Tag Archives: infinimata

When Your Thing Becomes Your Thing

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Serdar and I often talk about why we create what we do. These conversations veer into things like the “punk” mindset, artistic visions, and the like. Why do people make what they do, and how can they be true to their vision?

Well, the truth is, it’s not always a straight line or magical revelation. Finding that “you” thing in writing is a journey, one my Way With Worlds books illustrates.

Most of my readers know how they started. I had two books on worldbuilding – the Way With Worlds Books – but wanted to sell more. I got the idea to do six small, cheap books on specific subjects to tie into them and raise interest. After being told I should raise the price to show value, they started selling well.

Previously I thought like a marketer, but now I saw what people wanted. People wanted specialized guides, and my unique “coaching buddy approach” seemed to resonate with people. This realization fired up my writing side.

So I wrote a few more books.

The act of writing the books inspired more books. Reader feedback guided me to pick the best titles. I set the lofty goal of writing thirty of these books, figuring that would ensure sales and be a worthy challenge.

I wrote a few more books, and my motivations evolved.

My drive to help writers and creatives changed. I realized how much good I could do and how much help I could provide. I also realized that worldbuilding helped people think about our world. What I did mattered to people.

I also began to savor the challenge in creating these books. I had to find what subjects people needed to learn. I created a system to help me write them effectively.

I kept writing.

I came to realize how outlandish my goals were – and how much I enjoyed them. Thirty books for a specific audience with specific interests on specific subjects? I was doing something only I could do.

I had started with a simple marketing idea based on a subject that interested me. It had evolved into a challenge, then something outrageously me. As you noticed, I’m still writing.

Our creative journeys aren’t linear, and our creative selves not always apparent. But if you keep creating and learning, you’ll find that work only you can make – and the you that can make that work.

Steven Savage

A Spoonfull of Action Makes The Mythology Go Down

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Serdar recently wrote an excellent re-look at the seminal film The Matrix. I have nothing to say about his essay except to go read this fine piece of work. However, I do have something to say about The Matrix and how pieces of media work together.

In some ways, The Matrix seems to be two films.

One film is an exceptional action movie with a near-perfect cast. As of this writing in 2021, it still influences the styling of movies, television, and games. The film showcases the talents of various actors and actresses, each well-fit to their role. Were it just an SF action film, it would be an accomplished one.

However, the film’s heart is that another movie: the story of a not-quite Chosen one on a journey about reality and physicality, machines and humanity. One can – and many have – spilled ink and moves electrons to going over the mix of Gnosticism, Buddhism, bodily identity, and more in the film. Later revelations about the transgender experience and the film only illustrate how much is in it.

Some films may be riddles wrapped in enigmas. This is a film of a philosophy wrapped in a stylish hail of bullets and punches to the face.

Both sides of the film are enhanced by the other. The stylish action catches our attention, grabbing us by the visceral parts of our brain. The deep thoughts and many sides of it reach our hearts and mind. The Matrix creates deep engagement by having these two facets.

There are many lessons to derive from The Matrix, and certainly more to be found. One lesson that I see as I look back on the film is that seemingly unrelated concepts can enhance each other. You can have your philosophy and gun-fu at the same time and be better for it.

A creative work can have “unrelated” ideas that come together for richer results. Let no one say to you “your ideas don’t work together.”

Genres are not limited by what they are “supposed” to be but can deliver any kind of payload in the right person’s hands. There is no “wrong” genre, and sometimes the “wrong” genre may be the most right one.

A “tightly focused” work may become too limiting, whereas other ideas, even conflicting ones, may enrich it. Sometimes focus is another name for “narrowness.”

If the Matrix taught us to break free from many forms of conditioning, let it also be a reminder to break free from simple ideas of what “genre” and “themes” are for.

Steven Savage

Questioning Your Way To Solidity

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Fiction is a canvas upon which you can do anything, and that’s why its limiting. When you can do anything, you have so many options you become paralyzed.

My friend Serdar talks about this, by comparing it to how many brands of Toothpaste we have:

“Choice paralysis is, as you can guess, a major issue in creative work. Because you have complete control over what you put into a story, that can manifest as being stranded between too many choices, and you end up in a Toothpaste Meltdown, goggling at the screen and drooling into your keys.”

He goes on to analyze how the choices you make are best shaped by what fits the story you want to write, and asking the right questions. This is something I see (to no one’s surprise) in my work using Agile methods.

Agile methods are obsessed with asking “what is valuable for the customer/end user/etc.” The basic idea is find what’s important, rank things in order of the importance, and start from the top. If you’re not sure, then you have to ask more questions about who your audience is, what they want, etc.

That one word, Value, helps say so much.

In my recent work on my novel, A School of Many Futures, I started a massive edit after getting editoral, prereader, and my own feedback. What helped me was asking what chapters, scenes, etc. did anything for the audience. The result shocked me.

  • Two chapters merged into one, moving the plot along.
  • Several scenes were thus combined, making them richer and snappier.
  • An entire sub-subplot and mini-character arc emerged from the above deeply enriching the overall story.
  • A cat who appears perhaps twice, became a useful way to exposit (hey, people talk to cats).

All because I asked what matters to the audience. What had value, to them.

This doesn’t mean I shirked on worldbuilding – this is me. It just meant that I found a way to tell the story, in the world, that worked better for the reader. I violated none of my obsessively detailed continuity, I merely found which option told the story best.

So next time you’re stuck with the “toothpaste conundrum” in your writing, ask what your audience wants and write it down. Then sort these ideas in order of what is important to them. Start from the top and go through your list.

Even if the audience is just you, you might be surprised at what you really want . . .

Steven Savage