Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Pleasantest dream I’ve had in a long time.

Someone had approached me to write a Widespot-like book, and made a movie at the same time, to premiere the same day the book came out. It wasn’t exactly Widespot, because it was setting up a murder plot, but I used similar characters. I had to work to parameters but the packager and filmmaker both understood the point of Widespot and the openness so it had been a great experience making these things.

The day the movie came out my husband and I were in some sort of resort right after a big con of some kind, but the resort had a small movie theater and was showing it, so we went. The movie was well received, but the projector broke, so we went walking around and my husband was telling me his theories about how the story should work out. He thought Chester was the obvious person for the lovers to frame for the upcoming murder, and I had to explain that Chester wasn’t in the book. I wasn’t sure how the director had gotten permission to use him or why he wanted to.

Somehow word got out (I hadn’t been going around telling anybody) that the author of the book of the unfinished movie was there and I was approached by some people with a mutual acquaintance from the con, who had “some questions,” which were really their theories about what would happen. And then somebody overheard and joined us and started in with their own “questions,” then another person, until finally I’m in the theater listening to theory after theory and it’s wonderful! They had all these creative plot developments based on what had gone before and what they knew but didn’t know they knew about how story works, each one different and perfectly logical - I wish I could remember any of them, but you know how it is with dreams.

Until finally everyone had their say and clamored for me to get up and tell them the “real” story, and I got up to explain that there isn’t a “real” story, that they had each made the real story themselves because that was the whole point -

And woke up, which was good, because they'd have lynched me.

Artistic vision and public requirements don't necessarily synch perfectly. Games can be open-ended. Books and movies require closure.

This, I think, is why fandom thrives on series. You get the satisfactions of closure episode-by-episode, but the ongoing nature of the work invites the sort of active imaginative engagement that breeds fanfic, fanart, and ongoing water cooler discussion of issues. Unfortunately, the creative team can't afford to listen to this sort of thing too much - it's likely to make them self-conscious, tempt them into profitless discussion, distract them, or even potentially open them up to nuisance lawsuits if a fan proposes a storyline similar to one the creators come up with on their own.

It's a shame, because creators so seldom get the satisfaction of hearing their work discussed, or the extreme pleasure of seeing it in action, interacting with the audience. We're a social species. We like feedback. I don't think it's even ego-gratification - well, not all the way down - so much as it is creative satisfaction, and the wonder and surprise of seeing a work you know intimately in a completely different light.

On the other hand, if you're paying too much attention to feedback, you're not moving forward with the next work. So there's that.

Everything's a trade-off.

If you really crave audience reaction, volunteer to do storytime at the library. Just don't overload your schedule with your own work.

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