Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Make it Personal

I made a post over on my gaming blog that I thought was also applicable to post here. It's not going to be an exact copy, but I'm going to use large chunks and frame them slightly better for this blog. The basic musing came from my thoughts about "tortured" protagonists in fiction.

The class I used to play when I was heavily into World of Warcraft was a Warlock. These fellows consort with demons and are generally shady characters. I wrote some in-character RP back in the day, and it was always fun trying to make an evil, selfish character sympathetic. I like to think it made for some very interesting reading.

Last weekend, I went to see Iron Man 3 and really enjoyed the movie. I had the crazy notion just this morning that, you know, Tony Stark might be similar to my Warlock character. He's not evil, nor does he consort with demons, but he definitely has that selfish thing down. Let's just say: He's no Captain America.

The cool part about that movie, to me, was the cleverness with which the story was pulled off. In the Avengers movie, the very fabric of the world was in jeopardy what with the alien invasion and Norse gods and all. It was the epitome of a "save the world" plot. How, then, do you create a movie in the same universe, with the same character, and have it retain a high stakes feel? It's like... well, we just saved the world, now what? Sequels in general struggle often with this problem. The stakes were so high in a previous movie and any subsequent plot will fall a bit flat.

There is a neat little trick that I think IM3 nailed. Instead of putting the whole wide world in jeopardy, you need only put the main character's world in jeopardy. If you do your job and make a sympathetic character, then threatening things that are important to them can really raise the stakes without needing to resort to threats of a more global variety.

As a former Warlock, I appreciate this. Saving the world doesn't always appeal to me. Sometimes, well... let 'em burn, right? Yet, threaten what I love and... it's on! A game like World of Warcraft has a hard time using this trick, since everyone is a protagonist. Global threats are the only ones that seem to work , which perhaps is why I feel it gets a bit overdone there. They have some good story threads, but my favorite by far was the Lich King. Fitting, then, that it may be perhaps the most personal of the story-lines in that universe.

With Damian's story, I'm trying to use what I learned from my time as a Warlock. Tortured, somewhat ambiguous characters are loads of fun to write (and hopefully read). Just... don't forget to make it personal!


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