This was originally the bulk of an e-mail I was going to send to that nice boy Ed Pahule, then decided that actually, it was something I wanted to put here and keep it for future reference (incrimination?)
the context is, I want to write a story about a 50-foot-woman, but there are a couple of engineering difficulties with growing to fifty feet, and since I can’t solve them — and won’t just ignore them and hope no one notices — I can’t write the story. This is me explaining to Ed why I can’t just ignore ’em.
As for the 50-foot-woman…well, I can’t “forget logic” and reality and just write it, because then I have zero interest in it. Then it’s just rehashing the original “Attack of the 50 foot woman” film which….you’ll hate me for this…..I hated. Plus, what I write has to hold up to examination.
I’ll give you an example that you didn’t ask for. The one Pixar film I dislike is CARS. And not just because it’s got fuckin’ Larry-the-Cable-Guy in it. What I dislike is…it doesn’t work. If you start asking questions like “in a world populated only by cars, who hung all those pictures on the walls? Why are the Cars sentient and aware but Bessie the road-asphalt-machine ISN’T? And questions like that. And ultimately, the only way to answer those is “I dunno. Who cares? It’s JUST a CARTOON.”
Well, that’s a failure for me. If you examine a film like Wall-E, or UP, there is no such failure. There are fantastic things you know couldn’t really happen (a house couldn’t float away held up by balloons) but those just require suspension of disbelief. But in Cars, they ask me to suspend too much. So it’s unsatisfying. It’s the one Pixar film where you have to explain something away as “just a cartoon.”
Likewise. i write a 50-foot-woman story with no logic or realism. First off, I’m uninterested. Second off, if anyone questions the details,I have to defend it with “I dunno, I hoped no one would notice…c’mon it’s just for fun, it’s just a story” which is a failure on my part entirely. And third, I’ve just rehashed the original, which I don’t care to do. There are ways to bring logic and realism and attention to detail into stories without losing the fun, the fantastic, and the excitement, and if my writing career is and will be built on anything, it’s on that.
And if this seems like a long tedious answer to a small comment…well, it probably is. Sorry. Now you’re probably wishing I’d e-mail LESS. 😉
If I have a defining thing I ask myself, it’s this, and I mean this seriously: Where’s The Poop?
This is something intelligent that people as diverse as Guillermo del Toro and Ray Harryhausan brought to films. The world has to WORK, the monsters have to WORK. Guillermo was pointing out that in a Godzilla film, there should be gigantic piles of Godzilla dung around Tokyo. Everything should WORK and be plausible and useful outside of the immediate, instant context of the story you’re writing.
This is something I’ve long since believed, and was glad to see reinforced by people I admire, like del Toro. It’s part of why I so dislike 99% of all high-fantasy stuff. There’s no disease, poverty, starvation, weather problems, poor people, early death, STDs, issues with horses, etc, etc. I’m not saying that every story has to be full of nothing but grim-grim-grim death death death. Just that, somewhere in the background — even if it doesn’t appear in the story in any major way — it HAS to WORK. Even if it’s just in your head. A fine example of this is Terry Pratchett’s stuff, where it all WORKS, the world works, and on top of a fairly rough world full of all the problems I mentioned (you know they’re in there, even when they aren’t mentioned overtly) he tells funny stories.
It’s the same reason I read nearly zero super-hero comics anymore. It doesn’t hold up. It’s absurd, and it tries to ignore its own absurdity and pretend its serious…and it fails.
So would I read super-hero comics more if they were extremely realistic and serious? Maybe, if they did something interesting within that context aside from being grim and ugly. But then, I’d also read more super-hero comics if they were extremely absurd and happy with it. It’s why I loved Alan Moore’s SUPREME comic, which was a blatant copy of Superman and allowed him just to talk about Superman throughout the ages. The first thing he did was bring back dopey stuff like a Krypto the superdog type of character. Good. That was fun.
Still. Even beyond that, the stuff *I* personally love to write about is on the logical end of things, at the end of the day. It provides a challenge, but not an unbeatable one, and you can still tell a fun story around it.