For those few individuals who’ve had the chance to truly get to know me, they’ve found I’m a bit of a geek. Mostly the sci fi sort of geek (for me, 9/8/66 is a date to be held in reverence) who has read tons of classic fiction, but I am also a gamer. What started as a hobby back in 1974 with Avalon Hill board games got serious in 1985 with Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu role playing game, and since that black point in my life (according to some carnivorous plants, of whom to one I was once married) gaming has been a significant part of my life, both good and bad.
At the beginning of the year someone I can only describe as totally evil in a good way talked me into joining her in this online role playing game. It was not a MMORPG (otherwise known as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) but rather a MUD (also known as a Multi-User Domain), so there was to be a lot of typing involved. This didn’t bother me, as I write, but I was a little hesitant about interaction and the such. And, to be honest, I was a little hesitant due to the background world in which that game took place, which was (deep breath) based upon the Harry Potter universe, only in present time (let out the breath . . . oooh, feel better now).
So I created my geeky 11 year old 1st Year student, Kerry, made friends with my not-so-geeky witchy 11 year old, Annie, and off we went to school.
School didn’t last long, however, due to . . . how to put this? The owner of the board was a psycho bitch. She had mood swings the way most people breathe,which is to say all the time. She wanted to role play with certain individuals only and screw everyone else. At one point she was running 5 characters because she’d get bored with one and move to another.
In other words, she was like a lot of gamers I’ve know through the years.
After a few weeks of really insane, and sometimes abusive comments directed towards my friend, we both decided that gaming there wasn’t all it was cut out to be, and we packed our bags (or backpack in my character’s instance) and hopped the first dragon out of there.
But that wasn’t the end, oh, no. My friend–and we’ll call her “Annie” as that’s her character’s name–she didn’t want to let the game go. She loved what our characters were starting to build in the short time we were on that MUD, which was the beginning of a nice little romance, and she wanted to keep going. We looked at other boards and couldn’t seem to find anything that suited us, so what was there for us to do?
Now, I am a GM (Game Master, the dude who makes a game work when they’re not being a complete idiot or killing their player’s characters for doing the same–kidding!), or at least I’ve played one in real life for over 20 years. So little by little Annie started picking my brain for ideas, and as one things led to another, eventually we–both of us–created The Salem Witches’ Institute (which I also blogwhore in my links in case your gaze somehow missed that link I posted back there, yo), and we continued our story there.
Now, Annie and Kerry are not normal 11 year olds (actually Annie’s 12 now, so my character is dating an older woman, hubba hubba). They’re magical for one, of course, but they hold a reverence for each other that is a little . . . spooky is probably the best word. There is a real romance between then, and it’s not holding hands and secretive kisses behind a tree when teachers aren’t around. It goes deeper than that, mostly because . . . well, lets say it’s their fate to build this great and long-lasting passion–and the biggest problem they appear to have right now is they’re tweens going on teens and, at least for one of them, the slow march to semi-adulthood is putting a real spin on their minds.
As co-moderators, Annie and I try to come up with things to do at our school. We know the layout ’cause I designed it, and we know the instructors, ’cause I helped designed them, so all that matters after that is what to do. And one of the “what to dos” coming up is the Samhain Celebration, which is better known at the school as the Halloween Dance. This should be easy to figure out, right? We have a big hall where we will dance, everyone shows up in costume, fun is to be had by all. Easy, right?
Well, maybe for you . . . but for me–and by extension, Kerry–it starts to get a lot more complicated.
Let me say this: when I write I see scenes in my mind. I do the same when I game. What is playing out on the page or on the table, I am also running those scenes through my mind like I’m watching a movie. It’s the way my imagination works, and having a cinematic feel when visualizing a scene isn’t a bad thing–unless your idea of great cinema is Michael Bay, in which case every scene ends in shouting and explosions.
So when I started thinking about what Kerry wanted to do at the dance–I just gotta start directing that big picture in my head.
First I needed costumes. Being a geek, Kerry went sci fi. Why? Because that’s how he rolls. (For a little background: both his parents worked as effects specialists for ILM so he’s set eyes upon Store Greeter Yoda in front of the office many a time. And now, because his father is Welsh, they are all living in Cardiff where daddy and mommy are doing the same work only now for the BBC, and Kerry has become well steeped in their sci fi mythology as well. Hey, he even got to visit The Hub before they blew it up.)
So sci fi costumes for Annie and him. Which one? I know which ones, and I am teasing the hell out of Annie with it. All she knows is there’s going to be some mid-drift showing because she’ll be wearing a traditional Indian woman’s outfit; I also gave her an additional clue, but if I post it here I know some of your reading will instantly get it and blab in the comments. So suffer.
Kerry wants to make a gesture to Annie at the dance, but what should it be? How about a dance dedication? Why not? An 11 year old would have some sense that dedicating a dance to your girlfriend is a lovely gesture, so he’d going to do that. but which song? Something by Taylor Swift? Maybe something from The Bieber? How about a song from Miley Cyrus that Annie could pole dance to?
Get the hell out, people. Kerry’s a deep person. Part of his history is that mommy and daddy did instill within him a love of good music from the past (one of the few things they did for him when they weren’t crushing the very soul out of him–sorry, got carried away) and he’s going there. Now, he brought an iPad with him, and he’s got a few tunes loaded on that sucker, so in the lead up to the dance he’s going to visit his Astronomy instructor who seems to have an affinity for both magic and technology and see if she can help him get Song A from iPad B and play it at Dance C. (In case you were wondering, she does. “Spoilers . . .” Hush, River. )
Kerry picks a song by Kate Bush to play. Which song? Not saying, not yet. There are many, but he goes with one that’s a favorite, and one that I’ve been listening to for a couple of days. See, in my mind, I started building the scene just as I’m laying it out for you in the above paragraphs, and once I know what things will look like in sort of a storyboard format, I kick in the multimedia and start to make it more visual.
And listening to this song cements the images even more. For now, I can see the people in the hall. I see the professor in charge of the song selections announcing the dedication. Kerry and Annie step out onto the floor and prepare for what will be a semi-slow dance. The music starts; Kate’s voice began to envelop the hall.
Tight PoV on us two, then some smash cut reaction shots around the hall. No one knows the song save two instructors who are from the UK and were young kids themselves when the song was out. They smile, knowing, and join Annie and Kerry on the floor.
We dance around each other, smiling, enjoying our special time on the floor, Kate’s ethereal voice charging the air with a special ambiance that only Annie and Kerry can right now touch. Lots of looking into each other’s eyes as my mind’s camera begins to circle and float above them. As the song reaches the final crescendo the camera pulls back, focused on us, Annie’s head upon Kerry’s shoulder, Kate’s voice echoing throughout the Great Hall–
And the scene fades to black.
That’s how I build a scene. That’s where I take my character, and those characters close to me. And that’s how I continue building their romance, which in turn builds their mythology.
Which, in the end, when the writing sparkles and the emotion is right there on the page–that’s what makes Annie and Kerry real people.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s having fun doing it.