Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fran Bow

This isn't a review.  This isn't a rating of a game or pros and con list.  No, this is just me talking about a game.  That game is Fran Bow and I never thought a game could impact me so much.  Fran Bow is a point and click adventure of a girl named Fran Bow, desperately searching for her lost cat, Mr. Midnight while trying to overcome and understand her insanity brought on by her parents brutal murder.  The game kicks off with her escaping from the asylum and quickly takes you to fantastical worlds filled with horror and beauty.  To say I enjoyed this game isn't quite right.  I am haunted by this game.  Not because it's frightening imagery keeps me awake at night or I feel chased by its monsters, no, I am haunted because it left me dreaming.  The conclusion of this game is purposely vague.  My husband and I played it together and we are still trying to make sense of what we think happened.  I feel enamored in the twisted world of this little girl.

Mental illness in storytelling has always been a fascination of mine.  Why?  Well, for lots of reasons. In this story Fran Bow can access a different reality via her medicine that she takes throughout the game. I have an overactive imaginations and I can safely admit that this imagination is amplified by my struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder.  I've also combated anxiety problems brought on by social situations and worrying.  Never once have I taken medication to deal this problem. I have often wondered if pills would be the answer to all my problems.  But being someone who will barely take tylenol for a headache, I've never had desire to reach further into what benefits medication could bring me.  I think Fran Bow showed my greatest irrational concern, that medication would make me lose my mind.  It isn't clear if the medication is actually helping or hurting Fran, but it does help her progress through the game.  You could also argue that the medicine is to Fran's benefit, giving her the opportunity to enhance her perspective on the world.  It feels like the creators were exploring that look at mental illness and the duality of medicine.  It paints no clear side to follow and I enjoy that uncertainty. I think uncertainty is my favorite aspect of this game.  Is this character good or are they evil?  Is this place real or is Fran just losing her mind?  There are so many questions and I've never been so happy with no clear answers.

You could argue that there are signs throughout the game to point to Fran being insane, but I think there are just as many signs showing that what she sees is real.  What we do know for sure that no matter what mistakes Fran might have made in the past, she is trying to set things right.  She is a truly loyal character and spunky to boot!  I feel in love so many times with this story and everyone in it.  And, this is the first time I've ever seriously debated writing a fan fiction because I didn't want it to end.  I hope there is a sequel, but I understand if there can't be, because with this game standing alone, we the audience can always keep dreaming.

Fran Bow was created by Killmonday games.  Please visit there website and give them some love.  You can purchase this game on Steam and I recommend that you do.  It's a beautiful journey. Please leave me a comment if you played this game and tell me about your experience.

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Patchwork Thoughts - Outline VS. Pants-ing

I've heard many opinions on how to best start a novel.  During NaNoWriMo there was a huge emphasis on pants-ing stories, where you just let the ideas come to you as you write.  I have also heard other writers scream from the roof tops that you absolutely need an outline or else your story with crumble like wet toilet paper.  I have tried both methods and I am going to share my findings.

Pants-ing

To give newbies a little more background, pants-ing is where you fly by the seat of your pants when writing.  You start your story with little to no idea of what you are doing and just go.  This is to help encourage more creativity and not putting pressure on your writing.  Pants-ing is great for generating fresh ideas with little restriction from an outline.  Long story short, though, I find it much easier to pants a short story than a novel.  With short stories you are keeping up a momentum for far shorter than with a novel.  Letting a story go with no direction for an afternoon is simpler than trying to keep the fresh ideas coming for months and months.  I think pants can be helpful if you are fed up with the direction your novel is going, but the portions of my NaNo novel where I pants-ed suffered greatly.  I found my story taking huge tonal shifts or going into places that made no sense in the current context of my story.  It helped me get words out and free up my thinking, but nearly all portions of my story that I pants-ed are going to be cut from the finished product.

Which brings us to outlining.

Outlining 

I'm just going to come out and say it: I enjoy outlining.  Outlining provides structure to my story and allows me to think about future scenes and plan it out in great detail in my head.  I get excited about scenes coming up and that excitement carries over into the energy of the story.  One of the first novels I wrote was when I was about 13 or 14 years olds and the first thing I did was create an outline.  I broke down the scenes chapter by chapter and used that as my jumping off point throughout the story.  It helped maintain my focus and get me to my end goal without any messes.  Outlines keep you from getting exhausted by needing to generate ideas throughout the writing process.  If anyone wants me to break down my outlining process in the future, let me know!

Do you outline or pants your way through stories.  Let me know!