Monday, November 12, 2012

Some Assembly Preferred

So here in the US, the electoral afterbirth has been mopped up, the tear-stained editorials have mostly dried, and the relevant political parties are changing back into their sweatpants and wife-beaters for another year.

Whew.

I tell you what flipped my lid, though: the morning after the election, I logged on to Facebook and saw a comment from one of my other-side-of-the-fence friends that stopped me dead in my Inter-tracks.

 "Fwoah," thought I. "THAT'S what this election was about for you? I didn't know we were voting on that!"

And I don't care to get too much into the partisan particulars just here, but suffice to say that for one of us, the Rebel Alliance has blown up the Death Star, and for the other, Luke Skywalker has just been murdered.

I don't expect that kind of reality-schism is news to anyone: there's something in the human brain that hardwires us to feel like a valiant, oppressed underdog no matter which side of what issue we happen to be on. But what gets me is that it is *almost impossible* for us to take in even the scantest handful of facts and NOT make a story out of them.

That lady in the Ford Dreadnought that just cut you off? Clearly a clueless ditzy gas-hog soccer mom.

The hurricane that ate New York? Obviously the result of global warming / the coming apocalypse / a completely random natural phenomenon / Ororo Munroe on bath salts.

I'm just saying.

These things don't exist in a vacuum. Our story-making brains are CONSTANTLY sifting through all the thousands of Erector-Set facts spread out around us, picking up the ones that fit our current project, and sidelining the rest.

Wait, you're telling me Governor Goodguy did THAT? Who reported it? Well, THEY'll say anything.

Hey, did you hear this rumor about Senator Sonofabitch? I knew he was a dirtbag!

And all of the above, my fellow fictioneers, is why I will always love stories that don't come pre-assembled. Sure, it's fun to pull a shiny new Transformers movie out of the box and start smashing up Decepticons. Sometimes it's nice to let good guys wear white hats and bad guys twirl their mustaches and damsels lap-dance on the train tracks.

But I got a special place in my heart for the writers who make building the toy part of its fun. "Okay, where does Shylock go? Yeah, he's kind of a dick, but if I make him the villain, then what kind of jerk-ass hero is Antonio?" "Well, and what do we do with the Ministry of Magic? Is it just an incompetent bureaucracy, or is it actually responsible for You-Know-Who?" "And while we're at it, I'm just gonna put Harry Dresden in his own special little box waaaaay over here."

Anyway: good luck with the building, y'all, and a special shout-out to all my fellow NaNo'ers who haven't yet started hallucinating word-count meters in your Wild Turkey writing binges.  Don't despair - we'll get there!

That was black magic, and it was easy to use. Easy and fun. Like Legos.

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