It starts as A but becomes B.
Today I want to talk to you briefly about evolution, not of anything living, but rather of a creative project or two.
I find it both interesting and refreshing when I can finish a project and look back on it to trace the path it has come. How it started as one thing, became something else and then again sometimes became yet another thing.
My two most recent projects to see daylight went through several iterations.
A Man in Winter started as a short story that got a tad long, it became a novella. Then when I sent it round for its first round of ‘Please publish my work’ enquiries the bulk of the feedback was that it was good but novellas just aren’t an easy sell. So I kicked my backside into gear and A Man in Winter became a novel.
It was dreadful.
I’ve spoken about this before in my blog ‘You can’t turn a circle into a square‘
So it became a novella again, with some additions and I tried again to sell it. I was successful this time, booya.
The series of transformations or evolutions of the A Man in Winter story is interesting, at least to me, but they are hardly dramatic or unique.
Firefly however went through some intense changes.
Firefly started life as a scribbled note in my writing notebook. Hardly a unique idea either, an agency investigating supernatural events looks into a creepy town where kids go missing.
I tried to plan it as a standard novel but it didn’t excite me at all, so I put it aside. Then I got into a conversation with a friend about games, how they are made, and something they said got me thinking. They said they felt that stories, at least in games, should be built around gameplay rather than the other way around.
I don’t think this is the case in all instances, I’ve played lots of games where the story feels entirely separate from the gameplay mechanics but I’ve played some amazing ones where they tied together as well.
Anyway, this comment got me thinking, could we have a mystery game where the player has to go around a location finding clues to unearth what happened? Of course, we could, guess who had an idea that would fit with that kind of gameplay.
So I got to work.
Long story short, the project fell on its butt.
It’s disappointing but it happens sometimes, more often with collaborative work I’ve noticed. This was my second collaborative piece to kind of fizzle out. But that’s life.
However, I had done a lot of work writing and designing the documents for the game. I had all this stuff and I was itching to do something with it.
Then I read Slenderman, the novel and was reminded how much I enjoy this genre of fiction. That being epistolary fiction, found footage but with books.
So with some tweaking, a lot of editing, and a crash course in design I created something I’m pleased with.
Firefly’s evolution was far more dramatic than A Man in Winter’s was, it went from a scribbled novel idea that I kind of hated, to a potential game, to an epistolary novel.
Evolution is a funny thing, it happens organically, at least in my last two projects, and hopefully, the end result is something far better than the original concept.