Recognize that console? I'm sure if you haven't figured it out before you now know I'm a huge fan of Lost... well, I'm not one of those people that decodes every little hint and writes tons and tons of detail on what it could all mean -- I save that for Bionicle. But the show is just awesome. That season finale, man, that rocked!
What I love about Lost is the mystery of it (as well as the coolness...). Sometimes I wonder if they borrowed half their ideas from Bionicle -- the idea of a mysterious island with this mechanical-sounding monster... that ends up looking like an arm of black smoke... Makuta anyone? Not to mention the Hatch that contains civilization... underground. Plus Cathy Hapka is writing a Lost book.
Of course, this is all coincidence -- these are really things that tie in with mystery itself. The concept of the Hatch (what is in it?), the concept of the button (what happens if it isn't pressed every 108 minutes?), the concept of the monster (what is it?), and the Others (who are they exactly?) -- all major themes of Lost. We know a lot more about some of them now, especially the first and second, but still, mystery is involved. Mystery is one of my favorite elements of a story. It's what keeps S&T thriving with theories about Bionicle, it's what enabled Bionicle to open up a whole new world of coolness with Metru Nui, it was the theme I asked about in one of my favorite topics (The Mysterious Feel -- What Creates it? -- Don't post there. He's dead, Jim.), and it's the number one thing I try hard to make my fanfics about.
The Bionicle Paracosmos was originally just my random roleplaying with sets back in 2001. The whole story of The Sword Is But The Focus was largely invented that long ago, played with my very first Bionicle set, Kopaka. That was back before I'd even heard of BZP, and back when I assumed I would never participate in those weird online forum thingies. When I discovered BZP I always tossed around the idea of doing my own fanfics based on my original imagined stories--I consider myself first and foremost a writer. I've always hoped that someday I might get published, and I've even got an entire world and series planned out that I want to do that with eventually. So I wanted to treat these fanfics very seriously; as practice for the "real thing."
But I came to beleive I could not do it unless I had some deep, core mystery to base it all around... and then build more and more layers of mystery on that. Somehow I seized on the concept of an alternate timeline story, that tries to be literally an alternate timeline, the Paracosmos. One of only two "real" timelines, and this one should not exist. It only exists because of "The Event," and somehow, it mirrors the official timeline, yet builds on it, deviates in places. And I've got the entire backstory, the big secrets, and the general story arc planned out now. My main goal with these stories is to keep a level of mystery throughout the series, up until the spectacular end. Along the way the Toa and Matoran discover the mysteries along with the reader -- even the Turaga are clueless about the deep secrets. Levels upon levels of mystery.
That's that goal. It's easier said than done though. I know all the answers to my story; I cannot read my story the way readers do, seeing something as a mystery to myself rather than a clue I'm planting, and being able to revel in its mysteriousness. For that I absolutely depend on my readers -- you guys say when you think a chapter is mysterious, and so far it seems I've kept that up well, slowly revealing the answers while opening up new ones, all the while with rocking action and the best characterization I know how to do. The story I'm in the middle of posting now, Agents of Surrender, is one of my favorites, and it is very mysterious because you guys don't know what the hidden enemy is -- by the end of it you will know at least part of it. Currently I'm putting off work on the RPG a bit so I can write the next epic, which delves in more deeply into this enemy, the history of an important one, and Kopaka's struggle to deal with the enemy's attacks. The action, to me at least, is exhilerating. But this is a story where for the first time I'm attempting what Bionicle did with Metru Nui -- I first begin to explain some of the background and details about one of my big mysteries. It's uncharted territory for me as a writer, and it's a constant struggle to avoid giving away too much too fast, yet not confuse the reader. There are mysteries, that's for sure. For one, Bhukasa, the non-Matoran guy you met in the bonus episode, shows up for the first time chronologically, and beleive me, I'm not telling you guys a thing about his past yet. There are deeper levels to the plans of the hidden enemy that are not revealed. But how to emphasize the mystery of all this and make that enjoyable in and of itself? Tough thing to do, especially since as the one who knows the answers I'm "writing blind."
Which is why I am so thankful for stories like Lost and Bionicle. They allow me as a writer to see through the eyes of readers in a way. I know as little about the deep secrets behind them as yall know about the Paracosmos. It's an invaluable resource. I'm not active in the Lost community, but I obviously am in the Bionicle one. That topic I made about the Myterious Feel shows that a lot of people have big disagreements over what is mysterious and what is not. I and many others found Metru Nui very mysterious, because even as old, lingering questions were answered, about ten more popped up alongside it. Others found the fact that anything was answered at all ruined mystery for them. This year of course, we've got probably the most mysterious island in Bionicle yet, other than the fact that Mata Nui being the first made it seem more mysterious than it was, and yet some complaints have already been put forth that it's not mysterious enough. Mystery seems a very hard fish to catch and keep caught. It's slippery because by its very nature we don't understand it.
The best we can do is try, and learn from other stories... I hope that as you Paracosmos fans are led deeper into the "Classified Information" you enjoy my attempt!