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CtW: Normalize the Strange

damehelsing at 12:00AM, Aug. 22, 2021

pst… CtW stands for Changing the World and has to do with my article here - also I really liked everyone's comments in that article, great stuff!

Before the last Sunday I discussed about how tough it is (for me personally) to combine the regular human world as we know it with the supernatural world that we read about.

If your plot/story does involve humans knowing about the supernatural, then that’s fine, but if you don’t want it to have any influence, it’s a little tougher to find out how to make it work.
This is all much easier if you have your own custom world, just like I mentioned in my last article, The Witcher is great with this, the world is completely different from ours and the supernatural walk among the humans, it’s pretty much part of their life as they know it.
Another great mention where the supernatural is part of the world and humans have lived with these conditions for years is Castlevania, and that actually takes place in a world similar to ours, and by similar I really just mean it seems like the setting is primarily in Europe?? I’m gonna be honest, I’m not that balls deep into the lore of Castlevania but I VERY MUCH dig the vampires and I LOOOOVE Dracula.

Anyway, moving on to the main subject for this Sunday’s article.

Making the strange the normal!

Fool-Proof Disguise
This can apply to anything and anyone’s story, if you read my comic or you have the basic knowledge of the physical appearance of some of my cast, then you might notice that the vampires have a distinct look and some witches do as well. But I’m only gonna really talk about vampires, my vampires have skin tones that have been paled out, such as if someone grabbed the saturation tool and put it into the negatives, their eyes are red and their lips are red. Permanently. There is no way to change that except make up and contacts and maybe tinting your skin using fake tanning lotion?? You get it. So, for vampires and other supernatural beings with features that are slightly different than humans, it has mostly been reduced to a “condition” – vampires: it’s like some sort of albinism, except for the lips, that’s just really great non-smudge 50 shades of red lipstick. As for other creatures with a different sort of eye-color, maybe it’s just a rare condition like “Heterochromia iridum” – it’s rare but it’s possible.
Basically, a lot of these traits can be chalked up to “rare” features or “conditions” in order for the supernatural to be able to leave their homes and go about their day. These rare features and conditions have been normalized, you will spot someone in your life time with these unique traits most likely, but that’s all they are or what they’re meant to be for the human eyes and mind.

Heck, if in your story, your supernatural babies look completely normal, then there’s nothing you have to really worry about except maybe for their abilities being exposed. Which, depending on the scenario, can just be a “freak” accident.

Now, speaking about hiding abilities, or things that are beyond the surface:
Crazy happenings and explaining them away:
even in our very real world we still have rather strange happenings, people go missing in forests with absolutely no trace left behind of them or people found MILES away from where they disappeared and they just have no recollection of how they got there. Or even sighting of giant wolves terrorizing people’s farms, etc. There is a lot in our world that is truly a mystery, and because of that, it makes it easy to combine the supernatural and the good ol’ normal and it makes it easier to mask it too.
Most of the time, the skeptics will assume it’s just weird, nothing really supernatural about it, but the superstitious (I hope I’m using that word right) will think it’s something beyond just us.
Because of this clash of opinions and lack of evidence it makes it really easy to say yes and no to the strange and mysterious. So… weird and dangerous things that are happening but no one ever seems to find evidence and those who do witness it just no one believes them? They be trippin’. It’s just so easy to discredit someone when there’s no physical evidence and it’s just far easier to point the finger at the easiest and most logical explanation, even if the subject matter is completely crazy.

Masking the abilities and the chaotic occurrences:
Like I stated in my article, I applied an MiB approach to the comic, my spellcasters have mind and memory altering abilities. Making it fairly easy to just say “this didn’t happen” – but what if you don’t have that? Depending on the situation it could a “trick of the eyes” or “playing dumb” because at the end of it, this is all that it really is, playing dumb to hide the truth. Not to mention, maybe no one really noticed the situation occur? Let’s say you’ve got a Merlin-wanna be in high school, accidentally lights a page on fire in a class? Put it out real quick or play dumb and say they were messing around with a lighter. Hopefully he brought a lighter just for this purpose.
As for bigger scale situations, it could not at all have to be pointed at your character. Your character is having a meltdown and a freak earthquake happens? Could just be an amazing coincidence.
There is so much that we can just say “Oh, oops, nah, it’s the stars. They’re aligned, I guess.”
Funnily enough, as I write this all down I’m like “Oh, maybe it’s not that hard to write a merge of magic with reality” it’s really a matter of… rewriting history I think.

Re-writing History:
Is this something you want to do? It’s not something that’s necessary, but our world as we know it, really f#%king sucks. There is tragedy everywhere, there have been so many wars and soooo many lives lost for no reason. We’ve gone through plagues and we’re currently in one.
You could re-write history or you could make it fit, maybe the reason our world sucks so much is because of magic users, maybe they’re on the top of the political ladder and they’re using the strings attached to the puppets that are our figureheads. But – if anyone can be a magic user… wouldn’t there be good magic users? Or is there a secret witch hunt happening? Or are magic users just so tired of trying so hard that they given in to the dark side?
But if you re-write history, the game is yours. You can do anything and say anything and you can be as ridiculous as you want. There are no rules here. You can make new Gods, alter current Gods, re-work the entire witching world, why? Because it’s your game.

So, that’s all I can come up with for now. What are your thoughts? Would you re-write history? Would you just roll with it and make it fit with our current world? Would you even hide your magic users?
Let me know!




EssayBee at 9:41AM, Aug. 24, 2021

Normalizing the strange is pretty much a given for any kind of fantastic literature. Most horror stories are set in the "real world" and have lots of strange things happen to the characters. In the case of "IT," the main cast has been aware of the strange for decades, but the supernatural exists mostly unknown in the world. Many of HP Lovecraft's stories, Shelley's Frankenstein, Dracula, The X-Files, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Cabal (Nightbreed), etc. all exist in the "real" world where the fantastic and strange are pretty common place, although most of the world is oblivious to it. When you move into alternate worlds, that's more fantasy, and, as you say, the rules as we know them don't necessarily apply.

PaulEberhardt at 10:20AM, Aug. 23, 2021

My favourite stories are always those where the supernatural or weird part gets as little explanation as possible. A lot of its charm is due to the mystery that surrounds it.

PaulEberhardt at 10:18AM, Aug. 23, 2021

My witch kind of hides in plain sight, i.e. she doesn't bother with hiding and openly advertises her services in the Yellow Pages. Regarding her pet tiger she recognises the fact that he is a bit larger than other people's cats and that some of them might think this a bit unusual - or are even scared, fancy that! However, she has never really cared for other people's opinions and isn't about to start. In other words, any clash with reality as we know it is thoroughly ignored in my comic. My original idea was to lampoon how the extraordinary/supernatural is so commonplace in comics that it has long ceased to be anything special. Today I consider it just having a bit of fun by screwing around. On second thought, that has possibly always been the main reason... Seriously though: hiding in plain sight is a really underestimated concept that I think can get really satisfying results, also in more serious works. You, the author, just need to be careful not to give too much away at once.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 12:13PM, Aug. 22, 2021

Well, in my universe supernatural elements has the convenient cover of being explained away by the radical enviromental changes caused by the Chernobyl disaster. The continents splitting apart may have been due to supernatural forces, but could be explained by the world's gravity flipping out somehow, putting the earth's plate tectonics out of whack. Psions, people with psychic powers, all have a third eye that is mostly hidden, half-existing in the supernatural realm, but when exposed could be mistaken for a incidental third ordinary eye caused by mutation, which in this world is a normalized thing. A tree stump growing tentacles out of its bark is not considered an unlikely event, although still scary. A tree stump that suddenly transforms into a moving bathtub with an infinite supply of Mount Dew on tap, that would be a lot harder for a rational person to explain away beyond looking at the can of Mount Dew he/she was sippin' at thinking "somone must have slipped me the mickey"

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