Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shard Twenty-Three - Creative Convolutions

Been a while since I wrote a new entry. Funny how those "I'm going to write at least one entry every week" resolutions so very rarely work out.
But time is irrelevant for my purposes here, so let's move along, shall we? Today I'd like to...

...well, I'm not positive what I'd like to do today here, but the one theme stuck in my head is "creative process", so let's see where that one leads.


The creative process is an odd thing; while lots of people share similar methods of expressing that creativity, the very nature of the beast is that everyone goes about it in a fairly unique manner. Sure, lots of artists might play music while they work, and let it inspire their results. But what are the chances that they all share the same way of hearing that music, gathering the same inspirations, applying those inspirations?

I'll stop myself before I launch into a philosophical ramble. I'm here to talk about my own creative process, of course, so let's get down to business.

Now, I've already outlined my creative process in terms of my visual artwork, and mentioned my creative processes in general a bit here-and-there over some of my other entries, but I'd like to get into more detail today on my storybuilding process.

Like most of my artistic work, I'm self-taught in storybuilding; as a result, I really don't know much about how other writers and storytellers construct their stories. So I'll try to avoid calling my own process "odd"; it certainly feels like it's an odd way to do things, but what do I know? It's the only process I've seen in practice.
Anyway, that's enough explanation; I'm putting off actually writing about writing.


My Fragmented Infinity storyworld is, ironically, quite fragmented. With a plot that centers around a main character who can traverse worlds, it has to have a lot of worlds to traverse, of course. And these are worlds filled with yet more unique characters, odd traits, quirky customs... not to mention stories and plots all their own.

My process tends to start with an inspiration. Sometimes I think of a character first; this is the most common occurrence. Maybe I had a weirdly interesting dream, or I just heard another story, and suddenly my mind's whirling with ideas. Sometimes I even just stumble upon a character design while I'm working on something else; at least one character of mine has been inspired by an artwork I made. (it was a contest entry, and the focal character was just a generic, unnamed young man; I ended up getting attached to the idea, and decided to expand on it.)
So now I've got a character, but he (or she) has no place in the storyline, doesn't live anywhere, probably doesn't even have a personality yet. Sometimes these little fragments just end up getting discarded, or filed away; there's no point in shoving them into a story they don't belong in. But sometimes they just slot right into pre-existing holes in the story, or even make their own holes.

I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let me pause for a moment and explain something a bit.
My storyline, as a whole, doesn't start at the beginning. I tend to dream up plot points from the middle, the end, the start, all in random order; true, it had a starting point all along, but the plot itself wasn't always connected to the story. (if that makes any sense whatsoever.)

This is how these odd characters slot in, sometimes. Until fairly recently, I had a bunch of storyline worlds, each with their own characters, and I had Jio and Anji (my two main traveling characters) connecting it all together. But they weren't connected particularly well. The plot started with Jio arriving on Vynaiocc, meeting Anji, and after a certain point, taking off to a new world. But which one they went to first was entirely up in the air. I didn't even have a purpose for the story; there was no goal. (this is the part where I consider my creative process to be odd.)

But you may notice, I did say "until fairly recently".
Fairly recently marks the entry point of another character, but one I'm keeping fairly secret for the time being. No, that's not quite right; it marks the entry point of a big chunk of the plot, and the new character sort of came attached with it.
I won't go into much detail here, partly because it's still a working process (even some of my major characters have gone through changes over time), and partly because it's such a big part of the storyline.

The main point here is how it all fits together. In a timeline, my storyline's creation is all over the board; plot points come in, characters appear, but wait, these characters are from even earlier in the story; they affect the plot, which leads to new plot points, which leads to new characters, which suddenly connects two parts of the plot that were previously floating about aimlessly.
It's like a jigsaw puzzle, but oddly, one with multiple configurations and more pieces than it needs.


And what is my ultimate point? The moral to this entry? I'm not entirely certain. I mostly just wanted to get some thoughts out my head. But I suppose there is some advice I can leave you with.

As a creator - be you an artist or storyteller, or even a self-titled "normal person" - never discredit yourself for using a seemingly odd process. The only important thing is that it works for you.

And in case you were wondering, when all is said and done, yes. I do believe my odd process works for me.