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A thread on storytelling...


#61

Oh, I know. I know most of these people are publishing absolute rubbish. But the last thing you can tell any of them is that. They’re totally immune to the concept of creative integrity. Or worth. Or value. Or legacy. They only think of the moment.


#62

How about the concept of hiring an editor or at least a proofreader? One e-book I recently read seemed like the work of a talented writer, but the grammatical errors (rookie mistakes like using “your” instead of “you’re”, or “their” instead of “they’re”, etc) kept me from enjoying it.


#63

Well, and not to be defensive because my books have proofreading errors, too, but even the major publishers release books with occasional typos. If the writing and the storytelling are good (it really has to be both), that shouldn’t be in itself a dealbreaker. Unless it’s all over the place, which if it is, there’s probably a lot of other issues you’re allowing yourself to overlook.


#64

The only difference between fan-fiction and an “official” tie-in is whether the publisher is paying you or not. Whether it’s any good is a different question, and unrelated to the “officialness” of it.

Kevin Anderson or Timothy Zahn didn’t create Star Wars any more than Young Duke (just picking a random name :wink: ) did. They’re all writing fan fiction. And, sight unseen, you’ve got no way to know if Anderson, Zahn, or Duke have better takes on the properly, or are better writers. If you like Star Wars, read them all and judge them on their own merits, not on the presence of a publisher’s logo on the front.

There’s a lot of terrible fan fiction. But there’s a lot of terrible official fiction too. The hit rate will probably be higher with official books because they’ve got a professional editor as a gatekeeper, but the good thing about fan fiction is that you don’t have to pay to find out if it’s any good.


#65

And, to be clear, I don’t self-publish fan fiction.


#66

Didn’t mean to imply you did, just needed a name for my example :slight_smile:


#67

S’okay!


#68

One of my favorite comic jokes in action and horror movies is when a survivalist/paranoid character in the cast - who’s always preparing for the end of the world - suddenly turns out to the most capable person in the story because they’ve been preparing for the end of the world even though the actual threat is nothing they prepared for.

The first time I saw this was in TREMORS


#69

I have to say that time travel stories are played out these days. It gets controversial as in “Why didn’t you stop 9/11?” among other tragedies in history.

Actually a better concept would be traveling to parallel dimensions and seeing alternate histories. The show “Sliders” has the premise but bit off way more than it could chew. A show like that done right with good detailed alternate histories would be good imho…


#70

There have been a few good ones lately - you see more of them anyway. I think Jeff Smith did a comic book about smugglers between parallel universes where they were just slightly different.


#71

RASL. Brilliant stuff.


#72

Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63 dealt with the dangers of changing history, specifically going back in time to stop Oswald from assassinating JFK.


#73

There was a nice low budget time travel movie with Haley Joel Osment as a genius son of a genius scientist who had disappeared when Osment was a little boy. It basically ruined the son’s life as he obsessed over finding out what had happened. Eventually, he discovers that his father went back in time so that he could meet Einstein, and he figures out how he did it.

That film was really cheap, and not terribly well directed or paced, but it was an innovative look at the perils of time travel. Like PREDESTINATION, it let the implications of the time travel generate the drama rather than focus on the actual mechanism of time travel itself.


#74

I don’t like stories with a “cop out” ending like War of the Worlds where the aliens had Earth on the ropes but died from some disease that they never immunized against… That took away everything imho.


#75

Well, there’s a certain worth to it. More often than we’d care to admit, the solution to a problem is incredibly simple. And if we’re really lucky, the solution will present itself. Sometimes, in fiction, a problem is so big that it’s actually gotten out of control, and this is the only solution possible. Otherwise, the Martians obliterate us. The end. Bleak story. Doesn’t resonate favorably with readers nearly as well, likely. And this kind of ending is probably more common than you’d think. Even Avengers ends like that. Just seal them off! Doesn’t actually solve the problem, it just ends it abruptly. Which is actually what a lot of people yearn for, come to think of it. Wars often end this way, and sometimes we get another war because of it.

…So, I guess what I’m saying is, this is the sort of thing that actually happens in the real world. Except here it goes by mundane names like “compromise.”


#76

True. However, there is also the real context of the story. In both the book and the Spielberg movie, WAR OF THE WORLDS was not about finding a way to defeat the Martians.

Honestly, most people haven’t read the book, but the Spielberg movie starring Tom Cruise as opposed to the older George Pal film thematically shares a lot with the novel.

Essentially, compare WAR OF THE WORLDS with INDEPENDENCE DAY. The latter film is broadly about the struggle to overcome the aliens and covers a lot of ground from soldiers to random citizens to the Presient of the United States. However, the former is about a man trying to survive the invasion and protect his family. It’s absolutely not about Tom Cruise finding a way to defeat the entire fleet of Martian invaders.

So, the outcome where the aliens are defeated by microbes is not a deus ex machina in the direct sense since the real story is about what Cruise’s protagonist does or fails to do to survive and protect his children. That story concludes with Cruise successfully reaching the safety of his ex-wife’s family home with his daughter safely by his side.

The novel itself is more about the fragility of human society (Victorian at the time) in the face of an overwhelmingly destructive enemy or disaster. How quickly social norms and morals will break down once the underlying order crumbles and the pressure of decades of social inequity released.

So, the conclusion where the aliens all ironically die from a threat they didn’t even suspect existed (no microbial life on Mars so they don’t even know that they don’t know about it), is more of an epilogue that closes the story - not the conclusion to the real story of the protagonist.


#77

I know what you mean, but like Jonny says, in War of the Worlds it’s a bit of a different thing that HG Wells was doing.

However, I do love alien occupation stories - the logical next step from War of the Worlds. I was disappointed by the V remake, but I loved the bits and pieces of the original series I saw (it wasn’t on German TV at the time). And the first proper alien occupation story I read as a kid was John Christopher’s Tripods novels (written in the sixties), in which the aliens had long taken over earth and re-instituted a medieval society in which they were worshipped as sort of gods.


#78

But that means it makes even more sense. If the crisis is never a personal one, the solution doesn’t have to be one, either. That’s we experience these things. It’s like a storm. You ride it out, but eventually it passes, as storms do. There might be damage, but that’s the extent of the effect you personally will experience.


#79

Yeah, I didn’t see the original until years after I had seen the remake. While I never delved into the subsequent tv-show spin off of the original, I felt that the first miniseries had a great tone to it. The remake was just very melodramatic and poorly plotted - but really that made the finale that much more satisfying (in a weird way) since you’d come to loathe various characters.


#80

Exactly, and I think that was part of Wells’ idea in that the solution to massive disasters is never a human one primarily because humanity cannot maintain its civilization in the face of crises. That we needed to become - in modern terms - a much more “anti fragile” society to survive disastrous impacts. In Wells time - like Dickens - he saw the structure of national and worldwide civilization was filled with all sorts of flaws either natural or manmade disasters could easily topple. And World War 1 proved him right in that regard as really that was the end of the aristocratic European civilization followed closed by the end of whatever order remained by World War 2.

In terms of storytelling though, it is really the narrative of the protagonist where individual action is most critical. In Westerns, when the cavalry comes to save the settlers besieged by savages, it can seem to be an easy conclusion to the drama, but when you look at the actual individual narratives that the stories were really following, they all have to be settled before the cavalry arrives. It’s an incidental conclusion to send the audience out of the theater or put a closing frame on a novel.