Plot – Tale – Telling – Narration

PLOT is only the skeleton of any story, a small section within the narrative voice.

TALE is the sequence of events that happen in the order that they occur.

TELING is the sequence of events that happen in the order that they are told.

It’s in your NARRATIVE VOICE that you can play with, to MOLD the plot in a way that would interest the readers.
Plots can be reused but feel completely different because it’s told in two distinct ways. It’s in the narrative voice that you can completely mess up an otherwise good plot or vice versa. You have to use your narrative voice to reveal characters, prove ideas, be subtle, be witty, create beautiful sentences, etc.

In my opinion, the narrative voice, by far, outweighs the plot.

Another brilliant quote I picked up from one of the answers on Quora from Jenny Wang. You can see the full post here. So far, I’m trying to keep dialogue curt and snappy, but allow my narration to draw out in chunks. That’s the direction I’ll like to head as mentioned in my review of The Book Case here. Reading out your own dialogue helps you to know whether you’re going all draggy on it. People talk very snappily in real life, unless they are explaining stuff, which a story should try to keep to a minimum.

Christina Hendricks – Mad Men Returns

Joan Harris

Tonight on AMC – The Christina Hendricks show! …I mean Mad Men.

One of the most well-executed original shows in television history makes it’s long awaited return this Sunday evening, taking us on a meandering journey through the lives of the Madison Square advertising executives of the 60s.

The superlatives I have for this work of art is endless. Iconic, memorable, classy, smooth… and oh yes, they also have Christina Hendricks, one of the most beautiful woman alive today and my vote for the Marilyn Monroe of our generation. Heck she doesn’t even need to try.

However, as much as I worship her as the goddess amongst the mere mortals on this earth, and constantly try to find a way to switch bodies with her husband, I have a blog to maintain. So let’s focus on something more relevant to boobies.. I mean writing shall we.

Plot vs Characters

Is there a overall plot to the show? Maybe. Is there a point to the show? I don’t think so. Yet, one of my biggest regrets is ignoring watching Mad Men until its 4th season.

Without so much as a unifying plot, the characters of the show are all allowed to live their lives without the need to intersect or cross paths to form a bigger picture. Don Draper might be somewhat the star, but the show still provides brief glimpses into the somewhat tragic lives of Peggy Olson, Joan Harris, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling and recently Megan Draper and Betty, the former Mrs Draper.

A brief glimpse, but I assure you, you will not be forgetting any of these characters soon. They are not there to be fodder to feed the ego or storyline of the main character, they are all fleshed out and oozing with personality and their own chest of secrets. I personally find Roger Sterling’s tragedy the best one of all.

Booby Trap!

If you’re here because you clicked on the picture, naughty naughty! But here’s another 121 photos of her from Mad Men. From what would seem to be a bit-role in the first season, Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) has risen to become one of the leading lights of the show, fighting against the male dominated culture of the advertising world with her own brand of guile and competencies that see her rise through the ranks. She’s not just a flower pot, she’s one of the stars.

Best song on television

No, not the theme, the fantastic performance by the French girl. If you’re interested in one of the most iconic moments in the show and television history in my opinion, click here for Jessica Pare‘s rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou.

I just hope this season doesn’t disappoint me like with recent season of Spartacus which started pretty horribly but is getting better somewhat, and the recent season of Walking Dead, which started pretty well but ended pretty horribly.

Zooby Zooby Zoo…

Christina Hendricks

Tags: Beautiful, Sexy, Woman, Hubba Hubba, Wow-Wee, Heart Attack

Mark of Child: Part 3

Mark of Child: Part 3

When Leticia opens the door to her place, everybody’s senses were immediately assaulted by the sweet smell of incense burning in her apartment.

“Just a old habit,” Leticia says, as she takes off her shoes and enters the dimly-lit unit. She snuffs out the powdery sticks burning away in a jar on the dining table. “My grandfather use to light these around the house every night, to keep away bad spirits.”

“I don’t think bad spirits in America would know that,” Matthew jokes as he and the girls cringe at the sickly sweet odor. Taking Leticia’s lead, they remove their footwear and place them into the shoe stand before following her into the house.

Taking in the interior, they can see Leticia’s heritage and beliefs marking their presence in every corner of the apartment. On the floor next to the door, there is a little altar with an offering of fruit in front of it. Next to it, a strange statue of a deity or humanoid creature stands guard over the door. It looks like a miniature big-headed human with claws drawn in a threatening stance.

Looking into the living room, two wooden carvings are on the walls, one is shaped crudely like the head of a tiger, while the other resembled a boar with tusks. They hang on either side of a larger altar, table-sized this time, ladened with offerings of meats, fruits and more incense. From the door, Joan can see an intricate octagonal box in the centre, and in front of everything lays a thickly bound journal.

“Is that the book,” Joan asks, walking up to touch it. Her hands are almost on it when Leticia suddenly snaps, “Don’t!”

Joan pulls her hands back immediately. Flushing, she quickly offers her apologies. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“That’s my grandfather’s altar,” Leticia explains, “We don’t remove anything from it until we ask him for permission. That’s how we show our respect to the dead.”

“Sorry,” Joan mumbles as she walks back to stand beside her scowling sister.

“Try not to touch anything else will ya.”

“Take a seat, I need to make ready first before I can get the book,” Leticia says, scrubbing her hands at the kitchen sink before toweling them dry.

“Do what?” Penny asks as the three of them settles down onto the sofa.

“Like I said, I need to ask for permission.”

An awkward silence fills the room as Leticia moves in front of the altar and starts chanting in another tongue.

Penny and Joan looks over at Matthew who only shrugs his shoulders. “Don’t look at me,” he whispers, “This is the first time she’s invited me over.”

The three of them look on with bated breath, listening as Leticia’s chanting grows louder. Her body quivers, swaying from side to side as she enters into a trance-like state before their eyes. Joan, frightened by the ominous chanting, squeezes herself next to Penny and holds on to her tightly.

Matthew rises from his seat, but Penny puts a firm hand on him and indicates with her eyes that he should sit down and let this play out. Minutes pass as the pungent cloy in the air starts to make everyone uncomfortable.

Joan breaks into a cold sweat as her eyes fixate on the swaying motion of Leticia, unable to blink or turn away. She is all but ready to bolt, when finally, the chanting stops. The air seems to clear as everyone starts to relax again, breathing easier.

“Leticia?” Penny asks in a soft voice.

The still body of Leticia does not respond. Her eyes, still closed, start to twitch. Suddenly, she speaks again, in the same language she used earlier. Not in a sing-song chant, but in conversation. From her speech, it is evident that Leticia is speaking to someone or something in this room. Questions, answers, a few replies that sound like yes, then she starts to giggle out loud.

A creeping chill went down Joan’s back. The ritual happening before her is just too too much for her young mind to take. “That’s it, I’m out,” she says, making for the door.

Penny hisses at her and tells her to sit down, “You wanted this remember?”

“I don’t care anymore,” Joan replies, acting impulsive out of fear. She runs to the door and pulls it open, ready to run home if need be.

“Where are you going Joan? Grandfather says yes.”

The hairs on Joan’s back starts to stand. Leticia is speaking to her directly. Turning around, she sees a smiling Leticia, book in hand, back to her normal self. “Oh my god Leticia, I’m so sorry, but you scared the shit out of me!” Joan exclaims, awash with relief and laughing at her own cowardly behavior.

“Not to worry Joan, I should have warned you all before I started,” Leticia says with a good-natured smile. “Believe me, I feel the same way when I hear some Christians shouting when they pray.”

“Joan, get back in here!” Penny snaps, staring crossly at her sister for making yet another scene.

“Relax Penny, it’s all cool,” Matthew says, turning to smile at Joan as he intercedes on her behalf. Sheepishly, she returns to her spot as the rest gathers around the living room table.

With everyone in place, Leticia kneels down onto the carpeted flooring in front of the sofa, and places her grandfather’s book in front of them. “I must warn you, this is a book about magic, life and death. Inside, you will find many disturbing things. Some will be familiar, like the drawing of body parts. Others will be alien to you. My advice is to focus only on what you need, and forget the rest of what you see.”

Matthew and Penny nod in unison, turning to look at Joan. Still feeling a little shaken, Joan swallows hard before nodding her head, remembering full well that she is the one who asked for this in the first place.

She stares at the book, and its simple unmarked binding that laid forbidden just moments ago. Now, it’s about to spill its secrets on a group of unsuspecting youths. Somewhere inside its worn pages, is a centuries-old formula that could turn back the clock and repair the damage that Joan had inflicted on herself. All they need to do now, is find it.

Leticia opens the cover of the books, flipping delicately through its thick fibrous pages. The book is written in the language of her people, a deviation of modern Malay that has been adopted widely by the city folk. Words start in one handwriting, and end in another, as countless generations of bomohs add to its collective knowledge.

Each page is filled with notes and little corrections as Leticia scans through them, trying to make sense of the scribbles. But for the rest, it is the pictures accompanying the words that give them pause.

Crudely inked drawings, some no more than scratches, depict creatures and demons in various forms. Bats, tigers, boars, and even the insects of the earth all seem to play a part in inspiring the drawings within.

But these are only the first. As Leticia’s hand flies through the pages, the monsters take on human forms. A head here, a hand there, twisted beings fill entire pages in morbid detail. Some are shambling beings with guts turned inside out, others have additional limbs extending from their rears. Naked horrors, with neither mouth nor genitals jump from the pages, filling their heads with grotesque images of sexless beings crawling silently towards them.

“Ah here we are, childbirth. This is the section. Keep an eye out for a symbol that looks like the the word Janin somewhere in here. J-A-N-I-N. It stands for fetus, which is what we are looking for.”

Why did she have to mention that, Joan shudders at the imagery of floating fetuses. She closes her eyes and sees them, little unformed babies trapped in translucent wombs red with blood. They stare at her with black unblinking eyes, waving webbed hands and crying out for her.

“Please… can we just stop for a moment, please… let me… let me… Oh god I can’t breathe.”

End of Part 3

<– Part 1   <– Part 2

Should be pretty obvious where I’m going with this now. Still I’m having a lot of fun with this story and have a lot more I want to write. Apologies about some quirks with the PoV of the story. I’ll get them sorted out next time. I still haven’t figured out whether I want to go from Joan purely, or try some other approach. 

Mark of Child: Part 2

Mark of Child: Part 2

An hour later, the girls arrives outside the dorm room of one Matthew Banks, a struggling student doing his graduate thesis in tribal cultures at the local university.

“Now, just leave the talking to me. If there’s anyone who can tell us about mystic magic, it’ll be him,” Penny says, petting her hair and adjusting her blouse to make sure nothing is out of place.

“He studies black magic?” Joan asks with fascinated eyes.

“No, he studies the people who studies black magic. He mentioned it… at some gathering. ”

“How did you know him?”

Penny stares at Joan with a look that says mind your own business, before knocking on the door.

From inside the room, came a loud tumbling noise and the creak of the wooden floor boards underneath. Whispers emanate from the room as the girls can clearly hear the voice of a man and woman coming from inside.

From the corner of her eye, Joan could see Penny’s expression, going from one of shock only moments earlier, to one of black hatred.

The door opens,  and a wide-eyed handsome blonde with a head of bed hair opens the door, pulling on a shirt. “Penny, what are you doing here?”

Forcing a smile, Penny cut right through the pleasantries. “We need your help Matthew. My sister, Joan, here has some questions which you might be able to help with.” she says, throwing a quick glance behind the man. “Are we interrupting anything?”

Matthew smiles and brings out the girl hiding behind the door. She walks to the door wrapped in the blanket. “This is Leticia, she’s an exchange student from South East Asia.”

“Hi,” says the attractive dark-skinned Asian girl clearly used to American sensibilities and freedom by now. Still she hides herself behind Matthew. Pleasantries and introductions are made once again as a visibly black-faced Penny shakes the hand of Leticia.

Oblivious, Matthew turns to Joan. “So which part of tribal culture are you interested in?” he asks, happy to meet a fellow enthusiast.

“Not exactly culture,” Joan answers, uncomfortable in discussing this in the open. “I’m interested in finding out more about their medicine. Is there somewhere we can go to discuss this somewhere more quiet?”

“Sure, there’s a cafe nearby, give us one sec and we can all go together.”

Joan wanted to tell him that they wish to speak with him privately. But the doors closes before she can act. The couple get dressed behind closed doors, while Joan watches a brooding Penny pace the floor outside. In minutes, everyone is ready and they made their way to the cafe.

Sitting down, Leticia volunteers to get the drinks while the three of them talk, relieving the girls the pressure of having to get rid of her.

“So, tribal medicine?” Matthew begins, getting things rolling.“Which cultures would you like to start with. African, Aborigines, American Indians?”

Joan looks at Penny, who decides to speak on her behalf of her sister. “Matthew listen, I’m going to be very direct here. We’re trying to find out if there alternative methods that these woman… you know, control the number of children they have.”

Matthew blinks, staying silent for a moment. He’s clearly not prepared for such a query. “Wow, that’s a very specific question, umm yes I’ve.. hmm.. I’ve read about such primitive birth control methods before. I could direct you to a few books or research papers if you like…”

“No Matthew, not birth control, I’m talking about abortion here. And were looking for someone someone familiar with such tribal practices in this town. We need his services now,” Penny says as a matter of fact.

Matthew narrows his eyes, “Wait, are you…”

“Look, just help us alright.”

Leticia returns with the drinks. “Hey, what you guys talking about?” she asks, joining in the conversation as she takes the seat beside Matthew.

“Tribal abor…medicine,” he mumbles, racking his brains for an answer to Penny’s query.

“Oh, what about it, maybe I can help,” Leticia says casually, stirring her latte. “My grandfather use to be a medicine man in West Java.”

The girls suddenly perk, Joan especially. After all the luck she’s had today, this is probably the first piece of good news she’s heard all day.

“What do you mean medicine man?” Penny asks suspiciously, unwilling to divulge too much to this man-stealer from halfway around the globe.

Leticia shrugs. He cares for his village, you know. Medicine, rituals, customs, the whole deal. Where I come from, we call him a bomoh, which literally means tribal shaman.”

“Leticia’s family comes from a long line of Javanese chieftains and bomohs,” Matthew adds, holding her hand and smiling at her. “They’re very highly respected by the tribesmen. For the longest time, her ancestors stayed in the jungles of Sumatra before they moved into the city,”

Joan can hardly believe her luck, she casts aside all worries and the doubts of Penny as she proceeds to tell them both the truth. Matthew sits back in his chair and whistles a long note as Joan finishes her tale, while Leticia looks on at her with heartfelt sadness.

“Oh you poor dear! I know how you feel, the same thing happened to my aunt long ago as well. Such things are a death sentence in tribal cultures back then. Woman who get pregnant without a husband are deemed to be evil spirits, and the child in their womb is cursed to be the devil’s child.

“What happens to these women?” Joan asks, expecting more to the tale.

Leticia shrugged, “Where my family comes from, they bury the woman alive. My grandfather once told me that you can still hear them screaming from under the earth for days after that.”

Joan’s face turns a ghastly white. Suddenly, getting screamed at by father and ridiculed by her friends doesn’t seem like so big a deal after all.

“Wait, how do you know all this?” Penny asks, still not entirely trusting of this woman.

“When he was alive, grandfather taught me the ways of the tribe,” Leticia explains, “That is until my father found out and burned everything in my room. He had a big fight with grandfather over this, he doesn’t want any more black magic in the family.”

“Strange, I could have sworn you used a love charm on me,” Matthew jokes, throwing Leticia a cheeky look while Penny fumes in silence.

“Wait, what black magic?” Penny asks, interrupting the lovebirds.

“Never mind that Penny, can we go back to the woman, what did they do if they want to avoid their sentence?” Joan asks, anxious to hear where this is going.

Leticia smiles, “My grandfather had a remedy if these woman came to him before they got caught. Of course, its a secret, the tribal leaders will never stand for such a thing.”

“That’s great!” Joan screams, jumping up in her seat. She could hardly believe her ears. This night seems to be getting better and better. Thank god they had the luck to find Leticia here. Matthew is turning out to be quite a bum.

“But…” Penny cuts in, staring at Joan to calm down, “There’s always a but somewhere inside, am I right Leticia? ”

She nods, “Yes, black magic always comes at a cost, at least that’s what it says in the book.”

“You even have a book on this? Joan asks, getting more and more impress with Leticia by the minute.

“Didn’t your father burn everything?” Penny interjects.

“Yea, well grandfather gave it to me for safekeeping before he died. My family has no idea that it even exists. It’s a strange book, you’ll know what I mean when you see it,” Leticia says, sipping her latte.

Eyes light up across the table. “You have the book here?

“Of course, I can’t leave it with my parents,” Leticia smirks, looking at us like it should be obvious.

Tiny wheels in Joan’s head starts to click into place. She leans forward and looks at Leticia with serious eyes, “Will you help me Leticia?”

“I don’t know Joan,” Matthew says urging caution. “You should let me take a look at it first, maybe…”

“No, I can’t wait. Will you help me?” Joan asks again.

“Joan, Matthew’s right.” Penny says, siding with reason, “We’re dealing with something we don’t understand here.”

Joan turns and glowers at her sister, “Penny, you promised me anything.”

“Yes but…” Penny looks at the hopeful eyes of her sister and knows that this is a lost cause. “Alright fine, whatever. Leticia, you’re sure it’s going to be safe?”

Leticia nods her head. “Our ancestors have been using it for generations, can’t see what’s wrong. Of course, we might need to find the necessary herbs, that might prove tricky.”

“Between the horticultural lab and greenhouses here on campus, the medicinal shops in Chinatown, and the weird gypsy place down on the west end,  I’m sure we’ll find what we need,” Matthew suggests, actually saying something useful for the first time.

“Well! Let’s get started,” Joan says to all the waiting faces, eager to get this over with once and for all. Matthew and Penny look at each other grimly as they reluctantly agree.

“Great, to my apartment then,” Leticia chirps, “Let’s see what grandfather’s book has to say.”

 END PART 2

<– Return to Part 1

Please let me know how this passage is able to capture your attention. I’m trying to build up the thing here, but might be too draggy. But basically, I’ve passed the first pillar here and will be delving into the action proper soon. Also looking for a more readable theme, looking at Mimbo Pro. 

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Mark of Child: Part 1

Mark of Child: Part 1

Joan Eckart is late.

Sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for the test strip to pronounce her sentence, she wonders who it was that got her into this mess. The boys in her life have been a blur lately, moving on faster than she can change her Facebook status.

“Joan, are you ok in there?”

“Just a sec,” she looks closely at the test strip and shakes it vigorously, “Come on, minus baby, minus!”

“We’re going to be late, the show starts in ten.”

Joan ignores that comment. She does not feel like going to the show anymore as the faint symbol of the plus sign lights up. Right now she just wants to sit here and cry.

Gripping the strip tightly, she closes her eyes and begins to pray, willing the little spot on the paper to turn red. “Please God,” she utters under her breath, “I promise to be good from now on, just please!”

Joan opens her eyes again, and stares into the blue abyss of the plus sign shining into her face. Suddenly, everything in her life feels like they have fallen apart. Why me damn it! 

In need of a second opinion, she pulls another pregnancy test kit out from under the sink, ripping out its contents and peeing on the strip again.

“Joan!”

“I’m coming!” she chucks the box and wraps the urine-stained stick in a wad of paper, stuffing it into her pocket. Taking one hard look at her dilapidated self in the mirror, she opens the door and sees Penny waiting for her outside the bathroom with stern eyes and folded arms.

“Spill it, what you doing in there?”

“Leave me alone Penny,” Joan sighs as she brushes past her elder sister.

Penny grabs her by the arm, “Hey! We’re all worried about you.”

“Yea whatever,” Joan replies, shrugging off the hand and storming into her room. Right now, all she wants is be left alone with her thoughts.

Penny comes after her, “Joan, you know you can tell me anything, right?” she says, sensing that something is very wrong.

“I’m fine, just leave me alone.” Joan says, crashing on her bed and burying her face into the sheets.

“Suit yourself, want me to get you dinner?”

Joan shakes her head, laying there silently until Penny walks out of her room.

Alone for now, Joan turns to her computer immediately and begins searching the web for homemade remedies to get rid of pregnancies. The first page of results she gets all claim to be safe herbal methods, but none of the sites look trustworthy.

She puts a hand on her belly and imagines the life growing inside, contemplating her choice between being a child murderer and a single mother. Either way, when her father finds out, he is going to kill her.

Joan needs to talk to someone desperately. In her mind, she thought about Patricia from school. Joan has seen her outside hanging around older men. She’s probably an expert in this subject already, maybe she should confide in her.

Picking up her phone, she dials her number. She and Patricia have never been close actually, but they did work on a school project once. Maybe she’ll remember Joan.

“Hello?” came a husky voice across the line.

“Hey Pat, it’s me Joan, listen I…” Joan hesitates, realizing she hasn’t thought about what she wanted to say.

“Yea?”

“I’m just wondering you know, since you’re so popular with guys and all… You probably know a lot. Do you know anybody who can like.. fix me up?” The last words were uttered very deliberately as Joan starts to think that maybe asking Patricia is not a good idea after all.

“Fix what up? You mean like you’re pregnant?”

“Errmm… Yes,” Joan squeaks into the phone.

Patricia bursts out laughing. “Oh my god, you got yourself knocked up, and you’re calling to me for advice? This is hilarious!”

“Oh, it’s not me, it’s a friend,” Joan lies, trying to cover it up by laughing it off as a joke.

“Save it sister, I don’t know what kind of girl you think I am, but I’m definitely not dumb enough to let a man stick me with a kid. Haven’t you heard of protection?”

“Well I just thought you might know someone…”

“You thought wrong sister, wait till the other girls in school hear about this,” she laughs before hanging up.

Joan drops her head to the desk, feeling her world spiraling out of control now. She sobs uncontrollably as the walls of her room start to close in on her, filling her with a sense of dread and loneliness. What she wouldn’t do to make the thing growing inside her disappear. Right now, she needs a magician, not a doctor.

Penny hears the crying from the outside and rushes into the room. “What is going on Joan,” she asks, distressed by the terrible state of the sister. She goes up to Joan and cradles her head in her bosom, soothing her with gentle words.

“Joan whatever it is, I promise you I’ll help. Just tell me what’s going on.”

Teary-eyed, Joan looks up at Penny, “Swear you won’t tell father?” she says in between sobs.

“I swear, now can you please tell me,” Penny answers, looking at her sister with reassuring eyes.

Joan takes a deep breath. “Penny…”

“Yes?” Joan says, coaxing her sister.

“I’m pregnant.”

Penny stares at her younger sister. “Are you sure about this?” she asks, as calmly as she can given the circumstances.

Joan nods her head, and pulls the tissues out of her pocket. Taking out the crumpled strip, she shows it to her sister.

“Christ,” Penny exclaims, seeing the faded plus sign on the stick. “How Joan? When? Who?”

Joan shakes her head, not knowing the exact answer herself, “Help me Penny please,” she begs, holding on to her sister with both hands.

“What do you want me to do, find you a doctor?” Penny replies at a total loss.

“Help me get rid of it.”

Penny is shocked, “I… I don’t know how Joan, I’ve never done this before.” Her first thought is to tell father, and let the adults handle this the way they usually do.”

“You’re older, you have friends, ask them!” Joan pleads.

“I’ll think of something,” Penny mumbles, left without a choice. “But first things first, I want you to see a doctor.”

Joan shakes her head violently. “No way, this town’s too small for secrets like this. Besides, my friend knows and she’s going to tell everyone.”

“What sort of friend is that?”

“Believe me, if I had known, I wouldn’t have told her.”

“Well, once your teachers find out, it’s over anyway,” Penny shrugs, trying to get Joan to see the light.

Both girls sit around quietly for a moment, as they try to find a solution to the predicament. Joan’s thoughts are still on radical ideas like the herbs she read about online, while Penny focuses on possible alternative treatments.

“You know, there’s more to medicine than doctors and hospitals,” Penny finally says, thinking out loud.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m thinking maybe African witchdoctor, I don’t know for sure, but they practice medicine too, don’t they?” Penny shrugs. “Just a thought, if you don’t like the idea…”

Joan rolled her eyes, but the more she thinks about it, the more she likes how that idea sounds. At least it’s better than trusting advice from random strangers on the internet.

“I don’t know Penny, how do we start looking? I don’t think these guys have sites or anything on the internet.”

Penny stands up. She picks up Joan’s jacket from the floor and throws it at her sister’s face. “By getting your ass into the car.”

“Where are we going?”

Penny smiles, “Like you said, I have friends.”

 END PART 1

Note, this is rewrite using the intro from the Flesh Eater story, but this is now a new work. Objective here is not to go all blood splattering from the get go and try to tell a tale that leads up to it first. 

Part 2 Here

Part 3 Here

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Video Games: A Better Emotional Trigger Than Books?

This article is also known as I’ve Just Completed Starcraft II On Brutal Difficulty, Booyah!

Ok, cool video right! That has nothing to do with my post actually. I just love it so much.

But whether you’re a gamer or not, you’ve got to admit that some of the best and most epic plots in science fiction today come from video games instead of movies or books. You don’t understand the meaning of epic until you’ve spent years witnessing the dramatic rise and fall of the Lich King in Warcraft, spanning five games and tens of millions of active players, or gripping your seat as the cinematic in-your-face story-telling of the Call Of Duty Series plays out. When I think of epic today, games come to mind, not movies or books.

Granted, most games are still filled with cheesy B-movie dialogue and lots of inconsistencies, but when it comes to inspiring zealotry and loyalty amongst its fans, few books or movies come close to the audience that video games have. Proof? Here’s a scene from the Starcraft 2 launch. The last time I saw something like this, a little something called the iPhone was launched.

Image

I’ve just completed the latest instalment of Starcraft 2, called Heart Of The Swarm on the highest difficulty setting, and I’m writing this post because I’m still tingling from watching the final cinematic after a brutal one and a half hour battle bringing the entirety of my Zerg Swarm against the unscrupulous Sons of Korhal. That makes absolutely no sense to you right? That’s because you haven’t spent the last 14 years of your life waiting to bring down these sons of bitches.

14 years. That’s how long it took Blizzard, the company behind the series, to bring the core storyline to a close, and I have enjoyed every last minute of it. My heart is still pumping, my adrenaline is still doing somersaults, and I feel very much alive. I don’t remember feeling like this after watching the Avengers or reading Harry Potter.

Lots of Lasers

Lots of Lasers

Many people think it’s just a game, pressing buttons over and over again until you win. I’ll like to tell you now that’s it not. Games, as silly as it sounds, are more than just about the gameplay. It’s about living a story in a beautifully crafted world and going on some insane adventure. You know, pretty much like reading a book. But with over the top visuals, overly dramatic voice acting and horrible reading off a script, just like an audio book! We’re willing to put up with shitty gameplay if there is a compelling reason for us to keep going. Most of the time that means a solid storyline. If you don’t believe me, ask any Final Fantasy fan out there. *cue evil laughter*

Starcraft is ten years in the making. Discussion boards, forums and fan fiction tide us diehards over while we drool and argue over every single detail and leak. And when it finally gets released, grown man can get all emotional and teary when they finally get their hands on their shiny new boxes of the game depicting a zombie-like woman with eight spines growing out of her back. Aside from Harry Potter and Twihards, which other books or movies can claim the same level of emotional attachment and excitment? As a product, all the way from development to the satisfaction that its give to the end-user, games seem to be able to go one level deeper than other forms of media.

Zerg Attack!

Zerg Attack!

Perhaps it just reminds me of younger, more carefree days. Starcraft was a game I started playing when I was 16, now I’m 30. That’s half of my life following what I would call, the science fiction universe of my generation. The 80s had Star Wars and Tron, the late 90s have Starcraft and Halo. And for the fans of Starcraft, Heart Of The Swarm also brings something very important to any overarching story – Closure.

You see this installment effectively finishes the story started more than a decade ago in the head on some kooky writer. When was the last time you had to wait a decade for an anticipated sequel?
More importantly, Heart of the Swarm gives a GOOD kind of closure. The one where you feel satisfied and fulfilled, but wouldn’t mind coming back for more. One door closes and another one opens, not like the crappy conclusion of Harry Potter and Twilight *cue more evil laughter.*

Yet, the wider public continues to put down video games as some form of sensory overloading experience without much substance, while touting how much better it would be to spend the time reading. What gives? If you’re one of these persons out there that strongly believe that video games are ‘bad’ forms of media, I’ll like to ask you why haven’t you tried living in the World of Warcraft, taking a spin on the Hyperion in Starcraft II or follow the antics of Soup and Captain Price in Call Of Duty. Game worlds that, in my opinion, totally rock the socks off Hogwarts and whatever planet Star Wars plays on.

If you are depressed by the devolution of the reading world with the continued success of Twilight and 50 Shades, why not take a gander and explore the world of videos games. The industry is going from strength to strength melding the visual magic of cinema with plot lines that rival that of Game Of Thrones any day. It’s just a matter of picking the right titles.

I’ll probably regret this post when the rose-tinted glasses of my level 70 Kerrigan blasting through a fleet of battlecruisers comes off, but for now, I’m happy. Satisfied. Fulfilled. Some of the best stories I’ve experienced in the last few years came not from books, but from my Xbox and my Mac. If you are a proponent of stories and detest gaming, then I’ll just shake my head while secretly gloating in the fact that the fictional worlds I’ve been too are far richer than any of yours.

And with that, I’ve leave you with another cinematic of the game that wraps up one of the best moment of the original game. Enjoy.

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