After a long marathon writing session this week I finally managed to polish off Twin Stars Book One. What was originally intended to be a single Episode 8 finale ballooned into a movie-length epic that I will release as episodes 8 and 9. Even then, 9 will be double the length of a normal episode and I had considered making it 9&10 but at the moment I think it will be better to make it just one giant episode.
When I first started Twin Stars B1 I had a rough outline in my head of how it would go, and in fact I have generally followed that outline right from the start- working towards the ending(s) I saw in my head. But when it actually came down to the real finales, they ended up being different than I planned- my old endings had up and evolved on me while I wrote. Characters changed, characters got added that I didn’t plan for, and some twists evolved that I didn’t see coming. (Which I suppose is good, since that means the audience might not see them coming either!) It was very much an organic process.
I think the story turned out pretty well overall, and everything is still in the places I planned for it to be when Book Two starts later next year. Book Two will jump ahead in time (the reasons for this will be obvious when you hear how Book One ends) and things will be a bit different than they are in Book One. There will definitely be a lot of things I will have to jump over as this story progresses simply because I don’t have the time to fill in all the details. I guess I’ll have to leave it to the imaginations of my listeners to cover some of the missing ground.
One thing about the finale that will be interesting is to see if it works in terms of the listeners being able to follow it well. There are upwards of 17 major characters running around doing things in the finale and I worry it might get a little confusing at times. It should be fine as long as the listener has heard all the episodes that come before it, but it really will be an experiment in characterization. One of the things I wanted to do with Twin Stars was prove you could do an epic SF Space Opera saga in audio drama format, and if everything goes according to plan I will have done so by the time Book One ends.
An interesting article on Scott Sigler and how he’s made his writing future by literally just giving away his work for free!
So I was listening to Mirror Image Episode One the other day and the writer did something I really dislike whenever I hear it. (And I’ve heard it done a lot!) Some elements of Mirror Image are similar to the movie Entrapment and so when the “good guys” explain to the new thief they need a thief to catch a thief the first thing the new thief does is make a joke about this being just like Entrapment!
I really don’t like it when writers do this. What they’re doing is basically saying “yeah, I know my story (or story element) is just like (insert show/movie/comic/etc here) but you don’t need to point that out because I’m saying that up front”. On the surface that actually does seem reasonable- I mean they’re citing their sources right? If you cite the source, doesn’t that turn it into an homage? That may be true, but from my perspective it isn’t an homage so much as formage (the French word for Cheese).
It’s like you’re hanging a big sign on your work saying “I wasn’t original enough to come up with a new idea, and I don’t think I’m good enough to do something better with it, so just leave me alone okay?” You’re branding your work inferior right from the get go, and even worse you’re making your audience now automatically compare what you’re doing to that other work! Now that I heard that reference in Mirror Image, I’m going to be constantly mentally comparing it to Entrapment because the writer has just connected the two. If he’d just kept quiet it would have been easy to just accept the work on it’s own (I hadn’t even thought about Entrapment while listening until he mentioned it) but now I’m forced to make comparisons. How does that help him impress me? How will this make his story better?
I don’t mean to pick on Mirror Image, which I enjoyed the first episode of and is worth giving a listen to, but I see this issue pop up a lot in the works of young writers and wanted to say something about it. When you write you’re trying to bring your audience into the world you’re creating and keep them there for the duration of the story, anything that takes them outside of that little world you’re creating is a bad thing and should be avoided. Outside references, in-jokes, homages are all things that come with a price tag, so when you do them you better be aware of what that price is and whether it’s worth paying.