions of the word) is both a scientific and artistic feat, and that is probably why so much media fails at it. Still, I feel like the foundation for an immersive experience is not too complicated, and that’s why I want to share with you how any kind of videogame, TV show, movie or book can have me drown in the world it creates.

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What happened to Digital Dragonslayers?

“Zinda the Dragonslayer” by eisu

On 1 November 2013, I started writing Digital Dragonslayers. As planned, I wanted to devote the month to writing a non-fictional piece about my life as a MMORPG gamer: how I started, why the genre plays an important role in my life and how it influences others. Within the first days, I was able to amass quite the word count. Without much ado, the lines and formulations just came to me, manifesting on the digital paper of my Google Drive. Then, however, something happened. Around the 15.000 words mark, I noticed something.

I was done.

At least, it felt like I had encapsulated everything I wanted to say about the life of a MMO gamer. I re-read my script, but in a way, I had covered everything I had set out to cover. Sure, I could have started cleaning it all up, adding a description here and there, but that would have never taken me to that 50k cap of NaNoWriMo. I was simply done…and that frustrated me so much I canned the thing.

Yesterday, I skimmed through it again, and noticed that I had given up too early. Sure, I had already covered a lot of what I wanted to say in those 15.000 words, but I’m not done yet. Re-reading what I wrote has given me ample ideas of what to do with what I already have, and how I’ll expand on it. Sure, I might have “lost” NaNoWriMo, got I won a treasure trove of blogging topics.

So yeah, I didn’t slay the dragon that is NaNoWriMo, but you will certainly hear of Digital Dragonslayers in the future…in one way or the other!

NaNo Prep: a rough structure

NaNoWriMo is less than a week away, and I’m knee-deep in my preparations for it. So far, I feel like I have the rough structure for Digital Dragonslayers down. Essentially, the book will be made up of three parts:

  1. A history of MMORPG’s
  2. Defining a Digital Dragonslayer
  3. The lives of the Dragonslayers

Each part will comprise several chapters, and I make it my goal to not focus make the historical parts too boring. Readers should get an entertaining overview of the genre, not feel like they have to take a re-sit of their most hated high school class.

Anyway, I’m still looking for MMORPG aficionados who would like to tell their story. Murphy over from murfvs.net already offered his support, and I will surely come back on that offer. If you feel like you have something to contribute to my project, hit me up!

NaNo Prep: what is a “digital dragon slayer”?

What did I get myself in to?

First, I decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s no biggy. I mean, I’ve done it before, so what could happen right? Right?

Well, ambition happened. Planning to write an informative discourse about the lives of MMO gamers turns out to be more work than I expected. Researching the history of the genre and trying to get some gamers to share their stories with me is taking more time than I had estimated, and so I guess I’ll be going into November (and thus into writing the damn thing) ill-informed.

Oh well, NaNoWriMo is meant to create drafts, not finished books. Right?

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NaNo Prep: of rebels & dragonslayers

Sometimes, you just gotta give in and start a revolution. It worked for the French (kinda), the Americans (sorta) and, more recently, the Egyptians (well…), so why shouldn’t it work for me and this year’s NaNoWriMo? Eff yeah, I’ll be what they call a “NaNo Rebel”!

So, how does one rebel during NaNoWriMo? Well, while all the other abiding participants write some fictional story about dragons and the people who slay them, I’ll be busy writing a non-fiction tribute to the real dragonslayers: MMORPG players. That’s right, this year’s project will be a written look at the history of these games and the people who play them.

Working title? Digital Dragonslayers – when office clerks become fantasy heroes.

Why am I not going for a novel like many other participants? Simple: this fascinates me. I’ve been a part of this hobby for years now, and I would love to mix my practical experience with more knowledge about the evolution of social games and the thoughts and motivations of fellow gamers. It’s gonna be an exciting experiment in many ways!

There’s research to be done and people to be spoken to. If you have some fascinating insight into the history of MMORPG’s to share, or if you would like to share your story, hit me up in the comments below or send me a mail at the.chindividual@gmail.com

Go now. Those dragons won’t slay themselves!

NaNoWriMo: preparing for the madness

Hey kids, September’s almost over! You know what that means? Yes, October is almost upon us! And you know what that means? It’s almost November! November, the month of pre-Christmas madness, transitional shitty weather and, most importantly…NaNofrickingWriMo!

Last year, I participated in this month-long write-a-thon, blindly writing a story of at least 50,000 words. The end result, a sci-fi supernatural action story dubbed “Warlox” is still haunting my Google Drive, I haven’t done anything with, but the fact I got myself to write more than 50,000 worth in just four weeks is something I’m really proud of. This year, though, I want to raise the bar. This year, I’ll do this right. I won’t just blindly rush into the jungle that is writing. I will draw my map, set my course towards a firm plot, and fight my way through the constricting vines of plotholes, the dangerous Mary-Sue-Beasts, all the way to the hidden shrine of that total word count.

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