Reboot or Remain Unchanged?

Post date: Jan 06, 2014 6:43:44 PM

So, I got an interesting idea from reading an article on Yes, that site. Hey, there's no telling where or when the Muse might strike. Carry pen and paper wherever you go.

So this article, 5 Fantasy Characters That Need Rebooting, suggested that stock army masses should showcase the different side of war. Make the villain likeable or relatable and you'll have an interesting reader reaction. I mean, who doesn't love Emperor Palpatine or Boba Fett... Well, at least, we can understand from where they're ideals come.

The overarching nemesis of the hero need not be an undefinable evil. Instead, why not tweak the antagonist to be a better foil for the protagonist? Two sides of the same coin. Not good and evil, necessarily; but shades of grey.

Or, perhaps the antagonist isn't who we think he is. For example, orcs are a common fantasy villain since Tolkien. But why not differentiate from the mold? If a mountain range is called the Orcus Mountains (Orcus was an early Roman god of the underworld and also a name for the underworld; he was mainly worshipped in rural areas), wouldn't its denizens be named "orcs"? But, would they necessarily be the classic orcs of sword and sorcery fiction? And, if not, what would they be like? Would they be human? Would they be exiles? Would they simply hate those who do not live in the mountains because farmers drove them into the mountains centuries ago and orcs hold long grudges?

If we stop for a moment and think of ways to differentiate our stories while making them relatable, is that not the goal. After all, if there are no new stories to write, we owe it to ourselves to write each old story as differently as possible.

Of course, the tried and true works because it is familiar and immediately recognizable. We need not toss it out as quickly as an empty soup can. If we recycle it, great. If we reuse it, great.

Standing upon those who came before or forging a new path alone are the constant questions an author must answer for each story he/she writes. With either answer, new paths are made and different stories created. Robert Frost's paths in the woods are divergent--the fork in the road a deliberate choice--however, they might end up in the same place. You'll never know, unless you write that story. Write it passionately both ways. See which you prefer. Write it just once and fill it with love.