Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Baccano of the Stand Alone Complex


Odd title, I know. But it has a point, I promise. I have this big problem with "The Stand Alone Complex." We're not talking Ghost in the Shell here, we're talking the stand alone novel. I am a writer who likes to write. I love my characters, I love my stories, I love my plot lines, and I love details about each and every little thing in my novels. I'm not a fan of the info-dump, so the only way to properly conduct a novel is to constantly chant: slow and steady wins the race.


What does that leave me? An excessively long (but good) story. It could be one story or a number of small stories making up the whole. You decide.


The issue with this is my sad luck of being an unpublished writer. A fact that is made more difficult by the truth that agents and publishers alike have cold feet when it comes to taking on new author's series. Not to say it doesn't happen. Look at J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. It's just tough. And honestly, I don't know what the fuss is about.


No story that has ever been published has as beginning or an end. I say this after having just been enlightened. (And now I am talking about anime.) I just finished watching Baccano! and I'm having a mini spaz-fest over the punchline to this series.


Wikipedia.org says this: "Each of the stories in the series involves several unrelated plots intersecting and crossing each other as events spiral further and further out of control. Immortal alchemists, mafia operated speakeasies, and many other elements of pulp fiction mashed together for a world straight out of the movies." I'd like to add that these stories occur within the framework of Carol learning a life lesson from the vice-president.


After watching 16 episodes of convoluted plot line and getting incredibly involved with all these characters (half of whom are immortal-so obviously you want to know what they've been up to and what they are going to end up doing) the series just ends. Well, it doesn't just end. Young Carol gets her lesson from the vice-president. And it is...Wait for it...There are no main characters and there are no beginnings or ends to a story.


The basic idea is that one person connects to many others whether they realize it or not. And because there isn't just one character, there is no end because characters keep getting added and once new characters are added you have to trace their past to get to know them, so there is no beginning either. Especially when you are dealing with immortals, gods, and other supernatural beings (I might add).


This makes me feel justified in writing books that are continuously moving back and forth among plot lines, characters, and time frames. It also makes me feel justified in writing long stories. Of course, not everyone in the publishing industry watches anime and that philosophy probably wont stick. But still, I don't feel so bad about writing a book about how someone who is older than the Flood (perhaps even caused the flood) has come to affect the life of a modern day shut-in. Not at all.


Oh, P.S. - I finished Stephanie Meyer's The Host and I loved it. Although, I'm hoping the next novel doesn't have a self sacrificing chick with split-personality love disorder. I think Stephanie has filled that quota in her professional career.