The changes that happen while no one is looking…

Yesterday I read an interesting sentence in a good sci-fi story:  Not being able to do anything but watch and wait until the universal backstory straightened itself out… (That’s from “Just Another Day in the Butterfly War,” by M. Todd Gallowglas , and I’ll be reviewing it along with the other stories in Bless Your Mechanical Heart soon.)  I read that, and I thought, Oh, yeah, we know THAT feeling.

Backstory Revision Syndrome — gotta love it.

It’s a weird feeling, knowing someone for years and repeatedly watching their past change.  I guess it’s one of the hazards of knowing fictional people, though:  sometimes, the author makes changes before the story gets published, and people who are familiar with the original version have to adjust their worldview accordingly.  (Wow, I think I just indirectly compared myself to Chris Claremont… ‘Cause, y’know, that one time one of Emma Bull’s protagonists — an older version, from before the novel was published — appeared along with most of the band Cats Laughing in a comic that Claremont wrote.  Don’t count your gerfalcons before they’re hatched, or something like that.  *weird fanboy grin*)

My clone-sibling has been working on his next novel, with good stuff getting added as he works in more depth and detail to a few subplots.  Characters who were only mentioned in passing before are getting actual ‘screen time’ now.  Quite a bit of it, probably.  And since some of these characters are mine, I have additional interest in seeing these subplots developed.  I know what happened in the original version of that story — I was there, after all — but necessary changes have already been made, some characters have been written out due to redundancy, and I think we’re gonna have RS’s encounter with the local Big Bad (briefly alluded to in the story fragment I wrote about him a while ago) happen on-screen this time around.  Can’t wait to see what we end up with.  🙂

Clarifying the internal mythology of the series… That’s fun.  And by fun, I mean a big headache.  Certain things must happen; they are non-negotiable.  Fixed points, if you will.  For those things to happen, certain other things must be possible within the setting.  However, making those things possible without also making possible things that the author and his twin find distasteful… What I find really, really funny (and by funny, I mean the sort of coincidence that only a Murphist** can truly appreciate) is that one of the characters from one of those aforementioned subplots may turn out to be distantly (VERY distantly) related to the novel’s protagonist, on his father’s side.  (*waves to Loyal Reader, ducks thrown object*)

badhairdae2

 My own stories — the ones that I was writing,  if only in my head, before my clone-sibling and I started writing things together — have undergone some significant changes over the years.  Would you believe that, once upon a time, JG wasn’t afraid of dogs?  It’s true.  For that matter, there as a time when he didn’t have that little memory problem… although the cynophobia wasn’t originally added out of laziness like the memory-fade was.  (I love it, though, when I find a valid explanation for something I intended to write into a story anyway, and the fading — while it lasted — definitely had a valid explanation.  Alas, that “rare dragon disease” retrovirus negated all that.  *sigh*)  Y’see, there’s no need for the author to figure out every frakkin’ detail of a character’s life if even the character doesn’t remember, and isn’t going to remember, and isn’t going to encounter anyone else who remembers.  (In case anyone who knows my tastes in fiction is tempted to compare JG to someone else — say, that “Carl Corey” guy — don’t.  For one thing, they really have nothing in common.  Not even the same species.  For another, it would seriously piss off JG himself.  And… Well, just don’t go there.  Trust me.)

Other changes made to works in progress:  The protagonist in one of my twin’s more-or-less contemporary novels (still sci-fi, just not set in the future) got a new surname, on account of the name we’d given him years ago being far too famous now as the alias of a character in a movie.  *shakes head*  Annoying that this is necessary (and that the frakkin’ Wikipedia entry on the movie refers to the character by that alias throughout), but whatever.

We’re busy getting the sequel to The Remnant ready to be published later this year.  After that… It is possible that one of those contemporary novels may be next.  It all ties together anyway, right?  🙂

————————————–

(**I give an explanation of Murphism in the last paragraph of this post, if you’re curious.  I used to think that it was entirely my own made-up philosophy, and then I heard a character in a movie trailer saying that “Murphy’s Law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen.  It means that anything can happen.”  That, my friends, is a core component of true Murphism: everything in the universe follows the path of least resistance, and if the path of least resistance leads to something good, that’s what will happen, because it has to.)

 

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About Thomas Weaver

I’m a writer and editor who got into professional editing almost by accident years ago when a friend from university needed someone to copyedit his screenplay about giant stompy robots (mecha). Having discovered that I greatly enjoy this kind of work, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use ever since as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom. I'm physically disabled, and for the past several years, I’ve lived with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have six cats. (The preferred term is "Insane Cat Gentleman.") I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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2 Responses to The changes that happen while no one is looking…

  1. nancyrae4 says:

    I’ve met some people whose past changes at their whim and they aren’t even fictional characters:) But, I know what you mean. As you write about your characters it’s amazing what you learn about them before they ever graced your screen. For me it’s tempting to spend in inordinate amount of time in their past with them so sometimes I just push into their future, whether they want to go or not!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The trick is not to let them know too soon what you’ve got planned for them… 🙂

      The way my twin and I play around with multiple storylines, often simultaneously, we always end up jumping from one point in a character’s life to another.

      Like

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