My last short story, titled "The Way of the World", is the only one I'm actually still proud of. It was written for a story-writing contest in 2009. The objective was to write a piece about the Core War. This was my proudest story by far. It involved a battle between the Ice Tribe, Fire Tribe, and Sand Tribe armies that explored the philosophy of each tribe and how each was utterly convinced that the course of the war would turn in their favor. Do you know what happened to that short story? It didn't stand a chance in the contest, in part because story details revealed after I finished writing completely contradicted key elements of the story as I had written it. I poured my heart into that story and it never stood a chance. I don't know if anyone else even remembers it.
I haven't written another fanfic ever since. I have absolutely no confidence in my ability to tell a story in which something meaningful actually happens. At best, I come up with a little snippet of story about my MOCs. I give them names, powers, signature weapons, and brief personalities. Just the kind of bio you'd see for a BIONICLE or Hero Factory character on the website.
There's nothing wrong with any of this, although I wouldn't mind reading your story with an open mind - I never got the chance. I like such new possibilities, even if contradictions exist. I'm sorry that Bionicle took away your joy when writing. Perhaps, now that the official story is over, the risk of contradictions is low, and you could try again?
But I don't fault you. Not everyone is cut out to be a writer, and there's no point in beating your head against a brick wall trying to do something you can't.
As you say, "working with infinity sucks", and so it feels better to have an open story framework for your MOCs to inhabit than to craft a story with no framework whatsoever to work from. My MOCs almost never emerge from the Hero Factory story framework. They come out of the LEGO pieces and whatever potential I find in them. But once the build is really coming together, it is easy to fit them into the story framework without having to contradict anything or re-imagine them to follow a bunch of rules and mandates. And that gives them a bit more life. Caitlyn Gauss XL isn't just an arbitrary 12-inch female figure, she's a Hero Factory hero with magnetism powers and motifs. Poison Dart isn't just a weird alien or monster, she's a female space villain with a poison gun (as you can see, coming up with names for Hero Factory characters is also remarkably fun and easy — their meanings are more or less obvious and they don't have to sound strange and foreign to fit in).
This I do not understand - why anyone would feel a need to have a story framework or that something is better if it fits into a story framework. I can understand why having a story framework would lend meaning to whatever creation you just made, but why does it have to fit in that story framework? Why did you interpret Bionicle such that everything Bionicle you made/ told stories of/drew, etc had to mesh with the official story?
A creation that I build or write up doesn't have to fit in anything, unless its for a contest or something. It's mine - I can do what ever I want with it, I made it. Frankly, I've seen my share of alternate fanfiction that outright contradicts the official story - in fact, I wrote a few myself as a new member here, and some of my devious plans for future fanfiction stretch the bounds of possibility in canon. I don't check every minuscule detail of my work against the official story every time I want to write something - otherwise I would never stop searching the Greg dialogues.
MoCing is an even broader category. Mostly I just build whatever, and then decide what story, if any, it will be in, and what role he/she/it will have. I usually have about 2-4 original stories or fanfiction type things in the back of my mind at any given moment, and so I just decide whether this thing I've built will improve one of those in terms of ideas, if so which one, how it can fit, etc.
But again, I am a writer, so that's probably altering my perspective so I can't see this clearly.
I appreciate having a cohesive, fully-developed narrative as much as anyone. But do those make as good Lego themes as Hero Factory? There I'm not so sure.
I'm not sure there's a clear objective answer; maybe HF's storyline is actually as good or better to its target fans. But what I was going to say in response to some points others raised before, and goes to this too, is there was just something very different about when a new story would come out. With Bionicle I was eager to find out what happens next.
With HF, it's just sort of openness to it, awareness that the next story is out there, and it's on some to-do list in the back of my mind, if I ever have time, check out the next one. Yanno? I think that has a lot to do with the overall narrative being talked about here. Ninjago has such an overarching clear theme too and likewise I'm eager to get the next stories ASAP.
FTR I experience this as well: from late 2006 on Bionicle.com was my homepage for the Internet and I would check it every day for updates and if there was something new, I would go for it immediately. (Bioniclestory.com was my second stop. I was a little OCD.)
Now, these days, I come here first, and I rarely check HF's website at all. BZP posts the news story, and I just go to the forum and think that maybe I'll get to whatever it is later. If you guys talk about it enough I eventually decide I want to know what's up so I can have my own analysis and all that.
Ninjago is about in the middle. Once I got started I plowed on through the episodes because I wanted to know what happened, but this new stuff is a bit on the disconnected side, so its starting to edge toward the "procrastination" list. It seems that I take forever to get into anything lol, and I'm always catching up, and when I do catch up everything goes downhill fast.
That aside, its probably true that overall story arcs are more engaging and less...lame.
* * *
General Point (this is not directed at anyone):
Somehow, I think this all boils down to a difference in preference, but what's confusing me is what preference? Maybe a "preference group"?
This argument for limited story (IMO) seems to bite around and eat its own tail. For example, if you have a simple story, then everyone can build their own stuff and make their own story. But if their own story is what is keeping them engaged, why bother with an official story in the first place? You'll only contradict what they invented and make them mad, or you'll just be throwing money into a story that they ignore.
On the other hand, you can have people who want storytelling to be done well. They are not going to bother with your shallow, limited story. They will move on the Ninjago or the Bionicle or something else that's keeping that part of them engaged.
What's the point of having a story if it's not done well? The people that invent their own story will chuck whatever story you invent to the curb because there's is better, and the people who want a decent story will chuck whatever story you invent to the curb because it is shallow, unengaging, and not worth the time of day. (Unless they have friends who want to discuss it because they are bored after their Bionicle ended and they have nothing better to do!) In my mind, there is no excuse for poor quality work. And that's what HF's story is: poor quality work. The only reason those sets are selling is because they are innovative, they are amazing, and they provide more flexibility in Mocing than ever before. The story, I'll bet you dollars to donuts, has little to do with it.
To invent a story with HF, as you claim HF "allows", I have to pull in outside ideas not directly inside to HF. The story does not make possibilities of itself. I can combine several Bionicle ideas in a new way, and new ideas will flow naturally from that recombination. I recombine HF elements and little happens. To tell a story of quality, I have to introduce outside ideas, because HF is not a quality, engaging story to begin with. To bring HF up to the level of quality I expect from myself as a writer, I have to introduce something new. And because the story is sooo lame, why should I even bother thinking up ideas to improve the story when I have 2-4 other much more promising concepts in mind to work on which are 200% more fun? Why should I even bother thinking up a story in the HF universe when the official story people aren't even going to put effort into it? If it's not worth effort from them, why is it worth my time and effort?
Now, realistically, people don't neatly fall in those two groups at the top - they overlap. But even if those two things are in the same person - the view of Lego as tool to express your creativity and viewing Lego (and related storylines thereof) as a source of ideas - they both kinda go unmet at once. Which kinda, you know, is lame. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame.