What’s shakin’ everybody? Flobo here!
Today I want to talk to you about story. Now, we’ve talked about story before as it relates to being a jumping off point for your writing, but today I actually would like to get more specific (and talk about video games).
When I was a kid (and I’m dating myself), my favorite video game of all time was Sonic the Hedgehog. This presented a problem as I had the original Nintendo, but that’s another topic for another time. There was something so cool about watching the blue blur racing through the roller-coaster like levels in pursuit of the end. Caution? That was for pot-bellied plumbers.
As a kid I didn’t care so much for the story of Sonic though. When I became a “big kid” (ages 8-10, or pre-pre teen) I understood it a little more: Evil Dr. Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman ….yawn) wants to mechanize the forest and does so by capturing the animals living on Planet Mobius and converts them to robots. Our plucky Sonic has a mission to free his friends from the machines and take the good doctor down. This was a just a license to jump on robots and go really fast, but the story works here. As Sonic the Hedgehog games got stories that were more and more complex (Sonic Adventure 2- Sonic 2006) the character and the overall story suffered. Nobody cared about bums like Silver the Hedgehog and saving Princess Elise, they wanted their old friend back.
On the other hand:
Grand Theft Auto started off as a top down (think the perspective Mapquest gives you) city adventure featuring characters that were no bigger than blips on your screen. Sure the game was about doing nefarious things like boosting cars, firing guns, and gang warfare, but the audience was so far removed from the action, it’s Mature rating would just seem like overreacting by today’s standards.
As Grand Theft Auto matured, their stories got more and more complex as well. In this case, it actually benefited the franchise. Sure the third Grand Theft Auto was the first of its kind, but it was Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that “changed the game” sort of speak. The game brought a aesthetic that was Miami in the late ’80s and gamers, as reviewers like to say, where whisked away in a “totally immersive” world. You want to jack a Ferrari clone, mow down people on the sidewalk, run off a cliff, and jump out the car while wielding a sword on the way down? You can, in 3D!!
Your books, novels, comics, and poems are in the same boat here. The stories you create can be as a simple as a Sonic the Hedgehog game circa 1993 (Evil guy is evil, go get him good guy!), or could be as a thorough as a late model Grand Theft Auto game (which totes a script that is about one THOUSAND pages long), just as long as the content you are providing is engaging. There is a difference in picking up a 200 page breezy, “page turner” and a 450 page “epic adventure” sure, however you shouldn’t let your perceived complexity of any story stop you from writing the story you want to tell.
That is, unless you have an editor that is imposing a hard page count. Well in that case, you’re screwed
Until next time, keep writing,