more on plot big-ness
OK, big plot--what's out? Quest objects for sure. I mean, in the entire twentieth, and beginning of the twenty-first centuries has there been any one object that has solved all our problems? No. There have been some wonderful advances in medicine, communications, etc, that have revolutionized the way we live, but no one thing has solved all our problems. Indeed no single one technology has revolutionized the way we live, instead it has been a steady stream of small things all culminating upon each so it seems that way. To claim that some gem, or mystical sort, or whatever shit can do this, is puerile escapism. Only the subsequent dashing of that hope is relevant. More interesting perhaps is what to do, once the quest object is achieved--because you know that shit's going to open a can of worms. Golden ages exist only in our nostalgic minds. They can never be recreated because they never truly existed.
Trilogies. Your plot may be big. But seriously, in all honesty, is it that big? Or are you just padding for marketability? Making your fiction "marketable" is killing your fiction. Well, neutering it at the very least. And I for one want my fiction to go out there, fuck as many minds as it can, and have babies.
Lessons brought back that change the way we live. It would be wonderful if it happened, if the lesson we learned was universally accepted, if everyone looked at us and nodded their heads and said, yes, you are right. Hell, why do you think I blog. But it doesn't happen. We shout alone into empty rooms. Maybe somebody next door might hear, but they're probably out having a good time. Also, what if someone has a different opinion? If there's one thing the past ten years should have taught us, it's that we don't know the only way to do things, and we almost certainly don't know the best way. And when we try to tell people we do know it, they get pissed. Yes, characters should change, should learn, should grow, but expecting everyone to follow suit, it stretches believability beyond its breaking point. The ripples individuals make are small. Only together can they make the pool spill its banks. And that sort of rainstorm isn't achieved by one person sharing their new-found knowledge.
Feudalism-lite. Do I really have to go into this? Really? How many benevolent dictators can you think of?
So what should be in the new big plot? Look to the world, not to the world as it is portrayed but to the world as it is, at the bewildering mass of news, at your messy, complicated personal life. Look at the chaos that we try to order everyday and bring that madness, that mess to the table.
Mess is the future of big plot. The petty everyday motives that drive people, their personal hopes and dreams which only coincidentally affect the bigger picture. The big picture is there, but it has a realistic focus in people's consciousness. This will have certain requirements, I'm sure: broadening the focus, the number of lead character's (though plentiful character's has never been that much of a problem in the big plot fantasies I recall), a reassessment of what it actually takes to cause change in this world (fantasy may finally have to take politics seriously), why things change. Bureaucracy and coincidence will all have an increased role. And I know that they don't sound like big plot elements, but these things, these little things I'm advocating are not the be all and end all of the new big plot, they are simply the new groundwork that big plot must build up from, must take into consideration. Who knows the end product may be remarkably similar, but, goddammit, as long as we're thinking, trying to bring the basics up to date, then the wonderful genre I grew up loving, and still love to this day, has a future.
Now go write wonderful inventive genre fiction that ignores all my advice/random posturing and prove me a jackass.