Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Testify! The Book of Barriers.

KT waxes evangelistic to The Guardian on Gears and why story bibles should be leaflets.
You know those days when your mouth is possessed and you come out with all kinds of stuff you wish you’d known how to express ages ago? You don’t? Oh. Okay. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I’ve been in motormouth mode in recent weeks for the Gears 3 media stuff, and one interview I did was with the Guardian. For all of you interested in franchises and how content is managed, there’s stuff in here. Rent-A-Quote Traviss is off and frothing:

“I've done it the other way where I've been presented with what I call a book of barriers – you always get to a certain point where you say, 'you know by doing this you've closed off that?’”

Book of Barriers. Yep, that’s about the size of it. Just as the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, the story bible was made to help the storyteller tell the story, not to strangle it to death, stymie the writer, and ultimately kill the joy and glory of a tale. Which is why I’m so unwilling to feed the wiki culture, where fans pursue me for detail that hasn’t even been determined and get miffed when I won’t give them definitive information that actually doesn’t really exist yet. I’m not here to help people rack up editing status points and make their wiki complete. By all means enjoy your hobby - which seems less about enjoying fiction that extracting data from it, if I might “opine” - but writers don’t owe wiki editors explanations or content. We just write stories for the wider audience. Our duty is to do what we’re paid to do for the IP. That’s the sum total of it.

Sensible IPs reserve the right to change what may or may not be in the story bible and which you haven’t seen, because story evolves and needs room to deviate and develop. Same applies to writing a book: don’t hem yourself in with the world-building. Learn to spot how much is enough to get on with the story, and add no more - and if you do, don’t treat it like holy gospel that can’t be challenged or changed. And even if it’s apparently set in concrete, feel free to change it. It might or might not make your product better, and frequently it won’t if you change keystone elements of the story, but it’s not real, and therefore you can rewrite it.

In fiction, facts don’t make a story. Facts aren’t more important than the telling of the story. And they’re not facts, because there’s no causality in a world that doesn’t actually exist. Don’t confuse a consistent universe necessary for storytelling - primarily the stuff that shapes the characters - with an immutable fact sheet around which all space and time must be warped.