20 November, 2009

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making shit up as you go. I'm actually quite a fan of improvisation and working in the moment. It can be quite a rush. But, see, here is the thing. It is really most thrilling when it all hangs together, and you know it is working. Everything making sense almost as if you planned it.

There is the beauty. The thrill. Dancing on air. Spinning webs as fragile as spun sugar. Looking down. Nothing there. Simply empty void. Should you fail, you will just fall and fall and fall because there is nothing to crash into. Endless vertigo. The rage screaming past your ears as you fail.

And, it hangs together. You don't know how. Or why. It just does. Soap bubble floating. Rainbows shimmering across its surface. Any moment it might burst. But, it doesn't. Almost as if you planned the whole thing.

Now, opinions may vary but that is The Faire Folk of Gideon. Not that anybody has read it so who knows if opinions vary. Made up as I went. Never really knowing what would happen next. Deliberately so. For the rush. Sprinkling in little details of the future, daring myself to weave it all together. There's even a line late in the book where Drake is bitching that nothing was going as planned, and it was perfectly true. What I thought would happen wasn't. It was gyrating wildly. Randomly. Holding on for dear life.

Which is all a rather long-winded and egotistically self-aggrandizing way of getting around to my point.

I hate shit like the Battlestar Galactica remake. Lost. Fringe. Alias. At least with Alias, they were quick to admit they were making it up as they went. X-files. Twin Peaks.

But, see, it isn't the fact they were making it up as they went or even the fact that in most of those cases they insisted they had planned the works from the start. It can hang together. It can all fit.

Futurama springs quickly to mind. Some of it was planned. Some of it was slapped together from various random comments and bits from other episodes. Fry being his own grandfather was supposed to be out of continuity, but they decided the episode was just too good to let lie. Fit too perfectly with why the giant brains couldn't read his mind.

I hear how great Battlestar Galactica was, and I grit my teeth. It isn't the fact they said it was carefully planned—right there in the title sequence even—when it wasn't. Although, I must admit that it does really burn my hide all the same. I hate that things were ignored. Characters changed after the fact. And, it is sad because individual episodes could be quite good. I think this is what people focus on. Individually, it was good. Taken as a whole, not so good.

I could say the same thing about Lost, Twin Peaks or the X-files. Things that made sense or were interesting stopped making sense once the explanation was tacked on the end. Lost suffers from a completely different problem, too. I'm still working on the best way to describe it. Expectation without resolution. Things done because they hint at future coolness never realized because even more future coolness must be promised instead. Portentous derailment. Deferment infinitum.

So, yeah, nothing wrong with making it up as you go. The thing to remember is that making it up as you go is not a lazy-ass excuse to ignore antecedents and consequences.

copyright © 2009 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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