The Devil’s In The Details

As most of you know I’m working on a number of projects I hope to unveil in the very near future. The No Tears Please website, the One Good Scare podcast, and the one most dear to my heart is the creation of Janus.

I said that I am a writer first and foremost.  I have a passion for Poker, an adoration of Horror, but at my core I am a writer.  Am I great writer?  That’s a question I leave up to you when you finally get a chance to read something other than the mindless ranting of my blog entries.

I’m not underwhelmed by the amount of development of Janus or anything, however I’ve hit a little bit of an impasse.  How much detail does one truly need in creating a setting.

The Devil’s In The Details

George R.R Martin has become a major influence for me when it comes to writing.  It is between A Song of Ice and Fire and The Twilight Saga that I would accredit my recent desire to write in my own world…. as strange as that sounds.

Let’s start with Martin.  His world of Westeros and beyond is so detailed.  He’s written generations of lore about the world, developed his own political structure and brought to life an interesting fantasy setting that walks the very fine line of being familiar, yet still unique.  Any fantasy fan is familiar with the concept of swords, armour, knights, and even a bit of magic/supernatural… and yet Martin gave his own flare.  The different major houses, being in charge of their own holds, with their own sigils, words, and bannerman.

It’s not like everything is a brand new concept but the blending of all these ideas into one world is a combination that allows Martin a very rich setting that basically writes itself.  He has an interesting world and has written himself a large number of multi-layered characters.  This is how I anticipated writing my world. I would just create the world, create the characters and side back and let the characters write the story.

Janus has a well established layer of organized crime that operates in its seedy underbelly.  It has a charismatic mayor, an  abandoned school that has a shady history, an asylum, two hospitals (one of which is being developed presently).  It has its celebrities and intricacies that have already been set.  Im starting to drown in some of the minor and major details that I have already came up with to give color to my dark city.

When is it too much though?  I find myself starting to come up with details to the point where it’s getting difficult to keep them all together and on track.  It’s difficult for me to fluidly write a story because I’m trying to keep everything in mind.  I’m beginning to believe that I don’t need to have so much of the world already developed before the story begins.  I’m beginning to think that I’m a little over zealous with my “development” and that I think the stories themselves would benefit from a lot more flexibility.

Which brings me to Stephanie Meyer.

Meyer and her Twilight saga inspired me to write via a far different means than Mr. Martin and his world of Westeros.  Stephanie Meyer is actually on the opposite end of the spectrum from my observations with Martin.  Where Martin inspires me through his ability to create such a vibrate world, Meyer dumbfounds me with her incredible success in spite of a gross lack of depth and (for lack of better term) ability.

Where Westeros seems like a world that was conceived, designed, brought to life all before a pen touched the page for A Game Of Thrones, it felt like Meyer was just introducing new aspects of her world as they became convenient to draw out her plot longer.

This love triangle has run its course, how can I end it now?… I Got It! Wolf-boy falls in love with Bella’s baby instead… wait a minute, no no that’ll definitely not be very popular.. let’s call it, um, “Imprinting” there we go.  Yeah, that’ll be awesome.  

A story doesn’t need to be game changing to be meet my standards for approval, but Meyer’s success for the product she released still shakes my whole belief about what constitutes as a “best seller.”  She opened my eyes that the literary industry is a lot like the music industry.  In a world where the mindless catchy hooks gets the bulk of the success and financial gain even when the masters of their craft struggle to make ends meet in spite of huge critical acclaim.. Stephanie Meyer helped me reach the conclusion that timing and luck is as big a part of being a writer, as the writing.

She came along with the right product, at the right time, for the right audience and it just exploded.  However terrible of a product as it is, there really was nothing else like it, and with the ending of the Harry Potter franchise coming up fast, young teens were all willing to jump on the new band wagon.

Where Martin’s stories are engaging and interesting and I find it difficult finding the will power to put down the novel once I begin.  I cannot deny that Meyer’s writing carries a much less intense nature to it.  She tells a story that’s been told a thousand times, even throws in the now-cliche Wolves vs Vampires tripe that Underworld brought to the mainstream.

imagesMy goal in creating Janus is to have a quality story with depth and subtext to it, but at the same time I feel like there’s a chance I”m spending too much attention to detail this early in the world instead of truly letting it develop naturally.  It’s like I’m beginning to write myself into a corner before I even begin.

So that begs the question, when it comes to writing where do you stand?

Is there a limit to the amount of details that should be thought of before hand before you over saturate an unpopulated world?
Is it better to just improvise as you go along?

Martin started on a grandiose scale, while Meyer began in a very scaled back setting, is there a middle ground I can find?
Should I just begin small and expand out like Meyer?  Or Wait until the world is a living, breathing entity before playing out my narrative?

I guess it all depends on the style and preference eh?


I am going to stick with what I have been doing so far.  Slowly developing Janus through the World Of Darkness RPG.  It has been a great help to flushing out my world, giving me a better understanding of how my own created characters will react to situations.. since they are coming into contact with characters that are not under my control (the players)

Before summer’s end this project will be well underway and I hope to have more to report here.
It’s going to be a busy summer… can’t wait.


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