Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fictional Me: A Daydream Game

This is taken from the collection Lat's Lot, copyright 1977 by the Malaysian cartoonist Lat. Lat's work is just wonderful, the kind of thing I periodically force down people's throats.

Anyway, I'm not the only one who plays this game! This is a panel from a cartoon Lat did on the same subject. I remembered it while writing, and was able to track it down.

It's been a while since I did something properly goofy. Just for fun, here's one of my daydreams.

Hey, writers? I have actually gotten a number of stories from this little game. And if you read this blog for soap-opera purposes, I will no doubt make some truly unfortunate unconscious revelations here, along with some tragic misapprehensions of self. Should be good for a laugh.

Here we go:

If I were in a thus-and-such type of story, what would it be like?

And to clarify, the whole thing has a casting sort of quality to it -- there are roles that I've played in certain books, I can always get work standing in the back of a Viking scene, that kind of shit. Remember -- daydream.

Hard-Boiled Detective

I'm starting here because in this genre? I am not the lead. I'm the guy who knocks the detective out. You can tell it's me and not just a random thug if there is --

-- a revelation of unexpected depth of character lending a tragic tone to my inevitable demise.

-- a hint of sympathy directed toward the detective.

-- I turn out to be a sadistic intellectual who smugly torments our hero.

(As an aside, I also play this basic role in a number of Daniel Pinkwater books, but I'm a butler for one of the heroes in those ones.)

Police Procedural

An amusing witness or suspect. Really, not a whole lot of point to me in this genre. I'm just another one.

Cozy Mystery

I hate cozies. Hate, hate, hate 'em. The domestication of murder for the amusement of human housepets rankles severely.

Too bad, because I am custom-made for cozies. I'm a fact reservoir, a detail-noticer, a loveable good-natured eccentric, and when that one little moment comes when violence is threatened? By cozy standards, I am a warrior king. Thankfully, I am also bound and determined to mind my own damned business.

But as all fiction writers know, that just means I'll be dragged into the mystery kicking and screaming against my will. How? The writer's groups. The band. My attempts at breaking into the arts. These all provide interesting points of contact with the world that could fuel a series.

But worst, and most obvious of all?

The missus. She throws herself into the middle of every dramatic situation that comes along because if it interests here, then it's her business, isn't it? And yeah, we do in fact banter amusingly, bicker ceaselessly, and come to one another's rescue on a regular basis.

I really wish I liked cozies, because that series writes itself.

Adventure SF

I'd be good here, but nothing special. I'd fit in all kind of roles. One of the settlers on another planet, a field illustrator in a time travel story, the guy the aliens first contact, all that stuff. Unfortunately, I'm too quirky for the starring role in this stuff. Fine with me, he said huffily, you're all a bunch of dummies anyway. (I'm just bitter because I wanted the male lead in a Stanley G. Weinbaum planetary romance, and the woman has to be the quirky one in those.)

I'm putting this here because of the psychic powers in Known Space, but Larry Niven could get a good alien race out of me.

Hard SF

Similar, but with less scope. I'd be the one who asks the questions the reader wants answered. Maybe if I'd had more study skills when I first tried college...

Quest Fantasy

Again, a tooth-gritter. No really good roles for me. I might be like Beorn from the Hobbit or (oh, I hate this) Tom Bombadil. The good-natured outsider with an uncanny link to the natural world, who provides both a place to rest for the heroes and a vague sense of menace.

Or I'd be an orc, or a troll. Ah, well. It's work.

Heroic Fantasy

God help me, this would be the perfect fit. If you've ever read blurbs describing characters like Conan ("A man of great mirths and great melancholies...") or Kane ("Half-savage, half-savant, with a dash of Satanic seasoning..."), well. Jesus. Have you ever hung out with me?

I even have a knack for swordplay -- when I studied fencing in high school, a number of instructors gave me free lessons, and I kinda got the impression they thought I might go somewhere with it. Too bad money issues ended that.

My main problem with life is that it isn't sword-and-sorcery fiction.


It's been done. I'm The One That I Want by Margaret Cho. My brother Duncan is a major character. I'm the briefly-mentioned bit player who means nothing to the reader but the writer needed to acknowledge. At least I can walk into bookstores and see my name in print.


Well, you should be able to figure this out. I do not have a mainstream life, my life's subject matter has been strongly genre. So I'm stuck in an outlying subplot -- 'Whatever will become of our beloved shining nutjob?' I wind up dead in a lot of these, usually suicide. I blame society.


Do I look like an idiot? Ask me in person. You might want to get some booze in me first.


Okay, three ways to go. In mainstream comics, I'm definitely a Marvel guy -- I'm uneasy with the ideas of good and evil as supernatural forces influencing the world, and there's a lot of that lurking in DC's mythos.

I'd start off as one of those guys who comes across as a villain at first because he's too caught up in his cause. I would guess an endangered species of some kind, probably a reptile. My costume would be one of those ones that looks dorky in a comic, but might be okay on Halloween. First appearance would be written by Don McGregor or Steve Gerber. The Avengers would have second thoughts after beating the shit out of me, eventually I'd lead the team for a brief run, and my unsuccessful limited series would feature me getting made a fool of by a sexy supervillainess in a complete tonal about-face from any prior appearance.

In the movies? Costumed adventurers would be all supervillains initially, carving the world into despotic city states. I'd be a man with nothing to lose, who in a moment of desperation finds that he once had powers, and they've been stolen from him, and he can only get them back by killing the bad guys one at a time. This one is just oodles of fun. I might write it someday.

Independent comics? I'd be a quirky, humorous hero along the lines of the Badger, Flaming Carrot, or maybe an oddly dramatic one like Kevin Matchstick in Mage or Go-Man. The book would be rough during the first few issues when the focus would be on me, but then I'd start taking a back seat in an ensemble piece.

I'd be an unbelievably neurotic hero for hire, whose staff manages to keep him in line enough to be a force for good, mostly, by cuddling, cajoling, badgering, threatening, teasing, and general bullyragging. It would be about the idea that it takes a dozen or so people to actually make one superhero -- or regular human being -- work. This one might get written as well.

Romantic Comedy

An unexpectedly good fit. The difference in appearance between me at my seediest and me at my best totally satisfies the ugly duckling requirement. My general emotional neediness and neuroticism make me a hard but satisfying nut to crack, romantically (the missus has a well-rehearsed performance on this subject), which is good drama. I can provide pratfalls and physical comedy, then turn and provide a strong masculine presence. I am easily flustered and embarrassed and given to blushing, and I have been given the impression that while in that state I am most amusing.

Truth be told? I tend to view my life as a humorous horror story, but it has a strong romantic comedy element as well.


I'm two guys here. The one who raises the monster and is heartbroken when it turns on him just as the story gets going, and the cannibal genius psycho-killer. The first one depresses me, and the second one has been thrown in my face on a regular basis since childhood.

When I read Silence Of The Lambs, I knew it was just a matter of time before someone said I reminded them of Hannibal Lecter, and I was right. It was amusing the first few dozen times it happened, but now when some distant acquaintance comes up to me and says, "I read a book/saw a movie last night, and there was this character who really reminded me of you," I just feel creeped out.


Oh, this is such a natural. There are two main roles for me here. The misunderstood monster, and the shapeshifter slowly devoured by the beast within. I could do a little mad science, if it was required. Maybe bravely allow myself to get killed so the lead could get away.

Situation Comedy

Like romantic comedy or sword and sorcery, a totally natural fit. But while I find it easy to put together something where I'd be the lead, I'm actually more a side-character. I'm the one who periodically sums up the situation in a bafflingly hilarious statement that turns out to be either dead accurate or utterly incomprehensible.

And so on. The fun part of this game is when the rules of the genre force you into a role you may not care for -- or which surprises you with its aptness. Yeah, it's fun and, if you write down what you daydream, do it well, and sell it, it's profitable.

There are times when I wouldn't trade being juvenile for anything in the world.


EFKelley said...

And who would you be on Star Trek? Any show at all.

No fair saying 'an android'.

Sean Craven said...

I used to think Spock, but that was just wishful thinking. And the missus used to say she wished I was more like Captain Picard and I'd say, "I'm balding as fast as I can and getting more emotionally distant by the minute. What do you want?"

Worf isn't a bad fit, though. All he'd need is some pretension.

In Harry Potter, I'm definitely Hagrid.

Sean Craven said...

And if I were a Star Trek villain I'd be one of those Kardashians, not the girls with the butts, the guys with the necks. They're villainy is compatible with mine, and I got the same kind of neck.

So who would you be on Star Trek? My first thought was Riker, and then, "Nah, McCoy," and then you threw a bottle at me.


Miranda said...

Fun post! If I ever get some time, I might try this, though I suspect I might end up a rather boring character in most genres. Or perhaps I'm underestimating myself ;)