Does Subject Matter Matter?

Oft have we been exposed to the adage, ‘it’s not about the graphics, it’s about the gameplay’. And if it doesn’t make one question the merit of such a claim one must be simply docile, puerile, or radically consumerist, or all of the above.

Subservient to my whims, I have always prejudiced myself toward video games with better visuals. Of course, visuals is relative my case: say a two-dimensional sidescroller embodied with breathtaking design is, visually, miles above a lewd and lewdly done three-dimensional game.

I am a superficial prude. But throughout my superficial exploits I have discovered that ultimately, graphics and gameplay are a gestalt. They cannot be separated one from the other, much like gravity and mass, where there cannot be gravity without mass, and vice versa. Therefore, with the rephrasing of the adage – ‘it’s not about the mass, it’s about the gravity’ – you see how daft it is.

So, does subject matter matter? Surely Bronte can write about a six-week-old’s stained undergarments and make you weep at the beauty of her prose, but if you take it into perspective – it is, by all possible imaginings and interpretations an unequivocally nasty item!

Before you pick a bone with me I’d however like to disclaim that I’m all for exquisite prose surrounding the subject matter of stained undergarments. There is no doubt that such a piece, which will of course be satire in our time, bears the potential to become a literary classic a hundred years from now.

So what is my point exactly? To be fair, I’m no longer so sure myself. Perhaps through all the musing that is this article, I have concluded that neither subject matter nor the elements surrounding it matter. What actually matters is the final product achieved from the sum of these parts. Does a ten feet tall iron tube matter? Probably not. Does it matter now that it’s been whacked into a church organ? Yes.


The Experiment

Joanne peeled off her springy latex gloves and flicked them into the unassuming bin beside the counter. The image of it all sparked a flashback of her gruesome days in high school.

You see, Joanne always stuck around with the rich and mean, for her teenage indecision and insecurity needed something solid to grasp onto. She was like a hired gun for these impregnable kings and queens, committing acts for them against her morality – acts such as seizing a helpless girl by her luscious brown hair and forcing her face into the garbage bin.

She sighed. At this point in her life she utterly despised the person her juvenile hormones made her be.

‘Hey,’ her sharply-dressed boss called out to her from the swinging doors. ‘Same time tomorrow?’

‘Sir,’ Joanne almost whispered, ‘are you really sure-‘

‘Hey, hey, Missis Iffrit,’ her sir orated, in a way that clawed Joanne’s nerves, ‘I thought we had a deal.’

His annoyingly lilted tone truncated thoughts of any objection from our Joanne as she thought she had already felt enough guilt and discouragement for a day.

As he pompously made for the door, he winked at her in such a boss-like way that she, three layers down her subconscious, wanted to rip his eyeballs out and soak them in acid instead of the tissue samples.

Joanne removed her bloodied lab coat, and while changing into her jacket, noticed a twitch or two from the subject on the exam table. Horrified, she froze and nearly spasmed. Her body remained still while her eyeballs ran a hundred times over checking every crack and crevice of the bioluminescent corpse.

Meanwhile, exactly two minutes earlier and a few miles above the sky, the Iffrit-56 asteroid plunged directly at the earth. Its resplendent tail of galactic white fumed vociferously, denoting its faithful trajectory. Nobody on the earth saw it coming, not the NASA, not the CNSA, not the ESA, not even the MACUSA.

This was all thanks to the discovery of a habitable planet three times the size of the earth, which was deftly named Enna-oj, after a recent science-fiction series that predicted its discovery down to an S. S, because it’s not quite a T yet in terms of accuracy.

All scientists had gone bananas and their supervisors coconuts. They all abandoned their posts and partied so hard that municipal waste management facilities had to unclog the drains jammed with rocket science. After all, who would not frivolously party, after having achieved what the entirety of humankind has sought after for the better half of a century?

The Iffrit-56 pried open the earth’s atmosphere like an senselessly angry man the stomach of his dog with a blunt crowbar. It dove earthward at a blistering speed, enough to escape half a million sleeping souls’ notice.

Then, it smashed exactly into the discreet lab complex in which Joanne was leaving work. In an expanding orb of incomprehensibly devastating energy, it mopped the vicinity clean in less time than what would take a seasoned typist to spell out the words ‘The End’.

A Plaguing Onset

I feared the arbitrary title, which perhaps out of a cataclysm in a star system billions of light years away that had dropped a metaphysical fragment of its remains on one of my lazy neurons relaxing away in a caffeine bath, would be a little too much of an exaggeration. And, if you have correctly formed an opinion of me from the opening sentence – of cosmic proportions.

Getting to the point, all I wished to convey is that recently it has vexed me greatly to discover how I had employed too many female characters. You see, it used to be the other way round. I used a male protagonist, surrounded by his male friends and greeted by male sidekicks and villains. That hurt my brain once I realised how many young males are already out there in the realms of writers’ imaginations slaying beasts and betraying old men and drinking with long-eared murderers.

There you have it; the story of Lilac’s messianic birth. You’ll find that not only did I try too hard with the gender bender, I tried too hard with the name as well. That’s because I not only wanted my protagonist to be a girl, I wanted her to stand out and be relatable. Not an archetype. Not the testosterone fodder women generally are in high fantasy.

I strongy believe writing to be some form of protest: that all literature you have read and have heard of are too far away from your heart of art, and that you will proceed forth to show the world what you think should have existed.

Back to too many female characters. I gave this a good deal of thought, but things turned out a little more complex than simply doing gender benders again to rectify the situation. It turned out that in more cases than is good for my brain, only female characters with the personalities I had them coupled with will slide into the framework of my present plot, which I had spent a considerable amount of time conjuring. My point being: a haughty young king with a secret heart of gold would not be as effective as his female counterpart. See what I mean?

The only exit now, really, if I want more males in my piece, is to re-plot. But then, that begs the question. Why should I be disconcerted about this? Why should I make artistic compromises because of this? All for a gender ratio, a simple demographics issue?

I think I’ve just sorted myself out. Thanks for reading, ghouls and spirits of old.


Classroom Stereotypes

All information I am about to present herewith, I draw from a note I made while procrastinating in a coffee shop two years ago, a note whose contents are based solely on my experience and leaky observation, rather than a subjective study conducted by arduous individuals in alabaster coats.

I figured that, since my protagonist’s story starts in a common high school, these may also be helpful for my project, if not yours too, so peruse this at the whims of your pleasure. As well as your discretion, for I must warn you, that my tone will verge judgemental, cynical, nihilistic, and that sort of badness that’s going to offend you. Consider yourself warned.

1. The Pious and the Industrious

We’ve all once hated that kid who took classroom debates more seriously than your overly political uncle who often got into bar-fights with socialists; that kid who, in said debates, because you misread a line they wrote, nearly shoved a sharpened pencil up your rump.

These students value good grades above all else, but who, because they’re better than you, occasionally mingle in the way of ‘recreation’ too. Their hobbies can be classified into productive (musical instruments, reading books, stargazing, birdwatching, pedantic research, etc.) and unproductive (RPG games, miscellaneous gaming, reading comics, watching anime, etc.) ones. They are generally aspirational, (thinking about college since eighth grade, etc.) initially for their parents’ sake, but ten years later for their child’s, who eats from a spoon of sterling silver.

2. The Artists

The artsy types. Money makes the world go round, but arts keep our spirits sound. These people are deviants. They scoff at the curriculum for being too mainstream. They scoff at teachers for being Stalinists.

Half of them have a bleached sketch paper of an idea about their future, while the other half unrealistically aspire to be worshiped on a pedestal after their imminent success.

Hobbies are what they’re all about, and they’re unafraid to take their work to class. The amateurs showcase their talents and swoon in their classmates’ tasteless admiration. Others, the true masters of the craft, are insecure in their pursuit of perfection. Main hobbies of those under this category include musical talent, visual arts talent- and that’s really about it.

3. The Jo- I mean, Athlete

Born to be athletes, and definitely not simpletons. This ilk cannot cease to move, be it bottle football in the classroom, or the endless chatter about last night’s basketball game; they’re restless.

The school bell is quite unequivocal to them. It means either football, basketball, or some other sport people enjoy on school grounds. Quidditch, for instance.

I invented paperball back in high school, but that didn’t quite pick up with anyone. If you want to know more about paperball, leave a comment below, or send me an homing eagle.

4. The Peculiarly Talented

These children are talented, not because they can do something better than others, but because they can do something others cannot. Such things may include, but are not limited to: licking one’s own nose, doing magic tricks, walking a tightrope, acupuncture, etc.. Number four here should really be a sub-category.

5. The Real-Life Internet Kid

The kid with empty threats, who threatened to burn your house down, and his unfaltering stare has already done it. These students try to fit among various groups and rely on their threats to survive socially or to mask their insecurity. At times situations tempt them to perform a misdemeanour or two.

6. The Bully

True despots who feast on the mishap and misery of others. Gregarious, this specimen associates number with invincibility. Of course, being invincible also means you have to smoke and drink later in life, because natural laws dictate as such.

They are usually the most hated among these stereotypes, but all the while the most feared. Who needs to worry about their future, when those that do, fear you?

7. The Nutcase

The outcast, the rebel, the renegade. Or frankly speaking, just the average looney who skims the fine line between high school and mental hospitalisation. These, or we (as I associate with this stereotype), are often found performing quirky acts for no conscious reason. Roughly falling under this category are also the part-time workers who sleep in class and are disheartened about their future because they don’t realise that it’s just a side effect of sleep deprivation.

8. The Artists 0.4

For these students, fabulousless (this isn’t really a word) is key. Admiration from others, oh well, can alternatively happen in their little heads. The majority of these kids also have rich parents, as only then can they afford cosmetics and similar products, which seem to teem in their knapsacks like sardines after breeding season.

They promptly have their makeup bag at hand, convieniently disguised as a pencil case, wherein, ironically, lies no pencil or any other writing tool. Hence they would always burrow from their classmates. And never return them. (Hint: they have no respect for your plastic ink-dispensing contraption from which worlds and mathematical breakthroughs can emerge)

Children pampered by rich parents since childhood are frequently a hybrid of this and the ‘Bully’ category. These people can and will buy their way to unmerited privileges.

9. The Play Along

Although they don’t like the sound of the phrase, these people don’t give a hoot. Ambition and aspiration are incomprehensible words to their idle brains. Ardent followers of boy bands, Taylor Swift, cheesy animes, or some other sensationalist fad I don’t know about, these kids eventually become the brick and mortar of our present society. They have average grades in school, come from average families, and seek to get average degrees to live average lives.

Ah, the average Jane and Joe; the world is built around them though.

10. The Heir

These kids already have a future. Yes, rich parents, unless a tad maniacal, like I would be to my children if I were rich, will give you what you want, and leave you to it.

All’s well, until, of course, illness befalls your overworked father, and suddenly the fate of the family business rests upon your shoulders. And then, due to your inability to affiliate with other career choices because you smugly shrugged off every subject in school, you are rendered effectively without a choice to succeed a throne you never gave a rat’s behind about.

And that, concludes my list. Ten’s a popular internet number too. I could’ve also missed a good dozen or two. If you can name them, I eagerly and thankfully in advance invite you to.

Offended by something? Bash me in the comments, I’d quite like that.


Another Idea

Sort of. Another idea. Since this was where the story was headed all along – en route to break free from norms.

In the beginning I deducted that there were three or four formats in pitting contenders against themselves in a story. Now, thinking from a clearer, more caffeinated mind, I deduct that the options are nearly boundless. I shall call this the ‘Sides Perspective’ for looking at a chronology, in contrast to the typical Protagonist vs. Antagonist approach.

What I mean, is instead of focusing on two sides of an opposition, be the bellingerents entities, personnel, or mere ideas, or anything else capable of narrative focus for that matter, we focus two or more sides in a situation – regardless of whether they are harmonious or conflicting, moral or immoral.

Such a view should grey things up to a more realistic yet novel extent. The possibilities of plots created using this include, but are severely not limited to: Two or more sides fighting for supremacy, two complicated relationships fighting a hostile side for supremacy, and many, many sides with similar and conflicting goals clustered in a jumble.

The Outline

This is it. The moment of truth. The final exploit of my years (which is really a few days sans procrastination) of planning. The pièce de résistance plonked into the arcaded and muraled recesses of my languid focus, harrumphs pouring from their darkened edges in sternest horror: the final form of my plot outline. I lay it out here perchance I do not survive this shackling process, that you, oh chosen one, may finish what I started.

On the contrary, I have approached chapter six and have been met with an incredibly troublesome dilemma, one in which my decision will dictate the narrative direction of the story.

Sorry about the anticlimax. Don’t chuck your shoe at me. Rather, save it for when I tick you off more than this. Until then, work on your aim.

The dilemma occurred as I got to the part of Lilac’s journey where she chases a thief to her den and gets herself in trouble. This presents an opportunity to introduce a lot of characters in an interesting way, therefore I am forced to choose whether Lilac’s first ever allies shall scrounge the leeway of this event, or whether many many other things should happen.

A Poem from Inebriation

Go away, procrastination
Come again another day
All my sow, could have been fruition
but you tempt
you delay!

Curse you, procrastination
How I wish another way
could be equally joyous;
All my potential
you made porous
on our path to decay!

Scram, procrastination
I’ll slam you down the drain
Your flimflam, be gone!
Cease at last,
all this pain
you’ve caused to my brain


‘Your curiosity has cost us dearly…’

‘…I pray you’ll think on your errors for the sake of us all.’

With such a quote I present the idea of the day, and by George, what an idea it is! Since I’ve decided after the previous post that I will go forth to let Lilac’s unrelenting curiosity take the helm and drive this plot, I thought of something that might be a good character-centred main arc for the story.

The statement above is delivered by no other than a respectable Elder of the Order of Vigils ticked off at our main character. You see, I thought that despite the Vigils being the ultra-reliable unsung heroes in a troubled world, having our Lilac mess things up for them and turning half the order against herself would be scrumptious, three-dimensional storytelling stuff. There I go again, pray forgive my complacency.

Anyhow, not only does the combined forces of good and evil opposing our main character add good spoonfuls of eyeball-gouging jalapeno, it also opens up the possibility of nasty plots against her. How so, you ask? Well, when supposedly good and friendly people turn against you they don’t exactly break you with a war-hammer do they?


With all that set in the framework, I have to admit that even I myself am curious and anxious to how it will unfold.

2 Things I’m Appending In Hopes of Juicing Up the Plot

I’ll have to admit, the first thing that came to my mind whilst penning this abysmal title was the fact that if the main support structure for a pillar sucks, there’s no way on Earth dabbing extra compensation here and there could ever result in its de facto salvation. Not in my faith. Therefore, instead of jostling along a rocky path remaining subservient to the title, I shall deviate (stall) until the aforementioned support pillar is established. Then, perhaps I can proceed with the two things I had in mind and kick back on an imaginary armchair and see how that turns out. You know, the usual routine: fling whatchamacallits at the wall and see what sticks.

Ah, the main story arc (insert a seemingly endless, hopeless, and desolate sigh here), where should I begin? As in, where should I actually begin in the world of Versilris? Perhaps I could start where Lilac disposes of her dead step-parents – actually, that didn’t happen, but it can. Perhaps way back when Lilac watched her mother die? Or way way back when Lilac was born in the midst of turmoil? All these options are plausible; alluring even, in their own merits. With candour I say: prior to the exploring of them here, I fathomed not the past life of my protagonist could be such a riveting affair. And a rivet to be damned at that, for what more does it do than render her present less likelier to ever top her past in aroma and juiciness?

As her past is kept in my mind and desperately prayed against to not get in the way, I have decided to set the inciting moment in the taciturn corridors of the Edenwood Library in the dark of midnight. One, it suits Lilac’s character (somehow – her past). Two, it suits the cynical tone with which I intend to tell this story. Mostly however, I’ve merely chosen this beginning so as not to disappoint the spirits of time and space as I lawlessly leap about in their realms. ‘Confuse your readers, you must not,’ said a stumpy one in the tone of a misinterpreted religious leader.

Also, from this starting point, the story is granted permission to progress more efficiently, as two major events (not thaaat related to the plot) happen a few days after and unsettle the psyche of our protagonist. That brings to mind the fact that we started off instigating plenty of internal conflict. Hmm. I should probably balance that out by bombarding her with external conflict in the following chapters then. I’m a genius (of rubbish logic).

Moving on to the main event. I’m curious myself what that would end up to be. A few ways to narrow that down though, would be to focus on my plot devices (props), as they are the only things that could create interesting arcs in my mind at the moment: Saffron’s Codex, Lilac’s Amulet, Lilac’s Sword, Lilac’s Strilvren, Arleira’s Emissaries, Dracles, The Dam Palace at Veir, and plenty of other blots and blemishes to mechanise the intrigue. All very cliché in this genre, I am fully aware; shame on me thus. That all this mind-wringing planning and cliché-avoiding obstructs my progress is nothing new to me at this point.

Alright, I’ve decided on something: that instead of my old borderline (ultra) cliché plot where Lilac realises the value of friendship in the end, I’ll give her something that suits her personality much better. Something darker, something more worthwhile of the cloak of storm clouds that sits over my pages.

Lilac is a curious being, curiouser perhaps, than any other black-haired girl you’ve ever come across. Curious as a cat; that’s why she might as well have nine lives to survive each time her curiosity kills her. Therefore, the passionate emotions that singe her after the loss of her second most important person is channeled into extreme curiosity; tell me or die kind of a desire to know, rather. I don’t know if the mind actually works like that, but that will be how she interrogated her way to Veirians, and eventually decided to travel there to find her answers (catch the poor Veirians by the throat and force it out of them).

Brilliant, isn’t it? Not only have I solved the plague of a boring main arc, I have created one solely driven by the whims of the protagonist, something I have always aimed for and which is hardly evident in the realms of this Zeus-dictates-your-fate genre we call Fantasy.

Now that I’ve come this far, glancing back at that scrap I made of the two things mentioned in the title I’m quite sure it would turn out anti-climatic if I add them at this point. Nontheless, no one who values their time would actually bother to read my posts, so I’ll put them here anyway.

Number One: Veir’s enigma. Being a recent convert and zealot of the without-a-good-plot-your-story-will-suck religion, I took for granted the wonders of Veir and failed to realise their potential of inspiring a good plot. By George, if you’re a storyteller or just really vigilant you will have realised that many anime episodes root their storyline ideas in a plot device: a person, place, or thing.

‘Hey, nobody has noticed that woman working at the corner store, right?’

‘…yeah, well, she’s just there to sell the protagonist stuff.’

‘Why don’t we kill her family?’

‘You’re a genius!’

That’s how I imagine it goes with the storyboarders.

Number Two: Vahulin plotting against Lilac. Yes, opposition by means of stratagem and petty malice. Despite this being more a of vehicle driven only by the Drama and Historic Drama people, I cannot see why it shouldn’t work out equally well in High Fantasy to add tension between your characters.

Appendix: Paper dolls. Add paper dolls to the story. Make Lilac buy a nifty one from the toymaker or something. I don’t know why. Paper dolls are just awesome. Carry on now.