So I’m thinking that I will finally start the revision of my 200-odd page manuscript that has been slowly mouldering in the depths of my hard drive. I haven’ t touched it for about two years, and it feels like it’s time. Over the past few weeks blogging consistently has made me write much more often than I have in the past, and has instilled in me some level of confidence in my own abilities as a writer. I’m finding it far easier to write, as though whatever muscle within my brain that controls writing has finally loosened up from years of knotted, tense agony.
When I was very young I wrote voluntarily, but somewhere along the way I stopped doing that and only wrote when people gave me reason to. My motivation moved from being external to internal, and I couldn’t really enjoy it anymore, even though people told me to keep doing it. It even grew to be an agonizing process at times, with me cursing myself for ever attempting something so draining and time-consuming. That’s how it was when I wrote the middle of the aforementioned manuscript. I had to force myself to write, punish myself harshly for failing to do so and reward myself lavishly for success in order to keep going. That’s no way to write. I’m glad that I did it in hindsight, but I really hated it at the time. That’s why this new feeling of ease is so pleasant. I’ve never been able to write so easily in my life.
Enough about that, meta-writing is probably a dull subject to read about at the best of times, and 250 words is where I’ll cut that portion of today’s post off.
Today I spent four hours with my two best friends playing an old PlayStation 2 game called “Shadow of the Colossus”. If you haven’t tried it, I have to recommend it. While I don’t normally play video games very often and I try not to talk/write about them unless I have an audience that is interested, this game warrants an exception.
The reason that “Shadow of the Colossus” made such an impression on me is simply that the world created for it is beautiful. You may have noticed that I’ve recently been investigating the components that create a good story, and this game provides an excellent example of a beautiful world. The characters aren’t developed — in fact nothing about them or their backstories is explained, not even their names — but the forbidden realm in which you find them is glorious. The story is about trying to reclaim the soul of a girl who was unjustly sacrificed. Nothing more is explained. You don’t know why Wander (the main character, we looked up his name online) wants to return her to life, nor where they came from. All you are told is that the place Wander has taken her has the power to return her soul to her body if, and only if, Wander can defeat 16 Colossi: giant beings of enormous power that somehow prevent the resurrection of the girl. I still don’t know the girl’s name… hrm.
With this relatively simple premise the game throws you out into a beautiful, highly detailed landscape (keeping in mind that this is beautiful for it’s time, it won’t amaze gamers employing consoles more recent than the PS2). The world is full of ruins, shrines, and incredible landmarks. You can sense a history to it, some kind of hidden story that made things the way that they are. Who built all of these ruins? Where did the Colossi come from? So far, it hasn’t been explained, and it probably never will be, but that’s part of what makes the world feel so rich. There is a history to it, even if you don’t know what it is. The story is engaging, and defeating the Colossi is challenging on multiple levels, but the plot is far from the best I’ve ever encountered.
I’ve come to think that the three most important elements of a story are it’s characters, world, and plot. This way of thinking about stories tends to factor out HOW these things are told to the audience, and just examines the bare elements themselves. Most good stories excel at two of these three categories, and the greatest literary works often exemplify all of them. “Shadow of the Colossus” has poorly developed characters, an unremarkable plot, but redeems itself with the quality of the world in which it takes place and the elegance of HOW these three are actually implemented.
And I’ve rambled on about this game for 500 words now. Sorry if I’ve bored you. In short: try it out if you can, it’s great.
Compared to most of my other posts this is already colossal in scale, so I’ll leave off here. Farewell Internet, I shall return.
Today’s First Sentence: I never would have guessed that my glasses case is bullet-proof.
Note: I feel like this first sentence is grammatically incorrect, but I like it better as is. If you can actually tell me how it is incorrect I’d appreciate it. Grammar is not my strong suit.