Having the word/phrase definitions at the start of each chapter wasn’t planned as such - it just seemed fun at the start, and I’m now kinda stuck with it, at least until the end of the arc. Got to keep some kind of consistency, right?
So there’s the thing: I’m planning this out, loosely, on season arcs. Although I’m mostly writing by the seat of my pants, there is an idea of where this is going. There is direction and purpose.
That’s mainly because unformed stories always reveal their ignorance to the audience. Even the knowledge that writers are making it up as they go can undermine a story’s worth. Novels and movies are inherently completed by the time you see them: when you start reading a novel, you know that it’s been finished, and that it is as the author intended (for better or worse), because you’re holding it in your hands.
Television, comics and other serialised forms don’t always have that luxury, and it often undermines their storytelling authority. Take Battlestar Galactica, which hung its plot on the antagonists “having a plan”. As the show reached into its third season it became apparent that the writers didn’t actually have a plan, and were in fact backing themselves into a corner. It remained a well-produced show, but its ending was never truly satisfying.
Let’s not even bother getting into LOST.
Contrast with Babylon 5, a show which was planned from start to finish, over five years of TV storytelling. It didn’t go entirely according to plan due to actors leaving and networks meddling, but it had purpose, and knew what it was doing.
Importantly, you knew when watching season one that the creators already knew what would happen in season five, giving everything a connective resonance that added up to more than the sum of its parts. They might not have made those episodes yet, but they existed in the creator’s head.
So, with chapter two of this arc of A Day of Faces, I already had a vague idea of where the story would end up in Arc 4. It wasn’t mapped out in huge detail, but the broad strokes were there.
‘Survival of the fittest’ is about expanding the world more, encountering more genotypes, showing that these people live pretty normal lives. It’s also about finding a way to use the word ‘nictitated’.
Soundtrack: Let’s go with anything by Nine Inch Nails. That’s what they’d listen to at the Jasmine.
1. I’m very proud of the Darwin/clubbing pun inherent in this chapter title.