Brainstorming: Land of the magic fish

Annabel and I had a random brainstorming exercise yesterday, none of it was meant to be serious but the Idea was to create the premise for a fantasy story.

The premise we came up with was a world where people gained magical powers by eating fish… In this world fish were very scarce and consuming different types of fish gave you different magical abilities. These abilities would fade with time so “Wizards” would have to maintain a steady supply of fish.

The amount of magical power that a person could hold varied from person to person, so it was not just the consumption of fish that made you powerful but also possessing the innate ability to contain that power.
We came up with a number of types of fish and what powers they would imbue:

  • Trout: give you the power to change the colour of things.
  • Anchovies: allow you to expel a stinky gas cloud.
  • Flying fish: imbue you with the ability to jump high.
  • Mussels make you stronger.
  • Sharks give you the power to drain other peoples power.
  • And last but not least Fugu which is what our plat centers about.
    Fugu is very rare but eating the right bit of it will permanently increase the amount of magic you can hold, however eating the wrong bit of fugu will kill you. Fugu is also really really rare.

The main character of the story starts off as a lowly slave to a wizard who has gotten hold of some fugu, now the wizard not knowing which bits of the fugu are deadly and which give you powers decides to experiment on his slaves, feeding different slaves different parts of the fugu. the character lucks out and is fed the bit that makes you more magical. One would assume at least one slave dies. The main character then escapes. and Hijinks ensue.

Dream Journal: Attack of the Lizardmen

I had a really vivid dream last night where the last vestiges of humanity where fighting a losing war against a horde of Immortal Lizardmen from outer space.

The Lizardmen had some mechanism of turning people in zombies. And had created a zombie army of sorts. These zombies weren’t zombies int he trabditional sense they maintained a level of intelligence and could even speak but they were under the thrall of the Lizard me. I guess that means they weren’t realy zombies, more like I dont know partial mind control? Both the Lizardmen and the zombies had a an aversion to light and the zombies eyes glowed white in the dark, it was really creepy.

We’d managed to capture on of the Lizardmen and we’d discovered that they didn’t die. I’m not sure how we discovered this however we put it’s essence into a small Toy robot Lizard and we somehow managed to turn it to ourside…

The last thing I remember is a confrontation between a group of human soldiers and a lizard man standing in front of a large (20-30) zombies in a building, there was a sense that they were telling us that we would never win and the eyes of the zombies told us that they believed that.

I can’t remember much more than that I think I woke up shortly after that.

Inkheart: Quick Review

I watched Inkheart the other day and I’m ashamed to say I kinda enjoyed it but only kinda. Despite the cardboard acting, it was quite fun to watch. Film follows a guy who can read books to life on a quest to find a book called inkheart for no apparent reason,out of which he read a bunch of “Nasties”, in the process he read his wife into the book. So he has to find this book so he can read his wife out of it.

The story is hideously linier, and predictable and at no point are any of the characters in any perceivable danger, throughout the film there are references to the book the guy has been searching for and it’s overarching plot, it’s merits blah blah blah. To be honest my main problem with this story is that the characters are flawless and two dimensional, where the author has gone to painstaking effort to describe the characters of the book that the main character is hunting for as not being so… It’s like she knows what a good book is, but not how to write one… Not that I’ve read Inkheart, just seen the film, but the characters area all cookie cutter characters who all seem to be flawless… except for the guy who has been read out of the book who’s seeming flaw is that he’s self serving, and cowardly yet heroic, seems a bit kludged…

In all honesty I couldn’t help but think that I’d rather be watching a film of the book Inkheart as it is in the film rather than the actual book inkheart, which is a bit disappointing…

Story Idea: Mirror worlds

I had a idea for a story last night which I’ve not fleshed out at all, the premise is a bit Alice in wonderlandy, in that a normal person goes into a magical world, however at the same time a person from that magical world is sucked into our world. The writing style would have the chapters alternate between the two characters in the two worlds as they tried to cope with what they were going through.

I’m aware of the cliche’s nature of the childrens story where a character is sucked into a magical world, Alice in Wonderland, Coraline, Spirited Away, The Lion the Witch and the wardrobe, etc. There have even been a few where magical people come through to our world, like the horifyingly terrible Enchanted by disney, and the TV show The Charmings. There are also stories where characters have switched over the only one I can think of off hand is Mirror Mask but I’m sure there are others. I don’t think I’ve seen one where one character or the other wasn’t a villain of some sort, or where both characters got the same ammount of “Screen Time” as it were.

My idea is to explore how mundane things in our world seemed messed up to fantasy character, just as magicy jiggerypokery would seem odd to one of us.

No Idea if it would work, but I’m blogging it so I can remember I’ve had it.

Writing: What Dreams May Come?

I was wondering today if it’s at all possible to write a story about dreams without sounding cliche’d and evoking the work of another author. In my case the Author I’m worried about evoking is Neil Gaimen and his work on the Sandman, but I’m sure there are others. I know that Avarinne has found it very irritating that she’s found parallels between what she wrote in her NaNoWriMo and both the Sandman and American Gods, despite the fact that she hadn’t read either at the time she wrote (and finished!) her NaNoWriMo Piece.

I’ve been drafting and redrafting in my head the premise for a book based in the world of dreams, and the more Gaiman I read the more I think I get influenced by it. Is this a good thing, I do try to be conscious of the influence and keep it to a minimum, but the more I read Sandman in particular the more I see that he’s actually explored the dreaming from so many angles that I’m finding it impossible to stay away from it.

I do have my own ideas, I’m trying to take inspiration from other angles that I’m more familiar with, namely drawing metaphors from computing with both the brain and the dream realm, but I do keep coming back to Gaiman-esque ideas. I’ve also got a theme which was the main theme of my story which I think differs from Gaimans idea, there is no (As far as I have thought up at least) single entity which controls the dreaming. I have no Sandman as it were. Although I may have sandmen (Note the lack of capitalization) in the story, they will probably bear little ressemblance to THE Sandman.

I’ve taken a cursory look into the mythology of dream and I’ve found that Gaiman has mined that quite extensively for the sandman, so I’ll try and either explore things he hasn’t, look at it in another way, or just avoid it all together. In a way it makes me wish I’d not read the Sandman, but I have and am still reading it and I’m enjoying it, so there is very little I can do.

The premise of my story mainly involves pirates, which in what I’ve read of the Sandman aren’t a big feature. I think that the way that the metaphysics of my DREAM will work is that dreams are like islands and there are creatures of dream that live on these islands. In the sea between the islands there are dream pirates. I’ve not thought up the motivation of the dream pirates, however they are pirates of the pirates of the caribbean vein rather than Somalian oil raiders.

I think in my head I’m going to look at the dream realm as a connected world which is distributed accross the collective subconsciouses of all the dreamers in the world. Think bit torrent meets world of warcraft but in your head. The dream world can only exist so long as people are still dreaming, and that they believe in the power of dreams or some such twaddle. So if everyone in the world were to stop dreaming then the world of dreams would cease to be.

In my head I’ve just come up with the concept that in order for people to dream they have to be visited by a “Sandman” who are like faeries and they make people who are asleep enter the dream. Something in the dream world is capturing the sandmen, which is threatening to destroy the dream world.

Who would want to do this, well the nightmare folk of course. I had a name for them but it’s stored in the notes program of a phone I’m not using anymore, so I’ll have to dig that up. I am aware something will have to happen to get the main character into the dreaming in a lucid state, my main character is a boy who recieves a gift from his travelling uncle whom he’s not seen since he was very little. The gift allows him passage into the dreaming.

Maybe his uncle is a retured sandman, maybe his uncle has gone back to see what the hell is going on in the dreaming, I think he’s been captured but I’m not sure.

The gift is a ship in a bottle and a book the book is empty and it seems that it cannot be written in, the ship in the bottle seems to be a pirate ship. Here is the cliche bit, when the boy goes to sleep he wakes up on the ship as in the bottle, and when he wakes up what happened to him is written in the book. It’s a bit never ending story I know, I’m thinking I may actually ditch the book idea and just keep the ship in a bottle. The only purpose of the book is to mess with the boys head, so he thinks it’s all a dream but when he looks at the book he finds it there. I’m sure I can achive this some other way though…

I want to have a battle with a giant sea monster, which (and I can’t remember why this is relevant) was turned into a nightmare beast by having a gem stuck to it, the gem was some kind of nightmare gem or something like that, and it’s the first clue on the trail to the big bad. Who for want of a better name we’ll call the lord of nightmares.

If anyone is aware of any interesting dream/nightmare related mythology I’m interested. I’m aware that Nightmares are called nightmares because people used to believe that demons called Mares or Maers used to posses people as they slept, I may or may not use this…

Anyway I welcome any thoughts or ideas on this topic, this may form the basis of my NaNoWriMo this year, the idea is to write a story aimed at either children or young adults, maybe…