"Sometimes my characters change but my names don't."
Ah, the memories. Actually, those instances usually give me good storytelling ideas so that I can perhaps incorporate bits of the reasoning behind the old name into the new elements of the story. By that, I mean names like Mr. Maker, Scissorsquid, and a few others whose names I don't really feel like changing. Well, I might change the name of the Scissorsquid race. The scissor part makes sense, but they have absolutely nothing to do with squids, so the name will one day change, when I get around to the part of the story that involves them. I think I'd still somehow write one of them as killing a squid early on just as a reference that only I would get, though.
Then there's adapting a name that was previously unacceptable to a new name that fits the character.
Silver Bird was once Lugia, my most prominent example. Lucy was once Mewtwo, because I thought that he was a very manly woman thing. Master Legious was Count Dooku, and then Darth Santus, then Darth Legious, and finally his current name. Although I might create a character named Santus just because of that and write him in such a way that hes a tribute to the writing process. Monthus was Mon Motha, before I realized that the name came from Star Wars. Vee was Veemon, Waldo the eugab was Gabumon, Blitz Anthony Macker was Blitz Krieg Maker, Mathias was Muzeca (although his race is now called the muzca), Dexter's real name turned out to be Daxtorum (Because why would an alien have a human name?), Lee Wark was Leonardo Warp (before I removed a few lettters from the Kitilik alphabet), the Kitiliks were Rukis from Neopets, Euthanasia Bones was California Bones, Kobus was Kragggh (with 3g's, which really makes him inferior to his older brother, Kraggh), and Lob was Absol.
Yeah, many of those were unoriginal. I can usually remember which of my characters are the oldest because of these. Silver Bird is probably the oldest out of all of those old names. In fact, believe the oldest characters of them all are myself, Death, Magical Jack, and Silver Bird.
Anyway, I've been thinking about literature a bit, in particular the art that makes its way onscreen. I was looking back on some of Spielbeg's masterpieces and remembering just how brilliant those 80's were. Seriously, you had so many good things that are remembered still today. Take, for example, E.T., a poster child for the magic of 80's music, and the child on the playground Spielberg was. It wasn't a book adaptation, not a sequel, prequel, midquel, shared universe, remake, or part of a franchise. There was a time when the kings of cinema were far more original, when risks were bigger and people tried fascinating new things. Jurassic Park might not have been an original screenplay, but the book wasn't a big craze like Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games. It was a very innovative age of filmmaking where people were inventive with their imaginations. Nowadays, people go for the sure thing, and they hunger for continuations to big series that get their justice. It's a craze, and I'm sure people will get over it in another decade. Somebody will dare to create a new big thing unique to cinema. I suppose it isn't a hole lot to complain about, since some of the series are cool, and a new Superman movie is coming out, and I love Superman. Back in the day, legends of mythical heroes were told over again and again among ancient civilizations, and it seems like we might be in one of those eras. People talk as if we lost something. I think we have, yes. Movies today certainly are not as good as movies back in the 80's. My mother was spoiled. Yet, I consider what people were talking about in the 80's, and it gives me some perspective, because Star Wars initiated an era where high concept rules the cinema. There was a ton of high concept, and some critics complained, because leading up to Star Wars people were making artistic, low concept film. Then boom, effects film became an industry and very nature of cinema changed. Looking farther back, musicals were once the royalty of cinema, because those were fascinating new things that talkies wanted to take advantage of, much like how The Wizard of Oz (still perhaps the greatest of the Greats), showed off with innocent, child-like amazement its color.
Pondering the seeds of greatness, I recall these things in the cinema and apply them to writing, and I see where they have been sewn. So much of it comes from simply allowing myself to be a child in my backyard. My best writing has always come from when I am eight years old again, when I am happy and my shame in daydreaming was nonexistant, and how sometimes even the simplest things amazed me (so long as they weren't girly, because those were too simple and to be made fun of). Hence, brilliant settings and larger-than-life characters could be inspired from everyday objects. I still recall how a mixing bowl inspired Atlantis, and a swingset inspired an epic flight.
Then I recall the innocene of having my favorite story told once, and then again with surprising new complexity. I recall being amazed and in-love when a good story kept on getting better and better. This happened when I read Harry Potter, or really, any series, so that I could be occupied for a long time. I also recall seeing the animated Hobbit movie, and then the animated Lord of the Rings films, and loving how things kept on getting bigger and more fantastic as they went along. So I understand the appeal to sequels, because it's cool to feel that after some time you can still return to a story. The people who really got it right, though, were J.K. Rowling and George Lucas for writing out a story that took up a whole series, because ultimately that was what I always liked. A story that went on and one, and could take days to tell. I liked creative genius that could take small things and make them big. Now as an older reader, I have to thank Jeff Smith for the pleasurable experience of reading Bone as a freshman in high school.
Yet, my thoughts don't end there. There are many branches of thought I could work through based off of these observations on the movies, but the one that stands out to me the most right now and is really moving me is the style of the 80's, and especially Stephen Spielberg. E.T. was a masterpiece, but the funny thing is that it would be a B-movie flop today, because everyone would have seen the ending coming and they would have claimed that it was simplistic, for children (which somehow is an insult), without a plot, and containing only the most basic characters. In spite of it all, E.T. is an icon of the big-screen and one of the greatest films of all time. The imaginations of the viewers, and the charm of the big-screen back then was different, though. How do I know that standards have changed? Superman Returns basically proved that the heartwarming and simple movie that's meant to fill someone with childlike wonder is no longer welcomed home. It truly was brilliant, and had a magnificent visual poetry to it, but interests are changing. I suppose I have Christopher Nolan to thank for that, who's really driven home an interest in intense man vs. man conflicts, darker storytelling, and impressionism over romantic fantasy. My criticism of Nolan isn't severe, but I have truly noticed a change in cinema the new Batman films, and a drive to make things edgier and familiar characters hardcore. I don't know if I'm stating my view on this right, but overall, there's still definitely a distinction between today's storytelling style and yesterday's, and it's not because of the special effects.
Yet, many of the movies today...There's not that mystic sense that I get from the 80's. Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, all original franchises that started all on their own, still trump anything released today. Then there was E.T. and other single movies that stood out all on their own. Titanic, Hook, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jaws (I'll admit, not all 80's stuff) all became icons of cinema history. Then there was their predecessor, the grandaddy of creating bold icons, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some of these had lesser-known sequels, but that's really beyond the point. What amazes me is that there was a time when a story could be put out there and not be part of a series, and it could be a big thing. Stephen Spielberg in particular talent for adding this definitive cinematic feel to his works. An original high-concept film could be more than just a B-movie so long as it treated itself with that sense of child-like wonder that Spielberg had.
So what do I have? I'm a wannabe author for a series of science fiction books. Certainly, when I start out, I will not have a series on my hand. When you are a beginning writer and you sit down to write a book, you don't have the right to suppose anything of its success. You can't bedazzle someone with imagery or music. You can't market it with trailers in the latest Superbowl. There's you, the paper, and the off chance that someone will read it. So what can I do, really, to leave as powerful of an impression as I can and leave my mark?
It might be getting redundant by now, but the answer to that question probably includes the key word "child like". I don't want to approach my literature just as a novel idea (no pun intended). There has to be some level of sincerity in it, some level of awe, and a firm belief in what I'm writing. I don't really base my premise for writing off of the current movers and shakers of cinema. Nolan and Whedon are looking at ways of giving major-league teams a good season, but that's not the same as creating a team from scratch. It's different when people are familiar with a concept, it's proven its success and following in society, and people are interesting in seeing it being taken one step further, whether it be through a sequel or adaptation into other media (such as the adaptation of Ghost into a stage musical). But really, people are going to run out of mainstays to work with, and I realize that I can never be a storyteller like Nolan is a storyteller because I'm never going to be a writer for DC or Marvel, or a director who helps develop the latest version of Sherlock Holmes. I'm out on my own, making my own stuff, and I really only have one go at it.
So I think of how the tales I knew as a child that were already in place a decade before I was born, how each of those had a sense of magic, and how those were bold. How each of them had a definitive feel to them that said "I am not a B movie." I'm not entirely sure what it is, if I haven't said all of the buzz words I need to already, but it's there. I write high-concept, and I definitely know that I want something that goes beyond what Looper was, which which was one of the few original high-concept films this year, and yet it was a b-movie compared to the rest of the giants that came out, and though I will remember it fondly, it's hardly a classic. Frankly, the same goes for Inception, another good action movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What makes this creative original film, in spite of its quality, resonate less than other original, innovative films back in the 80's? I don't know. Maybe it was expectations going in. It wasn't advetised as a new big thing or as a blockbuster, but I think I know why that was. In part, there's the culture today, but there was also the issue of reverence. It was creative, but it didn't dare to dream of itself as if it could be a big thing and let loose. E.T. sure did that, and so did Titanic. There was a certain attitude eminating from those before you even saw them. Take that away, and you get Looper, a time-travel movie with a cool premise and a good plot that will never become a classic because it didn't bother to try and be a definitive experience.
I want to try. I want to try and deliver a definitive experience. I want the fantasy, the return to childhood, all of it. I want my writing to hold strong, and to be more than just a unique "what-if?" type of book that tries to tackle a high-concept premise as if it was low-concept (which is the trend today, since a lot of sequels, remakes, adaptations, and franchises can do, since the concept has been explored before and they can move on to a low-concept story within the original premise, such as with Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy). Then perhaps I can have a strong, noble book series that it's possible to be a fan of, and maybe even for someone out there in the world be his or her favorite books. I know I want them to be mine.
Because I remember Star Wars, and I remember what that can bring to the table. It was the popular thing to hate the prequel trilogy (just as it was popular to hate Superman Returns and the new Indiana Jones movie), but I remember seeing it through the eyes of a child. I was eight, and my parents were going through a divorce. Star Wars was just the fantasy I needed, and even though Attack of the Clones wasn't as cool as The Phantom Menace (Obi-Wan wasn't as interesting as Qui-Gon yet), it was the perfect escape, the thing that gave my life when I was an energetic twig. I really look forward to the new movies with the utmost love, hoping and believing that they will present Star Wars, nothing more and nothing less. It's the one shot that people have of rediscovering just how simple perpetual amazement really is. "Keep them children," I say, and I have no shame. I want to return to my childhood so bad, and any movie or book that can do that is dear to my heart.