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Peeling Back The Veil

Run for the hills! It’s Tuesday again! Grab some snacks, this will be a long one. Thanks to everybody who commented on my stories last week (and for those of you lurkers who looked at them).  There were quite a […]
| Aug 8, 2006 | No comments |

Run for the hills! It’s Tuesday again! Grab some snacks, this will be a long one.

Thanks to everybody who commented on my stories last week (and for those of you lurkers who looked at them).  There were quite a few interesting comments.

First off, the main reason these two stories were ever written was for the sole purpose of fleshing out two key events from the pasts of the main characters, and thus written from the perspective of my own knowledge of the worlds and events. Which is terribly unfair to readers, but such is the fact, and is also why you’ll likely never see these stories published anywhere “real”.

For instance, The Fang is set early in Rathe’s training for the Imperial army, on the tail end of a survival course in which he had to evade capture for a set piece of time.  A wider setting that is at best vaguely alluded to. He’s also the lowest in hatch status from his Sire’s final clutch of eggs, and has been facing an upward struggle, trying to break free from the social constraints placed upon him.  Information that would no doubt help understand him deeper in the short story, but unnecessary to be actually explained for my original needs.

Another thing to keep in mind is I really am a plot-oriented writer. I tell tales of characters reacting to the events they find themselves in. I do my best to make my characters full (though I’ll admit these two stories are likely poor examples due to the nature of their creation).  However plot is where I believe my strength lies.

On to looking at last week’s responses:

Sally wrote:
[Christian fiction] is specifically about a sacrifice made by a sinless God for a sinful people.

That is a very interesting, and very narrow, definition. I’d say that most of what I’ve read of today’s CBA fiction would fall outside the category if sorted by that definition, though perhaps not most of CBA Fantasy (or at least one of the books in the series).

Personally I’d define it more along the lines of a story written by a Christian that affirms the tenets of Christianity.

Rebecca LuElla Miller wrote:

I saw some parallels, though I kept doubting myself since you had seemed opposed to symbolism, and allegory in particular.

Not necessarily opposed to allegory or symbolism in principle, just wanting to see more avenues explored.  Though I suppose any time you mix Christianity and an alien or fantasy civilization somebody is going to call it allegorical or symbolism.

Here’s the key to translating religion within this mythos: If a character is referring to something that looks to be a direct parallel with Christianity in dialogue or thought, then most likely it is exactly that.  Within this mythos, for very specific reasons, you will find the core tenets of Christianity as we know it exactly the same on each world, as well as very similar historic happenings, such as the setting apart of a nation through which the Savior will come. You will even find world-specific “Christianese” and very similar New Testament style language since all these stories take place after the time of the incarnation.

Is this allegory or symbolism? According to dictionary.com Allegory is:

  • The representation of abstract ideas or principles by characters, figures, or events in narrative, dramatic, or  pictorial form.
  • A story, picture, or play employing such representation. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick are allegories.
  • A symbolic representation: The blindfolded figure with scales is an allegory of justice.

What I’m doing isn’t the representation of abstract ideas, but rather a translation of them into a fictitious culture and history.

Mir wrote:
A WHOLE BUNCH! Which I’m not going to quote at this point.

I have to say Mir, you’re a good example of my thought process that symbolism can easily be 2% author and 98% reader (I’m not saying this is always the case).  The only symbolism in these stories that was intentional was those expressed by the characters themselves in dialogue (internal or external) such as the “only one true guide for this pilgrimage, only one path” line.

Everything else was written solely as description of the world and events with no deeper meaning intended.  Though, admittedly, Forms of Destiny involved a religious ritual so there would be much more symbolism involved there.  Though when I write intentional symbolism it is always directly tied into the character’s viewpoint and is reflective of the symbols they see (or that’s how I intend it).

Also you might see the first story as less hammering because it is told completely from the viewpoint of a non-believer, going about a totally non-religious task and having an encounter on that. While Forms of Destiny is a story about a believer going about a religious task, naturally will be more obvious. It would be like trying to write a subtle church service.  Plus it had a direct moment of divine intervention right at the end, through the appearance of the angelic messenger.

You were right though, both of these are set-up pieces.

On the flip side Mir also wrote:
As far as the surprise I look ahead for, I am/was hoping as I read that the Jerkrenak has battled to SAVE the hatchling (not to kill it), and that the so-called loyal warrior was the one eating the hatchling. That would be a nice twist to expectation of the protagonist. There is enough dialogue clue to allow for that.

Now see this IS the type of thing I try to do in my writing, which I do in a grander scale (and probably a more obvious way) in Starfire, the novel that the short story The Fang is a set-up for. I don’t come right out and tell you who the good guys and the bad guys are. I leave that up to the actions and dialogue of the characters in relation to each other and the events.

I’m not writing solely to give answers as much as to spark thought over the questions (not all of which will be picked up on by every reader). I’ll play on expectations and twist assumptions as best I can to continue to get you to think and question and wonder.  And perhaps to go seeking the questions yourself.

However, the more you know about the world, how it works, and it’s history, the clearer everything will become.  And perhaps that is my own little conceit and weak spot.  None of my tales ever truly stand alone, at least not the ones I’m passionate about. They are all part of a grander scheme, and larger world that no one story can totally encompass.

Ok this post has gone on long enough.  I’ll answer any more questions in the comments section.

And remember next week I start looking at real books, starting with Light of Eidon.

Stuart Vaughn Stockton is the author of the award winning science fiction novel, Starfire. His exploration into world creation began in Jr. High, when he drew a dinosaur riding a pogo-stick. From there characters, creatures and languages blossomed into the worlds of Galactic Lore, the mythos in which Starfire is set. He lives in the beautiful town of Colorado Springs with his wife and fellow author, Tiffany Amber Stockton. Together they have two incredible children who bring new adventures every day.

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