Sunday, September 17, 2006

JED's Immigrant

Link to the Original Story: Immigrant - JED

So let me explain a little about what happened here. I liked my last story so much that I thought it would be fun to continue in that world. I figured I could open it out a little more, drop in on the life of an interesting character and see the setting through their eyes. I chose Einstein immigrating to Africa, thinking to myself "Wow, that'll be an interesting juxtaposition of old world genius and 3rd world potential! It'll give me a chance to tell an interesting tale, showing how things could have gone differently, and exploring the underlying similarity of humanity!" Meh. Turns out, not so much.

I do not like this story. It's boring. It's overly reflective. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens. This is a trap that I find myself falling into more and more often. I end up being drawn into a world, and dawdling in its philosophical side, while forgetting that any good story (even a bad story) should have a plot. And so I try to tack one on at the last minute, but it doesn't work. I really need to focus on expanding the action, while retaining the deeper metaphor. So for instance, had I this to do over again, maybe I'd take it as a diary from Einstein's life in Africa. I could show select entries describing what he'd done, how he'd done it, dealing with how he comes to grips with himself, and the "dark continent." But that wouldn't be enough. There also needs to be some running device to provide an action with which he can struggle. Maybe it would be good if he became a Nazi hunter, all Mossad style. Or developed some sort of supertech device to hunt down and kill them. Or for a slightly less comic-booky feel, maybe he could have to deal with an ex-Nazi neighbor. Anything so long as something is happening! Also I think the descriptives and narrative fail completely. The whole story reminds me of a diet coke that's been opened and left in the sun for three hours - flat, bland and slightly nauseating.

Um, yeah, what he said. I don't think this story is that bad, but I do think it has most of the weaknesses JED points out above. Basically, when we talked about changed history, JED described his awesome idea about Africa becoming the new center of the world after WWII, and this is the beginning of that. But there really isn't that much to it. It's a good start, but what I really wanted was to learn what happens after Einstein gets there. All of those options JED outlined sound pretty awesome, so I guess I don't have anything to suggest other than those.

Outside the confines of this story alone, I will note my agreement that JED has a tendency to occasionally write passive pieces; it's not a universal problem, there's plenty of action in plenty of his stories, but I think it would be better to steer away from that. It's a difficult line to tread within the confines of the Game, because our goal here is to improve our writing, not to create polished pieces, and the reflective pieces are really a part of world-building which, if you hadn't noticed, JED really excels at. His reflective pieces tend to set the stage, then call it a night, and in the Game, that's not verboten at all; anything that intrigues you, that helps you grow as a writer is encouraged. I would like to see the finished production sometime, though.


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