Episode 479 - Big ideas in fiction

May 18, 2020

My original idea for this Quackcast was: “Genre fiction is the best place to explore ideas, straight fiction doesn't do it as well” What I meant was that diverting from straight reality in fiction makes it easier to conceptualise, simplify and explain complicated ideas to a general audience for a whole number of reasons. There was some disagreement between Tantz and I because I expressed myself poorly so she'd thought that I was saying it was much easier to write SciFi and fantasy (Genre fiction), and it was easier to write about big ideas, while straight fiction wasn't good for that- Which is fair enough! My initial statement is so badly worded that's a valid interpretation! Fortunately Banes and Pit were on hand to smooth things out and explain things properly. Pit mediated between us and Banes conceptualised my concept FAR, far better than I did! Unfortunately you don't get much of that disagreement on the Quackcast. You DO get a bit of it on the PATREON only video however ^_^

Topics and Show Notes

To get back to things though: Diverting from straight reality in fiction, whether that's into a full on genre style or just adding unrealistic elements, allows you to symbolically handle big ideas like death, mortality, racism, slavery, predestination, religion etc in a way where you can be very specific about what you want to say about those ideas, more so than in straight fiction because you have more control over the world you're presenting. That's not to say that all “genre” fiction tackles big ideas or is always good at doing it when it does, or that straight fiction doesn't tackle big ideas or does it badly when it tries to. “Genre” fiction also has the advantage of being able to separate its ideas from current realities of politics and culture which might get in the way of people being receptive to the ideas that it presents.

A Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood), is a good example of this: The big idea presented in the book is that women's place in society, their rights and humanity, can so easily be wiped out overnight, the experience is dehumanising and horrible, and it can happen anywhere at any time. It uses a Scifi setting to do this, which makes the scenario seem very possible but also accessible to a mass audience. There have been numerous realistic and true stories written about the experience of women when Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, or when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan in the 90s, and yet none have had the reach or the general acceptance of A Handmaid's Tale.
The closest would be Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi), but in it's case it still employs diversions from reality in its style, and since it's specifically about Iran people are far less likely to apply those ideas more generally.

Early Star Trek and Twilight Zone episodes were goldmines for “Big Ideas”! What're some of your fave “genre” fiction that tackles big idea better than other kinds of fiction?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Fated Feather: Come aboard me hearties! Cast off and sail away into the balmy tropical sunshine, as warm waters lap the hull, the bow wave glitters in the sunshine, the rigging creaks in the warm breeze, and seafoam floats by in our wake. Today is the time for adventure on the green seas.


Topics and shownotes

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Links

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Featured comic:
Tangkal English - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/may/12/featured-comic-tangkal-english/

Featured music:
Fated Feather - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Fated_Feather/, by Iagojester, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Pitface - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

Episode 449 - Star Wars 2 the franchise strikes back

Oct 21, 2019

3 likes, 1 comment

As promised we dive right into the second half of the Star Wars chat! We cover all the Star Wars stuff besides the original trilogy and the new trilogy. There's a lot to cover and we only touch on most on it: Solo, the Star Wars Christmas special, Droids, the Ewok films, Clone Wars, the games, the books, comics, Solo, Rogue One…

Episode 416 - Making cuts

Mar 4, 2019

3 likes, 6 comments

The entire team is here this time, no one was cut… So we're chatting about CUTTING, as in cutting out scenes to make a story cleaner, leaner and less flabby, but also NOT cutting because in a webcomic you don't have to, and when you cut badly you end up with a “D movie” effect where story scenes don't follow, don't make sense and plots seem to go nowhere or happen for no reason.

Episode 403 - Eat yer serial!

Dec 2, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

This Quackcast was inspired by a newspost by Tantz. There seems to be this prevailing idea at the moment that serialised storytelling is better than episodic style stories. Tantz informs me that it's one of the many Twitterverse controversies! So let me explain what I mean here: Episodic story telling is when most of the story you're telling can be parcelled into the course of an episode: you can have a strong beginning, middle and satisfying conclusion in the course of your episode, whether that takes the form of a comic chapter, a page, a strip, or a half hour TV show. The Serial style has things stretching over multiple chapters or TV episodes. What we talk about in this Quackcast is that it's an utterly false dichotomy: You do not have to have either or, in fact most projects have elements of BOTH at the same time and it's a little foolish to think that one style could possibly be inherently superior to the other since they're just tools for telling a story. It is up to the creator to pick which one is right for their own work and the context in which it's going to be shown.

Episode 393 - Set the scene!

Sep 24, 2018

2 likes, 0 comments

In THIS Quackcast we chat about shots! The kind you get from a camera… Long short, bird's eye view, worm's eye view, high angle, low angle, wide angle, fish eye, close up, ultra close up… You can use them to set the pace of the narrative, increase drama, reveal or conceal elements and so on. Shot types and angles are really important in story crafting. This was based on a newspost by Banes. I was actually IN Athens in Greece sitting next to Tantz Aerine for this Quackcast. It was cool to be in the same place with at least ONE of our fellow casters. Banes was still in Canada and Pit was in London, making a very brief cameo appearance at the very end.

Episode 384 - Brandcast, PR

Jul 23, 2018

4 likes, 2 comments

You may have read about how a conspiracy theorist dug up some 10 year old tweeted jokes by director James Gunn and got him fired from Disney… Well that incident inspired this Quackcast, which is a re-take on the whole personal brand idea that we discussed in Quackcast 289.

Episode 382 - Suspension of disbelief

Jul 9, 2018

4 likes, 0 comments

This week we talk about maintaining suspension of disbelief: the way you have to convince people of the world your story is set in and keep them there. Everything you do is done for that, to convince them your characters make sense and the world works. There's a very mistaken idea that this ONLY applies to fantasy or SciFi. No, it applies to ALL fiction and even non-fiction in the case of stories and jokes from your friends, biographies and autobiographies. You have to maintain a suspension of disbelief in all these things in order to fully enjoy and be a part of the story.

Episode 339 - Communicate With Clothes

Sep 11, 2017

4 likes, 4 comments

Tantz Aerine did a great newspost the other day about how the clothing of comic characters can be used to communicate information and emotions just as much as any other element in your comic making arsenal. And that's what we discuss in this Quackcast! Clothing can communicate state of mind, occupation, status, personality, era, class and a host of other things. Have a listen to our Quackcast to learn more! Gunwallace's theme this week was for RUNRUN - a symphony of urgent electronica. This track wants to get you moving in a linear fashion, faster and faster, rhythmic and regular like the pace of a runner. Run into a bright, white high tech future with RUNRUN!


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